Sun Microsystems Inc now says its JavaStation desktops won’t begin to ship in volume until 1998. Sun CEO Scott McNealy said it plans to install 10,000 of the devices internally by this time next year: of course it was supposed to have installed 3,000 of them for its own use by now. It won’t meet that target until around the October timeframe, when initial deliveries of the full-function devices are now set to begin. Sun’s been drawing a lot of flak for the pickle it’s got itself in over the JavaStation network computers it announced last October with such fanfare, has pinned so much hope on, but has yet to ship as full- function devices. It’s not if, but when, says McNealy. The company says it’s pulling more resources into the JavaStation product effort, and Gene Banman, VP and general manager of the desktop group responsible for the JavaStations has turned responsibility for the company’s workstations and graphics products over to VP and general manager Ken Okin, so that he can spend more time on the JavaStation campaign. Banman says it was obvious more time needed to be given to the JavaStation initiative.
Companies that are already acting upon cost of ownership studies which Sun and others are waving under Microsoft Corp’s nose claiming network computers and zero administration, or thin clients are going to be cheaper to maintain than PCs, still have few choice of supplier. Sun’s full function model won’t be available until at least October. NCs built to Oracle Corp designs, such as DEC’s Shark, are only just coming to market while Tektronix Inc ships its new NC200 NetStation this month. On the other hand NeoWare Systems Inc – which was formerly called HDS Network Systems – has been shipping full-function thin clients for a year or more. That’s why Unix poster account Burlington Coat Factory has bypassed JavaStation and will instead buy more NCs from NeoWare. CIO Mike Prince said NCs will play an important role in the company’s future IT strategy, and he needs Java, X Windows, terminal emulation and NT access in one box. Sun’s early JavaStation models didn’t even support X, he says. The problem he’s trying to solve is exemplified by the company’s experience yesterday when the computer systems at of its locations went down for some hours because a floppy drive that it didn’t even know about had broken and it had then had to find the offending device located somewhere in the 500,000 square foot building. Installing remotely-managed, diskless NCs will eliminate this problem, Prince says. But it’s not just NCs that he’s waiting for. To implement the kind three-tier architecture he envisages, Prince also been waiting for its database supplier, Oracle Corp, to ship its web-enabled products.