Red Herring: Cloudy forecast for Sun Ray

“This is Sun’s second attempt to crack the network computing
market. Its first, which was based on its Java programming
language, flopped. Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows terminals (or
‘Winterms’), on the other hand, have established a strong, albeit
small, market.”

“The key problem with the Java Station — which Sun claims it
still sells and supports — is that it actually does some
desktop-like processing. The Sun Ray, in contrast, keeps all the
processing on the server, completely eliminating desktop
administration costs…”

“Kimball Brown, chief PC analyst at the information technology
research firm Dataquest, says Sun has put forth a ‘pretty powerful
concept if it can get broadly adopted such that the clients are
available almost anywhere. But in its current implementation, it’s
little more than a 3270 replacement.’ (The 3270 is a terminal that
links to IBM mainframes.)

To make a real go of it, Sun needs to open its platform so
that Sun Rays interoperate with thin-client servers, such as those
from Cobalt or Whistle Communications
(now owned by IBM), Mr.
Brown says. These servers are low-cost systems that allow small
businesses to provide their employees with Web access and email.
‘If [Sun Ray] needs a Sun server to do this everywhere, it’s just
not going to go anywhere,’ Mr. Brown says.”