Sun Microsystems is to unveil its Sun Ray Hot Desk Architecture in New York on Wednesday, which it claims will enable users to access their applications from any departmental desktop using a smartcard.
The move follows the hardware supplier’s acquisition of German office productivity application developer, Star Division, last week and its unveiling of Star Portal, a Web based suite of packages that it hopes will help it loosen Microsoft’s stranglehold on the desktop market (see VNU Newswire, 31 August 1999).
The Sun Ray initiative is the hardware piece of the puzzle and the book sized Sun Ray 1 appliance includes a desktop based smart card reader to enable users to access corporate applications that reside on the Internet rather than at central offices.
Sun claims that the Sun Ray enterprise server, which is used to access such applications, can handle between 10 and 50 simultaneous users per CPU and staff can work from any desk within their department that has a device with a smart card reader and computer screen.
According to Sun executives, this will enable organisations to slash 80 per cent off their total ownership costs, mainly because the smart card device does not require frequent upgrades.
Duane Northcutt, chief scientist at Sun's information appliance's Webtop group, said: "This is the end point to how thin computing could be. There is nothing left on the desktop."
But he acknowledged that the PC had a stranglehold on the corporate desktop market and as a result, said Sun would target Sun Ray at such sectors as call centres, government, education and the back offices of financial services organisations. The architecture will also be tweaked for the consumer and small office, home office markets in future.
The supplier is also offering two pricing plans for its technology. For companies that already have their own servers, Sun hopes to lease a keyboard, mouse and Sun Ray 1 for $9.99 a month, although the package does not include a monitor. For $30 a month, however, Sun will also install Sun Ray and provide the servers and monitors.
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