Re-labelling Sun Ray to sell

Re-labelling Sun Ray to sell

Summary: A key reason Sun Ray doesn't sell well is that most of Sun's own sales people desperately don't want to sell it

TOPICS: Oracle
Sun's Sun Ray smart display has an unhappy marketing history in that Sun sells the thing in volume to defence and other genuinely security conscious environments, but has never made much headway with it in other natural markets such as schools and businesses.

A big part of the reason is that most of Sun's own sales people desperately don't want to sell it - they want to sell what's selling, and that isn't going to include anything compelling the IT managers they deal with to layoff most of their staff and go back to actually working in IT.

Sun's own marketing reflects and extends that conflict: by labelling the Sun Ray a "client" they contradict the fundamental Sun Ray architecture while burdening the machine with a lot of expectational baggage from the Microsoft client-server world that simply doesn't apply.

So what should they call it? I've been using the term "smart display architecture" for the kind of user controlled system Sun Rays enable since well before Microsoft grabbed the label "smart display" for something that was really rather stupid - producing a situation in which "Smart Display" is the most meaningful label, but Microsoft's misuse of the term has destroyed its value.

So what should Sun call the thing? A talkback comment from p_msac last week suggests a possible answer.

Here's the operative bit:

The enterprise scenario [consists of] a lot of disfunctional and isolated applications, [mainly] from MS, that focus simply on the Desktop PC.

That is why they call it the Magic word: Personal Computer. Not Enterprise Computer.

And [it] is this view of the "personal" computer that costs a fortune to companies in terms of productivity.

Sun already sells enterprise computers, and SuSe offers a software "enterprise desktop", but here's an idea for Sun's Jonathan Schwartz: stop hobbling Sun Ray sales with that "client" label, call it an enterprise something - desktop, display, screen - and sell it in bundles with enterprise servers and enterprise software from partners like Oracle.


Topic: Oracle

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  • Call it whatever you want.

    I doubt it will change the dismal sales one iota. All the attempts to roll back the clock to the days of dumb terminals hanging off of a mainframe have failed and will continue to do so.
  • Can it do M$ Office?

    No? NEXT! Is it wireless? Not yet. NEXT! Is it easy to administer? The SunRay is, the server however . . . NEXT! I like those cute Java Cards, how much are they? In bulk, $25 each. NEXT! Can I use it at home? Used to be able to, until Sun killed the program. NEXT! Laptop version? Nope. NEXT! SO how stable is the company? 5 bucks per share. NEXT!
    Roger Ramjet
    • Wrong - and wrong and...

      How's life beyond company F?

      Sun Rays do show windows software - and if you sun Solaris on x64 you don't even need a windows server since win4sol works quite well for Office.

      There are wireless Sun Rays (I don't like them, but that's another story).

      Laptops make no sense...

      Running Sun Ray server software is fairly trivial (just stay away form kiosks!)

      Can you use it at home? Yes.

      How stable is Sun? One of two companies with technology likely to survive the next ten years...
      • Forgot.. re java cards are expensive

        Yes - and I don't muchy like them except for people who
        travel between offices a lot.

        type in userid
        type in pw

        costs next to nothing, and produces the same effect except that it's a single factor authentication process instead of a two factor. Great for in-house employees because you already have a second factor: access.
      • Rudy, you have to understand..

        That you can't polish a turd!
      • Laptops make no sense?

        Way to be dismissive Murph. You just shut the ears of almost every person who isn't already a big Sun Ray fan or incredibly patient with mad-cap ideas.

        I can't imagine my work without a laptop capable of disconnected operation, and I don't even travel that much. Never mind issues of lost productivity. If my boss said "Erik, you can only work where there is a Sun Ray and a sufficiently reliable network connection" I would quit. That's a deal breaker. I value the flexibility. I know I'm not alone in that.
        Erik Engbrecht
        • I'm talking about users - not developers

          and I guess that wasn't clear.

          Sorry - but ask yourself these two questions: what percentage of embarrasing data losses involve laptops? and, for most users, what is the value of a laptop?
          • Hmmm...

            Yes, a lot of embarassing data is lost of unencrypted laptop hard drives. Mine may just become one of them (embarassingly large number of powerpoint slides) because I just got an new laptop and the encryption software install keeps failing.

            So what is a "user"? Am I as a software engineer less of a user than an electrical engineer? Mechanical? Systems? Business managers? Procurement people?

            The thing is everyone spends a fair amount of time working in spreadsheets and word processing docs and (shudder) presentation files. 95% of the time 95% of the people could work fine with a Sun Ray. In fact, a lot of time PCs are just dumb terminals to Unix boxes. So obviously removing Windows from the equation would be an improvement.

            But there's that 5% of the time when I need disconnected operation. For example, I need to get new brakes on my car. So I show up at the shop first thing and hope my car will be done by lunch. I spend the morning working on my laptop in the waiting area. Yes, having no network impairs my ability to work, but I can spend a day or so w/o the network if I have advance warning. This saves me a lot of time and trouble. Situations like this happen all the time.

            Is this is nice quantifiable business need? No. Is every person evaluating the viability of Sun Rays thinking about this stuff? Yes.

            In addition, the 5% of people who really have a quantifiable business need for a laptop are mostly the decision makers. If they hear something that and think "that won't work" it's dead unless you knock off their reasons as quickly as they think of them.

            So you either have to address disconnected operation or provide options where being disconnected is either really unlikely. You need portable machines. You have to answer the objections, not dismiss them or say "well that's an exception." In fact, if you want to sell this idea, you have to address the objections before people have a chance to bring them up.
            Erik Engbrecht
          • yes - you are (not) a user

            ok, it's ambigious out of context - but the whole series was about users who do not develop code, so clear in context.

            On the other hand.. I wonder. I agree that "very person evaluating the viability of Sun Rays [is] thinking about this stuff" as part of the reason for rejection, but that doesn't actually make sense. Why impose something needed by 5% of the people on all of them? i.e. why not just put some laptops into the mix if there's a need for them? Remember you can use laptops, even wintel laptops, with Unix servers.

            Secondly: Are you sure that your perception of your need for mobile computing doesn't reflect the time you spend on non productive tasks at work? i.e. if you had a system that didn't take any of your time at work, would you need a mobile desktop or would you begin to value time away from work more than the ability to get more work done away from work? [And yes, that doesn't make sense..unless you see things my way, first].
          • It's not...

            5% of users. It's some/most of the users, 5% of the time.

            It's the "some/most" that's the killer. You have to have a solution for those folks, or it's a non-starter. In a large number of environments, "some" is probably a really small number, but I've worked in at least one place where non-developers (sales people) work from anywhere BUT an office with a fast network connection. Client sites, hotel rooms, airports, convention halls were all part of their daily routine, and the only thing they were doing was Office stuff and e-mail, but without the laptops they carried they could not have done their jobs.

            Maybe that's an edge case or an obviously inapplicable category of worker for a Sun Ray. But I'm guessing there are enough folks who plausibly fit into that category that it tips the balance away from a general deployment for those evaluating it.
          • Not applicable

            Then your definition of a user excludes such a large portion of the people at my >120k person employer that it is essentially useless.

            I imagine the same would be true for the professional employees of Roger's former employer.
            Erik Engbrecht
  • It should be called the "Personal Network Desktop", to emphasize, that it

    is for personal use and you can customize your desktop.

    We also need the ability for people to customize their desktop and "install" applications.

    The fact that the applications might already be "installed" on the server, and you just add a menu item to your custom start menu is beside the point. Well, if an application was not already on the server, it might need to be downloaded.

    In this way, you could give users more control over their desktop, and call it "personal".
    • Can do that now

      For example, most users can simply choose from available applications -and if you do the organization right, with the IT guys reporting to users first and IT management faciliating IT staff's ability to meet user needs, then adding new apps is trivial for users.

      Mostly because it's low risk - for everyone involved.
  • Why not call it "crap"?

    That seems to be the term of art in many discussions of software and other products.

    How often have you heard someone say:

    Who bought this crap?
    This Sun crap...
    The benchmarks are mostly crap.

    That would lead to a great deal of word of mouth about the product.

    And give the impression that the product is so good that it can stand a derogatory name.

    [You realize this suggestion is crap, right?!]
    Anton Philidor
    • What? I thought.. it was karp [ping] [NT]

    • Watch out ...

      Careful Anton ... there might be a Patent on that very Technical Word somewhere .. :)
      We risk being sued over millions from some Big Company over "IP Infringement" because of misuse of such a Technical Term ...

      :) Meanwhile I a am preparing a patent filling with the most general and generic definition possible of Enterprise PC ... just in case :) :) :) :)

  • They aren't selling terminals

    They are (or should be) selling a compete system, including the servers. So why are you focused on the dumb terminals?

    If Sun can't convince people to move away from the PC-based, "client-server" architecture you detest so much, it's a bigger problem that the names of the dumb terminals attached.

    Carl Rapson
    • Sun Rays aren't terminals

      They're displays.

      And I'm not focused on the desktop; I'm focused on the whole IT service delivery issue - and think that Sun Rays are a pretty important part of the nearest thing to a right answer we have right now.

      oh, and P.S. Sun can't keep up with orders for the Cooolthreads stuff.
      • Coolheads

        [i]"oh, and P.S. Sun can't keep up with orders for the Cooolthreads stuff."[/i]

        Shoulda doubled their production to 50 eh?
  • Changing the mindset is always difficult.

    How I understand you Murphy! But as you know it is much more difficult to change the mindset of the decision makers (that, as everyone in this Blog knows are not "IT persons") when there is a perceived (due to ignorance) sense of risk.
    Humans have this thing ... change takes time.
    People must have some predetermined sense of refusal to what they do not understand.
    And, as we all know, when it comes to managers the thing becomes even more difficult as the majority does not even know enough about there own business ...

    About the enterprise computer. That is an old fight of mine.
    Enterprise applications accessible from everywhere, even from smart phones is the way for the future or corporate operations.
    The investment in IT should be made in Functional Software that serves the employees as you so well have explained before and that can be accessed from all over, from home, when traveling, outside and inside the enterprise.
    For this IT vision to come along there is of course no need for bulky Dual Core CPU's, 4GB DDR2 and 500GB SATA II machines with graphic boards capable of playing the latest 3D Games.
    I know! I know ... You guys like those 3D games at work :) :) , sorry folks! Just at home! :)
    And as you so well explained no one needs to have in the company a Huge number of boxes that for the majority of time will be doing nothing, will cause an enormous overhead in maintenance and support, will have a huge cost in deployment, anti-malware and backup Software.

    When I wrote about the Enterprise PC I was referring more to the Software part of the problem, that is my main activity and that is where I find more problems trying to convince managers about the advantage of enterprise computing and integrated Enterprise Application Productivity.
    I do not even dare to think about changing the hardware. Once the enterprise Software is made and the web application works and the various components are set then PC's do not matter any more.
    From there I leave it to the IT staff to convince the managers ... :) I know ... it is the hardest part ...
    But one thing I know!
    I once could change all displays to 17'' TFT as the credit analysts would have a much bigger productivity with my web application as they did with the old text-based (Yes! A Cobol Application) and eyes stressing CRT displays.
    That's it ... they kept the old desktops as they where more then enough for the task (basically just running IE ...)

    Not that I work on the "client side" but Sun Ray is a great solutions.

    By the way Murphy ... if Sun actually changes the name for Enterprise PC .... we will divide the Royalties/Patent over the folks here at your blog ...
    Ok, only the ones that do not approve the MS Vision ...