Oracle, battling for market share with competitors Citrix, VMware and Hewlett-Packard in an increasingly busy sector of IT, spiffed up its desktop virtualization offerings May 10 with several service enhancements and new storage-related options.
The company upgraded its enterprise VDI controls (Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure 3.4), thin-client software system (Sun Ray Software 5.3) and desktop client (Oracle Virtual Desktop Client 3.1) and announced them as a package deal.
The updates Oracle is making are being driven at least partially by a growing trend of enterprise employees who want to use their own smartphones, tablets and notebook PCs to handle work duties in a more convenient fashion. Desktop virtualization, actually an outmoded term for some use cases (device virtualization may be more appropriate), enables this secure access.
Companies are buying into this trend for several purposes, not the least of which is saving capital expenses on expensive connected devices that their employees may not want or use.
Key improvements in the Oracle package include:
- All three products: New security features, including more sophisticated authentication support for 802.1x identity-based network security;
- Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure 3.4: Expanded storage options, allowing customers to choose from a variety of Oracle and third-party storage solutions;
- Oracle Virtual Desktop Client 3.1: Now offers the ability to copy and paste between local applications on the client device and remote virtual desktops, new high-definition multimedia capabilities, and enhanced integration of smart-card authentication.
As for the new storage options, Oracle is becoming more open-minded about interacting with competing storage systems, which is a reality of life in most IT shops. Obviously, Oracle VDI 3.4 integrates with Oracle's new Sun ZFS Storage Appliances, but it now also has support for local storage and non-Oracle storage systems. Storage administrators in Oracle shops will enjoy that development.
As for expanded administration powers, the new Global VDI Centers feature in Oracle VDI 3.4 allows the creation of multiple, independently administered VDI deployments that automatically direct users to the proper server group on log-in, Oracle said.
Fighting a Bad Rap on Performance
For years, thin clients have had to fight a bad rap for performance issues. Oracle has moved on this. Key improvements for Sun Ray 3 Series Clients and PCs running the new Oracle Virtual Desktop Client 3.1 software include:
- Improvements to multimedia acceleration enhancements, including acceleration of Adobe Flash and Windows Media Player on the Sun Ray 3 Series Client devices and 720p HD quality video on Sun Ray 3 Plus Clients and PCs with Oracle Virtual Desktop Client 3.1;
- Smarter hot-desking: New user location awareness features enable applications to provide dynamic capabilities, such as follow-me-printing to help ensure more secure access to applications. New auto-resizing features automatically adapt the user's virtual desktop display size when moving between devices;
- Enhanced smart-card support: Oracle virtual desktop infrastructure and Sun Ray Software now support the Extended Application Protocol Data Unit (APDU) standard for smart cards that allows larger amounts of information to be stored on smartcards and exchanged with applications, for greater user functionality;
- Enhanced USB support for Sun Ray 3 Series Clients: Delivers up to five times faster USB mass storage performance and provides access to a broader range of USB devices.