Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway

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Virtualized desktop infrastructure or VDI brings many tremendous benefits to organizations looking to modernize end user computing.  However, without the right tools to manage VDI environments, there can be challenges with doing this efficiently and effectively.  This can be even more of a challenge when managing thin client devices when thin clients are spread across multiple sites.  Praim provides many really nice tools that allow organizations to meet the challenges of managing virtual desktop environments and even those environments that span multiple physical sites.  Praim recently introduced the Praim Gateway appliance that allows effectively managing thin clients that are spread across multiple remote office locations, sometimes referred to as branch offices.  In this post, we will take a closer look at how to Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway and see the benefits it brings to the thin client environment spanning multiple sites. 

What is Praim Gateway?

At the center of Praim architecture is Praim ThinMan Server.  ThinMan Server is the component of the Praim infrastructure that allows centrally managing thin client devices including performing updates, providing support, implementing policies, and other functionality.  However, in many corporate environments with multiple branch offices, the ThinMan Server will be housed at the central datacenter location.  Having all communication traverse each WAN link between the branch office and the central datacenter is generally not the best use of available bandwidth.  Additionally, management of remote thin client devices by traditional means can create network complexities.  Generally speaking, most environments will have different network subnets at each remote office location with traffic carried between the locations via VPN connections, MPLS, or some other network technology.

ThinMan Gateway is a software solution that can be installed via three available versions that allows “repeater” functionality between remote network devices and the ThinMan Server.  ThinMan Gateway is available via:

Speaking to some of the network complexity and connectivity challenges faced by organizations today who may be managing thin client devices across remote branch offices, ThinMan Gateway allows accessing branch offices without VPN.  Once the ThinMan Gateway is installed in the remote branch office, administrators can access remote devices and manage these effectively without any other special connectivity requirements.  This ensures a completely secure and centrally managed environment.

Additional benefits of the ThinMan Gateway appliance is the ability to remotely manage Wake On LAN functionality, provide support, distribute updates, profiles and policies across remote networks, etc.  Network bandwidth is preserved as well with the remote repository functionality for updates to thin client devices.  Updates are synchronized from the Praim ThinMan Server and then pushed to thin clients at the remote locations.  In this way, updates for each thin client device do not have to reach out and traverse the WAN link back to the central datacenter.  As mentioned, the ThinMan Gateway appliance is offered in three different versions:

Software Version

Below are the minimum requirements for hosting the software version on a Windows Server:

Operating System Windows 7 or later/Windows Server 2003 or later
Processor 2 GHz Dual Core
RAM 2GB
Hard Disk 10 GB (+ repository system)

Virtual Appliance

The following are the supported hypervisor platforms for running the ThinMan ThinOX Gateway appliance:

Operating System ThinOX
Supported Hypervisor VMware ESXi
Citrix Hypervisor
Virtual Box
Microsoft Hyper-V
Processor 2 GHz Dual Core
RAM 2GB
Hard Disk 10 GB+ (repository system)

Hardware Appliance

Processor Intel Atom E3845 Quad Core 1.91 GHz
RAM 4GB
Disk 128 GB
Operating System ThinOX
Energy consumption (On/Off) 5.0 W / 0.3 W
Connectivity 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
Options Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac/Bluetooth, double external antenna
Installable rack Yes (with DIN-Rail)
Included Power supply, power cord
Certification IP40

Comparing the capabilities of each version of the ThinMan Gateway:

Feature Software Version Virtual Appliance Hardware Appliance
Remote Management X X X
WOL X X X
Software Repository X X X
Image Repository X X
Autoconfiguration X X
Network HA X
Double Network Speed X

The following graphic shows the Praim architecture including the Praim Gateway appliance in the mix.  As you can see the ThinMan Gateway appliance sits on the border of the remote branch location and interfaces with the ThinMan Server over the Internet without VPN, etc.

ThinMan-Gateway-architecture-with-other-Praim-products Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
ThinMan Gateway architecture with other Praim products

Installing and Configuring the ThinMan Gateway Appliance

In the following walk through we are using the virtual appliance in a VMware vSphere environment.  Praim provides virtual appliances compatible with the respective hypervisor platform.  For VMware vSphere, there is an OVA appliance provided by Praim for deployment which makes getting it up and running extremely easy.  Let’s take a look at the deployment of the OVA appliance.

In the first step, you will have already downloaded the appliance from Praim.  Select the OVA appliance in the Deploy OVF Template wizard.

Choose-the-Praim-ThinMan-Gateway-OVA-appliance Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
Choose the Praim ThinMan Gateway OVA appliance

Next, name the ThinMan Server appliance and select the location to create the new virtual machine in vSphere.

Name-the-ThinMan-Gateway-appliance-for-VMware-vSphere-inventory Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
Name the ThinMan Gateway appliance for VMware vSphere inventory

Up next, select the compute resource for the new ThinMan Gateway appliance.

Select-the-compute-resource-for-the-ThinMan-Gateway-appliance Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
Select the compute resource for the ThinMan Gateway appliance

The Step 4 of the process has you review the details of the template deployment. 

Review-the-details-of-the-ThinMan-Gateway-appliance-deployment Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
Review the details of the ThinMan Gateway appliance deployment

Next up, select the datastore you want to use to house the ThinMan Gateway appliance.

Select-the-storage-for-the-ThinMan-Gateway-appliance Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
Select the storage for the ThinMan Gateway appliance

Select the vSphere network portgroup the ThinMan Gateway appliance will use to connect to the network.

Select-the-target-network-for-the-ThinMan-Gateway-appliance Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
Select the target network for the ThinMan Gateway appliance

Finally, you are ready to complete the deployment process.  Review the details to ensure no changes need to be made and click Finish.

Ready-to-complete-the-ThinMan-Gateway-appliance-deployment-process-in-vSphere Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
Ready to complete the ThinMan Gateway appliance deployment process in vSphere

The below screenshot displays the resources allocated by default to the Thinman Gateway appliance.  As you can see, the footprint is relatively small, outside of 4 vCPUs.

A-look-at-the-virtual-resources-assigned-to-the-Praim-ThinMan-Gateway-appliance Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
A look at the virtual resources assigned to the Praim ThinMan Gateway appliance

When you boot the ThinMan Gateway appliance, you will see the ThinOX environment boot.  A dialog box will appear to populate Thinman Settings.

After-booting-the-ThinMan-Gateway-appliance-ready-to-configure-settings Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
After booting the ThinMan Gateway appliance ready to configure settings

Under the Connection tab, populate the ThinMan Address (IP/HostName).

Updating-settings-on-the-ThinMan-agent-inside-the-ThinMan-Gateway-appliance Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
Updating settings on the ThinMan agent inside the ThinMan Gateway appliance

After configuring the ThinMan Server address, click the Test Connection to ensure connectivity to the ThinMan Server.

Testing-the-ThinMan-Server-connection Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
Testing the ThinMan Server connection

Launching the Gateway Configurator, you are able to configure ThinMan Gateway configuration on the appliance.  This is a shortcut found on the desktop of the Thinman Gateway appliance. 

Configuring-the-ThinMan-Gateway-name-and-ThinMan-Server-address Manage Thin Clients and PCs Across Remote Sites with Praim Gateway
Configuring the ThinMan Gateway name and ThinMan Server address

At this point, the ThinMan Gateway appliance is configured and ready to be used to manage remote clients at the branch office location.  A few points to consider:

  • You will want to have a ThinMan Gateway appliance configured for each remote location
  • You will need to ensure you have the network ports allowed for the ThinMan Gateway appliance to connect back to ThinMan Server for Firewall purposes. (Can be verified with the Test Connection mechanism)

Wrapping Up

In this look at how to Manage Thin Clients and PCs across remote sites with Praim Gateway we have seen how remote management of thin client devices across physical branch office locations can present challenges.  Praim provides an intelligent solution to be able to centrally manage thin client devices across VDI technologies and do this across multiple locations.  The recently released ThinMan Gateway appliance provides a powerful way to remotely manage these thin client devices, even without VPN connectivity or direct connections to each location.  Using the ThinMan Gateway, administrators can manage Wake On LAN capabilities, updates, config changes, etc.  It also allows businesses to make extremely efficient use of available bandwidth by synchronizing updates from ThinMan Server to the ThinMan Gateway appliance so that thin client devices pull these from the ThinMan Gateway and not across the WAN from the ThinMan Server.  This is a great addition to the Praim lineup.  They have made it easy by providing three versions of deployment, including the very easy OVA appliance for vSphere environments.  Managing remote thin client devices need not be difficult with the Praim solution powering the environment.  It allows organizations to operate intelligently, quickly, and efficiently, across any IT landscape and ensures any supported VDI solution is able to deliver both in terms of end users and administration.

Free trial of ThinMan and ThinMan Gateway can be download here.