Sun Ray thin clients and ZFS – or how a multi-thousand user, multi-desktop infrastructure should look like

This is what can happen if two great technologies are brought together: During this year’s JavaOne back in June 2009, several thousand user desktops were handled by a combination of Sun VDI Software 3, ZFS, Sun Servers and Storage. Let me tell you about some remarkable aspects of that setup: There were just three (not thousands of) different operating system images (Windows 7, Ubuntu 8.10, OpenSolaris 2009.06). All other operating system desktops were just references to the original three images, growing only when a user changes data. See how ZFS comes into play? With its built-in copy-on-write and snapshot capabilities, cloning desktops requires just a fraction of the space and time required by traditional solutions. The total amount of storage for the 6000 desktops (each about 10 GB in size) used during the conference was just 2 TB instead of the otherwise needed 60 TB!

There were at most 200 desktops (400 to 500 were possible with that specific setup) in use at any given time, from about 150 Sun Ray terminals. All other (inactive) desktops were stored on disk in the meantime. As always with Sun Ray, users could take their Java Card (which was also their conference card) out of the current Sun Ray terminal and put it back to any other Sun Ray terminal later and would see the exact desktop they used last time. And, of course, no front end administration is necessary with Sun Rays.

Thinking of schools or universities, where often a limited number of users from a much higher number of total users access their desktops at any given time, the Sun Ray setup used at JavaOne 2009 looks like a perfect fit for those environments as well. In the second blog entry on this page (scroll down one page to get to the entry named "VDI 3 @ JavaOne – Summary"), you can see the the main features in one list.

Read what Microsoft says about their Sun Ray solution in my previous blog entry.

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