NEC makes virtualisation play

Company exhibits a range of technology in Wellington

NEC is the latest company to make a local pitch for the thin client and server virtualisation markets.

The two used together mean greater user mobility, lower costs and easier security and disaster recovery, says Meredith Harmon, from NEC Australia’s “Virtual PC Centre”. And, of course, it is promoted as a “greener” solution, because of its lower overall power consumption.

NEC has cultivated a relationship with VMware, which reduces the cost of middleware between desktop and virtualised server, Harmon says. Virtualisation allows each thin client to work with an isolated virtual PC back at the server for optimal resource utilisation.

The latest generation of NEC thin client has an integrated VoIP terminal.

Thin client desktops account for only 5% of the desktop market today, but that proportion is growing by more than 20% in all major markets, according to NEC figures. The Asia-Pacific region shows the lowest growth rate, at 20.9% from 2005 to 2006. The US leads, with 30.2% growth in the same period.

The thin client-virtual server combination was only one of a wide variety of examples of NEC technology demonstrated in Wellington recently, in celebration of 25 years of incorporation of the Japan-based company in New Zealand.

Exhibits and the topics of talks at the event ranged from robots as potential home companions (not likely to be released in New Zealand) to a tiny Unix server, about the size of a typical laptop power supply. This was shown powering a surveillance camera, which can be activated in response to heat, motion or even, it was claimed, suspicious behaviour. The server clearly has considerably broader potential.

Face and fingerprint recognition for border control was also demonstrated in a show which had a noticeable emphasis on security of one kind or another. NEC’s Neoface technology is said to be able to identify the face of one person being sought from a crowd; though if it is asked to search a crowd for any of a number of people the error margins become to great, said the demonstrator.

The company gave top billing to its architecture for the next-generation pure IP network. NEC, having provided Telecom’s public switched telephone network for decades, missed out on Telecom’s NGN, which is being supplied by Alcatel-Lucent.

General manager Shinya Kukita spoke on the structure of NEC’s NGN networks, their ability to converge voice, data and video and the migration strategies for transferring from PSTN to NGN.

The robots, demonstrated in tightly-scheduled sessions to avoid overcrowding, actually proved one of the least popular exhibits as far as the Wellington crowd was concerned.

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