Sun has been trying to establish itself as a leader in the area of "green IT" for several years now through a focused marketing push around the notions of energy efficiency and utility computing.
The idea that desktop machines are inherently inefficient plays well to Sun's notion that the "network is the computer". The company has been using the green message to drive more companies to adopt thin clients. Having intelligence and processing power located on the server, rather than locally, has obvious benefits for a company that makes the bulk of its revenues from selling high-end computing.
The spectre of environmental legislation is also a factor in Sun's positioning. Most of the leading technology companies are keen to be seen as green, not only to cash in on a growing marketing for energy-efficient products, but also to show law-makers that they are capable of cleaning up their act without being forced to.
Targets such as those set by the European Commission to improve energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020 are causing the green IT issue to rise up corporate agendas. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, IT in the UK currently accounts for 10 percent of the country's total power consumption (compared to between two and four percent globally), and this figure is likely to double over the next decade because of continuing market growth.
Energy efficiency and utility computing are important to Sun in terms of sales due to the new European targets, but also because of the growing importance placed on environmental issues by customers, says Richard Barrington, UK head of sustainability and public policy.
Barrington claims Sun's customers have different priorities in terms of the "green" agenda, with no clear focus emerging as yet. While some companies are coming at the issue from a corporate social responsibility standpoint, others are focused on cutting utility bills or are worrying about lack of data centre space. "So there's not a standard set of questions and different people have different interests based on their corporate agenda," Barrington says.
"So if we're looking at doubling power consumption in the next 10 years in the UK, it means Sun has to deliver 40 percent more energy-efficiency savings. But if we provide the best environmental technology, it will be delivered by the truckload, and being able to drive energy efficiency is a good start," Barrington says.
And this is where the concept of utility computing fits in, with its reliance on larger servers and, Sun hopes, thin-client devices. The vendor believes...