Friday Apr 04, 2014

Dynamic Launch in Oracle Secure Global Desktop

In an earlier entry, Oracle Secure Global Desktop and Oracle VDI, we mentioned the dynamic launch feature in Secure Global Desktop and described how we used that feature to connect the two products.  Here's a summary of that integration:

SGD and VDI

Now is a good time to dig a bit deeper into dynamic launch.

Dynamic Launch

There are three parts to it:

  • Dynamic Applications
  • Dynamic Application Servers
  • Brokers

Dynamic Applications

A dynamic application is a type of object in Secure Global Desktop that maps to one or more other applications and offers a user a choice between those applications.  Normally, you would map related applications, like a workflow, or alternatives, where you would expect a user to run only one of the applications at any one time.  'My Desktop' is an example of the latter: it is a dynamic application that maps to a Unix desktop and a Windows desktop, the thinking being that most users would run one or the other, but not both simultaneously.

Dynamic Application Servers

A dynamic application server is an object that tells Secure Global Desktop to execute some code to determine where an application should run.  It can be assigned to an application object just like other application servers and the code is executed when the application is launched.  The code is delivered as a broker.

Brokers

A broker is a Java class that implements a simple interface and is a property of a dynamic application server.  Currently, Secure Global Desktop ships with three brokers:

  • SGD Broker: when this is assigned to an application object, it grabs all the other (real) application servers assigned to the application and presents the user with a choice
  • User-defined SGD Broker: an extension of the SGD Broker that adds the option for a user to enter a host name
  • VDI Broker: this is used to provision hosts through VDI

Together, they provide a structured, flexible and extensible system: a single dynamic application in a user's workspace can open up a wealth of choices.  Let's consider a scenario where a user needs to run a range of web applications that require different browser types and versions.  One solution in Secure Global Desktop would be to create separate items for each type of browser and publish them to the workspace.  Alternatively, you could create a dynamic application that maps to the different types of browser and logically group them together.  And this can be taken a step further: by assigning a dynamic application server to an application, that browser could be run on a server dynamically provisioned through VDI or whatever hypervisor the broker has been written to handle.

Dynamic Launch

So, three key components make up dynamic launch.  Two of them, dynamic applications and dynamic application servers, are part of the Secure Global Desktop infrastructure and plumb the feature into the datastore, workspace and launch process.  They belong in the administrator's realm.  The third component, the broker, provides extensibility.  Secure Global Desktop ships with a broker to deliver VMs provisioned through Oracle VDI, but the open interfaces mean it does not have to stop there. To go further, we must enter the developer's world and write a little code.  Next time...


Saturday Mar 29, 2014

Oracle VM VirtualBox 4.3.10 New Features

Oracle VM VirtualBox 4.3.10 is primarily a maintenance release fixing bugs but also adds some new (experimental) features. Mac OS X users can now experience native full screen support for Mountain Lion and Mavericks. Simply press the "Host key" + "F" to toggle this on or off, or go the View menu to "Switch to Fullscreen".

Mac OS X native fullscreen support

An additional (experimental) new feature is the keyboard indicators (HID LEDs) synchronization for Mac OS X hosts. This feature makes the host keyboard lights match those of the virtual machine's virtual keyboard when the machine window is selected. This is a per-VM setting and it is disabled by default. To enable this for a VM use the following “VBoxManage" command:

./VBoxManage setextradata "GUI/HidLedsSync" "1"

Note: This is an experimental feature and works best when using the internal keyboard of eg your MacBook Pro.

- The Oracle VM VirtualBox team

Friday Mar 28, 2014

Friday Spotlight: New Features in Oracle VM Server for SPARC

The latest release of Oracle VM Server for SPARC 3.1.1 was announced recently. It has extended Single Root I/O virtualization (SR-IOV) benefits beyond Ethernet and Infiniband devices by adding support for Fibre Channel devices. In addition, it provides the ability to control the amount of physical network bandwidth consumed by virtual network devices, thus prevents guest domains from consuming excess bandwidth. To take advantage of the latest features to benefit your virtualization deployment, read Jeff Savit's blog here.

Oracle Secure Global Desktop and Oracle VDI

What is the relationship between these two products?  One view is that Secure Global Desktop (despite its name!) provides access to remote applications and VDI does the same for remote, virtual desktops (VMs).  A clean distinction, but slightly artificial: to Secure Global Desktop, a remote desktop, virtual or not, is really just a remote application.  There is little to differentiate the products when it comes to connectivity to remote desktops -  Secure Global Desktop has its native and HTML 5 clients, VDI has Sun Ray and OVDC, but both products connect to remote servers in the same way, typically using RDP.

Where the products differ is in their scope.  Oracle VDI is a comprehensive solution that enables an administrator to create, store, manage and destroy VMs, as well as allowing users to connect to them.  Secure Global Desktop is simpler and restricts itself to connectivity to the VMs.

So, do the products work together?  A most definite 'yes': use Secure Global Desktop for user connectivity and VDI for management of VMs.  In fact, Secure Global Desktop ships with a component specifically for communicating with VDI.  You can find full details at http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E41492_01/E41495/html/dynamic-launch.html#broker-vdi-3-3 but we can do a short overview here.

Firstly, a slight digression.  There are two main entry points to Secure Global Desktop.  The common approach is for users to log in through their browser and go to their Workspace (formerly known as their 'Webtop').  The Workspace presents all the applications that an administrator has published to the user as links and an application can be launched by clicking its link.  The second entry point is 'My Desktop'.  Here, a user logs in through the browser but, rather than going to the Workspace, a desktop is launched automatically.  Quite a good fit for delivering virtual desktops and the approach we will use in our example.

Let us assume it is a clean installation of Secure Global Desktop.  The first task is for the Secure Global Desktop administrator to configure 'My Desktop' to talk to VDI.  The steps are:

1. 'My Desktop' is a dynamic application object, meaning that it can map to one or more real application objects.  Since all the VM providers accessed through VDI emit RDP, we are interested in 'Windows Desktop' and not 'Unix Desktop'.  We delete the mapping to 'Unix Desktop', leaving a single mapping to 'Windows Desktop'.

Next, we configure the 'Windows Desktop' application.  Traditionally, this would be done by assigning it an application server object that points to a real Windows server.  Here, we are going to use a dynamic application server.  It is 'dynamic' because it uses code (in this case, the VDI Broker) to define the server or servers, rather than a static setting for DNS name or IP-address.  So, next:

2. We create the dynamic application server, set its 'Broker Class' to 'VDI Broker' and configure it with the particulars of our installation.  Configuration involves providing the URL for the VDI web services and, if they are secured with a certificate from an untrusted certificate authority, installing the certificate (or chain) into Secure Global Desktop.
3. We assign this dynamic application server to 'Windows Desktop'

That is the administrator's job done.  The user scenario is:

- User clicks the 'My Desktop' link in the browser and authenticates.
- The VDI broker code runs and gets a list of VMs available to the user.  If there is only one candidate VM, Secure Global Desktop connects the user directly to the virtual desktop.  If there are several, the user is given the option to select one before a connection is made.

By using the VDI broker included in Secure Global Desktop, you can deliver virtual desktops to users through Secure Global Desktop and manage the desktops with VDI.  For users familiar with Secure Global Desktop, the desktop is just another application and they face no learning curve.  And administrators can continue to manage desktops through VDI, or even add desktops from other providers without changing the user experience.

There are references to 'dynamic application server objects' and 'dynamic application objects' in this discussion.  These types of objects, along with some open interfaces, form the 'dynamic launch' feature in Secure Global Desktop. This feature is used to extend the product and the VDI Broker is an example of this extensibility - by simply implementing a public interface (see http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E41492_01/E41499/html/com/tarantella/tta/webservices/vsbim/IVirtualServerBroker.html), the VDI Broker plugs into the Secure Global Desktop infrastructure and provides additional functionality. 

Dynamic launch will be the topic of a later entry.

Tuesday Mar 25, 2014

Oracle VM VirtualBox 4.3.10 Released

VirtualBox.png

Oracle VM VirtualBox 4.3.10 has just been released. This maintenance release improves stability and includes some new experimental features.

For more details see the ChangeLog, or just simply download it now at the community or Oracle download sites.  

- The Oracle VM VirtualBox team

Friday Mar 21, 2014

Friday Spotlight: Oracle Secure Global Desktop 5.1

Happy Friday, everyone! Our Friday Spotlight this week is a blog entry from the Oracle Secure Global Desktop engineering team, with some info on what they've been up to: 


Hadn't noticed that this blog has been quiet for a while.  Time to catch-up!

So, what's been happening with Oracle Secure Global Desktop recently?  The biggest event was the release Oracle Secure Global Desktop version 5.1 in November 2013.  This version builds on the tablet support for iPads introduced in version 5.0 and extends it to Android devices.  It also supports the use of the tablet client, using HTML 5 technology, in Chrome browsers.  The traditional Oracle Secure Global Desktop clients are not being neglected and a Patch Set Update was delivered in February 2014 to support their use in Internet Explorer 11.

Talking of "Patch Set Updates", that's the other big, recent development.  In early 2014, we released 'tarantella patch' commands that can be retro-fitted to Long Term Support (LTS) maintenance releases of Oracle Secure Global Desktop and Oracle Secure Global Desktop Gateway to patch existing installations.  Using these commands, you can keep current with third-party components, like the JVM, and apply bug fixes to Oracle Secure Global Desktop.  It's not an alternative to upgrading to the latest version to get the latest features, but helps alleviate immediate problems until an upgrade can be scheduled.

Finally, the other big change is the relationship between Oracle Secure Global Desktop and Oracle VDI, but that's a big topic that needs an entry to itself...


We'll see you next week with another Friday Spotlight!

Friday Feb 28, 2014

Friday Spotlight: What's in a Name?

This week’s spotlight is an Oracle VM tip from Greg King, our best practices engineer. While the tip may appear to be straightforward, a well thought out naming convention is critical in helping system administrators better organize, manage and eliminate mistakes made by other administrators.

Oracle VM is designed to be a highly availability computing platform for your Oracle VM guests. However, high availability is not just about ensuring you have eliminated as many single points of failure as possible, it also means making your Oracle VM platform easy to understand and maintain. An easy to understand Oracle VM environment makes all the difference in managing and maintaining a fault tolerate environment for your Oracle VM Guests when the chips hit the fan.

The use of meaningful descriptions and simple names is a frequently overlooked key to maintaining a reliable highly available computing platform. One goal of high availability is reducing the occurrence of mistakes that cause outages through human error. Using cryptic naming schemes, relying on default names of objects and failing to use descriptions effectively all contribute to overly complex, hard to understand Oracle VM environments; this in turn can completely undermine all the effort you put into eliminating single points of failure in your hardware and operating systems.

The easier it is to understand things at a glance, the faster tasks can be done with less explanation and less chance for critical mistakes. So, let’s take a look at a few examples of things you can do to make your Oracle VM object naming scheme more powerful.

People often leave the simple name for the server management network as the dotted decimal notation of the subnet. Even worse, they use the dotted decimal subnets as names for all their other networks they create. This is pretty cryptic and quite meaningless to anyone but a few in your organization. The default name is meant to be changed to something meaningful in your environment and a naming scheme should be developed that is simple yet meaningful for the remaining networks you create. We have a network naming white paper available on OTN that might give you some good ideas.

You should also take the time to create meaningful naming schemes for Oracle VM servers, server pools, physical disks, virtual disks, guests and guest resources such as assemblies, ISO images and templates. You want to be able to relate various objects to each other without having to search through different tabs and sub-tabs so take the time to create and use meaningful simple names.

If nothing else, the more time you spend making your naming scheme easy to understand, the faster you can detect issues from Oracle VM Manager at a glance. This can save you time on maintaining tedious documentation that you don’t like to write and most people don’t like to read.

Tuesday Feb 25, 2014

The February '14 Oracle Virtualization Newsletter is Out!

The February 2014 Oracle Virtualization Newsletter is now available! It includes content on an updated Oracle VM cost calculator (now including Oracle Linux!), 2014 IT Predictions, community demonstration videos, what's new in Oracle Secure Global Desktop, and much more!

Read the February edition online right now, or subscribe to get future issues delivered straight to your inbox.

-Chris 

Oracle VM VirtualBox 4.3.8 released!

VirtualBox.png

Oracle VM VirtualBox 4.3.8 has just been released. This maintenance release included bug fixes and improves stability.

For the full list of fixes see the ChangeLog, or just simply download it now at the community or Oracle download sites.  

- The Oracle VM VirtualBox team

Friday Feb 21, 2014

Friday Spotlight: Amitego's Tools Updated for latest Oracle Secure Global Desktop

Happy Friday, everyone!

Our spotlight this week is on a fantastic tool, VISULOX Helpdesk from Amitego. If you’re a user of Oracle Secure Global Desktop, you have probably heard of Amitego. They provide tools that extend the feature set of Oracle Secure Global Desktop.

Whereas Oracle Secure Global Desktop is primarily designed for secure remote access to applications and desktops for a single user, Amitego provides extra, complementary tools to control and manage secure access for multiple users to the same session. This is really useful in situations such as where a manager needs to approve a transaction, or if two people with trusted information are needed to complete a task, or, perhaps the most common scenario, providing helpdesk services.

Their new tool, VISULOX Helpdesk, is based on the new VISULOX 3 framework and helps solve this last problem. It allows controlled assisting of a user by another user, without opening up the security risks associated with doing this on your desktop PC. You can do things like assign a group of users that a supervisor can assist with, and then the users can request help from the supervisor, and that supervisor can view their session in tandem. And the user still has control, too -- they can even switch off the cooperation view temporarily to enter a password, for example. And, of course, all of the clients and applications supported by Oracle Secure Global Desktop are supported by VISULOX Helpdesk, so you can even use your tablet device to remotely view and participate in a session.

If you need to do any sort of tandem work or helpdesk services and you’re using or looking at using Oracle Secure Global Desktop, you should go have a look at Amitego and read about their various offerings. Their tools have recently been updated to work with the latest Oracle Secure Global Desktop 5.1.

Have a great week!
-Chris

Wednesday Feb 19, 2014

Live Webcast: Data Intensity Presents Building Private Clouds on Oracle VM

Join us in this live webcast and learn how Data Intensity, a long time Oracle partner, built a successful database and application hosting business using Oracle Linux and Oracle VM. Valuable IT best practices and insights on building a private cloud infrastructure from this seasoned hosting provider will prove to be a valuable and informative 60 minutes time investment.

Data Intensity Presents Building Private Clouds on Oracle VM
Date: February 26th, 2014
Time: 9:00 am PST

Register here

Friday Feb 07, 2014

Friday Spotlight: Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder (OVAB) 12.1.2 Demo Appliance Available for Testing!

Happy Friday! Our Friday Spotlight this week is about a new virtual appliance for Oracle VM:


The Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder team has been busy! You can now take a self-guided tour to see the power of Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder.

For some background, let’s quickly revisit how Oracle VM enables rapid application deployment.

Oracle VM Templates allow you to easily and quickly deploy pre-configured Oracle Database and applications. Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder accelerates and simplifies provisioning of complete multi-tier application topologies by packaging them as standard Open Virtualization Format (OVF) Assemblies for deployment into Oracle VM environments. It is capable of capturing application topologies comprised of Oracle and non-Oracle products. With a single keystroke, applications are fully deployed using application and user defined metadata. Two example use cases are replicating an entire application topology from one datacenter to another or deployment of entire stack of application into Oracle VM as a foundation for your private cloud environment.

The OVAB 12.1.2.0.0 Demo Appliance is a self contained Oracle VM VirtualBox appliance which includes both OVAB 12.1.2.0.0 Studio and Deployer and a reference application topology that you can introspect to create Appliances and then compose them into an Assembly.

Please note: this appliance is not meant for production use.

The OVAB team has done a great job in packaging this appliance. Download the Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder 12.1.2.0.0 Demo Appliance and take your self-guided tour today! 


Have a great week and we'll see you next Friday!

-Chris 


Friday Jan 31, 2014

Friday Spotlight: Oracle BigDataLite Virtual Appliance powered by Oracle VM VirtualBox

Happy Friday! Our spotlight this week is a post from our Oracle VM VirtualBox product team on a brand new virtual appliance:


Oracle has released the Oracle BigDataLite virtual appliance allowing developers to focus on what they do best, which is developing applications.

With the Oracle BigDataLite virtual appliance, there is no need to install the Big Data platform components or configure them, that's already all done for you. Simply download the Oracle BigDataLite appliance for Oracle VM VirtualBox, start it up on your desktop or laptop and you are ready to go. Can it be easier than that?

If you like to get more details about the Oracle BigDataLite virtual appliance please check this announcement. Or even better, register for the Virtual Developer Day scheduled next week Tuesday, February 4th to get first hand answers to all your questions or to make your hands dirty during one of the hands-on-labs.

Have a great day,

-The Oracle VM VirtualBox team

Friday Jan 24, 2014

Friday Spotlight: KT, Part 2!

Happy Friday!

The spotlight today is a follow-up to a previous one about Oracle customer KT. In today's spotlight, we have a newly published full success story about KT for you to read! In it, you'll learn how KT increased their operational efficiency, were able to deploy cloud services 50% faster, lowered virtualization overhead, and much more, due to Oracle VM and Oracle Linux.

Read the KT success story

We'll see you next week!

-Chris 

Friday Jan 17, 2014

Friday Spotlight: Virtual Sysadmin Day Winter 2014

Happy Friday! Our Friday Spotlight today is a bit unique in that we're putting the same information on both the Oracle Virtualization blog and the Oracle Linux blog. The reason is that we want to tell you about a fantastic opportunity for Oracle VM and Oracle Linux administrators.

On January 28, Oracle is hosting an event called Virtual Sysadmin Day. If you haven't attended one of these before, you're in for a treat. These events let you attend a virtual version of the hands on lab sessions that we run each year at Oracle OpenWorld. So, if you've ever wanted to go to one of those sessions but couldn't get to San Francisco or the other Oracle OpenWorld locations around the world, now is your chance to attend from the comfort of you desk!

The format is really cool. The materials for the lab are provided for you, you just need to have Oracle VM VirtualBox (it's a free download), and download the pre-configured virtual machines for the labs. You should do this ahead of the event, but all the information to help you do it is available to you when you register.

On the day of the event, you login and watch some intro content that sets up the labs, and then you follow the steps for the labs on you own system. Oracle experts will be in the chat area to help with issues you might run into.

Virtual Sysadmin Day Winter 2014
January 28, 2014
9AM - 1PM Pacific Standard Time

Register Now

Virtual Sysadmin Day is one of my favorite events, I hope you have time to check it out! 

-Chris 

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