Microsoft and Sun Microsystems may have kissed and made up to the tune of nearly $US2 billion, but there will be no love lost when Sun CIO Bill Vass switches off its remaining 4000 Windows desktop licences over the next year.
In Australia to meet with customers, partners, and check on IT operations here, Vass said Sun has about 36,000 Java Desktop System (JDS) users, 33,000 of which are on thin clients. Sun has about 6000 notebooks, 4000 of which run Windows, with the management of fat clients outsourced to EDS. Vass said Sun will migrate off Windows "as soon as EDS can do it", which should be within 12 months.
"Windows is the biggest pain because of viruses and integration issues," he said, adding that thin clients are now being deployed in homes so staff don't need to "lug a laptop".
"We don't need to worry about managing a laptop, patching them, or losing IP," Vass said. "The costs of moves, adds, and changes are eliminated with thin clients [which] require almost no manpower."
A former CIO for the US Department of Defence, Vass is the sole CIO for Sun globally which consists of 360 offices in 73 countries and serves about 42,000 end users.
Seven years ago Sun made a decision to consolidate its nine divisions into one, and Vass concedes that remnants of the integration still linger, adding that identity management and ERP systems have been unified.
"Everyone has Java badges [and Sun has] a single Oracle instance for ERP and a single data warehouse," Vass said. "Sun has five points-of-presence in the Internet where you can connect a thin client anywhere on the Internet which allows software to be delivered in the ASP model."
Sun is pioneering the utility model which can display a desktop from a grid to a thin client, Vass said. He believes that over the next two years there will be migrations to software as a service and utility computing across the industry.
Sun hopes to lead by example so other companies can follow, he said.
"It's a big paradigm shift for a company," he said.
Overall, Sun has reduced its IT expenditure from $US600 million to $US300 million a year over the past five years which now equates to 3 percent of revenue. Vass puts this down to the use of thin clients and reduction in software licensing. Most organizations run IT at between 4 and 5 percent.
"Sun Rays are quite efficient and are good for getting a service-oriented architecture in place," he said.
Sun is now delivering VoIP to its end users, which can re-route calls to a mobile if a user is not logged on to the network.