Oracle updates Sun Ray desktop virtualisation

The new versions of the Sun Ray client and the VDI software it runs on add Windows 7 support and improved power consumption, according to Oracle

Oracle has unveiled new versions of its Sun Ray Client and the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure software it runs on, the first time the products have been updated since the company acquired them in its purchase of Sun last year.

In January, Oracle pledged to continue Sun's "desktop to datacentre virtualisation strategy". The new Sun Ray 3 Plus Client device and the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) 3.1.1 update to its connection broker software, introduced on Wednesday, demonstrates its commitment to that pledge, the company said. Oracle's desktop virtualisation products, inherited from Sun, include VDI, Secure Global Desktop, Sun Ray and VM VirtualBox.

"Oracle is committed to helping customers leverage the power of virtualisation through the most complete and integrated portfolio, spanning desktop, server, storage and middleware," said Wim Coekaerts, the company's senior vice president for Linux and virtualisation engineering, in a statement.

Sun Ray is intended as a no-maintenance thin client device displaying a desktop environment hosted in the datacentre. The device, which has no local operating system or storage, is designed to significantly reduce power consumption compared with the use of a PC. However, some industry analysts have warned that to some extent, energy demand is simply shifted to the datacentre.

The Sun Ray 3 Plus client has achieved an Energy Star 5.0 qualification, according to Oracle. This signifies that it uses less power than its predecessor and supports larger displays — up to two 30-inch screens with 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution each, the company said.

The device supports Gigabit Ethernet, either copper or fibre, and USB 2.0, as well as fibre-optic networking via a Small Form-factor Pluggable (SFP) module.

Oracle's VDI software provides a centralised console for managing, hosting and providing access to virtualised Windows, Linux and Solaris desktops. The update broadens platform support to allow Windows 7 as a virtualised desktop OS, and it adds VLAN support for Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor.

It uses the VirtualBox 3.2 host, which improves performance over previous releases of VirtualBox, according to Oracle.

In the desktop virtualisation market, Oracle competes with the likes of Citrix, which last month released XenClient, a desktop virtualisation product that includes offline working. At the time of that release Sid Herron, sales director for IT systems design company Moose Logic, noted that uptake of desktop virtualisation has been slow. He said this is in part because adopters have been disappointed in their expectations of a quick return on their investment.

"Near-term [capital expenditure] savings are almost impossible to show for a VDI project, because of the back-end infrastructure you have to put in place to host your virtual desktops," Herron wrote in a blog post at the time, echoing the sentiments of other industry observers. "Your savings are primarily in ongoing operational expenses."


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