The basics of modern client computing

Issues IT administrators need to consider when implementing a client computing solution

Client computing, circa 2012, entails centralizing and managing from a single location all the primary agency technologies and components utilized by end users. The list of technologies used can include desktop computers, mobile devices, servers and applications.

Federal agencies are attempting “to find a balance of managing costs and gaining greater control of all aspects of IT, all while allowing their users to access [their] networks from any location, using a variety of devices,” said Paul Schaapman, a data center solutions architect at CDW-G. Once agencies are able to determine a strategy that works, users will gain increased access to networks and other resources for continuity of operations, telework, and greater overall mobility and productivity, he explained.

Implementing a client computing strategy allows an agency better control, enabling IT administrators to provide secure access to government networks and resources. A successful client computing solution, according to CDW-G experts, typically includes one or more of the following:

• Client virtualization — Decouples hardware and software components to increase security, availability and disaster recovery capabilities.

• Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) — Abstracts existing hardware; virtualizes the operating system, applications and data; and runs all applications/services from servers housed in the data center.

• Infrastructure support — When considering client virtualization, especially VDI, agencies must view it as a shift of resources from “personal” computers to data centers. It’s important to assess the potential cost and impact of housing a new infrastructure in the data center.

• Software management — Streamlines software license management to ensure proper tracking and procurement of new licenses. Inventory all software applications running on agency networks and ensure that software entitlements match software installations.

Top 5 benefits of client computing

1. Greater security.
2. Cost savings optimized.
3. Increased mobility and productivity.
4. Consistency in license compliance.
5. Energy efficiencies realized.

Primary client computing components

Effective centralized client computing uses multiple technologies and components, including:

Devices — Consider the user experience and all the devices they will use, including notebook PCs, desktop computers, thin clients, tablet PCs and mobile devices/smart phones. For stringent security, look for smart card readers, biometric scanners and two-factor authentication tokens to provide added protection.

Operating systems — In a hosted model, Microsoft Windows can run on blade PCs or workstations in the data center, or in virtual machines on a hypervisor. Alternatively, Windows images can be hosted on a server and the operating system streamed to existing client systems.

Licensing — The licensing impact of virtualized operating systems and applications can be complex. A knowledgeable software licensing specialist can help agencies ensure compliance with the right client virtualization software.

Support — Some suppliers don’t support their applications on a virtual machine, so this should be taken into consideration when evaluating virtualization strategies.

Remote access — Each operating system and device, as well as access methodology (DSL, cable modem, dial-up), should be included during the planning and design phase.

Mobile security policies to consider

As client computing evolves beyond desktop or notebook PC platforms, there is a strong requirement among government agencies for enhanced security policies. Important elements of any bring-your-own-device policy include the following:

* Users must agree to install the security, monitoring or tracking software each organization requires.
* All devices connecting to the network must be registered with the IT department.
* Users must agree to password-protect the device.
* Use of the mobile device must impose no tangible cost on the organization.
* Use of the mobile device must not have an adverse impact on the user’s performance.
* All devices must support 802.1X authentication.
* Only approved apps may reside on the device. Blacklisted apps are generally considered security or productivity risks.
* All devices must meet minimum specifications for hardware, operating systems and device management agents.
Source: CDW-G

About this Report

This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please email us at [email protected]