Sun ray (part 2)

As I mentioned in my previous post IT Services staff have all been working their cotton socks off to get our new Sun Ray system up and running for the new Faculty of Health building. The project got into full gear a week ago when our servers finally arrived. I was spent all Saturday locked in the CMIST basement seconded to assist my colleagues from Core Services get everything ready for a week of insanely hard work. While they racked up the new servers and got everything ready I worked on some of the network cabling which involved running meters and meters of cables from the new servers back to the main network core. Here are a couple of pictures of our work. The first one shows the cable management system all opened up and our boxes of 15meter cables that we had to feed in. The second picture shows our nice new Sun Fire servers all racked up and ready to install.

server roomSun fire servers

I won’t bore you with the details of what we had to do but by the end of Tuesday we had 6 Terminal Servers up and a load balancer running. By the middle of Wednesday they were all talking to our 3 Sun Ray servers and the load balancer was spreading our users out so that no server is taking too much traffic. We were finally able to plug in our first Sun Ray workstation and give it a try. I have to admit I’m very impressed with them, they look fantastic and the server performance is exceptional. Racing one against a desktop computer was interesting. Needless to say with only minimal load on the system from 2-3 users the Sun Ray left the pc for dead and I was logged in and checking emails before the pc had reached the login screen. So here is a look at one of our new Sun Ray stations for all those of you who were wondering what this magic box was all about:

Sun Ray with monitorSun Ray

The left picture show the Sun Ray workstation (which is around 12 inches high when sat on its base) it’s very compact compared to a normal computer and takes up hardly any space. I’ll try and do a one for one comparison with how it compares to a computer in my next post but suffice to say that it doesn’t really process anything, rather it just connects your keyboard, mouse and monitor to a remote server which does all the hard work instead. The second picture shows a full Sun Ray workstation with a Sun keyboard, mouse and monitor all attached. I think they look very nice myself!

In reference to some of the questions I’ve been asked about the Sun Rays and those on the previous post from Jeannette, to the best of my knowledge:

Each Sun Ray has usb slots on it for taking pen drives. We had tested it with lots of different makes and models and they work really well.

The Sun Rays do not have any CD or Floppy disk facilities. I gather there will be CD Writers available to staff by other means but I don’t know the details at this stage.

Each Sun Ray connects to a Windows 2003 server which runs a desktop almost identical to Windows XP. Because the server is share between users we have to restrict the software to essentials and users won’t be able to install their own packages on the server. More details will be available about that as we deploy the Sun Rays next week.

Printing is an interesting one. Again I’m not certain of all the details but there will be printers available on each floor and all the staff printers will be available from the Sun Rays. Smaller printers are also being looked at, especially in terms of small desktop colour printers and we hope to have support in place for these soon.

reception desklecture theatrecafe

Next week the nearly the whole of IT Services will be in someway involved with the new building deployment. We have 150 Sun Rays boxed up, labelled and ready to go! It’s quite scary the amount of work involved so I hope everyone will bear with us and we get it all sorted. The good news is that we took several trips over to the new building and our Network and Telecoms guys have their stuff all sorted so we can just drop Sun Rays and telephones on the desk and get everyone running. For those of you who are interested I took a few snaps of the new building last week while I was over there. It’s not quite finished in these pictures but it’s already looking really impressive! Expect a (tired) update in a few days.

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