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Oracle Secure Global Desktop: Stepping up to the plate

Now that Oracle's Sun Ray clients lost their spot on the team, Secure Global Desktop is in the company's starting rotation.

With Sun Ray clients cut from Oracle's lineup, Secure Global Desktop is in a position to make a bigger name for itself in the remote access game.

Oracle recently announced it would end development of its unpopular (some would say cumbersome) Oracle VDI product. That alone is a big deal to the competition, but there aren't enough customers for it to resonate around the industry. However, Oracle also announced that it is discontinuing Sun Ray thin clients. This is more troubling because Sun Rays have been in organizations since before the rise of Terminal Services, let alone virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

The Sun Ray offering can remote just about anything to anywhere. I've seen Microsoft DOS and Windows 3.1 remoted to thin clients, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

It does this through a robust back end that takes effectively any display and transcodes the output into Oracle's proprietary Appliance Link Protocol (ALP). It works on anything because the transcoding and optimizations happen out of band, so there are no drivers or compatibility to worry about. Video goes in one way and comes out another. Sun Ray clients use varying levels of compression, motion awareness (if motion is detected of a specified size, it's converted to Motion JPEG and remoted down as a compressed movie), and all sorts of connectivity and accessibility controls such as Smart Card access.

Sun Ray thin clients have a huge following, and I suspect that the push will be to open source what's available today so they can continue using them. I'm not sure how long such a solution would last if it were to materialize, but I learned long ago not to underestimate the Sun Ray fanatics.

Enter Secure Global Desktop

Oracle, however, isn't leaving people hanging in the "anything in, anything out" department. Oracle Secure Global Desktop (SGD) is still around, and it's apparent that Oracle is banking on this as its remote access, application and desktop virtualization offering for the foreseeable future.

You may remember the Secure Global Desktop name. In 2003, Tarantella acquired a company called New Moon Software and combined New Moon's Windows Terminal Server product -- Canaveral-IQ -- with its own Enterprise 3 software to form Secure Global Desktop. In 2005, Sun acquired Tarantella and promptly sold off Secure Global Desktop Terminal Services Edition to UK-based distributor ProPalms, where it has languished for the last eight years. The Enterprise edition of Secure Global Desktop, however, has lived on through Oracle's acquisition of Sun in 2009.

More on Oracle virtualization

Who is Oracle VDI for?

Guide to Oracle VM VirtualBox

Oracle VDI and Sun Ray demo

Oracle Secure Global Desktop is, at its core, Sun Ray for the Web. Through an SGD server, you can access just about any application through the browser. With the latest release of SGD, Oracle even added HTML 5 capabilities that don't require browser plug-ins, so tablets and mobile devices can make use of the solution. It even uses a protocol similar to Sun Ray's ALP called AIP. It has been developed for use over the Web and to be easily decoded by JavaScript engines in browsers.

The focus of Oracle Secure Global Desktop isn't specifically on desktops, but it works with them as well. SGD, after all, can take any input. That means that Web apps, applications from various operating systems and desktops themselves are all treated the same. Of course, SGD also has management built in, with the high level of configurability that you would expect from Oracle.

Based on that, it's quite clear that Oracle believes its future in the desktop virtualization space is to focus on delivering applications from disparate platforms to any device, anywhere without clients or plug-ins.

Granted, if you already have tools in place that do something similar, you're probably not going to rush out to implement SGD. However, if you are a Sun Ray shop using the technology to support a wide range of back-end systems, SGD could fit right into your wheelhouse. Of course, if your existing software isn't living up to the variety of back-end and endpoint combinations you need to support, it might also be a good fit there, too.

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