My colleague Michael Royster, in Microsoft Consulting Services, has just finished a briefing document on the approaches available to implementation, addressing the questions about thin client versus rich client, and provides excellent advice and insight into how you can plan for the most appropriate blend. The title, "Application Deployment Architectures - The 'Rich' versus 'Thin' debate and beyond" is a pretty good description of what it is all about, but to clarify a little more, here's a couple of extracts from the summary:
"Today, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. Different applications have different characteristics which may make them more suited to the traditional rich client deployment model, while others may be more suited to a server based computing model. Many organisations are beginning to deploy a hybrid of traditional rich client with a server based computing model (and in some cases, application virtualisation where this is appropriate).
The impact on the productivity of the end users or their learning experience must be central to the decision of an application deployment strategy. Graphics and media have become more widely used and the Web has led people to expect easy interaction with software. These rich graphical multi-media applications are particularly suited to the traditional rich client deployment model. Some industry analysts are now predicting that the pendulum is now moving again towards the rich client.
Whether the appropriate deployment model is rich client, server based (thin client), or application streaming, Microsoft has a breadth of integrated products across the spectrum of deployment architectures."
If you want to understand what the different Microsoft solutions are, then this is a really good starting point, with succinct and clear chapters on:
- Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualisation
- Microsoft Windows Terminal Services
- Microsoft SoftGrid for Terminal Services
- Citrix Presentation Server
- Windows Embedded Powered Thin Client Devices
- Blade PC Solutions
- Windows Vista Enterprise Centralised Desktop Solutions
- Pure Browser-based Solutions
And Michael's included UK & International case studies, within and outside of education, of different implementations.