Sun unveils network computing initiative

Sun has unveiled its network computing initiative with the JavaStation network computer and a family of servers.

Sun has unveiled its network computing initiative with the JavaStation network computer and a family of servers. Sun officials are positioning the technology as a secure, manageable, cost-saving alternative to traditional PC networks and mainframes.

The JavaStation is a sleek, trimmed-down device that has no hard drive, slots or CD-ROM player, and looks somewhat like a laptop computer stood on end. It derives its applications and storage power from servers via the Internet or corporate intranets, which Sun officials say can reduce network maintenance costs by more than 50% over traditional PC-based networks.

The basic JavaStation is priced at US$742 with a keyboard and mouse. A version for US$995 includes a 14inch colour monitor, and a fully configured version is priced at US$1565. Shipping is expected to begin in December.

Sun officials say the key advantage of the JavaStation lies in its ease of maintenance and operation and its potential for long-term savings. "The initial cost really just doesn't matter," says Scott McNealy, Sun president and CEO. "JavaStations would be a great deal at even three times the price. The issue is that we think we can bring running costs of each workstation down to US$2500 per year."

Sun has also introduced its Netra J server line, with an array of software to help busenesses deploy Java across multi-platform networks. The five servers offer browser-based administration and management tools and support traditional PCs as well as workstation clients. They range from entry-level servers for 20 to 50 network computers, priced at US$7695, to high-end servers that support thousands of computers, priced at more than US$200,000.

Sun has also unveiled HotJava Views, its Java-based "Webtop" environment, featuring email, HTML browsing, calendering and a name directory.

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