Protect Your Data and Ensure A Successful VDI Deployment With Thin Clients

Hollywood studios, industrial design firms, and healthcare companies – which all require heightened security in today’s anything-can-happen threat environment – are just a few of the sectors that could benefit by pairing thin and zero clients with VDI pilots. Even so, savvy IT managers about to launch pilots and PoC’s may be overlooking the benefits of simultaneously deploying thin clients. The combination provides IT with an extra layer of control and security; and delivers a user experience at par with, or even better than, re-purposing legacy desktops.

Starting with thin and zero clients at the pilot phase – and in some cases actually taking away users’ existing desktops – also helps guarantee that users will actually participate in the VDI pilot. The new endpoints keep employees – who might simply return to working locally rather than logging in to the VDI architecture – from rejecting the new arrangement out of hand. Thin clients also delight users who give the new architectures a chance since their small size frees up desk space, they boot and operate faster, and they require less downtime from malware, crashes, or updates.

Movie Studios

Media companies have learned the hard way to take extra steps to safeguard their content. In early 2009, an unfinished version of the action film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was illegally posted online without its finished special effects. According to studio estimates, the film was downloaded 4.5 million times, amounting to tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.[1] Because the incomplete effects were not as compelling as viewers expected, those who saw the early version were said to be unimpressed and less likely to recommend the film.

Following that leak and the highly-publicized November 2014 hacking incident at Sony Pictures, studios have realized how important it is to secure every point along the path their intellectual property takes. This is especially true for projects that need to “wow” audiences, like the Tom Cruise movie “Edge of Tomorrow,” which had nine special effects houses creating the visuals and that many potential opportunities for leaks.

To reduce the potential security risk posed by each of these vendors, studios should explore the benefits of deploying 3D graphics-capable thin client endpoints such as the Wyse 7000 series.

Industrial Design Firms

A cloud client-computing architecture – marrying the benefits of desktop virtualization with thin and zero clients at the edge – can be an enormous benefit to industrial design firms who often live or die by their ability to innovate and protect their innovations. They are vulnerable since they often require machine tooling and manufacturing to be done by outside vendors, opening up their intellectual property and blueprints for potential theft or misappropriation.

Thin client endpoints can reduce the vulnerability inherent in data in flight, since important plans safely reside within the secure data center – never at the edge – and thus cannot be so easily copied or distributed. Because thin clients lack onboard hard drives or recordable DVD drives, include write filters to restrict or inhibit storing of content locally, and because their USB connections can be blocked from use, they inherently deliver maximum data protection. Thin clients allow IT departments to have an additional layer of control over the flow of information and who uses it and when.

Healthcare Environments

Medical practitioners in healthcare environments often take home patient charts and data to review after hours, creating the potential for a lost smart phone or laptop.  These lapses can subject a medical facility to millions of dollars in HIPAA fines for mishandling private patient data. Mass General Hospital paid the U.S. government $1 million in 2011 to settle charges related to a lost phone carrying the private medical records of 192 patients.[2] More recently, in August 2015, a cancer care facility in Indianapolis agreed to pay $750,000 to settle HIPAA claims after a laptop containing the billing and insurance information of as many as 55,000 patients was stolen from an employee’s vehicle.[3]

Though centralizing data in a VDI architecture is one way to add a layer of protection, connecting to a VDI architecture using legacy PC’s may still leave content vulnerable. With an inexpensive thin or zero client installed at a healthcare provider’s residence, patient records can be easily and securely accessed via WAN without the risk of data mismanagement. Medical information is never sent or stored on the endpoint and the patient data never leaves a centralized datacenter. This configuration not only protects critical patient information, it can boost productivity and enable more flexible work schedules, since healthcare providers do not have to restrict reviewing charts and other pertinent information to the hospital or office setting.

To discuss VDI implementations with thin client endpoints, make sure to visit us at Dell World, October 20-22. And to continue to learn more about Dell’s portfolio of desktop virtualization solutions, visit

[1] The New York Times, “Piracy Puts Film Online One Month Before Open,” by Brian Stelter, April 2, 2009

[2] HealthLeaders Media, “MGH To Pay $1M to Settle Potential HIPAA Violation,” Cheryl Clark, February 24, 2011

[3] Healthcare IT News, “Oncology Group Slapped With $750,000 HIPAA Fine,” by Erin McCann, September 2, 2015

About the Author: Reed Martin