Sun Rays get a firmware upgrade for better video performance. Wait... what?

InternetWeek reported a few weeks ago that new firmware for Sun Ray clients is available, and that one of the key new features is multimedia redirection. This is funny because I thought the whole point of Sun Rays was they were so thin?

InternetWeek reported a few weeks ago that new firmware for Sun Ray clients is available, and that one of the key new features is multimedia redirection. This is funny because I thought the whole point of Sun Rays was they were so thin? Check out this quote:

The Sun Ray line is a truly "thin" client that relies primarily on the server for processing, where competitors such as HP (NYSE: HPQ) and Wyse offer beefed up "chubby" clients that include PC and graphics chips to handle more of the processing locally.

The whole point of the article is talking about how thin they can make it, but then they talk about this whole multimedia redirection thing. I'm so confused!

I guess this goes back to my bigger-picture confusion about the value of a Sun Ray. It seems to me that these devices are more complex than traditional thin clients, because you need your Sun Ray server to power them all. (And I think that's how they can call them "true" thin clients, because a lot of the traditional thin client computing is on that Sun Ray server instead of on the client.) But if you just want to conenct into a Windows environment, now you need a Terminal Server, a Sun Ray server, and a Sun Ray.

So let me ask the broader question. Who out there is using Sun Rays, and why?

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We use SunRays. They have been around for years and are extremely stable (with no moving parts on the client itself). With VMware taking off, you can now put that SunRay Server (SRS) software and Secure Global Desktop (SGD) software on a VM. So there is no need for extra piece of hardware as it was the case. SGD and SRS provide a lot more flexibility than, for example, a VMware's broker. It allows you to connect not only to Windows desktop but also UNIX, Linux, AS400, Mainframe, etc. So essentially a company can use it for a full spector of access regardless of application and regardless of your location. SRS handles thin clients in your office and SGD handles Web access. Hope this answers your question a bit.


Sun Rays are an important part of our virtual desktop strategy.  We have integrated our corporate identity strategy by using the smart card technology as not only our login credentials, but also our physical security as our employee badge and building and parking access card.

Our server infrastructure has physical servers for our SR and SGDT servers.  Unlike the previous comment, we had problems scaling SRS and SGDT in a VM once we exceeded 100 users.  However, the same standard servers we use for VMware servers are the same for SRS and SGDT, so there's no mix of technology in our environment.

Using the Sun Ray instead of the Wyse, or other thin clients, allows us to have a completely support free desktop.  There are no worries about maintaining the embedded OSes in the embedded XP or linux thin clients like OS updates, anti-virus, or other issues associated with the non-Sun Ray class of thin clients.

We have a number of user profiles and different application sets, so we are eagerly awaiting VMware VDI 4.0; however, as a customer with a significant Citrix Presentation Server footprint, we are exploring options to leverage XenApp and possibly XenDesktop into our environment.  Our early testing of applications under Citrix Presentation Server have been very positive and we are looking to conduct further tests once we upgrade to XenApp.

For us, the Sun Ray offers the best solution for our needs.


The downside to the Sunray architecture is that all connections (as I understand it) are proxied thru the Sunray connection servers.  This introduces two "potential" issues.  One; scalability of the number of concurrent sessions a connector can proxy, two; limited to RDP functionality for connections to TS or XP/Vista Virtual Desktops, as the Sun server is making this connection to TS, then the Sun server is delivering the desktop over ALP.  A common compaint we often get is how do I use Quest's facy EOP (RDP enhancements) with Sunray clients?  Unfortunately the answer is that you don't, unless we were to do joint development with Sun to allow them to load our bits on their connector servers.  Perhaps this will happen if demand is great enough.

So Sun has a great solution in that it offers a stateless device and can proxy connections to any back-end, but this also is a weakness as this proxying has limitations in protocol features, scalability and points of failure.

If I have misunderstood or incorrectly conveyed how this works (as I'm not a Sun expert), please let me know, so I can explain in a better way.

We do allow Sunray users to use our broker, so Sun is a partner of ours.


Scalability can easily be remedied by creating an array of SRS/SGD servers. You can also load balance them based on user sessions or application sessions or, even, geographically. The RDP connections can be made inside the ESX server. So essentially you are connecting from one VM to another within the server. And connection to client device is then handled by ALP or AIP that is pretty close to ICA quality.


Wyse Thin OS (firmware) does not require server side software like SunRays and is a c ompletely network managed device.  Thin OS does not require OS updates, patches, and etc...

Wyse TCX MMR does utilize the CPU on the thin client device, thus not taxing the server CPU  and also assist with network bandwidth utilization.  Wyse can do both MMR and USB redirection with WTOS.