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AUTUMN 2000

THIN CLIENT NETWORKS

Following on from the article on Networked Computers in our summer issue, this section explains the concept of a network based on 'thin client' using Windows Terminal Server.

The performance of conventional networks, whether based on server/client or peer to peer, depends on the combined processing power of the server plus the work-station, since the task of operating the software (eg TIM) and processing the data is shared between them.

This means that programs which rely on large amounts of processing, such as databases, will show a decrease in performance (ie slow down) as the data content increases.

The speed at which this happens not only depends on the specification of the hardware, but also on the network cabling.

In contrast, in a thin client environment, performance is dependent on the processing power of the server only, since all the processing work is carried out by the server.

The only information transferred from the server to the workstation is a screen image.

This is why the specification of the workstations do not become an issue: even old computers will perform like the latest Pentium driven devices, since the only task they perform is to display a screen image generated by the server.

WAN ( Wide Area Networks) - this is where the thin client platform really comes into its own!
Because the information passing between server and workstation is minimal, it can be transmitted down a telephone line.

This means that remote offices can easily be connected to the main server.
It's ideal in the tourism environment, where a number of TICs can be connected to a central server, and all sites can therefore use one database - the perfect scenario.

For example, CTV client West Dorset District Council uses this type of platform to connect five TICs to the main tourism office and to support three PAT (public access kiosks) as well as the WDDC Internet connection.

With new installations, the cabling and location of hardware is the same as for a conventional network, with the overall cost working out about the same.

However if your current system is beginning to show its age, then a thin client upgrade with a Windows Terminal Server could be the ideal solution.

This will normally mean replacing only your server, as all your old computers or workstations can be fully utilised with the new system - performance at a fraction of the costs!

Main benefits:

1. Performance - far faster that conventional networks.
2. Longevity - it will outlast conventional networks.
3. Ergonomics - workstations need consist of a screen only, with no computers taking up space.
4. Flexibility - remote sites can easily be connected without loss of performance

Who knows - with the money you save you may be able to invest in nice new flat screen displays!

As ever, if you would like further information, or to discuss any of the issues mentioned, please call CTV or email us at info@ctvtour.co.uk

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2000 CTV Tourism Services Ltd, Mark, Somerset UK