Tuesday Jan 11, 2011

VDI In The Sky: Encore

A while back my colleague ThinGuy posted a blog entry called "VDI In The Sky" showing photos of the Oracle Virtual Desktop Client on a Netbook accessing a Oracle VDI hosted desktop from 30,000 feet.   On a trip I took to San Francisco I could not help wanting to try it myself.  I often talk of the benefits of the Sun Ray Appliance Link Protocol to customers.  With wifi service available on many airlines and at reasonable prices for business travel I was in luck.   

As a side note, when I am discussing with customers the concept of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure I always get the "What about when I am not connected like on a airplane?" question.  I ask you to look at the evolution of being connected (or "Online") and the pace of the adoption of network technologies making network access ubiquitous.   It is amazing how quickly network access and network speeds have evolved.   So I ask in return, "When are you not connected?  if you are not, do you really have much to do?"

So there I was on a plane in premium economy with a bit more leg room, wifi internet access, a Cisco VPN connection to my lab,  and the Oracle Virtual Desktop Client installed.  It was too hard to resist trying what Thinguy showed, so I fired up my mobile phone video recorder and gave it a try (Sorry for the shaky hand but typing and recording at the same time was a challenge)

I couple of things I want to point out as you watch this:

  1. The internet access was from 30,000 feet traveling at several hundred miles per hour (A incredible networking feat on it's own)
  2. The greatest challenge to using internet access on a airplane is "Latency" that impacts the user experience by having to wait for those emails messages to load,  files to download / upload,  or in this case for the screen to draw a VDI hosted desktop.   Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms) and on your home broadband network will likely be in area of 100ms to 150ms depending upon what you use.  Over airplane wifi connections you will see in this video it is 300ms to 400ms latency and it is not consistent, it changes up and down frequently thanks to the plane's airspeed.
  3. In order to access my VDI hosted desktop securely I needed to create a VPN tunnel so now I have added IPsec encryption to the 300-400ms latency. 

My goal was to answer the question "Would accessing a Virtual Deskop from 30,000ft at high latency be usable or just a gimmick?" I will certainly say that playing youtube videos over this connection is entirely unreasonable so I did not even try.   I set out to access a variety of desktops - Windows 7,  Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, and Ubuntu Linux all accessed by Oracle VDI software.  My focus was on the following tests:

  • Responsiveness of the Oracle VDI login and desktop selection screens
  • Initial desktop screen draw time and pix-elation  from network delay.  Initial screen draws are typically the largest.
  • Mouse click response time such as selecting windows manager functions and having them respond reasonably.  Click delays will drive even the most patient user crazy.
  • Determine the impact of accessing different desktop back-ends such as Windows Server, Windows 7, and Ubuntu Linux

I could have spent hours on different tasks but I chose these basic ones for the sake of time and so I have a reason to test other things on another trip ;-)

Some conclusions for me:

  • The usability for displaying a desktop is very good for a variety of desktops with Oracle VDI using the Sun Ray Appliance Link Protocol
  • I could certainly do more over this connection with remotely displaying a VDI desktop and applications.  Data intensive tasks are better left in the data center such as:
    • Trying to load a large inbox to a mail client and open attachments. When opening mail using a VDI hosted desktop that one big attachment can be opened in a few seconds rather than loading it into a mail client over the airplane wifi at high latency
    • Many applications are accessed by a browser and are very "chatty",  meaning they frequent transactions back and forth and will suffer by high latency on a WAN. These applications will perform well in a VDI model since the browser and the applications are on a data-center backbone and not on a WAN.
    • Trying to access large files from a home directory.  Users can load any size file needed into OpenOffice that resides a VDI hosted desktop and not worry about the data transfer time to a laptop
    • I prepared a presentation during travel time and never had to close then re-open the file.  Same thing goes for email messages I was editing.
So what is the big deal?  Why VDI in the sky anyway?
  1. Corporate and customer data are completely secure in the data-center. (As long as it is kept there)
  2. Desktops OS and personal data are backed up transparently - Less time spent as a desktop administrator and more time for what users are paid to do.  (Example: My corp laptop is old and makes unnerving noises at times so I am worried)
  3. With Oracle VDI users can have a variety of desktops and not be limited by the hardware they carry - Windows XP, Windows 7, Ubuntu Desktop, Oracle Enterprise Linux, Solaris, and more.
  4. Tasks can be started then disconnect and reconnect from them as needed without having to restart from the beginning
  • Think editing a OpenOffice presentation, document, spreadsheet and not having to worry if your laptop battery dies losing critical changes
  • The ability to access any size file a user needs whether it is in email, on a home directory, or on a company shared folder and not be impacted by limitations of the network being using at the time
  • A developer can load source files into development tools and run tests or compiles then disconnecting while traveling and  knowing they keep on running as needed

There are many more examples that I will save for a forth coming blog series called "Why VDI"

 Thanks for reading

Tuesday Nov 24, 2009

Please Welcome Sun VDI Software 3.1

Hot on the heels of the Sun Ray Software 5 release, Sun VDI Software 3.1 was just made available (get it here). This is an exciting update for us, here is a quick overview of what's new: 

  • Microsoft Hyper-V support
    • Previous versions of Sun VDI Software already allowed for heterogeneous virtualization hosts, but we extend this support to include Microsoft Hyper-V in VDI 3.1. This means that you can use Sun built-in, VMware vSphere (or just ESX and vCenter, if that's what you've got), Microsoft Hyper-V, or any combination(!) to host your virtual desktops. This provides amazing flexibility and really reduces concerns around lock-in of any particular vendor. Want to change platforms? Easy, put up the new environment, test it with a group of users, migrate everyone over, and shut off the old one when you're ready (or keep it as a backup).
  • Remote Desktop Services support
    • We have lots of customers who use both classic server-based computing (SBC) and VDI at the same time. The trouble is that many architecture have you managing the two environments completely separately. But with Sun VDI Software 3.1, Windows Server 2003 and 2008 can be desktop providers. This means you can choose to assign any combination of VDI and SBC desktops to each of your users and manage the assignments from one management interface.
  • Sun Desktop Access Client
    • Sun VDI Software has leveraged both Sun Secure Global Desktop Software and the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection client to provide access from Windows PCs. With version 3.1, we add the Sun Desktop Access Client into the mix (no, we haven't dropped SGD or RDC support!). The Sun Desktop Access Client is a purpose-built piece of software that installs on Windows PCs and allows direct access to Sun VDI Software without any further server configuration or setup. It also leverages the exact same protocol as our award winning Sun Ray clients. It's simple, high performance, and allows you to seamlessly shift your virtual desktop session between a Sun Ray client and a PC.
  • Enhanced Adobe Flash media support
    • For a virtual desktop to be truly useful, it needs to approach the capabilities of a full desktop PC. A traditional stumbling block for any sort of remote access technology is high performance video and animation. With this release, Adobe Flash content is accelerated for both Sun Ray clients and Sun Desktop Access Client enabled PCs.
  • USB direction for Windows XP
    • If you're using a Sun Ray client and Windows XP as your virtual desktop operating system, you can now plug many USB devices into your Sun Ray client and they show up automatically in your Windows XP session.

There are lots of other smaller updates, too. For the full skinny, please read the  full product documentation and enjoy the new release!


Monday Sep 14, 2009

Sun VDI 3.1 Software EA & Sun Ray Software 5 EA 2

The Sun Desktop Virtualization Marketing team is pleased to announce the Sun VDI Software 3.1 Early Access program and the Sun Ray Software 5 Early Access 2 program. Both programs begin 9/15/09, at 5am PDT and they will end on 10/2/2009.

Which program should you join?

Choose Sun VDI Software 3.1 when you want to deploy server hosted virtual desktops running inside virtual machines to a variety of client devices.
Choose Sun Ray Software 5 when you want to deploy Sun Ray Software to Sun Ray Thin Clients or PCs in a more traditional server-based computing model. You should also choose this program if you want to deploy Sun Ray Software + VMware View Manager.

Sun VDI Software 3.1 Early Access

Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Software 3.1 allows organizations to deploy a secure desktop environment hosted in the data center and displayed on a number of client devices, including Windows PCs and Sun Ray Thin Clients. This release adds Microsoft Hyper-V as an additional virtualization host, support for virtual desktops generated by Microsoft Terminal Services, and the Sun Desktop Access Client for simplified access from Windows PCs. Sun VDI Software 3.1 also includes a number of additional features for Sun Ray client devices, including USB redirection and Adobe Flash enhancements. More details on new features are covered in the support documentation.

You can download the software here:

After you have downloaded and tested the software, please fill out the survey here:

Documentation is available here:

Support is available through the Sun VDI Forum here:

Sun Ray Software 5 Early Access 2 (EA2)

Sun Ray Software is a secure, cost effective solution that delivers a rich virtual desktop to PCs or Sun Ray Thin Clients. The Sun Ray Software Early Access 2 program delivers four core new features: USB device redirection to Windows, Adobe Flash Enhancements, Windows Server 2008 support and the Sun Desktop Access Client (code name was "Sun Ray Soft Client"). Details of the features are listed below.

1) USB device redirection to Windows
Remote Windows XP Desktop users can now deploy a multitude of Windows USB devices with Sun Ray Technology.  A full list of supported devices is available here.  Installation of Sun Ray Software for Solaris x86 or SPARC is required.  This feature is supported with Sun VDI as a part of the Sun VDI 3.1 Early Access Program or with VMware View Manager in the Sun Ray Software 5 EA2 program.

2) Adobe Flash Enhancements
Sun Ray Software 5 provides Adobe Flash enhancements which enable customers to experience improved frame rates along with synchronized audio, video, and Adobe Flash animation playback for the Sun Ray 2 family of clients and its follow-on product family.

Supported environment:
o Internet Explorer 7 and 8
o Adobe Flash 9 content with all Adobe Flash plugins from versions 9 & 10
o Windows Server 2003 R2 (32-bit) and Windows XP SP3 (32-bit)

Users will need both components of Sun Ray Software - Sun Ray Server Software & the Sun Ray Connector for Windows OS. In additional to the Windows environment mentioned above, users need to install Sun Ray Server Software which runs on the following platforms:
o Solaris 10 5/09 or higher on SPARC and X86
o SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 Service Pack 2 (32-bit and 64-bit)
o Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 Update 3 (32-bit and 64-bit)

3) Windows Server 2008
Sun Ray Software 5 enables customers to display applications within Windows Server 2008 in 32 bit color. Windows Server 2008 Session Directory support is also included.

Supported platforms:
o Solaris 10 5/09 or higher (SPARC and X86)
o SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 Service Pack 2 (32-bit and 64-bit)
o Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 Update 3 (32-bit and 64-bit)

4) Sun Desktop Access Client (code name was "Sun Ray Soft Client").
The Sun Desktop Access Client is a software application that easily installs on common client operating systems and provides the ability to connect to centralized desktops running on Sun's desktop virtualization software products. An alternative to using a Sun Ray Thin Client, the Sun Desktop Access Client meets the needs of end-users who do not fit the desktop thin client model or who may need to connect from their existing laptop or desktop PC. The Sun Desktop Access Client also provides the flexibility to 'hotdesk' to and from your Sun Ray Thin Client and any supported Sun Desktop Access Client enabled PC.

Supported platforms:
o Microsoft Windows XP
o Microsoft Windows Vista
o Microsoft Windows 7

You download the software here:

After you have downloaded and tested the software, please fill out the survey here:

Documentation is available here:

Support is available through the Sun Ray Software Forum here:

If you have additional feed-back for the product team, please send it here:

Thank you for your participation in the Sun VDI 3.1 and/or the Sun Ray Software 5 Early Access 2 Program!

Angela Carducci
Product Line Manager
Desktop Virtualization Marketing
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Thursday Aug 27, 2009

New Sun VDI 3 Hands On Training Course

Sun is finally offering a hands on instructor led class for Sun VDI 3.  Since I personally know the folks that created the content for this course, I know it's going to be top notch!

A brief description:

This five-day workshop introduces you to Sun VDI Software 3 technology and software administration. Along with installing Sun VDI Software 3, you are introduced to the architectural details of the software, providing a foundation to understand the individual features introduced in subsequent modules. Through a combination of instructor-led lectures and hands-on labs, you are introduced to the following VDI components and features:

  • Sun xVM VirtualBox and VMware® Virtual Center desktop brokers
  • LDAP and Microsoft® Active Directory directory server integration
  • Open Storage platform for the back-end storage of user desktops
  • Sun Ray Software (SRS) and Sun Secure Global Desktop (SGD) for the display of user desktops
  • Sun VDI administration tools
Sign up today!

Wednesday Jul 15, 2009

Not Exactly A Sign Of The Apocalypse...

But far bigger news than cats and dogs sleeping together!  I kid, but how cool is this Microsoft Whitepaper on VDI using Sun Rays!

Monday Jan 26, 2009

VDI Performance and Scalability on Sun Fire X4450 and X4600 servers

While most of our readers by now recognize the technical guidelines for scaling and performance of a VDI setup based on shared experiences (Sun and VMware), it is always good to have a "measureable" standard reference to use as a starting point. Here are official references of a set of independent test reports commissioned by Sun and produced by Lionbridge/Veritest:

The tests were performed using Windows XP SP3 with 512MB and 1 vCPU as the base VDI desktop.

Monday Jan 12, 2009

VDI with Sun Ray 2

found on SearchServerVirtualization.com: Virtual desktop infrastructure with Sun Ray 2 devices, 29-Dec-2008 by Rick Vanover.

Sunday Sep 07, 2008

Customized Sun Ray kiosk sessions

Have you ever tried to customize your Sun Ray installation to display different 'things' for different Sun Rays and users' cards? HERE you'll find an info how to do so (configuration via SRSS Admin GUI only).
What can be displayed?
- full Windows/Solaris session
- single Windows/Solaris application
- menu with some Windows/Solaris applications
- wallpaper - ie. to see your girlfriend photo if card is not inserted
- images slideshow - ie. reception desk or tradeshow.
Scripts support USB storage, serial devices and printers connected to Sun Ray.

Additionally HERE you can find some instructions/scripts which can help to install, configure and connect
your SGD server to Active Directory.

Tuesday Mar 18, 2008

Just Released - Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Software 2.0

     Hot off the presses is Sun's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Software 2.0, just released last night. Included is the new Sun Virtual Desktop Connector, acting as a broker between Sun Ray and Secure Global Desktop infrastructure and VMware virtual machines.  This solution provides exceptional flexibility in deploying virtual desktops in an easy, secure manner to both Sun Ray clients as well as a variety of other clients, with a choice of desktop operating systems, including Windows, Solaris and Linux. This would probably be a good time to note our recent announcement of entering an OEM agreement with VMware, making it that much easier for a complete solution from Sun.

     Heck, so many interesting things happening in this space, it's hard to keep track of it all. Wouldn't want to miss our purchase of innotek and their VirtualBox technology, an open source virtualization software technology that allows running virtual machines under a variety of host operating systems to run many different guest OSes, including Solaris, Linux, Windows and OS X. Nor would I want to forget the ongoing work incorporating Xen open source technology into both OpenSolaris, and into xVM Server,  giving you the ability to run guest operating systems with no hypervisor knowledge as usual, and those guest operating systems that are hypervisor aware and can take advantage of performance enhancements through direct hypervisor calls.

Monday Dec 03, 2007

Managing Open Desktops now open.


Sun's APOC (A Point of Control) is now officially Open Source, dual licensed under  CDDL/GPLv2.  What is APOC?  Well, for those of you that have longed for an Active Directory like tool to help deploy 'nix desktops, APOC is that tool.  APOC stores user settings, preferences, configurations, lock downs, etc into LDAP.

Find out more about APOC at Freedesktop.org and on Alberto's blog.

Saturday Nov 11, 2006

Ponders Ponderings from VMworld 2006

VMworld 2006 Ponderings

Think Thin is a collection of bloggers that work with Oracle's Virtual Desktop portfolio of products.


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