VirtualBox and Sun VDI to deliver a new level of productivity and
security — just like Sun did for 21,000 virtual desktops at JavaOne
IT management is constantly asked
to do more with less. Traditionally, the focus has been on hardware:
wringing more productivity out of servers, consolidating systems to cut
costs, and so on. But there are also opportunities to save money and
improve efficiency by enabling people to do more with less —
particularly when it comes to managing desktop environments.
Despite the massive influx of mobile devices, netbooks, and other
hand-held gizmos, the desktop computer is still the predominant
productivity tool in most organizations. Yet all too often the
desktop’s functionality is still limited to one operating system and
one CPU used by one individual; the company’s desktops are still
managed by a small army of administrators (whose salaries continue to
climb while hardware costs shrink); and security is still a major
Visualize a Virtualized Environment
In the same way server and storage systems can be virtualized to
pool resources and improve utilization rates, desktop environments can
be virtualized to improve end-user productivity, manageability, and
Through virtualization products such as Sun VirtualBox
software, a single desktop can host multiple operating systems and
perform many different types of jobs. So a Windows-based PC is no
longer just a PC — can also run the Macintosh OS in one window, Linux
in another, and OpenSolaris in yet another.
Moreover, with Sun VirtualBox the desktop device is no longer
limited to the number of physical CPUs it was built with. It can be
configured with virtual CPUs (up to 32 virtual CPUs in a single system)
or it can tap into the processing power of larger servers or even cloud
And with Sun VirtualBox the desktop device is no longer subject to
the same security threats as a PC because the virtual environments are
isolated from the native environment and can be discarded at any time.
So users can feel free to try out new software or download programs
into a virtual environment without the risk of contaminating the host
You can even test-drive a new OS, such as Windows 7 or the latest
version of OpenSolaris, or launch an instance of a legacy OS, such as
OS/2, without disrupting anything or putting any resources at risk.
Think of the desktop device as a house with different rooms for
different purposes: an “office” where work is kept separate from home
stuff; “family rooms” where each member of the family has their own
space and can make/break things at will (ideal for teenagers); “safe
zones” where you can do financial transactions with complete security;
even a “cleaning cabinet” that cleans up the other spaces in the
Equally important, through the management capabilities of products such as Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
(VDI), the administration of virtual desktop environments can be
centralized and streamlined, saving administrative time and expense.
Since desktops are centrally hosted, only the display is sent to the
client device; critical data never leaves the corporate network and can
be managed and backed up by IT.
Showcase Example: Sun VirtualBox and Sun VDI at JavaOne
To better understand the real-world potential of Sun VirtualBox and
Sun VDI, take a closer look at how Sun provisioned and managed 21,000
virtual desktops for the attendees of this year’s JavaOne conference in
Sun installed hundreds of Sun Ray “thin-client” desktops throughout
the lobby areas of the Moscone Center, where the conference took place.
Every JavaOne attendee was given a smartcard as part of their
registration welcome kit. To access their home or work desktops from
the Sun Rays, all they had to do was insert the smartcard into the
nearest available Sun Ray and choose the type of virtual desktop they
wanted: Windows 7, Ubuntu Linux, or OpenSolaris.
The first time the user made the choice, the chosen virtual desktop
virtual machine (VM) was created based on a template in Sun VDI. The VM
configuration was stored in a MySQL database, and the virtual disk
image was quickly cloned from the template. Then Sun VDI chose a
VirtualBox server, launched the new VM on that server, and
authenticated the new virtual disk. When the user removed his or her
smartcard, the VM suspended after a short period, freeing up resources
for other users. Re-insertion of the smartcard re-launched the
previously created virtual desktop, and the VM was restored from disk.
How many administrators were required to manage these 21,000 virtual desktops? A grand total of two.
And how much high-powered hardware was required to run everything? A
single rack, populated by four VDI servers (Sun Fire X4450 servers,
each with four CPUs and 64 GB memory), five VirtualBox servers (Sun
Fire X4450 servers, each with four CPUs, six cores per CPU and 64 GB of
memory), and three 7210 Unified Storage servers. This configuration,
incidentally, proved to be excessive for the requirements!
Open Source Alternative, Open to Any OS
Sun VirtualBox has quickly and quietly become the most popular open
source virtualization solution in the world. The installed base exceeds
16 million, and there were more than one million downloads in the month
of July alone, according to senior product manager Andy Hall.
“I believe Sun VirtualBox has gained traction quickly because it’s
an enterprise-class solution that runs on all major operating systems,
and it’s the first virtualization product that handles workloads of up
to 32 virtual CPUs,” said Hall. “And since it’s backed by a large and
growing community, it simply delivers more innovation, faster.”
Sun VirtualBox software is free of charge for personal use. For
wider deployments within an organization, enterprise subscriptions are
also available, starting at $30 (USD) per user per year, which includes
24/7 premium support from Sun's technical team. Discounts are available
based on volume.
For more information about Sun VirtualBox or to download the product, visit http://virtualbox.org.
For additional details about Sun VDI, visit http://www.sun.com/software/vdi/index.jsp.