Sunday Feb 08, 2009

Sun VDI 3 - What is it about - The desktop broker

Now we take a closer look at the core part of last months development efforts. According to the illustration below, the desktop broker (Sun VDI 3 software) is listed as one monolithic block which is installed on top of Solaris 10.


And this is done by intention. Sun VDI 3 software combines Sun Ray Software (SRSS/SRWC) and the previously known Virtual Desktop Connector (VDC). There is only one installation and configuration process, which configures the embedded Sun Ray Server Software (SRSS) exclusively for VDI usage. It handles similarly the setup of the underlying database configuration. In summary, the installation process is straightforward with barely any user interaction.

Sun VDI 3 software appears as one building block only handling third tier executed desktops. Execution platform is Solaris 10 U6 or above. Sun VDI 3 supports VMware and VirtualBox as virtualization hosts (desktop provider).

Besides the installation process we have been working on some other major components. First to mention is that we now use our own Sun VDI 3 data repository. This is a MySQL database that stores all the information that are managed by the desktop broker:

  • Access information about the Desktop Providers (DP). A DP is a Virtual Center or a cluster of VirtualBox hosts and attached storages.
  • AD/LDAP access information
  • Pools and their embedded desktops
  • Virtual machine configuration
  • Association of users/groups/tokens to pools/desktops
  • ...
An administrator can choose of three different node configurations, mainly driven by the way the database is used:
  • Cluster DB setup:
    This is a multi-node setup with an embedded MySQL cluster. Designed for HA. Cluster configuration is handled by the setup tool. Basic database skills are required.
  • Remote DB setup:
    This is also a multi-node setup. However the database (MySQL) is installed externally. Database configuration needs to be done by the administrator. Level of HA is controlled by the administrator. Advanced database skills are required.
  • Evaluation setup:
    Single node installation made for evaluation purposes. Zero configuration mode. Not suitable for production.

The administration UI has been reworked to keep up with the new features. I don't dive here into the details, but really a fair set of new things have been incorporated.

Besides UI, we've put a lot of attention to the command line interface (CLI). It matches now with the admin UI feature set. It allows you e.g. to create desktop pools and other stuff directly from the CLI. This might be important if you want to combine Sun VDI 3 with some sort of automation or tools like the Identity Management suite.

That's it for today. The next article will have a closer look at the user management capabilities of Sun VDI 3.


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Saturday Feb 07, 2009

Sun VDI 3 - What is it about - Client access

After introducing the general architecture I do the same exercise again, but with way more focus on the individual parts. Again, we look at the architecture diagram from right to left, with the initial focus on the client access.

Okay, the fact that Sun Ray units can connect to the Sun VDI stack is not brand new. This was also part of Sun VDI 2, if you did configure Sun Ray Server Software (SRSS) for the use with the Virtual Desktop Connector (VDC). The only difference is, that the remote protocol ALP is now built into the solution by default. Each Sun VDI 3 installation will have this ability out-of-the-box.


The really new part is, that Sun VDI 3 mimics also to be Terminal Services (RDP server) by exporting standard RDP to external RDP clients such as Windows Remote Connection or Sun Secure Global Desktop (SGD). Note, you could even redirect RDP traffic to an external Sun Ray Server.

This is done by implementing RDP redirection at the session broker level. Incoming RDP requests will be resolved by a lookup of the user's virtual desktop based on the given user ID as part of the initial RDP request. The lookup will find the user's last used desktop or his default desktop, will startup the desktop if necessary, and will redirect the RDP traffic to the virtual desktop.

How the redirection is done depends on two facts. If xVM VirtualBox is used as the hypervisor, by default the RDP traffic will be directed to the RDP server sitting on top of the VirtualBox host, that executes the user's desktop. The RDP server will render which ever desktop the user has access to, independent of the guest OS. But it is also possible to use the VM's built-in RDP server. This is useful if multimedia accelerations are important. For VMware ESX there is only the option to use the guest inbuilt RDP server. The remote access is limited to Windows XP or Windows Vista.

The approach of RDP redirection has various advantages:

  1. Within a LAN environment there is no additional infrastructure needed to access a remote desktop. Each PC or even thin clients other than Sun Ray can access a virtual desktop, which could even be running a Linux or Solaris Guest OS.
  2. SGD is completely decoupled from the Sun VDI architecture. This means SGD sees Sun VDI just as yet another Windows Terminal Server. This makes the configuration very simple and straightforward. And it also removes any product dependencies away.
  3. RDP Redirection will work with RDP loadbalancers. This has the direct advantage of removing a single point of failure in the architecture. RDP traffic to multiple VDI nodes can be balanced.
  4. RDP traffic doesn't put any load on the VDI node. It is completely handled by the third tier and makes sizing very predictable for the RDP client access case.


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Sun VDI 3 - What is it about - Architecture

When talking about Sun VDI 3, we talk about something completely new designed for better scalability and manageability, built on a complete Sun stack. Of course, customers will also be able to select VMware as their preferred virtualization layer. Below you find the architecture overview of the Sun VDI 3 product.


Generally speaking, the model hasn't changed since Sun VDI 2.0. But the components therein have. From right to left you see the three tiers involved. On the right hand side are the clients. These can be either clients that use the Sun Ray protocol ALP or, and this is new, RDP clients, such as the Windows Remote Connection or Sun Secure Global Desktop.

In the middle you find the Sun VDI building block, which is the desktop broker with embedded Sun Ray Server Software plus the Sun Ray Windows Connector. Altogether they build the session broker that connects users and their client devices with the virtualization tier running the user's desktops. The management of desktops for users incorporates access to a user directory such as Active Directory or LDAP.

And finally you find the virtualization tier on the left hand side. Either VMware Virtual Infrastructure or Sun xVM VirtualBox are the engines for the user desktops. The architecture around VMware Infrastructure access hasn't change significantly. For VirtualBox we came up with a completely different design leveraging Sun's core storage assets based on ZFS. ZFS is the interface to do the storage management meaning managing the virtual disks, while iSCSI is the access protocol to virtual disks. The visualization is handled through RDP. For the VirtualBox backend we use the inbuilt RDP server, that allows us to display any hosted desktop, including Linux or Solaris.

Further blog entries will detail the architecture and the used technologies. Differences in comparison to the Sun VDI 2.0 architecture will also be highlighted.

- Dirk

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Friday Feb 06, 2009

Sun Virtual Desktop Connector, Patch 4 for Solaris Sparc available

We've just released the fix for the patch regression on the Sparc platform: 127559-04. If you have installed version 3 of the patch, please install version 4 on top. If you are still using an earlier version, skip version 3 on Sparc and install directly version 4.

Sorry for the inconvenience we have caused.


Partner Event around VDI 3 in Munich this week

We had a partner event in Munich Monday to Wednesday. It was about exploring the new capabilities of the upcoming Sun VDI 3 release. In summary, this was a great hands-on event starting like this:


After HW preparation the real work started driven and entertained by Carsten, Thomas and Thomas and Rolf-Per:


And then followed with an outlook on what's coming next (audience had loads of questions for me;-)).


Take-away, there is nothing better than a hands-on for VDI to experience how it works and how the different technologies are combined to a real solution.

That was fun.    

- Dirk

PS. Next partner event in Munich is planned for April 21st - 24th. Please contact Thomas Spandoeck for further details.

Thursday Feb 05, 2009

A Sun VDI success story


A quick interruption in my run through of Sun VDI 3. The US Army has already a lot of experience in deploying VDI in connection with Sun Ray. Read more about their 4-digit VDI deployment here.


Sun VDI 3 - What is it about - Highlights

Well, talking about the highlights, can be a short story or quite a long story. But this of course depends on the level of detail. My plan is to stay high-level for now and then dive into the architecture later and explain the Sun VDI 3 step by step.

So what is new with the upcoming release:


In comparison to the last release SUN VDI 3 is now a single product built out of Sun Ray Server software, the Sun Ray Windows Connector and the VDI Broker. The whole installation and configuration process is streamlined and drastically simplified.

A new hypervisor: xVM VirtualBox

The new release introduces xVM VirtualBox as an alternative hypervisor for VDI. VirtualBox allows to run Windows desktop as well as Linux or Solaris desktops, all under a VDI type deployment accessed through RDP and ALP remote protocols.

Linked Cloning: Sun VDI 3 plus Unified Storage.

Sun VDI 3 utilizes directly the capabilities of the ZFS file system. This includes linked clones and the related storage saving. Specifically the direct support of the recently released Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems makes this a very interesting combination.

Extended client support

Besides Sun Ray clients it is also possible to access virtual desktops directly through Windows RDP clients. This increases the deployment options dramatically and also simplifies deployment scenarios including Secure Global Desktop.

And of course there is the Active Directory integration, Sun Ray token management, increased scalability for the VMware Virtual Infrastructure, multiple desktops per user, an embedded MySQL cluster and many other things. I will detail this in subsequent postings.


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Wednesday Feb 04, 2009

Sun VDI 3 - What is it about - Objectives

Hi again,

Sun VDI 3 has been driven by a few release objectives and this is not only about the feature set. It is also about integration. The top 3 objectives have been:

This actually covers a few topics. On the one hand we focussed on better integration with directory service in general and also with the integration or related topics such as token administration, which is important if you intend to use the Sun Ray as your client device. But integration covers also the aspect of making the whole installation and configuration experience much more straightforward in comparison to VDI 2.

This covers a couple, such as how many desktops can be hosted by one group of VDI hosts. It also includes improvements around how quickly a desktop can be cloned, started and accessed by the user.

The VMware VI is broadly adopted these days and gets also more footprint in the VDI space. However, if customers want better storage utilization, access to desktops other than Windows or simply a VDI platform that is self-contained and simple to deploy, there is a need for an alternative. This need has been addressed with Sun VDI 3.

The next article will summarize the highlights of the upcoming VDI 3 release.


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Sun VDI 3 - What is it about


As you probably already know, we have released Sun VDI 3 EA2 last week. You can find the download on the VDI download page, please scroll to the bottom. The related documentation can be found on our Sun VDI wiki. And then there is our newly created forum, the Sun VDI forum. Please use this as another technical resource and feedback channel.

In the next couple of days I plan to circulate a series of blog entries that intend to give an technical overview on SUN VDI 3. These entries should complement the documentation on the Sun VDI wiki.

More to come soon ...

- Dirk

Monday Feb 02, 2009

Attention - Don't touch VDC Patch 3 for Sparc


We have a problem with our VDC patch release 3. The sparc binaries - 127559-03 - do not work, these are the wrong binaries. Please hold off with the patch installation on Sparc until further notice. We will deliver an update within the next days.

Sorry for the inconvenience,

Monday Jan 19, 2009

Sun Virtual Desktop Connector, patch 3 available


A new patch release for the VDC has been published. A couple of problems have been addressed. In addition it has been verified that VDC 1 with the patch 3 is able to run against VirtualCenter 2.5 U3. And it is now also supported to use ESX 3i as the virtualization host. Below the details:

Solaris-SPARC: 127559-03
Solaris-x86: 127560-03
Linux: 127561-03
Windows: 138482-03

You can access the patches from here.

6758284 vms leave factory too soon
6758696 VMs with reuse policy gets recycled even when user logged in, in a scenario mentioned in description
6762429 ESC: Windows application launch script vda-wcpwts.exp is not compatible with SGD 4.41 or later
6763389 ESC - VDA Client fails to retrieve network address of (VMs) with space character(s) in name.
6768489 Users are being logged into another users VM
6770583 Intervals of 0 result in many open ( TIME_WAIT ) ports on VC and connection exceptions
6771149 Sun Ray 4.1 num lock key does not work with VMware via kiosk mode with XKB enabled
6777673 VDA Service fails to reconnect to SGD IF SGD is restarted.
6778423 Further tests required to check VM suitability for use

- Dirk

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Wednesday Oct 15, 2008

SVDC Patch2 is out


The next patch is out. It comprises the following components:

Solaris-SPARC: 127559-02
Solaris-x86: 127560-02
Linux: 127561-02
Windows: 138482-02

A couple of problems have been addressed:

6709313 ESC: Securing SOAP Connection in SGD stops VDA service.
6714371 Searching a VM located in a pool fails if you don't specify the pool
6731373 vc agent runs out of memory
6731375 VMs not removed from AD domain on deletion
6731386 revert to snapshot always results in a vm which is not running
6736783 ESC: can not configure VDC when there are more than 1 server in an SGD array
6745813 listing vms appears to hang

- Dirk

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Thursday Sep 25, 2008

Running VDC 1 on VMware VC 2.5U2


Quite a few people stumbled over the fact that VDC stops working when an upgrade from VC 2.5U1 to VC2.5 U2 is performed. They see something like this on the VDC agent logs after the upgrade:

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.UnsatisfiedLinkError: C:\\Program
Files\\VMware\\Infrastructure\\VirtualCenter Server\\jre\\bin\\nio.dll: The
specified procedure could not be found
at java.lang.ClassLoader$NativeLibrary.load(Native Method)
at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadLibrary0(Unknown Source)
at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadLibrary(Unknown Source)
at java.lang.Runtime.loadLibrary0(Unknown Source)
at java.lang.System.loadLibrary(Unknown Source)
at Source)
at Method)
at Source)
at<clinit>(Unknown Source)
at Source)
at java.util.logging.FileHandler.openFiles(Unknown Source)
at java.util.logging.FileHandler.<init>(Unknown Source)
at com.sun.vda.LogManager.init(
at com.sun.vda.LogManager.getLogger(
at com.sun.vda.agent.Agent.<init>(
at com.sun.vda.agent.Agent.main(

Problem is that the upgrade process changes the JRE on the VC host, but this is not fully correctly done. The "VMware Infrastructure Web Access" uses the JRE and is not stopped during the upgrade process. This prevents the upgrade process to be performed fully. So a workaround is to stop the "VMware Infrastructure Web Access" service manually before starting the upgrade process.

Than you should be fine.

- Dirk

Saturday Sep 13, 2008

VMworld 08

Wow, first time in Las Vegas. And it is different than anything else I have seen. Interesting. 

Like the last couple of years I will be there and we will be showing some new hot stuff. Hot of the press as to speak. Pop by and you will see a bunch of very interesting demos.

CU at the show. Will be fun.


xVm launch

We had a launch of the new products of xVM, including Sun VDI. Steve Wilson and Rich Green did a real good job in showing how VDI works and the benefits of it in the xVM webcast.  Remember the demo was driven in California, but it was running on my small demo server in Hamburg Germany.

And you can get this stuff now. Sold under the Sun VDI 2.0 license.

- Dirk 

This one is about VDI, Sun Ray, SGD and sports, in particular basketball, and any combination of it. And of course other interesting stuff.


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