Oracle just launched Oracle Global Secure Desktop 4.7. It is a desktop virtualization product based upon Oracle's Oracle VM, access virtualization and application virtualization technology. It is designed to offer Oracle's customers Web-based access to their Windows, Linux, UNIX, and both IBM System i and System z applications. This approach allows applications and data to be safely tucked away in the customer's datacenter, reduces the cost and complexity of desktop system management, and, Oracle hope's, will beat out similar product offerings from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware.
What is desktop virtualization?
Although I've run though this examination before, Oracle's Global Secure Desktop launch suggests that it would be good time to consider desktop virtualization once again. Desktop virtualization, as a catch phrase, means different things to different suppliers. For the most part, desktop virtualization is the use of one or more of four different virtualization technologies to create an artificial desktop computing environment. If we examine offerings coming from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware, all of the following technologies are included.
The four virtualization technologies in use include:
- Access Virtualization — hardware and software technology that allows nearly any device to access any application without either having to know too much about the other. The application sees a device it’s used to working with. The device sees an application it knows how to display. In some cases, special purpose hardware is used on each side of the network connection to increase performance, allow many users to share a single client system or allow a single individual to see multiple displays.
- Application Virtualization — software technology allowing applications to run on many different operating systems and hardware platforms. This usually means that the application has been written to use an application framework. It also means that applications running on the same system that do not use this framework do not get the benefits of application virtualization. More advanced forms of this technology offer the ability to restart an application in case of a failure, start another instance of an application if the application is not meeting service level objectives, or provide workload balancing among multiple instances of an application to archive high levels of scalability. Some really sophisticated approaches to application virtualization can do this magical feat without requiring that the application be re-architected or rewritten using some special application framework.
- Processing Virtualization — hardware and software technology that hides physical hardware configuration from system services, operating systems or applications. This type of Virtualization technology can make one system appear to be many or many systems appear to be a single computing resource to achieve goals ranging from raw performance, high levels of scalability, reliability/availability, agility or consolidation of multiple environments onto a single system.
- Management of virtualized environments — In the case of desktop virtualization, this means the management of a combination of some of the following: virtual machine software, operating system, application frameworks, applications, database manager, user personalization and/or user data to create a secure, reliabile, movable artificial client system or environment.
How does Oracle describe Oracle Global Desktop 4.7?
Oracle Secure Global Desktop 4.7 delivers a richer application experience by providing:
- Multi-monitor support: Can increase productivity in organizations such as contact centers by allowing users to run multiple applications on different physical monitors at the same time.
- Bi-directional audio: Expanding on the existing support for audio output for Windows applications, Oracle Secure Global Desktop now supports microphones and other audio input devices. This enables the use of dictation, conferencing, training, and other applications requiring audio interaction.
- Enhanced Linux and UNIX graphics display: Oracle Secure Global Desktop now supports improved performance for 3-D applications utilizing OpenGL 1.3 graphics extensions. This provides a richer user experience for customers in Federal Government, Healthcare, Education and other industries where the regular use of graphically intense applications is becoming more common.
- Oracle Secure Global Desktop 4.7 provides optimal out-of-the-box security through pre-configured security settings, eliminating the need for additional effort by administrators. This helps ensure consistency for large enterprise deployments.
- Oracle Secure Global Desktop 4.7 adds support for the latest Internet browsers and server OS platforms including Internet Explorer 9, Chrome and the latest Firefox ESR browsers, and the Oracle Linux 6 and Oracle Solaris 11 operating systems.
If you are an Oracle customer, this form of desktop virtualization will be attractive. It is tightly integrated into the Oracle virtualization strategy and, in all likelihood, will be easier to manage and install. Is this offering better than similar technology being offered by Citrix, Microsoft and VMware. That is subject to debate.
What is clear is that Oracle has developed a template for its Oracle VM product that should make installation and initial use a pretty painless process.
If you are not an Oracle customer, the requirement for having one of the following platforms in your IT infrastructure could be a show stopper:
- Oracle Linux 5.7, 5.8, 6.2 or 6.3
- Oracle Solaris 11 and Oracle Solaris 11 Trusted Extensions (x86 and SPARC)
- Oracle Solaris 10 and Oracle Solaris 10 Trusted Extensions (x86 and SPARC)
If your organization' IT infrastructure doesn't include one of these operating systems, other offerings would be a better choice.