Wednesday Dec 28, 2011

Scott McNealy and Sun Rays

Scott McNealy was one of the four founders of Sun Microsystems and for a long time he served as a CEO.  I always had a very positive feeling about him when I was a Sun employee. I've seen him a couple of times in real life during several events and I liked his charisma and humor.

During the Sun days Scott McNealy was a big promoter of Sun Rays, it was the ultimate example of "The Network is the Computer".

He still is a big fan of Sun Rays. In a recent article on the GIGAOM website (a series of articles called "12 tech leaders’ resolutions for 2012") Scott McNealy said the following about Sun Ray: I’m always pining away for my old Sun Ray. I hate my Mac. I hate my phone. The amount of time our family spends on administrating this stuff is outrageous. The horror of the expenses we pay to keep upgrading the client! I had the same Sun Ray in my home office for seven years. It’s the best computing in the world–absolutely stateless, data-less, super-thin. It is still the right answer, and we’ll get there someday.

If you are a frequent reader of this blog then you know that the Sun Ray technology is embedded in the Oracle Desktop Virtualization Solution (Oracle VDI). And needless to say I fully agree (uuhhh not fully, I like my Mac) with the above statement from Scott McNealy :-)

Tuesday Dec 20, 2011

Oracle Virtual Desktop Client for iPad 1.1 is released

In the iPad App Store you will find a new release of the Oracle Virtual Desktop Client for iPad. This is version 1.1 of the client and when you installed the App already on your iPad it automatically announces itself in the Updates section.

With OVDC for iPad you can connect from the iPad to your hosted virtual desktop in the data-center infrastructure. See my blog article OVDC for iPad in action with an explanation and sample use-cases.

The improvements in the new release (as documented in the OTN documentation website) are focused around user experience:

  • External Keyboard Support: you can use an Apple Wireless Keyboard or Apple iPad Keyboard Dock as an external keyboard.
  • Improved On-Screen Keyboard Language Support: users can now configure international languages for the on-screen keyboard. See the release notes for the supported languages.
  • New on-screen button icons: enable you to quickly display the on-screen keyboard and the Oracle Virtual Desktop Client side bar. The button icons provide an alternative to using gestures.
  • iPad Settings: the iPad Settings app now includes a section called Virtual Desktop. Here you can configure settings for Oracle Virtual Desktop Client, such as the language used for the on-screen keyboard and whether to display button icons for the side bar and keyboard.
  • New Gesture: a new gesture has been introduced that emulates the middle scroll wheel on a mouse. To use the scroll gesture, drag upwards or downwards with two fingers.

After I installed the update and connected to a remote server, the on-screen keyboard immediately displayed automatically. This is a change with the previous version where you first had to use the three finger gesture to display the on-screen keyboard before you could enter the user-credentials.

I also played with changing the keyboard language. You set the primary keyboard country and OVDC will send the keyboard country code to the remote server where the virtual desktops are hosted. This is done in the iPad Settings app, in the Virtual Desktop section.

OVDC for iPad Keyboard Language

Check also that the language you select for the primary keyboard country is present in the list of supported keyboards on the General, International, Keyboards page in iPad Settings. If the keyboard language is not present in this list, add the language.

In the sample screenshot you can see that I added four languages to my list, when you press the Globe key you can select the language that matches your primary keyboard country. I tested the French AZERTY layout and changed it to my preferred US layout.

Wednesday Dec 14, 2011

White Paper: Design Proposal for Hosted Virtual Desktops

Oracle released a white paper for Oracle VDI: A Design Proposal for Hosted Virtual Desktops. The white paper discusses a design proposal for Windows 7 virtual desktops hosted on Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. It proposes infrastructure for 500, 1000 and 1500 users.

Topics discussed in the white paper are the high-level architecture, capacity planning and design decisions. The white paper finishes with performance optimizations.

The infrastructure in the white paper is based on the full Oracle stack of products, from the end-user client to the storage in the data-center. 

For the storage tier it discusses the Oracle Sun ZFS Storage appliance and calculations are  presented for IOPS for the virtual desktops.

The virtualization tier is represented by the Oracle VDI built-in hypervisor Oracle VM VirtualBox running on Sun Fire x86 servers.

The session management layer discusses the Oracle VDI core technology. For a 500 desktop deployment, only a 10 core capacity is required for the client sessions. This may be deployed on bare-metal or virtualized on a server-hosted platform. 

Furthermore, the client tier is used by several hardware clients: Sun Ray ultra-thin clients and the OVDC software application running on Windows PCs, Mac OS X and tablet devices such as the Apple iPad. 

The white paper finishes with the following statement: "A complete VDI solution requires tying together server hardware, storage hardware and networking technology, in addition to deploying VDI software. Oracle is alone as a VDI vendor in being able to deliver the complete stack: software and hardware engineered to work together."

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I post here hands-on examples which I have used in my Oracle VDI Desktop Virtualization projects at customers and partners.

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