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The Architecture of a Full Solution

As mentioned above, Sun Ray solutions have been supporting both Solaris OE and wintel applications for some time. What is new, is that the SunPCi IIpro PCI coprocessor card can now support the execution of wintel applications for multiple users. This is now possible because the SunPCi IIpro coprocessor card and software can now support the server versions of Microsoft operating systems as well as the installation of multiple cards in one Sun Enterprise server. When enough hardware resources are allocated for each software component, the complete solution can support many users with more than acceptable performance.

Hardware Configuration

Before discussing the sizing requirements we need to look closer at the hardware and software configurations. FIGURE 1 is a diagram that shows how the various hardware components work together in an example configuration.

FIGURE 1 Sun Ray and SunPCi IIpro Server Hardware Solution: Hardware Component Interconnect

In this diagram, three SunPCi IIpro coprocessor PCI cards are installed into a Sun Enterprise 450 server. The SunPCi IIpro card requires a long PCI card slot and will require an additional spare PCI slot if the parallel or serial port will be used. When the SunPCi IIpro card is used as an application server, as it is in this article, you may use the parallel and serial ports which require a second slot to allow installation of a backplate that supports the serial and parallel port connectors.

Also installed into the server are Sun Quad FastEthernet™ PCI cards that supply four 100 Mbit Ethernet ports per card. This gives the system a total of five 100 Mbit ports, four on the Sun Quad FastEthernet cards and an additional port built into the Sun Enterprise 450 server.

The number of UltraSPARC™ II processors required, and the required memory will also be determined in the sizing exercise.

Each SunPCI IIpro coprocessor card has a dedicated 100 Mbit Ethernet port. All the bandwidth needed to support the Citrix MetaFrame product, and the end user's file access to their own home directories, will be supported by these ports. These ports are attached to a network switch on the same subnet as three of the 100 Mbit ports of a Sun Quad FastEthernet card. These connections allow the software running on the Windows 2000 operating system, on each of the SunPCi IIpro cards, to communicate directly with the software running on the Sun Enterprise 450 server.

The operating system, running on the SunPCi IIpro coprocessor card, will perform all disk operation through drivers that will use the PCI bus connection to communicate with the SunPCi IIpro software that supports the coprocessor card. This software will primarily support only the virtual disk drives used to support the Windows operating system and the files needed to support the applications used by the users.

In the preceding diagram the Sun Ray appliance network traffic is handled by a private network environment. The network that supports the Sun Ray applicance connections is typically implemented as a VLAN defined within the switch environment. The SunRay appliance communicate the screen, keyboard, and mouse I/O over the network by use of Appliance Link Protocol™ packets. These packets are in turn transported over the network by way of the UDP and TCP/IP protocols.

See the References section for a URL that displays specific information on Sun Ray networking.

Software Configuration

Now that we have reviewed the hardware configuration let us take a look at the software needed to support one user. FIGURE 2 is a chart that shows the flow of information through all the software components, from the Sun Ray appliance, to and from the applications the users are running.

FIGURE 2 Sun Ray/Citrix MetaFrame/SunPCi IIpro Software For One User

From left to right, we first see the Sun Ray appliance itself. The display, keyboard, mouse, and sound are sent to and from the Sun Ray server software via Appliance Link Protocol. This protocol uses UDP & TCP/IP to communicate to the server. The purpose of the Sun Ray server software is to translate the I/O of an X11 environment, to that of the Sun Ray appliance. For the purposes of this article we will be focusing on the I/O of the Citrix MetaFrame product. Users can simultaneously interact with any X11 based Solaris OE applications, running on the SPARC hardware.

The Citrix MetaFrame client software traditionally runs on Solaris OE workstations where users would interact with the software on the screen, keyboard, and mouse directly hooked up to the workstation. In our configuration, multiple copies of the Citrix MetaFrame client software will be running to support multiple users, each on their own Sun Ray appliance.

The Citrix MetaFrame client software talks directly to the Citrix MetaFrame server software which runs on the SunPCi IIpro card under the Windows 2000 operating system. To establish the connection between the two software components, a network interface is used on the Sun Enterprise server that is connected via a network switch to the private interface on the SunPCi IIpro card. The protocol that used between the two Citrix MetaFrame software components is a Citrix developed ICA™ protocol that runs on top of the TCP/IP transport protocol.

The software running on the SunPCi IIpro card is the Windows 2000 operating system, Citrix MetaFrame server, and the applications each user will be running. The I/O for each application is intercepted by the Citrix MetaFrame server software and then sent to the Citrix MetaFrame client software. Each user running applications on the Windows 2000 server will spawn an instance of the Citrix MetaFrame server software.

Benefits of the Architecture

Using this all-in-one server approach to support an end user community offers many benefits. An abbreviated summary of these benefits is listed below:

  • Benefits Sun Ray appliance:

    • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is reduced by 28%-58% (The Tolly Group TCO Model, 11/01/00).

    • Hot Desking Technology between Sun Ray appliances allows users to move from one Sun Ray appliance to another without logging off or logging back in by merely inserting their smart card.

    • Sun Ray appliances are completely stateless. If one breaks down, it can be quickly replaced with another.

    • All the system administration is performed on the server.

    • Most of the hardware investment is focused on the server where it benefits everyone.

  • Benefits of the SunPCi IIpro coprocessor:

    • Once the first SunPCi IIpro card is configured, additional SunPCi IIpro coprocessor cards can be quickly cloned by copying the virtual C: drive (a Solaris OE file) of the first coprocessor to configure the remaining cards.

    • Like the Sun Ray appliance, the SunPCi IIpro card is stateless. If one card were to fail another card could be configured to quickly take it's place.

    • The Solaris OE software that supports the SunPCi IIpro coprocessor takes full advantage of the Solaris OE and the Sun Enterprise server to maximize performance and availability.

  • Benefits of Solaris PC NetLink software:

    • Allows the Sun Enterprise server to be a Primary (or Backup) Domain controller or a member server of a NT domain.

    • Supplies fully compatible protocols for the SunPCi IIpro (and other Windows based PCs) to use.

  • Sun Enterprise server and Solaris OE offer an extremely stable environment that all software components will be able to work together in.

Please refer to the individual product web pages for a more complete list of benefits.

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