How Well Would a Raspberry Pi Function as a Thin Client?

Introduction

ClearCube is a trusted partner to successful centralization and virtualization with our secure and innovative Virtual Desktop Infrastructure VDI solutions. What lies at the heart of our mission is the principle that VDI projects need more than end-to-end planning. We understand that in the end, it is the endpoint device which delivers a truly optimized VDI experience. Our engineering team thinks beyond the product by creating tailored solutions which fulfill the many different needs of our clients.

To start with, the ClearCube team offers a wide range of Thin Clients, Zero Clients, Blade PCs and storage/compute solutions. Among these, we suggest you use the Raspberry Pi as an initial solution for your VDI needs. This matters even more if you run a startup or would like first-hand experience in knowing how VDI solutions work.

The Big Question

In planning and designing large-scale VDI, you might have questions or concerns about the features and ability of Raspberry Pi. To be specific, how well can Raspberry Pi function in a VDI environment? This is important, considering that it is one of the most affordable Thin Client computing options in the market. Does it offer the resources needed to support user demands in enterprise VDI? In fact, the low cost of this device has raised questions about its suitability for advanced use cases.

Food For Thought

To begin with, a Thin Client does not have to be high-priced to qualify as a true Thin Client. The Raspberry Pi is intended to make VDI accessible for everyone. This includes those companies that wish to implement VDI with a modest budget. Also, it is known that the Raspberry Pi was released as an educational platform for computing projects. With time, its affordability took it further in the market and attracted the IT community. In short, what you get is:

 

. Cost-effective thin client software in Raspberry Pi which replaces fat client/desktop PCs and easily sees VDI through to completion.

Also, you would be surprised to know that there is more to this lightweight device than meets the eye.

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Now, let’s look at the performance benefits which the Raspberry Pi can deliver for your business.

Business Benefits of Raspberry Pi

Today, companies are looking to use the Raspberry Pi in commercial grade VDI plans. Even so, we must know exactly how much ground it can cover. Now, Raspberry Pi device being designed to support small-scale VDI does not limit it as a complete solution.

How is this so? Some may believe that the Raspberry Pi is only suitable for personal use. This is indeed the case, and there are some common examples like using it as a:

. Home automation controller

. Gaming console

. Device which you can adapt to read mails, write documents and play videos.

Even then, the truth is that the Raspberry Pi offers so much more than just these. Let’s see what it can do in the workplace.

Firstly, you can use it as a troubleshooting solution. PC connectivity issues and malfunctioning components are common in IT systems. Luckily, you can easily resolve them by configuring Raspberry Pi to oversee industrial control processes. Also, you can proactively identify IT shortcomings by using it as an information security testing tool with network-penetration software.

Ever thought of using the Raspberry Pi as a small and low-cost server to manage light internal or web traffic? IT teams in SMBs often bring together a set of Raspberry Pi devices to function as a server. This not only eliminates the need to use regular servers for the same purpose. Companies can also save a good amount on monthly and yearly server costs.

Raspberry Pi as a Total Solution for Task Workers

Every VDI plan begins with profiling and grouping end users in a company. There are three types, namely task workers, knowledge users and power users. To begin with, task workers generally carry out routine tasks using small-scale computer systems and applications. As a result, the programs they run are not exactly CPU or memory intensive.

On the other hand, knowledge users do more than simply run basic applications. They research, manage and make sense of valuable information on a daily basis. So, the level of technical functionality in their work is somewhat higher. What’s more, they multitask by running multiple software programs and lightweight web browsers.

Finally, power users need rich interfaces as they deal with heavy workloads, run advanced programs and use graphics-intensive applications.

Businesses must make it their goal to help these users focus on things that truly count. For this reason, VDI must facilitate smooth operations and task completion. Keeping this in mind, what we are about to discuss next is of high importance.

Although task workers perform repetitive duties using small-scale applications, they have equally important roles as knowledge workers and power users. For this reason, IT should deliver the same level of superior UX across user stacks so that their staff remains engaged.

Taking this into account, how can organizations set up Raspberry Pi to serve task workers?

Raspberry Pi is actually the best fit for this user group. Why is this so? Firstly, they do not need heavy processing functions. Next, their work involves relatively lower frame rates as compared to knowledge workers and power users. The Raspberry Pi works well as an embedded systems platform which users can configure to run tasks without codec decompression. You can also use it to get projects with low computational power up and running with only a few clicks. So, what you have is an ideal Thin Client for places with a large number of task workers. This is because it keeps VDI device investment and maintenance at a minimum.

Tip: knowledge and power users should go for higher-end Thin or Zero Clients. These solutions assist tasks that demand features like multiple ports and dual, triple or quad monitor support.

In any situation, proper VDI planning is knowing what features and efficiencies Thin or Zero Clients can realistically offer.

Raspberry Pi’s Immunity to Vulnerabilities

All businesses come across PC connectivity problems or faulty parts that lead to downtime and low productivity. The list also includes those that have solid IT systems built into their infrastructure. In such cases, adopting VDI is a good decision as it supports disaster recovery and true business continuity prospects.

For this, a VDI plan must be backed by a Thin Client solution with an intelligent and immune design. Fortunately, ClearCube’s Raspberry Pi 3 offers just that. You can use our Cloud Desktop OS to:

. Centrally oversee and virus-proof the Raspberry Pi 3.

. Secure its connection to centrally hosted applications, hosted desktops and cloud-hosted desktops. The Cloud Desktop OS embeds the Linux-based operating system which comes with its own security and management settings. You can also locally install the Cloud Desktop OS or begin network booting for a real Zero Client-like security experience.

Why is all this important? Generally, IT vulnerabilities can bring all IT systems to a halt by affecting their functionality. Two recent examples of the same are Spectre and Meltdown. Both use speculative execution to read private and sensitive data from running programs. Remember the Raspberry Pi features we discussed earlier? They amp up its resistance and resilience to malware and attacks from viruses such as these two. This also puts the Raspberry Pi among those solutions which ensure privacy policy best practices.

Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton confirmed the device’s immunity to these vulnerabilities due to its state-of-the-art processors. They include the ARM1176, Cortex-A7 and Cortex A-53 cores. Note that ARM processors generally run on Zero Clients. Now, here’s the good part. Their addition in Raspberry Pi Thin Clients means that IT can use the latter to manage VDI with optimized efficiency. All you need to do is configure Raspberry Pi for maximum security. You then get a versatile device which supports information assurance and minimizes IT downtime.

Further Raspberry Pi Features and Capabilities

ClearCube’s Raspberry Pi Thin Client is the perfect solution for VMware Horizon set-ups. Integrating Blast Extreme into Raspberry C3Pi Thin Client decreases CPU consumption. The reason? Video decompression is offloaded to its native hardware from the CPU using H.264-based decoder. This improves bandwidth and boosts performance in Horizon 7.1 settings.

The C3Pi Raspberry Pi 3 endpoint also features support for Microsoft RDP, CITRIX HDX and many virtual desktops. All these are the makings of a true low-cost Thin Client that offers optimized performance in VDI set-ups.  

Final Thoughts

Raspberry Pi has evolved into a mature Thin Client over the years. Even today, it continues to show further potential as businesses research more use cases for this device. As per ZDNet, Gartner estimates that by 2020, 25 billion devices are expected to be connected to the IoT world. Why is it is an important prediction? By this time, tech developments will revolve more around smaller, simpler and low-cost IT solutions. Think of anything that eases IT and keeps costs low, and this is where the Raspberry Pi matters.

In a nutshell:

  • You do not need an expensive or highly technical Thin or Zero Client to perform routine IT tasks.
  • Raspberry Pi is flexible, customizable, easy to build and set up with all the bare essentials you need. Any separate parts you add to this will boost its functionality and further optimize performance in your VDI set-up.

Need more information on what ClearCube does and the other VDI resources we offer? Please feel free to get in touch with us anytime. Our team is always online and ready to help!

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