Virtualization @ Oracle (Part 8: Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure - OVDI)

Having finished the overview of individual virtualization technologies from Oracle using Hypervisors and Operating System features, now it's time to look at the desktop product, also known as

Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (OVDI)

Before diving deeper into Oracle's offering, lets define, what VDI is. Therefore lets again quote Wikipedia (

“Desktop virtualization involves encapsulating and delivering either access to an entire information system environment or the environment itself to a remote client device. The client device may use an entirely different hardware architecture from that used by the projected desktop environment, and may also be based upon an entirely different operating system. The desktop virtualization model allows the use of virtual machines to let multiple network subscribers maintain individualized desktops on a single, centrally located computer or server. The central machine may operate at a residence, business, or data center. Users may be geographically scattered, but all must be connected to the central machine by a local area network, a wide area network, or the public Internet.”

Or short:

“Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is the practice of hosting a desktop operating system within a virtual machine (VM) running on a hosted, centralized or remote server.”

To simplify the understanding, lets put this into a picture:

In order to achieve such an environment or such an infrastructure, multiple pieces are needed. End user devices to access the centralized hosted desktops, tools to transport (encode) the desktop via the network to the end user devices, and tools to virtualize the desktop operating systems so that they can be encoded and transported via the network. Oracle has all the pieces, some of them have already been touched on in former articles. But users want choice, so even the use of non-Oracle products is possible in setting up an OVDI.

Before we describe these parts in more detail, here's an overview picture taken from the documentation (

Lets start with the end user devices:

Some fifteen years ago Sun created the Sun Ray (, which now is in its third generation, and is also available as a software only product (the OVDC, the Oracle Virtual Desktop Client), which can be run on the iPad, MacOS, Windows and Linux. With this, a broad variety of end user device solutions are possible, ranging from Zero Admin Devices (the physical Sun Ray itself) over classical desktop systems running software to access the VDI desktop, up to mobile devices like the iPad, allowing instant access to a user's desktop anywhere on this planet.

Moving on from the end user device closer into the datacenter, lets look at the network part:

As the above mentioned Desktop to Network Virtualization needs an encoding tool on the server side, the Sun Ray Server Software is the corresponding counterpart for these client devices. The protocol used is called Appliance Link Protocal (ALP, which is a Sun Ray specific protocol), and is particularly well suited for wide area networks, so massively centralized infrastructures can be build in large global enterprises.

Moving again closer to the “desktop run in a datacenter”, lets look at the virtualization components:

Somehow the desktop operating systems per se need to be virtualized. This can be done via a variety of so-called desktop providers/connectors, one of which is the aforementioned VirtualBox product. Providers/connectors for Citrix XenDesktop, Vmware vSphere, Vmware View, or Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 or Microsoft Remote Desktop Services 2008 also exist.

Moving away from the underlying enabling technologies, lets look at the management part:

As such VDI setups are accessed by thousands of users and host thousands of individual desktops, access management to all these possible mappings between users and their sessions/desktops needs to be handled. This is done by the desktop broker, which is an integral part of Oracle VDI and allows connection to an enterprise database containing such information, like Active Directory or LDAP, and stores its internal information in a MySQL database. This allows for easy management and migration of already existing corporate desktop infrastructures into an Oracle VDI environment.

Then there is the storage space:

Here the setup and provisioning of new user desktops needs to be managed as all of these are stored in the desktop operating system disk images. This also uses other Oracle technologies to speed up the process, like cloning of existing desktop “golden images” via storage subsystem methods. The cheapest VDI solution then would be a single x86 server with a bunch of internal disks. But also setups of many x86 servers with external storage like the Oracle S7000 series is possible.


With Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, there is a complete VDI solution from Oracle, making intelligent reuse of already existing technologies.

Further Reading

This series already had the following articles:

  • December 2011: Introduction to Virtualization (Matthias Pfützner)
  • January 2012: Oracle VM Server for SPARC (Matthias Pfützner)
  • February 2012: Oracle VM Server for x86 (Matthias Pfützner)
  • March 2012: Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers (Detlef Drewanz)
  • April 2012: Resource Management (Detlef Drewanz)
  • May 2012: Network Virtualization and Network Resource Management (Detlef Drewanz)
  • June 2012: Oracle VM VirtualBox (Detlef Drewanz)

The series will continue as follows (tentative):

  • August 2012: OpsCenter as Management Tool for Virtualization (Matthias Pfützner)

If you have questions, feel free to contact: Uwe Strahlendorf

Read more:

<<< Part 7: Oracle VM VirtualBox >>> Part 9: Ops Center as a Management Tool for Virtualization


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