Tuesday Dec 08, 2009

Sun Ray thin clients help leading UK retailer to improve operations and reduce costs

Founded in 1979, ScrewFix is the leading tool, accessory, and hardware product supplier to both building professionals and DIY enthusiasts in the U.K. The company's original business model was based on high-volume catalog orders, but it now runs a substantial online operation in addition to its network of 143 trade outlets, delivering millions of products to customers every year.
Sun Customer ScrewFix
(Image courtesy: ScrewFix)
The ScrewFix contact center plays a critical role in daily operations, taking customer calls to place orders while also handling other customer inquiries including refunds and exchanges, using internally developed customer relationship management software. Until recently, contact center agents used the CRM system running on desktop PCs connected to the company's datacenter. However, slow system performance was making it increasingly difficult to respond quickly to customer inquiries. In 2008, as the PCs came to an end of their lifecycle, ScrewFix looked into an alternative solution with Sun.

Sun recommended a proof of concept using five Sun Ray 270 Virtual Display Client terminals that were deployed in different areas of the contact center, and ScrewFix reported that “the end-user response was impressive.” The proof of concept was enough to convince the ScrewFix IT team to deploy 350 Sun Ray 270 Virtual Display Client terminals to the entire contact center team, powered by 10 Sun Blade X6250 Server Modules residing in two Sun Blade 6000 Chassis. Six of the blades run Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services, while the other four run Sun Ray Software 4 on top of the Solaris 10 Operating System.

The new solution was installed overnight during one week to minimize disruption to employees and customers, and user migration to the new systems took place quickly. ScrewFix's server and storage team leader Peter Smith reports that because the technology is so easy to use, “for most people it was business as usual from the moment they switched on their new machine.” Additionally, ScrewFix employees are also saving time, with startup times up to 95% faster than the previous solution. The deployment of thin-client technology has also significantly lowered hardware total cost of ownership and made administration much simpler and less time consuming.

Check out the complete details, along with a podcast, here.

Sunday Nov 15, 2009

Sun News -- The Week in Review

In the weekly Sun News podcast, Maijaliisa and I talk about the availability of Sun Ray Software 5 and the European Commission's Statement of Objections to Oracle's acquisition of Sun.


Monday Sep 21, 2009

Gebeco migrates to Sun Ray, saves on energy costs

Gebeco, a leading travel operator for study and general group tours, specializes in high-end adventure holidays and educational travel around the world including South America, South Africa, China, and the entire Far East. The company, based in Kiel, Germany, is responsible for the travel brands Gebeco Länder erleben, Dr. Tigges, and goXplore, and serves 70,000 travelers each year. Gebeco uses its own internally-developed reservation system for bookings, which is based on the OS/2 operating system.

Sun Customer Gebeco
(Image courtesy: Gebeco)
However, this infrastructure build recently became a problem because the productivity solutions Gebeco used were effectively obsolete with the OS/2 operating system, and new programs, such as OpenOffice, that the company wanted to introduce were no longer supported on OS/2. Rewriting the reservation software for a new operating system would have been too expensive, so Gebeco searched for a solution that would allow the company to continue using its OS/2 software programs while simultaneously introducing new systems and applications.

Gebeco ultimately decided on the VirtualBox emulator from Sun, which not only allowed the company to integrate OS/2 software with new systems, but also gave them the opportunity to migrate from PCs to thin clients. Gebeco is now conducting operations on 200 Sun Ray 2 Virtual Display Clients along with two Sun Ray 2FS Virtual Display Clients for developers. Gebeco also implemented both the Sun Ray Server Software 4.1 and the applications on four Sun Fire X4440 Servers and two Sun Fire X4150 Servers.

The primary benefits to the new solution are the power and cost savings. The new infrastructure has reduced electricity consumption significantly and is saving the business 7,000 a year. Additionally, the horizontally scaled computer farm can be easily expanded with another machine without any difficulty. Noise reduction is another added benefit, as Thomas Schönemann, IT manager at Gebeco observed “it is much quieter now,” also noting “the buildup of heat is much lower.” Schönemann also praised the reduction in maintenance time stating: “It now takes minutes to do what took hours before.”

Check out the complete details here.

Wednesday Aug 05, 2009

InformationWeek's positive Sun VDI 3.0 review

Sun VDI Solution
Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Software
InformationWeek’s Randy George reviewed Sun VDI 3.0, which he called “new and improved,” citing “impressive performance” and “seamless” authentication against Active Directory as top features.

Randy found that “Virtual Desktop access screamed with Sun's VDI 3 on Sun Fire servers connecting to Sun's VirtualBox virtualization engine.” He also complimented provisioning features and the ability to automatically clone new virtual desktops as well as compatibility with a variety of software platforms.

Randy was also impressed with the Sun Ray 270 thin clients he tested, praising both their aesthetic appeal and the smartcard reader, which can be used for two-factor authentication. Overall Randy concluded that “Sun VDI impresses.”

Friday May 08, 2009

Sun solution helps myToys.de meet demand

Since its launch in 1999, Internet mail-order business myToys.de has grown by 30% to 40% each year. myToys.de sells its merchandise at stationary branch offices, through a mail-order catalog, and on its Web site, which is where the company receives the majority of its orders.

Until recently, myToys.de ran with the help of a classic PC infrastructure, which required many individual devices to be administered, serviced, and updated constantly. Last year as the business growth put additional strain on the customer service team - particularly during the peak periods of Christmas and Easter - Olaf Brehmer, head of System Administration at myToys.de decided it was time to find a replacement solution.
Sun Customer myToys.de

(Logo courtesy: myToys.de)
The solution focused on Sun VDI Software, and was based on the Sun StorageTek 6450 array, seven Sun Fire X4100 servers, a Sun Fire T2000 server, 65 Sun Ray 2 thin clients, and the Solaris 10 Operating System. Deployment was fast and successful, as the implementation started at the end of August, leaving no time for a proof of concept before the busy run up to Christmas began.

With the new system in place, employees at myToys.de now have the flexibility to work at their own desk, another office, or at home while still having access to all of their applications and documents. Olaf Brehmer reports that "thanks to our new Sun Ray technology and Sun VDI deployment, we can scale our business successfully to meet seasonal demand while reducing the overall cost of administration."

Check out the complete details here.

Tuesday Jan 27, 2009

Another Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) / Sun Ray Review in TechTarget

Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Software

In a follow up to last month's virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) review, Rick Vanover of TechTarget further examined planning a VDI implementation.

Rick outlined the main components in a VDI solution and stated, "the Sun Ray series of devices are among the more refined products in the space." Further, he noted, "for administrators who prefer to use an ESX hypervisor for their VDI, the Sun Ray server software can fill this void."

Rick explains the VDI architecture and planning involved, also noting a Sun blog that walks through the setup.

Overall he is quite pleased with Sun's solution, concluding, "setting up a Sun Ray server software installation is not overwhelming. In fact, Sun makes it quite easy by working to simplify the process and break down the steps for administrators considering Sun Ray software."

Monday Jan 05, 2009

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) / Sun Ray review in TechTarget

In a TechTarget overview of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), Rick Vanover reviewed the Sun Ray 2 VDC, 270 VDC and 2FS VDC, noting that "the Sun Ray 2 series of devices are refined products that operate nicely in today's VDI landscape in regards to network transport, multimedia, I/O redirection and a price point that may surprise you."

Building a VDI solution is comprised of three main categories: device, broker, and hypervisor. In this review, Rick focused in the device and core features that should be considered. He looked at bandwidth considerations for VDI, specifically highlighting Sun Ray Server Software (SRSS) and Appliance Link Protocol (ALP).
Sun Ray
Performance and multimedia are the more hot-button features one should look for. "By building a VDI solution around an optimized transport system like Sun's APL, a framework is in place for solid multimedia utilization while keeping the network usage reasonable," he noted.

While the device selection process is important, implementers must also consider cost, infrastructure investment, platform footprints, storage, networking and other factors. Rick noted, "the Sun Ray 2 devices deliver a great user experience and have several options for back-end configuration to meet most requirements."

His conclusion: "The use of the Appliance Link Protocol, while proprietary to Sun, is an optimized transport that allows the device to be simply a device. Updates and connection changes at the Sun Ray server allow administrators to be quite agile in what is delivered to the devices compared to most device, broker and hypervisor relationships."

Wednesday Jun 25, 2008

Busting the Sun Ray myths

Paul Murphy of ZDNet dispels many myths surrounding Sun Ray. He has busted all the top myths people put forward to argue that it's not as good as a PC. He found that most of the more widely cited negatives for Sun Rays are pure nonsense.

According to Paul, Sun Rays are not the right answer for a hobbyist who wants to play games or pretend to program -- but for large organizations the negatives simply don't hold up. One of the lessons that can be learned from productivity change in the telecom industry is that centrally provisioned services can be extremely attractive to consumers provided that the service provider does not impose artificial controls on what the user can do with the device.
Sun Ray Thin Client Solution
We have many large organizations in different verticals who save a bundle by deploying this thin client solution of ours. Here is how Denver Health does it, and here is how Kuwait's Savings and Credit Bank saves money.

So why don't you run a pilot for Sun Ray in your organization and see for yourself how it stacks up.

Hint: You'll be pleasantly surprised. :-)

Wednesday Apr 02, 2008

Customer of the Week: Cincinnati Bell

Cincinnati Bell is finding that desktop virtualization is a far better alternative to upgrading hundreds of PCs running Windows.

The company is in the first phase of its desktop virtualization rollout based on VMware Infrastructure 3 and our Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). With about 3,300 computer-using employees, the company will convert one-fourth of them to use virtual desktops in the initial effort.
Sun customer -- Cincinnati Bell
(Image courtesy: Cincinnati Bell)

Cincinnati Bell turned to Sun because Sun VDI is a great solution designed to work on top of VMware Infrastructure 3, which Cincinnati Bell already had installed. In addition, it offers a choice of end-user interfaces.

Check out the complete details from the InformationWeek article.

Tuesday Mar 04, 2008

Denver Health uses Sun virtual desktop solution to streamline workflow

Healthcare provider Denver Health enabled its workers to reduce their initial login time by more than half, cut desktop setup time from 1 hour to just 10 minutes and gained the ability to increase the number of patient sessions by more than 1,000 per year by moving from a PC environment to a deployment of Sun Ray 2 Clients and Sun Ray Software running on the Solaris 10 Operating System.

According to their Chief Technical Officer Jeff Pelot, "Denver Health's implementation of the Sun Ray technology is saving our organization time and money. In addition, doctors and nurses are using it without further training. We install it and they use it immediately."
Sun customer Denver Health

A lot of customers are using the Sun Ray thin clients these days...

Monday Feb 25, 2008

"Ray of light" for... Kuwait's Savings and Credit Bank

Kuwait's Savings and Credit Bank (SCB) is the first financial institution in that country to roll out a large scale deployment of Sun Ray thin clients, as a part of a wide ranging effort to centralize its desktop operations and support. SCB has seen a dramatic reduction in the volume of support calls, from nearly 30 a day to close to zero at present.

"Performance has increased more than 200 times. A job which previously took more than two or three hours now takes four to five minutes. Even, backup which would take two hours previously, now takes just 20 minutes. It's a big difference," concludes SCB's Fawzi Al Asfoor.

Check out the complete ITP.net story here...
"Ray of Light" article

Friday Nov 23, 2007

Solaris blogs/reviews

1. Server Upgrade Time - elemental.org gets modern -- Elektronkind, 11/17
Dale Ghent mentions that a new Dell PowerEdge 860 running Solaris 10 8/07 has been chosen to replace the infrastructure of elemental.org. The upgrade went without a hitch, and he details how is taking advantage of ZFS in this new infrastructure setup.

2. OpenSolaris as SCSI Target -- Within Reason, 11/19
Ceri Davies talks about the OpenSolaris COMSTAR project releasing their first set of bits. Ceri explains that with this introduction OpenSolaris now supports native CIFS and that he had to try it as soon as possible. The code drop works on Solaris 10 and he explains how he got this going.

3. Proxying Requests Through the Solaris SNMP Daemon -- Blog O' Matty, 11/18
In this blog, Matty referst to a previous blog he wrote about Orca being used to graph JVM utilization. He explains that in order to get the solution running, you must be able to use the Java SNMP agent. He suggests using the Solaris SNMP daemon when using multiple SNMP agents.

4. New Arrival... -- Sparks and White Noise, 11/16
Octave Orgeron shows his readers that he has finally received the Sun SPARC Enterprise T5120. He notes that he will be reviewing this for the next few weeks and blogging about his experiences with Solaris and LDOMs.

5. Saving the Planet with Sun's Thin Client or an Asus Eee PC - Tim Anderson's ITWriting
Tim Anderson touches on the Sun Ray 2 and claims that the typical power consumption is 8 watts versus 50-120 for a traditional PC. He explains that he is unsure about using a thin client for allof his work, but likes the idea of accomplishing common tasks without firing up an energy hungry PC or laptop.

Saturday Aug 04, 2007

My favorite ones from last week...

Selected Sun product conversations in blogosphere during last week:

1. First impressions of ZFS -- Solaris Jedi, 7/26
In this Solaris Jedi blog, Christopher Hubbell, wrote about his experience moving forward with a new JumpStart server layout. When it came to his data disk, he opted to try finally learning ZFS. After some apprehension, he claims the Sun technology is "painless and a pleasure to use. I'm still in shock from the simplicity. This is fun... I don't miss Linux at all."

2. Popsicles vs Fruitsicles -- ZDNet, 7/27
Paul Murhpy challenges those who say that using the Sun Ray is like returning to the green screen days. He says this is misusing a misunderstood label to create or strengthen an instinctive distrust and "No" reaction colouring all further discussion of the issue.

3. Indiana's Calling, Is Anyone Listening? -- LinuxPlanet, 7/27
Brian Proffitt discusses Project Indiana at length. He feels there are difficulties that arise from the fact that many analysts and media are basing their observations on preconceptions of Linux. He writes, "Mention 'distribution' and you might immediately assume that OpenSolaris is becoming some sort of Linux clone, or some such." Proffitt recaps his conversation with members of the OpenSolaris team at OSCON.

4. Solaris Volume Manager and iSCSI: a problematic interaction - CSpace, 7/25
Chris Siebenmann discusses the problematic relationship between Solaris Volume Manager and iSCSI.

Saturday Jul 28, 2007

My favorite ones from last week...

1. Trying to clarify the Sun Ray difference - ZDNet, 7/17
Paul discusses the differences between the Sun Ray, PC and X-terminal. He writes, "What makes the Sun Ray different (than an X-terminal) is that it interfaces a remote user to an application, including graphics display, running on a server." In contrast to the PC, he feels Sun Ray allows users to share resources and information independently of IT, instead of putting rackmounts of PC cards under IT’s direct control and needing virtualization to minimize hardware. He goes on to detail seven advantages, including portability, reliability, flexibility, security, processing power, cost and user freedom.

2. Logging su attempts and failed logins - Blog O' Matty, 7/22
Matty explains as a conscientious Solaris administrator, he make every attempt possible to protect his servers from malicious users, including configuring system auditing and system logging. He illustrates how when he configures system logging, he configures the syslogd daemon to log everything to a centralized location.

3. Configuring MySQL Database Replication using Solaris and ZFS - Martello, 7/19
James highlights his notes taken during an exercise to configure MySQL database replication across two SunFire T2000 servers running Solaris 10, each of which also has a single ZFS file system mounted in /storage/xxxx.

4. Sun's Project Indiana: turning OpenSolaris into a practical platform - ars technica, 7/17
Ryan discusses the forwarding of OpenSolaris and the challenges that the nascent community will face along the way.




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