I've been working with my colleagues at Autodesk, and we've come up with a very interesting way to run AutoCAD Map 3D (their geospatial solution) on our Sun Ray terminals. AutoCAD Map 3D is the only AutoCAD version that is certified on Citrix. This means that it's used both by people who need the geospatial features, but also the vanilla CAD features of the standard AutoCAD product.

What we've done is simply set up AutoCAD Map 3D and Citrix XenApp server on a Windows 2003 machine (running on really fancy Sun x86 hardware, of course). Install according to Autodesk's installation guide.

Then we set up a Sun Ray server (you know, Sun hardware - sizing guide here, Sun Ray Server Software) on which we installed the free Citrix native Solaris client. Install using Sun's installation guide. And then got a few Sun Rays.

Voila. Worked. Out of the box.

Now the result is a very secure environment. The Sun Ray terminals have no hard disk, no local state... nothing of value to steal should an employee decide to walk away with one. By default, the USB port on the device isn't configured to enable USB attached storage to work, so impossible to copy data or insert viruses either. This is perfect for very sensitive environments.

But going beyond that, you can configure the system a-la SNAP, by turning on Solaris' Trusted Extensions, to boost up the security to military grade (EAL4+ certified), with segregation of hardware, network, data, processes... even your windows on the terminal have different security levels and it's not possible to copy from a high security level window (say your geospatial application) to a low security level (say a web browser on the internet) without approval by, e.g. a security officer.

Want to make it even more scalable, move the database store (MySQL - which includes geospatial extensions natively - or Oracle) to one of our Thumper-class machines... CPU and disks all in one box...

This is probably the most convenient, and lowest cost-to-manage solution for running AutoCAD Map 3D today. And you get all these benefits thrown in as well!