Barring specialized tasks such as compiling code or working with audio, video and graphics, most new enterprise PCs pack more horsepower than the typical user needs. Many settings — training rooms or call centers, for example — lend themselves to supporting multiple users on a single computer. Enter the HP t150 Thin Client MultiSeat Solution, which allows a single PC running Microsoft Windows Multipoint Server (WMS) to support as many 20 users simultaneously.
The tiny HP t150 module (measuring just 4.4 inches by 2.56 inches by 1.11 inches) has its own keyboard, mouse and monitor, two USB ports, optional speakers (or headphones) and a microphone.
Users can login separately, and each receives a standard Windows desktop (or whatever applications the administrator makes available). Each module can be configured with a unique IP address for networked applications, or users can share a single address.
The administrator also has considerable flexibility in creating policies to limit or block access to the Internet, such as in a training environment where distractions must be kept to a minimum.
The t150 includes unique management tools, which can manage multiple WMS deployments for installing updates and managing clients. Each client can display a single desktop for a presentation, can be locked, or can run a separate session Windows. Specific applications can be remotely opened or closed by the administrator.
The premium version of WMS supports 20 users, compared with the standard version’s 10; supports more memory and processors (32 gigabytes and 2 CPUs, versus 8 gigabytes and 1 CPU); and allows the server to join a domain — which gives all clients access to Active Directory accounts, if desired.
Setting up the system is very simple. Each t150 connects to the MultiSeat ms6200 server via USB. If IT departments have several modules to connect, they can use USB hubs (but only specific models). The administrator then connects a keyboard, mouse and monitor to each t150 module. When the server boots up, each t150 also starts automatically and presents a standard Windows login screen.
An administrator can control how the modules are used — either all modules together, or individually — by clicking on the icon for each client in the management interface. The clients are quite capable of viewing multimedia presentations, such as QuickTime or Flash. Managing the system is extremely simple: Rather than updating a dozen or more clients, all software updates are applied and applications installed only on the server — the clients then automatically reflect the changed environment.
The complete system costs less than the equivalent number of PCs and eases management for IT. While not suitable for all tasks, WMS and the t150 allows many users to share the resources of a PC without degrading performance on each client.
Ordering the system can be complex. Several pieces that must be ordered separately — the server hardware (the ms6200), the client module (the t150), the software licenses (MS WMS CAL), monitors, keyboards and mice, and any needed USB hubs and extra cabling. However, combining the elements is simple, and the overall cost savings and simplicity of management makes the time investment in the ordering process worth the effort.