SunRay Update 1

We are pleased to announce the deployment of our new and improved sunray service.
As the first anniversary of our original sunray installation approaches, I have recently been investigating, developing, improving and fixing our current setup.

With 360 sunray devices connected (and used daily) and another 90 ready to be installed, Sunrays are a common sight at Edge Hill University.

Generalised Strucuture

Our sunray infrastructure is based on;
4 x Solaris Sparc – Sun T1000 (8 Core Cpu, 16Gb RAM),
Installed with Solaris and sunray server software (in a failover group).

3 x VM Windows Server 2003 (1 Cpu, 1024 Mb RAM),
Running 2x Load Balancer; 1 primary and 2 secondary.

8 x Windows Server 2003 – Sun Fire x4100 M2 (Dual Core Cpu, 4Gb RAM).
Setup as Windows Terminal Servers.

And a controlled growth planned already!

Previous to this release we were experiencing issues where users were being assigned a new session when they had logged in after being disconnected. This is a real overhead as not only does this put extra strain on our servers, but files may be left open and be locked for future editing. This also has a knock-on effect to support and our helpdesk were having to support unnecessary issues. However with a packaged binary, the method which the sunray servers communicate with 2x is vastly improved.

The sunray system now allows true confidence in handling sessions, allowing for hot-desking and session management over the whole campus.
So, the obvious question is how. Essentially the issue with session handling is the credentials which are passed from the sunray server to the 2x load balancer. Previously the only detail which the system could use to match a session was the pseudo token id. With the newly designed menu, the username itself is passed across to the load balancer to search for an active session.

After the required development planning was conducted, it was eventually decided the menus would be created using tcl script. This language is not difficult to pick up by anyone with some programming knowledge and there are plenty of resources available on the net. Other options were available – and will be mentioned in a later post – but remaining with tcl proved to be the most viable choice.

Our new menu has moved away from two simple buttons to including a full login window. Originally our users need to select the login button before being presented with a further login which allowed the entry of their credentials.

But now our menu allows users to enter their details immediately without the extra delay.

As with all developed systems, this has been designed with the users specifically in mind. We have aimed to minimise any issues which may annoy or frustrate users.

I will go into the design requirements, specifications, choices and coding in a later post.

The important factor about this release is the back-end of the whole system, the menu is merely a conduit to enable the functionality to work as we would like.
Fixing the majority of issues raised by users and ourselves, the new system really should demonstrate PC’s are a thing of the past!

Sunrays have so many bonuses over a PC, but as with anything else in this world, there is rarely a ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. Sunrays offer a fantastic workstation; fast processing, efficient, power saving, support saving, quiet, cool and flexible. However before investing in such a system, you should ensure your infrastructure will facilitate the transformation of business rules; it is often a case of “yes you can’t do that anymore – but you don’t need to either”.

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1 Response to SunRay Update 1

  1. Now you you’ve applied some spit and polish to the infrastructure I can’t wait for some of tasty dual screen SunRays to start landing on desks around Edge Hill!

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