Control Costly Data Sprawl with Thin Clients, SAN and NAS

Control Costly Data Sprawl with Thin Clients, SAN and NAS

Michael Krieger

When it comes to tales of woe about mismanaged data, storage leads the way. Market researcher International Data Corp. estimates that some 60 percent of vital corporate data on desktop and notebook PCs remains unprotected. That number is thought to be closer to 80 percent for small-office and home-office PC users.

Taking a slightly different spin on this topic, Strategic Research Corp. claims that 60 percent of corporate data resides outside of managed servers on remote desktops, networks and mobile systems. Further, the consultancy estimates that 75 percent of this “edge data” is either ineffectively protected or not protected at all.

And here is a final sobering statistic to consider: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 93 percent of businesses that experience a significant data loss will be out of business within five years.

This vast storehouse of vulnerable, unprotected data represents one of the most threatening and intractable of all IT problems. Specifically, data is far more than just storage-it is the lifeblood of almost all businesses. When it fails to flow, the business may be in mortal danger, because it cannot capitalize on its data. Unfortunately, even many businesses that understand the value of their data fail to protect it properly.

And now, the penalties for not having a firm grip on corporate information can be steep indeed. Regulations including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Basel II and the EU Data Protection Directive, to name just a few, make it more important than ever for enterprises to track, manage and secure their data.

In an effort to reverse the negative numbers and avoid the stiff penalties of regulatory non-compliance, IT departments have encouraged users to save critical data to available network servers under the control of enterprise software. Unfortunately, such policies are difficult to enforce and thus may be widely ignored by legions of users who prefer to keep their data stored locally, where they believe they can better control it. These end users may feel as though it is their data, when in fact it belongs to their employers.

As might be expected, this myopic approach is frequently disastrous because PCs have a well-documented history of problems that can lead to unrecoverable data, including disk crashes and virus infections. It’s highly unlikely, however, that federal regulators will accept “the PC ate my homework” as a valid excuse for failing to comply with the law. That’s why corporations must find a viable and cost-effective way to protect their data-from the data center all the way down to the desktop.

A Troika of Technology Solutions

A rapidly increasing number of businesses are realizing that server-based computing solutions utilizing thin client devices-combined with centralized data center designs that leverage storage area network (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) infrastructures-can solve the data control dilemma.

Thin clients replace expensive, inherently insecure PCs with diskless terminals that contain no local storage.

SANs are high-speed sub-networks that are populated by shared dedicated storage devices, all of which are available to all servers on a LAN or MAN. Because stored data does not reside directly on network servers, those servers are freed to perform other business processing tasks.

NAS devices are solely dedicated to file sharing. In NAS environments, hard disk storage space may be added to a server-based network without shutting the servers down, and large NAS appliances may hold up to a terabyte of data.

In addition to slashing hardware costs, thin clients reduce and centralize support while increasing end-user efficiency by making it easier for employees to concentrate on applications and data, as opposed to their desktop devices. Moreover, thin client environments are more conducive to data backup and security, disaster recovery and virus immunity.

Because thin-client computing guarantees that the maximum amount of corporate data is always available on a centralized basis, SANs and NAS are able to exploit the full value of that data by efficiently transmitting it in file form (NAS) or block form (SANs) between users across LANs (via Ethernet) and WAN (via wide bandwidth, Fibre Channel links). This creates a cascading effect that begins when designated end users are able to access any data, any time.

The cascade effect continues because this high-speed, highly organized approach to secure data access further enables the creation of policy-based computing and departmental chargeback schemes. These schemes capitalize on the efficient nature of thin clients, SAN and NAS by automating labor-intensive storage management tasks such as storage provisioning and information lifecycle management.

The massive influx of corporate data has caused many savvy end-user organizations to react strategically. Their strategies are based on optimizing corporate data by ensuring it is always used to maximum benefit. That benefit is best achieved by the integration of secure access devices like thin clients with fabric-attached storage solutions like SAN and NAS.


Wyse Launches Enhanced Linux Thin Clients

Wyse has enhanced the Winterm™ 5000 Series Linux thin clients with an upgraded operating system to meet increased customer demand for server-centric computing within an open source architecture. Our low-cost, flexible Linux devices now have enhanced remote management, secure communications, and support features.

New features in the latest Wyse Linux include:

ICA 7.0

Rdesktop 1.3 (RDP 5.0 compatible)


S/SC Smart card support

USB mass storage support

Java Runtime Environment included (Winterm 5455XL only)

For a detailed list of features in this release or to download latest Linux version please visit:


Rechenzentrum der Finanzverwaltung NRW

The computing center of the finance administration of Nordrhine-Westphalia, NRW, supports the German Treasury Ministry in the execution of its tasks. The Rechenzentrum der Finanzverwaltung (RZF) offers IT services for the tax offices including the calculation of taxes, tax compensation, tax reimbursements and tax mailings.

The RZF found that thin clients could easily provide the technical capabilities needed to access business applications. Moreover, users were very happy with the speed of the new system-the thin clients’ access times were superior to the PCs they replaced. The pilot proved that thin clients would be viable for almost all users connected to the tax office throughout the organization.

Bernhard Hadaschik, IT Manager at Rechenzentrum der Finanzverwaltung, stated, “With the thin clients and the terminal servers we can easily administer and manage our terminal infrastructure from the center. All of the applications used are managed centrally, enabling us to avoid the need to deploy administrators to each office location.” Mr. Hadaschik continued, “We would certainly make the same decisions again. We discussed all possible scenarios and concepts and implemented the best.”

In addition to the 14,000 thin clients deployed, the organization has connected an additional 3,000 aging PCs to the terminal server system. In the future, if an application is capable of running in the thin client architecture, it will be offered to users in this fashion. The existing PCs will be used until they die and then will be replaced with thin clients.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Channel 3.