The 170 incorporates a Java Card reader that, in combination with Sun Ray Server Software 3.0 (also announced Friday), allows users to move from one client to another and preserve their user sessions. Users can sit at any Sun Ray client on a network and pick up where they left off with running applications—a feature that has won over a number of call center customers, including Time Warner, according to Mason Uyeda, the product manager for the Sun Ray line.
Combined with the broadband networking capabilities of the new Sun Ray Server Software 3.0, the 170 can be used by telecommuters to securely access corporate applications—without the risk of loss or compromise of sensitive data. The 170 can also be used as an external display for a standard PC and can be mounted on a wall to eliminate its desktop footprint entirely. It also includes a projector port for meeting room use and can fold flat when not in use.
The 170 is self-configuring when plugged into a network with an available Sun Ray server. It can also be preconfigured to connect to a remote server over broadband via a VPN (virtual private network) connection, making it suitable for home workers or branch offices. And with no moving parts and low power consumption, Uyeda said Sun estimates that the 170 has a mean time between failures rating of 15 years. Because of the long life and ease of configuration, Uyeda said, "you could have support for your desktops run by your facilities manager instead of your IT department, and provision desktops the same way you provision a phone line."
In a demonstration of the 170 for eWEEK.com, Uyeda also highlighted the results of a total economic impact study of previous Sun Ray models conducted by Forrester Research Inc. The study showed that replacing PCs with Sun Rays at some organizations resulted in more than a 70 percent return on investment in the first year, and that on average Sun Rays had a 43 percent ROI in the first year—paying back the cost of their deployment within 25 months.
The Forrester report found that "(r)eduction in support around the management of an end-user device represents a significant portion of the benefits received" in the organizations that it surveyed. However, the study also noted that user training was essential to that success. "Users that are familiar with a standard network PC environment will need (to) have a fair degree of education around the movement to a server centric environment. While this is a factor for any PC to thin client migration, the need for training of the end users cannot be understated to achieve the expected benefits."