Sun Ray 3i Thin Client Hardware Provides Fat VDI for Intense Virtual Workloads

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2010-12-01 Print this article Print

The Oracle Sun Ray 3 and 3i thin client hardware platforms integrate Oracle's virtual desktop infrastructure to compete with VMware, Microsoft and Citrix in the ongoing push to gain centralized control over the end-user desktop experience.

The newly revamped Sun Ray 3 and 3i thin client systems announced by Oracle carry on the Sun strategy of making easy-to-deploy hardware that supports a variety of end-user virtual workloads while maintaining central, secure control over desktop systems. 

The Sun Ray 3 is a typical vertically positioned thin client that connects to an external monitor and keyboard. The Sun Ray 3i is an integrated, beautiful, 21.5-inch wide screen thin client with 1920x1080 display resolution. Both are zero-management systems that are specifically designed to integrate with Oracle's Sun Ray Software.

The Sun Ray 3i is the more interesting of the two devices. The all-in-one unit has a U.S. list price of $699 and started shipping on Oct. 2. The Sun Ray 3i is simple to deploy and includes plenty of design smarts to go along with the durability and simplicity that I saw during my tests at eWEEK Labs. The back-panel cable management cover is magnetically mounted for easy, tool-less access to connectors and cables.

The Sun Ray 3i is equipped with five USB 2.0 ports, a serial and analog video out, audio in/out ports, and a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port. My test units were shipped with easily adjusted stands. The Sun Ray 3i can also be used with a VESA-compliant wall-mounting system.

I used the Sun Ray 3i and Sun Ray 3 during tests of the newly minted Oracle Sun Ray Software 5.1 environment. As is typical of Sun-originated equipment, the Sun Ray units are designed to work out of the box only with the Sun virtual desktop environment. This means that employees of nearly any technical skill level can deploy the hardware, which involves only plugging in the appropriate network, keyboard and mouse cables. Once connected, I just tapped the touch-sensitive power button, and the Sun Ray 3i automatically searched for the Sun Ray Server on the local network. The devices automatically updated to the most current firmware version and almost immediately presented a desktop and log-on credentials screen.

Users who need access to high-value, large-screen content will benefit from using the Sun Ray 3i. The screen is easy to reposition and yet stays in place once adjusted, making it suitable for use in multiuser environments where frequent screen position adjustments are likely. The smart card reader is on the front middle of the screen bezel, making it obvious where to insert the card and also making it noticeable, and therefore harder to walk away without taking the smart card.

The Sun Ray 3 thin client, shipped at the same time as the 3i, is a no-nonsense workhorse thin client for line-of-business workloads. The Sun Ray 3 small, slim and clearly designed to withstand wear and tear in work environments from the shop floor to public kiosks. With a U.S. list price of $249, the Sun Ray 3 comes with four USB 2.0 ports and one each of 10/100/1000 Ethernet, serial, DVI-I ports on the back. There are two USB 2.0 ports, a smart card slot and audio connectors on the front of the unit. As is typical of premium thin client devices, including the Sun Ray 3i, there are no fans or moving parts in the Sun Ray 3.

Like the Sun Ray 3i, the Sun Ray 3 can be deployed by employees of any technical level. Once connected to the network, a monitor, keyboard and mouse, the Sun Ray 3 automatically searched for the Sun Ray Server and updated the device firmware.  

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at

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