Sun’s WAN Thin Clients

News.com writes that “Sun Microsystems has decided to take the thin-client model to its logical extreme and move an entire U.K. branch office to thin clients running over a wide area network.

Sun’s U.K. managing director, Leslie Stretch, revealed plans to replace the several hundred thin clients running off local servers in the company’s City office, near London Bridge, with thin clients running over a WAN by the end of this year.

“In this office by the end of this year we will have no computers at all. Of the 200 to 300 seats we have here at the moment, we have no desktops but we do have local servers. By the end of 2004 there will be no physical servers in the office at all, just lines of switches. We have an experimental line in here at the moment for something we call the ‘Wan Ray,'” he said.

The Wan Ray is an extension of Sun’s Sun Ray concept–thin clients activated by a Java smart card that allows a user to move from machine to machine midsession without having to reboot. The Wan Ray will work in a similar way but over a WAN and does away with the need to have local servers.

“Thin-client architectures, including dedicated and PC hardware, are a viable solution for many business problems, including security, system management concerns and application deployment. We see increased interest in this market and expect growth to continue,” said Chris Ingle, group consultant for IDC’s EMEA Systems Group.

Rich-Poor Digital Divide

The Economist writes about a paper by two World Bank economists (Carsten Fink and Charles Kenny) which “questions the notion of a worsening digital divide between rich and poor.”

The authors conclude that the divide’s size and importance have been overstated, and that current trends suggest that it is actually shrinking, not growingwhich means policies designed to bridge the digital divide may need rethinking.

There is no doubt that the adoption of ICTs plays a big role in development. But it is a mistake to place too much emphasis on bridging the digital divide by trying to narrow the per-head divide in access. For one thing, the divide is narrowing on its own. More important, when it comes to determining the best use of international aid, money given to narrowing the divide might be better spent elsewhere. In many developing countries, people face far more important challenges than the lack of internet access, namely lack of access to water, food, medical treatment and education. For them, the digital divide is a symptom, rather than the cause, of wider inequality.