Sun VDI 3.0 offers choice

Sun's approach would allow it to support the overwhelming majority of workloads. About the only exception would be hosting Apple Mac OS X applications. That isn't Sun's issue, however. Apple's terms and conditions simply don't allow Mac OS X to be hosted inside of a virtual machine (talk about missing the boat.)

Sun's Chris Kawalek introduced me to Sun VDI 3.0. Sun has been a player in this segment of the virtualization technology market since the beginning. They've offered ways to access encapsulated workloads hosted both in virtual machines and in environments using operating system virtualization/partitioning. As Chris would put it, the company's goals are to offer products that offer organizations choice in what client systems are used, what hypervisor is being deployed and what operating system is being used for both the client and the server hosting the workload.

Here's what Sun has to say about VDI 3.0

Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA) today announced the availability of Sun(TM) Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Software 3, which provides new enhancements and features to help companies maximize their IT infrastructure utilization and improve manageability of desktop deployments. Sun VDI Software 3 offers ground-breaking VDI storage economics, built-in virtualization capabilities, and support for a wide variety of virtual desktop operating systems. The open architecture of Sun VDI Software 3 now gives users access to a broader choice of client devices and virtualization hosts -- increasing flexibility, management efficiency and data security. Sun VDI Software 3 is available for purchase immediately and a free trial of the software can be downloaded at: http://www.sun.com/software/vdi/get.jsp

Sun VDI Software 3 represents a seamless solution, leveraging core open source technologies including Sun's Open Storage, OpenSolaris(TM), VirtualBox(TM) and MySQL(TM). With Sun VDI Software 3, customers can deploy a number of virtual desktop operating systems, including Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 2000, OpenSolaris and Ubuntu, and access these operating systems from a variety of client devices -- such as traditional PCs or Macs, energy-efficient Sun Ray(TM) thin clients, or thin clients from other vendors. In addition, to host virtual desktop environments, IT architects can opt to use the improved integration with VMware Infrastructure, leverage Sun built-in virtualization, or use a mixture of the two.

Sun VDI Software 3 has exceptional management capabilities, resulting in lower equipment costs, less energy consumption, reduced system cooling requirements, simplified system administration and reduced e-waste. 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. Moreover, built-in Sun Ray technology support takes advantage of the excellent performance and inherent security features of Sun Ray thin clients, which contain no resident operating system or applications -- making them virtually immune to client-side viruses.

Additional Sun VDI Software 3 features include:

  • Integration with Solaris ZFS(TM) and Open Storage: Enables superior data integrity for business continuity and exceptional data throughput in an economical storage footprint with simplified management design. When coupled with a Sun(TM) Storage 7000 Unified Storage System or other Open Storage architecture, Sun VDI Software 3 can significantly reduce storage consumption and costs.
  • Expanded VMware support: Enables customers to rapidly and efficiently scale larger deployments of Sun VDI Software paired with VMware Infrastructure.
  • Active Directory support: Permits customers to easily assign virtual desktops to users in Active Directory.
  • Built-in support for Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) clients: Allows customers to connect directly to a Sun VDI Software 3 server from nearly any RDP-enabled device, without installing any software on the client.
  • Streamlined, simplified installation: Provides a single installer for the core components to reduce complexity.

Snapshot analysis

Many organizations have learned the benefits of server-side consolidation and optimization using virtual machine  and operating system virtualization/partitioning techology and are well on their way to deploy this technology in production. A much smaller group have decided to do something similar on the client side. Since organizations typically have far more client than server systems, the benefits - reduction in administrative and operational costs - could be larger than those gotten from a server-side consolidation.

It appears that perception that this approach would require significant enhancements to the organization's network, significant increases in server count, significant increases in storage in the datacenter has put a damper on organization's enthusiasm for this type of virtualization. Sun needs to help its customers understand the real impact Sun VDI 3.0-based applications would have on the organization's IT infrastructure.

That being said, the competition is fierce in this market. Sun, along with a number of other suppliers such as Neocleus and Virtual Computer,  have done a great deal to offer technology to address customers' concerns.Sun also faces significant challenges from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware who also want to be the provider of VDI technology.

Sun's approach would allow it to support the overwhelming majority of workloads. About the only exception would be hosting Apple Mac OS X applications. That isn't Sun's issue, however. Apple's terms and conditions simply don't allow Mac OS X to be hosted inside of a virtual machine (talk about missing the boat.)

Unasked for shoot-from-the-hip advice

Sun, you have quite a number of success stories demonstrating how your VDI technology could "save the day." I would suggest that you use them more aggressively and in innovative ways (how about a few youtube videos for example) to make more people aware of both your technology and the fact that similar organizations are happy about using Sun VDI.

It would also be fantastic if you could persuade Apple to allow Mac OS X to be encapsulated and run back in the datacenter. I'm sure that you could help them understand that in the end, they'd sell more copies of the software in major organizations if it could be deployed in this fashion.

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