Oracle shuts down Oracle VDI, Sun Rays, and lays off most of the desktop virtualization staff worldwide - Gabe Knuth - BrianMadden.com
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Oracle shuts down Oracle VDI, Sun Rays, and lays off most of the desktop virtualization staff worldwide

Written on Jul 16 2013 15,794 views, 7 comments


by Gabe Knuth

Over the weekend, ZDnet broke news that Oracle would be announcing the discontinuation of new development Oracle VDI, and, perhaps even more importantly, Sun Ray software and hardware. Frankly, I keep checking the calendar, expecting this to be "screw with the heads of IT writers" day or something, but I also received an email from Oracle PR stating:

In an effort to more tightly align Oracle's future desktop virtualization portfolio investments with Oracle Corporation's overall core business strategy, we have ended new feature development for Oracle Sun Ray Software (SRS), Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Software (VDI), Oracle Virtual Desktop Client (OVDC) Software, and Oracle Sun Ray Client hardware (3, 3i, and 3 Plus).  Customer support and the renewal of support contracts for these products will continue uninterrupted.  Customers can continue to purchase new licenses.  Exact timeframes for a last order date for Oracle Sun Ray client devices will be announced shortly.

Going forward, Oracle's desktop portfolio investments will be focused on continued development and new enhancements to both Oracle Secure Global Desktop and Oracle VM VirtualBox software.

What they didn't say is that in addition to discontinuing the software, they also let go the majority of employees focused on the technology. While I haven't seen this information in any official channels, multiple sources have confirmed that there have been extensive layoffs worldwide as a result of this decision. The only people that remain are a skeleton crew that are simply there to ride out the support obligations and Sun Ray inventory.

When picking a VDI solution, "will this product still be around in 3 years" only comes to mind for smaller companies that only recently crept on to the radar. I feel bad for Oracle customers that bought into the stack, only to find out that all of it is essentially a relic now. I mean, part of the reason people buy an Oracle solution is because it's from Oracle. 

Regardless, the pool of talent floating around Silicon Valley is huge now. Every engineer I've ever interacted with at Oracle has been amazingly technical (one could argue that you'd have to be to use the product). Complexity, however, doesn't mean it's a bad product, it just means that to get all the features that the Oracle VDI / VirtualBox / Sun Ray stack offered, you had to jump through some hoops.

Frankly, I've been called to the table before for using the word "complex" to describe Oracle VDI, and while I've seen many demos and understand that it's easy enough to stand up once you get familiar with it, the entire process, if you're a non-Solaris person, is more complex than the other VDI solutions. It's like batting right handed your entire life, then switching to left. In the end you're just swinging a bat, but it all feels different, and each movement that used to be automatic takes more effort. That was the uphill battle that Oracle had to fight with every single feature (protocol, hypervisor, endpoint support, etc…).

What really surprises me is that Sun Rays are also being discontinued. Over the years, we've cultivated a relationship with Sun Ray fanatics that usually falls into something like this:

  1. We write something about thin clients
  2. Sun Ray fans see that we left out Sun Rays
  3. Sun Ray fans write emails and post comments
  4. Comment war begins until one of us admits to the existence of them and our own neglect for not mentioning them sooner

The thing is, the Sun Ray solution is incredibly powerful and flexible. I do believe that its performance in VDI environments was surpassed long ago by RemoteFX, PCoIP, and HDX (it still worked, but not as well as the other protocols), but Sun Ray fans weren't just in it for the VDI. They were remoting any application, from DOS to Ubuntu to NT 3.51 to their users because the platform was flexible enough to take just about any input and send it over the wire. They were in it for the wacky ways you could configure terminals, as kiosks, with multiple displays, or even having multiple thin clients be aware of each other and share screens, mouse, and keyboard. Sure, those are mostly parlor tricks used to get a "gee whiz" during a demo, but those features are there because somebody needed them.

While nothing is filling the void left by Oracle VDI, Oracle is continuing development on Secure Global Desktop, which, frankly, has been the product that's seen the most change in the last few years. SGD could use a new name, perhaps, and some fresh marketing, but they're on the right track of mobilizing just about everything in a datacenter for any device, anywhere. I've always considered SGD like a web-based version of Sun Ray, and I suspect that's what Oracle is doing, too.

We'll keep an eye out for any more information. In the meantime, let us know in the comments if and how this effects you. And, if you're looking for great technical minds in the Bay Area, you won't have to look too hard.

 
 




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Comments

Rick Boyett wrote re: Oracle shuts down Oracle VDI, Sun Rays, and lays off most of the desktop virtualization staff worldwide
on Tue, Jul 16 2013 8:30 AM Link To This Comment

In other news, Oracle had a VDI solution...

Seriously, how did I not know this?

I hope those folks find new work soon.  It's a crappy time to be without a job.  

Claudio Rodrigues wrote re: Oracle shuts down Oracle VDI, Sun Rays, and lays off most of the desktop virtualization staff worldwide
on Tue, Jul 16 2013 12:12 PM Link To This Comment

I said this was going to happen the last time someone posted an article here on BM about Sun/Oracle VDI. I remember saying it was a niche and that they were not doing well market/financially wise. The Sun/Oracle fanboys got mad at me.

Well that happens when you live in your own bubble and does not deal on a daily basis with real world implementations that focus on what the customer really needs and NOT on pushing a single product just because you are the vendor or a reseller with deep ties to a vendor.

It was a good solution in certain ways and made sense in a couple, very niche scenarios. Reality is when these niche use cases cannot sustain a product viability you are headed to the graveyard.

Exactly the case here.

Now let's wait for the fanboys to come out and say I am wrong again and that they decided to crowdsource the funds to buy the IP from Oracle so they can release SunRay "Phoenix" next year...

CR

jklincewicz wrote re: Oracle shuts down Oracle VDI, Sun Rays, and lays off most of the desktop virtualization staff worldwide
on Fri, Jul 19 2013 10:51 AM Link To This Comment

I recall having a lively discussion with the Oracle chaps when they had first announced this initiative right here on this forum.  My question was primarily regarding their use of a Type-II hypervisor (albeit a very good one) vs. the technology they had acquired via Virtual Iron.   They had a nice spin, but I also conjectured that they would likely find little market aside for the most loyal Oracle / Sun installed base.  Kudos to them for sticking it out as long as they did (and Kudos also for knowing "when to fold 'em.)   It's a shame about the layoffs, but I am optimistic most people with a VDI background are pretty employable these days.

Lvdplas wrote re: Oracle shuts down Oracle VDI, Sun Rays, and lays off most of the desktop virtualization staff worldwide
on Mon, Jul 22 2013 9:14 AM Link To This Comment

There is a company who fills the void left by Oracle.

Its a company called Listeq, who has released a complete new VDI solution based on Virtualbox hypevisor.

They also support one off the most wanted features of Oracle VDI in healthcare:  "hot  desktops".

And they are also completely independent of VM Client Agents or RDP.

appdetective wrote re: Oracle shuts down Oracle VDI, Sun Rays, and lays off most of the desktop virtualization staff worldwide
on Mon, Jul 22 2013 9:15 AM Link To This Comment

Commodity think client playing to a security niche and biased to pushing Oracle apps with love for Linux was always doomed to fail.

Henrik Wallin wrote re: Oracle shuts down Oracle VDI, Sun Rays, and lays off most of the desktop virtualization staff worldwide
on Tue, Jul 23 2013 9:52 AM Link To This Comment

We have clearly seen a big increase in interest here on Cendio from Oracle customers who want to know more about ThinLinc in order to replace their Sun Rays.

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