Sun pulls thin client blitz with a Wyse huddle

Calling it thin client does not do it justice, call it uber-client.
Written by Dana Gardner, Contributor on
Timing for market acceptance of a thin-client desktop computing experience has never been better. Thanks to the halo effect from the Google phenomenon, and Microsoft's extreme tardiness with fat client Vista, an auspicious window of opportunity exists to inject this quite seasoned notion of networked applications into the mainstream.

Fresh from its high-five with Google, Sun Microsystems is now partnering with Wyse Technology to create an "end-to-end" thin client solution by combining Sun's Secure Global Desktop Software (Sun SGDS) with Wyse hardware. Expect the official announcement later on Wednesday. But calling it thin client does not do it justice. Call it uber-client.

Wyse will bundle the Sun SGDS client software on its S- and V-Class thin clients on Linux, WindowsCE, and Windows XPe. This is a welcome departure fromSun's Sun Ray strategy of a locked down client based on a Sun client platform. By allowing for Windows 98-XP PCs and Macintosh PC alternatives on Linux and the stripped down WindowsCE and XPe operating systems, most all the backward and forward application compatibility is there. Take your choice on a number of levels -- emulate or browse or run native on the vast majority of available applications. Wyse is certainly making a splash with this uber-client business.

The Wyse-Sun huddle and co-development agreement provides for end users securely via encryption to tap into myriad enterprise and desktop applications from the heterogeneous Wyse thin clients. The Sun SGDS also Web-enables legacy applications swiftly sans outright re-writes, and presents those applications like twins with server-based applications. Because of the WinCE support, that portends delivery to handsets. I suppose Java support should broaden the mix.

The Sun-Wyse move brings together the best of a fat client, in terms of broad software applications and standards support, with the best of a networked computer at low cost and miserly deployment and maintenance economies. It should allow for IT managers to pull almost all of their applications back to center for server-based control and manageability, without disruption on the edge, and without incurring the expected high cost of major client upgrades inherent in a move on up to Vista, for example.

Sun further adds to the "end-to-end" efficacy of the tag-team by offering AMD Opteron-powered Sun Fire X2100, Sun Fire X4100, and Sun Fire X4200 servers running Solaris 10 on the back end. Low cost speed all around. No surprise there, Sun prefers to monetize on the server, as it should.

Sun and Wyse are marketing this solution attractively to resellers and VARs such as EDS. But the main target should be those host-carrier companies, including telcos, targeting enterprises with data services to take up the slack from their declining voice and network revenues. Otherwise this latest and compelling thin client solution set remains a debutante without a prince.
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