Green light - A thin client alternative

Sharjah's Scholars International Academy found that being environmentally aware wasn’t as challenging as first thought, when it chose energy efficient thin clients for its labs.

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By  Imthishan Giado Published  August 16, 2008

Sharjah's Scholars International Academy found that being environmentally aware wasn’t as challenging as first thought, when it chose energy efficient thin clients for its labs.

Environmental awareness is currently the ‘in thing' for enterprises worldwide. What is debatable, however, is how many of them actually believe in being green outside of their marketing department - especially in a region with a reputation for conspicuous consumption and low utility rates.

That's not a label that can be applied to Sharjah's Scholars International Academy (SIA), which applied environmental awareness to the usually mundane task of building a new computer lab.

I put it across in two steps – first, that it matches our environmental aims, and second we would have 100% ownership.

Instead of filling its premises with power-hungry traditional desktops, SIA used thin clients from Sun Microsystems which claim to use only 4W of power, when compared to 16W for a normal PC.

It's solid proof of the fact that one does not need be a massive regional organisation with millions of dollars in budget to achieve results which have a concrete effect on the bottom line.

John Nash, network manager and head of ICT for SIA, candidly admits that he is the IT team in its entirety and his new implementation is just 16 clients - but none of these facts stood in the way of his ambition for the new systems.

"SIA started back in September looking at various solutions involving a traditional Windows box with Windows servers sitting in the background. We weren't particularly happy with that because obviously there is a spiralling cost to having Windows boxes - you've got the RAM, the hard drives and the power supplies. So much can go wrong, incurring a time cost to repair in terms of the actual unit and also in the fact that you have to replace the component," he explained.

In the search to eliminate that cost, Nash went to GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK 2007, where he was impressed by Sun Microsystems's thin client offerings - particularly the environmental component.

He returned to his board and presented them with two options - a regular Windows-based lab, or doubling the budget to allow for the thin clients. Nash explains how he convinced the board to opt for the latter.

"I put it across in two steps - first, that it matches our environmental aims and goals at SIA, and second that we would have 100% ownership which means that over a 10 year period our IT infrastructure would be greatly reduced because we wouldn't have all of those costs associated with upgrade paths.  For example, as we move from XP to Vista, it would normally mean that all the machines would have to be upgraded or replaced with new machines to meet Vista's requirements," he says.

With the selection complete, Nash installed the system in December with the help of Aptec and Foresight, Sun's local integration partners. The system was actually intended to go live in November, but shipment delays in the US mean that the servers and thin clients arrived four weeks late.

Nash notes that the key driver behind the new implementation was the school's desire to not just appear environmentally-friendly, but to actually incorporate green thinking into every aspect of the school.

"What we actually believe is that we should not only tell children about environmental issues, we should be showing them that we're taking steps to actively be part of the solution," he states.

"Our sports field is Tiger Turf - which means that we're saving on the most precious resource in the UAE which is water. We also have an on-site water recycling plant so the water is used twice as a matter of course. The corridors were designed as open ones so that we don't have enclosed A/C units running everywhere, only in the classrooms. Again, that helps reduce our carbon footprint," adds Nash.

3675 days ago
sanjeev

Sun claims that their thin client only uses 4 watts of energy per hour of usage. But It doesn't mention that an additional SUN Server is required to make their thin clients work and communicate with other application servers. If its the complete SUN RAY Solution then with the increased no. of servers you also get tied to SUN technology and that means high TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP.

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