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For companies looking to solve management and compliance issues among desktops, VDI thin client hardware could be a game changer.
One ticketing company found that VDI delivered to thin client PCs can simplify desktop management and keep sensitive data within its own data center, rather than on traditional PCs.
Tickets.com, Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif., recently began utilizing a combination of NComputing N500 thin clients and desktop virtualization with Citrix XenDesktop to overhaul how its clients sell tickets.
Matt IglTickets.com IT director
Tickets.com, a subsidiary of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, LP, has clients including teams in Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, as well as arenas and performing arts organizations.
Previously, Tickets.com utilized traditional Windows PC workstations at its client locations that connected to a central Tickets.com application so sales representatives could process orders and print tickets for events.
That setup grew cumbersome and inefficient, especially when software updates were needed. Thousands of devices sat on different networks at each client location, making it "an administrative nightmare" for management and pushing updates, said Matt Igl, Tickets.com's IT director.
Thin client hardware to the rescue
Tickets.com chose the NComputing N500 thin clients because it is designed specifically for XenDesktop. The company found XenDesktop provided strong integration with USB ports to support its voluminous printing needs, Igl said.
Tickets.com initially purchased 100 N500s for the ticketing offices of two Major League Baseball teams. It took less than a day to install the thin clients and get them running, compared to a typical week-plus installation of the PC workstations, Igl said.
One of the largest benefits with the N500s is restart time. The PC workstations would take anywhere between five to seven minutes to restart if there was an issue. Now, the VDI environment restarts in fewer than two minutes, Igl said.
Pushing software updates and fixes is also easier since Tickets.com sends out its standard virtual desktop image to its clients. Instead of sending individual updates on a PC-by-PC basis, Tickets.com can now send those updates centrally to clients so all the thin clients are up to date at once.
"We don't need to have knowledgeable staff at the remote side," Igl said. "We can upgrade all of the clients at the flick of a switch, whereas with the traditional workstation we have to send technicians out to do it."
The N500s also helped Tickets.com with Payment Card Industry (PCI) policy compliance. Under the previous system, each individual workstation had to be in PCI compliance because payment data was stored on each PC. With virtual desktops, the data no longer lives on the physical machines at client locations.
"We are able to take all those compliance efforts and move those into our data center," Igl said.
With VDI, Tickets.com no longer has to worry about individual PCs going out of PCI compliance, since the data never stays on the thin clients. In addition, all browser memory is wiped from the N500s when users log out.
Tickets.com experienced no problems with the initial rollouts of the thin clients, Igl said. Because of the success of the initial installation, the company has since rolled out N500s to additional clients and plans to add even more in the coming months.
Without naming specifics, Tickets.com said it's now experiencing a lower total cost of ownership with the N500 thin clients compared to its previous PC environment.
The list price for an N500 thin client is $229, which includes one year of premium support and a license for NComputing's vSpace Management Center. Volume discounts are available for bulk purchases.