A Sun Ray in Every Home?

Sun Microsystems is preparing a drive to put Sun Ray computers in more homes as part of its
expanded desktop vision, internetnews.com has learned.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker has scheduled an event on December 10 to highlight what it said is its
“consumer-facing technology and provide insight into Sun’s software
portfolio leading into 2005.”

Under the umbrella theme “Sun Software: Simplifying Business,
Simplifying Life,” Sun said it will launch key desktop products
including its latest Sun Ray thin clients — low-cost, low-energy
computers without hard or floppy disk drives, CD-ROMs, or embedded
software that can become corrupted by viruses or become obsolete.

The
event will be hosted by executive vice president of software, John
Loiacono, and is expected to include appearances by customers and
partners. Sun is also expected to unveil the latest product upgrades to
its Java Desktop Software, which is enhanced to take advantage of the
Sun Ray systems.

Sun has been working hard to increase the visibility of its Sun Ray
lineup. The company usually pairs its JDS platform with hardware as
it looks to convert corporations and governments from Windows.

The Sun Java Desktop System is a combination of a GNOME desktop
environment, StarOffice productivity suite, Mozilla browser, Evolution
e-mail and calendar client, RealNetworks’ RealONE player, Macromedia
Flash, Java 2 Standard Edition, and SUSE Linux operating system.

Sun said its Sun Ray vision is better than most VPN
network configurations because Sun Ray requires no administration
at
the desktop. Administrators can manage up to 2,000 Sun Ray clients, and
users access their session via a smart card instead of relying solely
on
a password.

A Sun spokesperson declined to give more details but said the
Sun Ray products would not be available to average consumers, but to
enterprise customers with employees that telecommute and need such
access.

Sun’s COO, Jonathan Schwartz, hinted about the Sun Ray program during his keynote at this month’s Solaris 10 launch party.

Analyst Michael Dortch of IT research
firm Robert Frances Group is predicting Sun will offer the thin
clients and the JDS platform as part of a package deal, probably as
part
of a per-user/per-month subscription that could also bundle in other
Sun
peripherals such as its new switches and StoreEdge products.

“Sun’s Sun Ray technologies and offerings collectively represent
some
of Sun’s most potentially powerful, chronically underappreciated
assets,” Dortch told internetnews.com.

“Every organization that
has deployed them, including Sun itself, appears to love Sun Rays, but
many, many more people have never heard of them. If Sun can convince
enterprises and other organizations that have adopted the Java Desktop
System to test-drive some Sun Rays, those users could quickly become
advocates and evangelists. Sun should seriously consider free trial use
periods for its Sun Rays. Once many users have experienced the ease of
use, performance, and security possible with these systems, Sun may
have
to pry its Sun Rays out of the hands of those users — or get them to
write checks to Sun.”

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