Aerospace Advisory Board Meeting

Come support our group in presenting our thin client idea

Come show your support!

December 10th

Show your support for Group A's proposition to implement a thin client into the aerospace department. Starting with a small department will allow us to work out all the details and logistics so that we can one day implement this campus wide!

December 10th we will be presenting to the Aerospace Advisory Board, talking about all the point outlined below. With your support, we can convince them this is something that should be implemented in the Aerospace Engineering Department!

-Kimberly

Help us improve the students' learning experience at Texas A&M in the College of Engineering

Our Main Points:

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned

According to research conducted by Gartner Research, thin clients could save an institution an average of $1540 on computer-related costs per user every two years! This is due to their dramatic impact on administration and hardware costs.

A large cost of managing a system as large as the Texas A&M computer labs is the number of required IT and administration personnel. Thin clients do a wonderful job of thinning the fat of the entire operation by allowing for most of the necessary maintenance to be performed at a centralized location. This eases the burden on IT professionals and allows them to more quickly assess errors and update software, resulting in quicker resolutions and more up-to-date computers. This easing of problem resolution, combined with the Thin Client’s ability to be accessed by helpdesk staff remotely allows for a reduction of staffed helpdesk personnel by 50-75% as estimated by Bloor Research.


Hardware is another avenue where a thin client trumps standard computers. Modern computers are replaced, on average, every 3 years to remain competitive and up-to-date. Since a thin client is only an interface to a much bigger server, a suitable thin client can operate for 6 years. This, combined with the fact that thin clients are, on a per unit basis, cheaper than a full computer, results in recurring savings year after year.


- Nico Hurst

HP Thin Clients Explained

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Will having a thin client system weaken the wi-fi connection to my personal computer?

Answer: No, on a thin client network, many people connect to a group of servers through wi-fi and this may be a concern of weakened strength. However, the opposite is true because instead of sending data that needs to be processed by your personal computer, the thin client system will only use the wi-fi to transfer display data. Also, the amount of bandwidth that each computer will receive is adjusted to the computer's need, maximizing the efficiency of the system. The end result is that you will have a stronger wi-fi connection than on a fat client system.


Question: Will the allotted $500,000 be enough to renovate all the computers at Texas A&M University to thin clients?

Answer: No, the $500,000 is only enough to renovate one department on campus. For example, the Aerospace Engineering Department is the department that our group has chosen to invest in. After the renovation is complete, the system of thin clients in the aerospace department can be analyzed to see if further expansion of thin clients would be beneficial.


Question: Can my tablet connect to a thin client system?

Answer: Yes, most tablets are compatible with thin clients, supporting brands such as Apple, Asus, Microsoft, and Samsung.


Question: Is my personal computer more at risk to hacking with a thin client system?

Answer: No, thin clients are not more vulnerable to hacking. The data from your computer is still safe and inaccessible from the mainframe. The servers are stored in a secure location and are not able to be accessed by the public. Servers can be hacked, but this is much more difficult to accomplish than it is for a fat client.


Question: Can the thin client run the specialized software needed for my classes?

Answer: Yes, the thin client servers will have specialized software such as CAD or SolidWorks downloaded to the mainframe. The licensing for these programs will also be simplified, allowing more users to use these programs. The thin client system can also process these programs faster and better than your personal computer.


Question: Has the thin client system been used in other schools or industries?

Answer: Yes, the thin client systems have been utilized by businesses and schools for many years. However, thin client usage has grown significantly in the last few years. These applications have been very successful and are becoming more common to use in a multitude of industries.


- Joel Nakamura

Why trim the fat?

Regular desktop computers waste, on average, 95% of the resources when in use. Couple that with only being used for half of a day and a given computer only sees 98% percent usage. When the cost of operating exceeds $1.5 million this amounts to a $1.47 million waste of resources. This extra fat on the aptly named “fat client” is a massive waste of resources that can be easily remedied by using thin clients.


Thin clients keep resources on a central server and “serve” them as needed to individual users. This can lead to higher efficiency computing that can reduce operating costs greatly. These savings can be used to improve thin clients to allow greater processing on them for applications in areas such as supercomputing.


Thin clients can be more powerful than fat clients quite easily as resources are shifted to someone who needs it like a professor doing research computation or a student rendering a video. This greatly cuts down on work time for users without increasing costs since the resources are available in the server.


Thin client servers also have the benefit of being able to take resources into and out of the pool effectively adapting to user’s needs as loads on servers increase and decrease throughout the day as more or less users are online or computing, similar to the way buses are added on to or subtracted from a route on week days versus on weekends, even adopting for certain routes on game days. What does this mean for us though?


This means that an individual thin client, front end and back end, can cost as little as $250 per front end per year. Comparing this to the universities current cost of $1.5million for roughly 1500 computers, or $1000 per computer, the cost savings are plainly evident. The difference between our current setup for the open access labs and a thin client solution would be a savings of well over $1.1million.


Both types of computers are prone to failures, as every computer is. Thin clients, though, are much easier to repair or replace because they are so simple and, well, thin. They have no true operating system to ever update, eliminating pesky update windows. Fat clients have many components that can be prone to failure while thin clients have a fraction of the components that fat clients do, eliminating point of failure and making maintenance easier with fewer and simpler parts to replace or repair. Not only that, but thin clients are so cheap, at only $49, thin clients can be outright replaced every single month of a year and still come out $150 cheaper than their fat client sibling. The fat client on the other hand needs considerably more money to simply remain in operation.


More efficient, more rounded, and more prepared. These are the offerings the thin client has for us while our fat client rolls over on our desk and pitches a fit about updates the thin client doesn’t need and wastes resources the thin client distributes to the needy. What more could you ask for in a computer?

[Steven]

Inherently Secure Storage


Thin Clients offer a few security perks that you won’t find in a desktop or laptop. Since a Thin Client network is tied to a central server which houses all the collective data, every uses files are automatically put into safe storage. Additionally this central sever set up is much easier to monitor and harder to infect by foreign software or viruses.


So how exactly does a Thin Client help protect user saved data? First of all each hub or access point of the thin client is not a full computer, and doesn’t have its own individual hard drive for data storage. This means anything and everything that is saved on the Thin Client network is saved directly to the central server. This is beneficial to security in a few ways. On the physical side of things, this eliminates hardware theft equaling file theft as well. In the case that a Thin client access point is taken, the perpetrator makes off with a virtually useless box. Once unplugged form the network the access point is as good as a paper weight, unlike a desktop, since it has no internal storage, no files are lost in the theft. Additionally the access point is far cheaper to replace than a full PC tower.


Now let’s look at the digital side. Since the files are directly saved to the server, it’s basically like having your files being automatically backed up when you save. In the event of a hardware malfunction, whether it be a unit crash or a simple power outage, your hard earned work will already be saved to the central server and will still be accessible post failure. This also helps remove potential human error. Say for instance you have all of your files for class saved on your laptop and thumb drive. If you get in a rush and forget your laptop or misplace the thumb drive, you have no way to access your work. With the Thin Client, your hard work goes with you. The servers can be accesses via your personal laptop and files can be saved just as if you were using on the access units. There is also no need to stick a thumb drive in your pocket because if you’re using the server, your work will be accessible from the server when you get to class or lab. With a Thin Client, you will never have to worry about losing or forgetting your files ever again. The only way you will get to campus and not have access to your work, is if you just neglected to do it.


Lastly a Thin Client is a more protected server is less subject to hacking and virus infection. With a network of PC’s or a “fat client”, each individual unit has to have regular checkups and updates. This means that every PC has to have its own virus protection software and every PC had to have that software routinely updated. A Thin Client will still need to be updated, but only the server needs to updated, not a fleet of PC’s. The central server is also much easier to monitor traffic and user activity. This helps prevent foreign, unwanted software from making its way onto the server. This makes a Thin Client much less susceptible to viruses and hackers, further ensuring the safety of the network and all the user content contained on it.


-Jonathan Sisneros

Why is this important to you?

We are striving to eventually implement Thin Client across the campus of Texas A&M, but it has to start somewhere. That somewhere is the Aerospace department. This will put the Thin Client platform to the test, running intense CAD software and simulation software, while also allowing for professors and students to do every day work, like word documents and powerpoint.


As a student at Texas A&M, you have seen the current use of funds. There are computer labs all over campus, with a need to have IT support in every one. The manpower is costly, along with the hardware and software. Also, as much money that is dumped into athletics, especially recently, it is time to spend what we can on academia. Help be the future of Texas A&M! This technology is new and upcoming, but the seen benefits have been incredible.


Specifically, if you are a part of the Aerospace department, student or staff, you have the chance to improve your life drastically! While you will technically be the guinea pig, so to speak, you will be a part of a test that has proven to be effective in most areas that it has been placed! You will be the front-runner in this technological leap, and you will simplify your life immensely. You will be able to have an "on campus computer" literally wherever you are at! You won't have to worry about making sure that you save something in the right place, or email it to the right account. You will simply save it to your Aerospace department-specific Thin Client server, and voila, you can access it from anywhere!


If you come to support this allotment of funds to Thin Client implementation, it will directly affect the future of Thin Client being used across campus. This will, in our opinion, increase efficiency of computing power resources. Another huge improvement, as stated multiple times above, is increasing the efficiency of Texas A&M's financial resources, also known as, your tuition money. Have a voice to where your money goes! Come to our meeting and use your valuable voice to make a significant difference to the everyday life of current and future Aggies.

-Evan Wilson

How will this change my education?

Using Thin Client would allow students and professors to benefit from the use of 1 common technology. Professors could access research codes and simulations during class- allowing students to see analysis during class. Professors would not need to be trained with the "new" technology for classrooms- it would be the same as they use in their office!

Students would be able to run programs alongside their classmates and professors during class - allowing any questions to be answered without the help of google when you're trying to do homework.

Students would be able to access notes, programs and lectures anywhere a wi-fi connection is available! Allowing an increased enrollment of students, all online.

- Kimberly