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Sun sets on Oracle VDI products

Sun Ray going down for the last time

Larry Ellison lovingly pats his first Oracle mainframe

Oracle has let it be known that the sun will soon set forever on desktop virtualisation (VDI) products including some it acquired from Sun.

After an internal support document bearing the news made it into the public eye, the company has blogged to confirm a raft of Sun-derived VDI kit will soon be pining for the fjords.

Big Red has spun the announcement as “an effort to more tightly align Oracle's future desktop virtualization portfolio investments with Oracle Corporation's overall core business strategy”. That strategy means work has stopped, forever, on Oracle Sun Ray Software, Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Software, Oracle Virtual Desktop Client Software and Oracle Sun Ray Client hardware.

Support and support contracts continue and new licences will be available, but “a last order date for Oracle Sun Ray client devices will be announced shortly.”

The post says “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.”

Thin clients like the Sun Ray are designed to have as few moving parts as possible, so cessation of the product line isn't entirely dire news. The end of software development almost certainly represents an unwelcome dead end for some users, but as Oracle's Secure Global Desktop can play nicely with the Sun Ray users of those devices needn't immediately start shopping for alternatives.

Oracle's axing of the software isn't unexpected. The Sun Ray never shone brightly and the House of Larry has shown over the years that it doesn't like to run parallel products when fused lines can do the job. Users of the abandoned products can therefore expect explanations of the Secure Global Desktop's virtues from their account managers any moment now.

The decision also marks the end of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's long-held dream for a simple “network computer”. Ellison agitated for such devices in the late 1990s, even creating a dedicated company to their creation and production. For a year or three there, enterprise computing followers buzzed about network computers with almost the same fervour and frequency now afforded to cloudy conversations.

It's not hard to see why Ellison's now happy to walk away from the market: IDC's latest data on the market for thin clients predicts just 5.6 million will ship in 2013. The firm is bullish on growth – it expects 9.2 million to sell in 2017 – but also notes this year's sales are not meeting its own predictions for growth.

That may well be because organisations have many more devices to chose from these days. Many are, anecdotally, considering fondleslabs and other gadgets – with attendant application development and deployment models – instead of conventional computers.

Oracle's already preparing that for that type of computing, as it has tweaked some of its applications for iPad consumption. But Big Red can't yet match the likes of VMware and BMC in terms of creating managed in-house app stores. With a few developers no longer tied up on Sun's old VDI wares, might Oracle head that way soon? ®

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