Sun’s Acquistions Accelerate Microsoft Interoperability

By now, you’ve seen the press release announcing our acquisition of Procom’s IP, and Tarantella, Inc. I’d like to give a backdrop to the acquisitions, and an overview of the opportunities.

The Procom transaction is pretty straightforward – we loved the technology we were OEM’ing so much, we bought it. We see the demand for network attached storage (NAS) growing by the day, and as we alluded to in the press release, the NAS world is increasingly relying upon general purpose servers, with industry standard OS’s. Good news, we have both – which coupled with Procom’s NAS technologies, are going to give us a ton of headroom is bringing the price of NAS storage way, way down. And still driving very attractive margins – while attaching to Sun systems, Microsoft Windows systems – wherever data’s generated, we’ll attach to store it.

The second transaction requires a little more backdrop.

There’s no question enterprises and CIO’s are interested in an alternative to the deployment complexity associated with PC’s. ‘Thin’ is in, but according to our calculus, the existing ‘thin client’ options are just as expensive as a traditional PC (if not more expensive). There’s similarly no question the preponderance of legacy desktop applications are written to Windows, rather than the internet. And preserving access to that legacy is a checklist item for those seeking to lower desktop PC costs while moving to shared services or grid infrastructure.

With Sun’s SunRay, what we view as the first of many “DOIP” devices to emerge, we’ve delivered a step function improvement in security and cost – literally moving the desktop to the grid. But there have been two principle objections raised by customers.

The first related (the past tense is deliberate) to the need for a continuous network connection. Without a high quality network, a SunRay is worthless – at its simplest, it’s a display that uses the network instead of a cable to attach to a CPU (which means the CPU for a SunRay can be 1,000’s of miles away). This network centricity is one of the SunRay’s many advantages – as a completely stateless device, if you steal a SunRay, you’ve got yourself a worthless piece of plastic. Nothing more. There’s no data, even settings, to steal – the value’s in the network. So problems like the FBI or Wells Fargo experienced can be a thing of the past. It also means you can centralize upgrades and configurations – and put it all in the network.

Before networks were truly pervasive or of reasonable quality, this ‘constraint’ – the need for a persistent network connection – was an impediment to adoption. But now we say, “you run a SunRay wherever you run Google.” And the objection’s off the table.

The next issue hasn’t been so easy to overcome. It’s that the majority of the legacy applications customers were looking to present through a secured thin client were written to Windows. And SunRay today leverages an open source Mozilla/StarOffice/Java Desktop System stack, where Windows is largely inaccessible unless you grapple with the complexity and expense of a Citrix license. With the increasing interoperability between the two companies, though, Tarantella’s technology provides a foundation to present Windows applications over a grid (ours, or a customer’s). Without a Citrix license.

So at this point, there are no more objections – SunRay’s are a far more efficient deployment option for desktop applications. Windows, Solaris or Linux.

So if you’re looking for 10 great reasons to look to SunRays as you lower desktop/PC costs, here goes:

1. SunRays consume <1/10th the electricity as their gas guzzler cousins.
2. SunRays generate no noticeable heat – so they don’t drive up AC bills.
3. SunRays are completely silent (they don’t need a fan, they’re solid state).
4. SunRays centralize system operations – you can upgrade 32,000 users across the globe in about 2 hours (we do it all the time – just like eBay, Google, and every other shared service).
5. SunRays are secured by the same JavaCard used by the US Government, and the GSM Assocation. Multi-factor authentication comes to desktops.
6. SunRays are stateless – there’s no value in stealing one, from a school, factory or call center.
7. They cost around $1/day to operate.
8. There are no known viruses for the Java Desktop System.
9. The SunRay 170 is very compact (it’s amazing how small a computer you can make without a CPU!).

And as a result of this morning’s acquisition,

10. SunRays will ultimately run Microsoft’s Windows applications without modification, and without the complexity and expense of a Citrix license.

You’ve now got every reason to take one for a test drive.

Which helps to put into context why the acquisition of Tarantella seemed like such a natural fit.

And both acquisitions ensure the Sun/Microsoft announcement on Friday is going to be full of good news for customers (and Solaris/Java developers).

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