Small business server

Diana makes an interesting comment on 42: SunRays prove popular.

She starts with

I would suggest that Sun have a pre-configured deskside server with Solaris 10. A cheap box, under $1000.

and suggests this could be good for small businesses. I can see her point although to run multiple clients Sun do recommend a twin processor machine which might make the price point tough.

I have a more radical suggestion as I think Solaris is some way off being ready for this (although as users would not see the installer maybe that helps bring this closer).

Start supporting Cannonical and Ubuntu for the SunRay Server software and these servers. There are lots of reasons for this.

  • Ubuntu is much more up-to-date than the Suse that JDS is based on at present.
  • Ubuntu is moving really fast and is working flat out on support for Laptops, Wifi and Thin Clients. All these are where Sun needs great support if it is to sell to small business and homes.
  • Ubuntu is not targeted at corporate desktops so does not compete with Solaris and JDS based on Suse
  • Ubuntu could benefit from Suns help on the 64bit opterons.

Do a bundle for small business of a neat cube with the inside of a budget, lower spec SunFire V20Z (with much quieter cooling), offer cheap SunRay bundles, plus live Cd to use PC’s as thin clients, support for laptops via wifi.

This is the next logical step from the network attached storage in a box and mail/webserver in a box products.

See  A shattering experience with Windows – for the types of customer this will appeal to.

It has to come ready to go with a full installation done. Logging in as administrator should automatically open a web browser based server admin (much simplified/focused webmin).

The server should have a smartcard slot so that no thin client needs to be setup as a smartcard reader.

I would think a plug and go server that supports upto 5 PC’s or SunRays as thin clients would sell like hot cakes if the installation were already done. I would bundle it with bandwidth, printer and dvd-writer.

Offer upgrades of adding more of these servers and moving to Solaris with server failover etc. As soon as you have one server running Solaris then any new server should simply clone itself and be transparent to the users. The servers should keep themselves in sync.

Now is the window of opportunity before MS have a new OS out that they say fixes all security problems. Once that is out it will take a while before people realise that it does not fix many security problems and competing will be harder.

3 thoughts on “Small business server

  1. diana

    I will try this again … I think for the average user, the browser is the central focus. The email client is second and that’s it. Most people I know use their email client as a database of all things. Most of my experience has been involved with small businesses and they are a browser centric-network lot these days. I sure don’t see many putting in hours at MS Word, they use Mozilla composer to write with now. Home users are likely to be the same — the network is the computer and now it really is.
    So — the server horsepower to run browser centric clients is not that great. Think Linksys. A server is also a repository for keeping everything in one place — which is a good thing for most small business and home users who ‘can never seem to find anything on their PC once they hit save’. And backup, I think you know what that is like. Make it a raid box, even if it’s nothing but a disk image raid. IMHO most of the desktop CPUs just sit there burning power — so a server which is nothing more than a glorified router/SAN doesn’t have to be much in terms of actually needing server horsepower — make it a AMD-64 chip for grins and smiles all around.
    As to the OS, I think JDS is a nice simple face to the user. I don’t think Ubuntu or whatever is really necessary. But it does need to have multi-media capability. With Sun’s connections to MS — I wonder.
    Admittedly, Ubuntu makes a great standalone OS, and a nice Server OS(yes Virginia the notion of a separate server *NIX OS is somewhat a farce), it’s currently what we recommend to clients. And Solaris is not that easy to run, much less install. But I doubt that’s a huge problem, a little bit of tweaking and setup beforehand and a few python apps to make pretty frontends for the command line and there you are.
    My Sun-Mini dream server looks a lot like this
    Ah now that’s the ticket.
    I often wonder why Sun ignores the cable modem market — small businesses use cable modems, just go to Comcast’s website and see. It sure doesn’t seem like it would take much to roll a package out like this. I bet Sun would make more money on it than OpenSolaris, and the tradeup potential is huge. What’s keeping you from doing it now. I am sure you could get some proper paint to put on those Shuttle boxes.
    Another thing I think gets lost is the utility of blogs and wikis for small business users as in house communications tools and to some extent external websites. It is astounding what you can do with WordPress, pmWiki and a little PHP to make a small business website look like a big boy website. The Sun-mini should come with these free packages already setup and ready to go. Oh did I say it all works over a cable modem?
    Remember, it is low cost you want, not the ability to run Oracle. If the cost is low enough, the home user will follow right behind — just ask Comcast.

  2. Sun Bloke

    You are onto something – various countries are doing various pilots with telcos, usually hosting the Sun Ray server at the telco, with the Sun Rays at the user’s house at the end of the DSL link. Wait and see what happens…

  3. diana

    There are three obvious uses for a Sun SFF AMD-64 box. A home hub, a small business hub and a developer machine. The Sunray angle is gravy on top — Sunray is a concept that is poised to take off for home and small business use — as noted earlier. My guess is the SFF Sun box would do more to add punch to Sun’s OpenSalaris push than anything else they could do. It’s practically zero development cost and could be zero manufacturing cost, just order them painted the right colors, load the software and ship. Fits Schwartz’s talk about commodity computing to a tee.
    Sometimes I wonder if Sun marketing and sales are brain dead. They sure don’t have a good idea of what is going on in the world — especially when it comes to cable modems.
    BTW: Easy to resolve the OS problem, make it dual boot, everyone will be happy.


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