Sun, Savvis Team on Utility Desktops

Savvis unveils a new virtualized computing environment that uses Sun Ray thin clients.

Savvis Communications Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are teaming up to give businesses a utility computing environment for their desktops.

At the Securities Industry Association Technology Management Conference in New York on Wednesday, Savvis announced a new virtualized computing environment that uses Suns Sun Ray thin clients.

St. Louis-based Savvis already offers a virtualized data center infrastructure in its 24 data centers worldwide. Working with partners Egenera Inc., a server maker from Marlboro, Mass., storage company 3Pardata Inc., of Fremont, Calif., and networking vendor Inkra Networks Inc., also of Fremont, Savvis offers businesses a complete data center environment accessible via a VPN on a pay-per-use basis.

Now the company is bringing those capabilities to desktop users, said Chairman and CEO Rob McCormick. The goal of this initiative is the same as the data center offering—to give businesses all the compute resources they need without forcing them to make the capital investment. It also increases the level of security.

"What this lets you do is get rid of the PC under the desk," McCormick said. "You end up moving from a very capital-intensive IT model to a no-capital IT model."

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about Suns efforts to ease the transition to utility computing.

Under the initiative, employees would have a Sun Ray thin client device on their desk, through which they can access programs and stored files from a centralized server environment via a LAN or wireless network. They gain access to their own desktop environment through a personal Java-based smart card.

Sun Rays essentially offer a monitor, mouse, keyboard and a slot for digital identity cards.

The offering uses Suns Tarantella Secure Global Desktop Enterprise Edition to support multiple operating environments, including Microsoft Corp.s Windows applications, Suns StarOffice Productivity Suite running on Solaris 10, and various legacy software, McCormick said.

Not only will it enable businesses to reduce capital costs, but it also will increase security by keeping key data and applications on a central server rather than on an employees own computer.

Thin clients have been around for years—currently the space is dominated by such companies as Wyse Technology Inc. and Neoware Systems Inc., and Hewlett-Packard Co. also offers devices—but have yet to grow beyond a niche technology. McCormick said the differentiator with this offering is the closer Sun-Microsoft relationship, which means that Savvis can offer both Windows and StarOffice on Solaris 10.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about how a N.Y. community college cut costs and improved manageability by replacing PCs with thin clients.

Savvis is currently offering the service in Europe, and will expand it to the United States by the end of the year, he said.

Sun is aggressively pursuing utility computing, including among its Sun Rays. In November, the Santa Clara, Calif., company announced it was planning to let customers rent out access to the thin clients.

/zimages/2/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest utility computing news, reviews and analysis.