Good Enough -vs- Gratuitous Upgrades
By dcb on Mar 23, 2005
Sun offers a really cool thin-client called the SunRay. Check out this flash! We've got 30,000 or so running our desktops throughout Sun. Zero-admin, highly-reliable, energy-efficient clients have saved us millions and driven up productivity. Many of our customers are running these as well. There isn't much to the device... No OS, no disk, no fan, no viruses, no patching, no state... you can almost think of it as a remote/networked frame buffer on steroids. Coupled with USB peripheral support, mobile session capability, Java card security, DoD approved multi-compartment support, VIOP telephony, this is a device that deserves all the attention and acceptance it is getting.
Using Tarantella, Citrix, or other techniques, this device can even display full screen Windows (indistinguishable from a Windoze thin client) if desired, or it can run "Windows in a window" from a native GNOME Linux or Solaris desktop. With the Java Desktop System's integration of hundreds of bundled apps (StarOffice [MS Office], Mr. Project [MS Project], GIMP [Photoshop], Evolution [Outlook], etc, etc) some are looking at the oppty to stop payment to Redmond.
Whatever your choice of display and environment, just pull your Java Card (your session is preserved on the server) and reinsert it later at home, or the next day in another office, and your session will "instantly" pop up in front of you ready to continue your work.
However, a customer recently expressed a concern that the SunRay isn't powered by the latest processor technology, and isn't populated by a huge bank of RAM. Hmmm. I wonder if this person might also consider writing to and asking:
Norelco why their electric razors are powered by two AA batteries! When MegaRaz offers your choice of 220V 3-phase or dual-feed 30A single-phase units that can rip thru facial hair and auto-exfoliate the top layer of skin in record time.
Panasonic why their microwave ovens are still powered by radio-wave emitting magnetrons. Don't they know that MicroRad now offers lead-lined plutonium-powered resonant-coupled chamber ovens that can cut food prep time by a factor of 50 over obsolete microwave ovens?
Kenmore why their refrigerators have not kept up with the times. That DeepFrz and many others now offer a turbo-switch option that circulates liquid hydrogen to drop the freezer compartment temp to near absolute zero, extending food storage times to future generations. Many use this feature to preserve small pets during vacations, eliminating the need for pet sitting or boarding.Those were designed to be funny, and to make the point that often engineering makes design choices that are "good enough". The SunRay has to have enough power to paint pixels. And it does. Future versions might require more capable processors to handle stronger encryption at faster network speeds, 3D Acceleration, etc. But gratuitously incorporating leading-edge technology into a design can increase cost, heat, power, noise, and instability with no added benefit. Be careful what you ask for... because you'll end up paying for it. Requirements should be linked to the business value they provide, and not to an emotional "got to have it just because" craving that is fueled by consumer marketing campaigns.