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April 10, 2014

How one health board has reduced energy costs with thin client technology

Cwm Taf is replacing old PCs with 2,500 thin client devices.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

A university health board in Wales has reduced energy costs and management time after deploying 2,500 thin client devices from IGEL across its hospitals, GP clinics and administration offices.

Cwm Taf University Health Board, which has an annual budget of around £650m and employs more than 8,000 staff, was looking to replace its old PCs that were "too bulky".

After looking at new and second hand PCs to use as Citrix terminals, the health board opted for IGEL’s thin clients, which use 30W of power compared to the old PCs that used 300W.

John Probert, senior server manager at Cwm Taf, said he has installed 2,500 IGEL thin clients out of a total of 4,500 desktops.

"We have them in the laboratories, theatres, accident and emergency and all the clinical areas," he explained.

"The administration staff also use them in the offices and for database access. Some are running dual screens for some of the large spreadsheet applications, such as the nursing rostering system."

Probert claims the IGEL devices are smaller, faster to deploy, use less energy and are easier to use than the old PCs.

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"We manage the infrastructure with the resources of just four staff who are able to support the IGEL clients via the Universal Management Suite console as a small part of their job," he said.

"We have noticed a significant drop in our power use and have avoided issues like the end-of-life support for Microsoft Windows XP, which many other organisations are now having to grapple with."

The health board also has IGEL UD3 and UD5 Linux devices running a Windows 2008 desktop connected by Citrix XenApp 6, which will soon be upgraded to Citrix XenApp 6.5, while there are 120 virtualised Citrix servers using Citrix XenServer as the hypervisor.

Matt Palmer, the health board’s head of server management, said: "This increase of server virtualisation has helped Cwm Taf University Health Board in energy cost savings as we are now running 63% of our 400 server estate through hypervisor servers."

The medical team are also using wireless connected IGEL thin clients on their medical carts to view results and check records, which connect to the network using a dongle via the USB port.

"Another benefit is that we do not suffer from thefts, as the devices are useless when taken off the network. We also do not have any patient data issues, as information cannot be stored locally on the device."

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