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Re: Lucent Technologies & Sun Microsystems



>Lets look at your arguments:

>    "Why download every program you have to run?"

>Why not download it?  On many (most?) PeeCee networks, the major apps are kept
on a fileserver and downloaded right now.  

On most Windows-based networks, the applications are kept on each PC and loaded 
from a local hard disk.  

>Besides, on a modern 100Mbps ethernet, 

First, that technology represents probably less than 1-2% of the installed base 
of company LANs.

Second, that speed is SHARED among a great many separate users (both on the LAN 
and on the servers they are accessing).  It's a waste of that capacity (and your 
callers time to wait, meanwhile) to download (say) 1-2Mb of code just so you can 
access a few kilobytes of data in a corporate database.

>network transfers are nearly as fast as disk transfers.  

That isn't actually true, in practice.  Especially when you end up with a large 
network with many users.

>NCs are being targeted at the corporate market so the network infrastructure is
already in place.

Very little of the installed base is 100Mbit stuff.  And even then, Ethernet is 
notoriously inefficient in terms of the potential bandwidth of the network it 
runs on (and probably less efficient the faster the bit rate is).

>    "PCs are cheaper"

>Yes, but not cheap to maintain.  

This keeps getting bandied about, but the fact is that the servers which NCs 
depend on are as a rule *far* harder to maintain than normal PCs are.  And 
they're far less cost-effective, too!  

>The sysadmin/computer (or sysadmin/user)
ratio tends to be higher in the PeeCee world than in the Unix workstation
world because a Unix system is easy to maintain remotely.  

NT servers are at least as easy to maintain remotely.  In fact, if the 
relationship you're talking about holds, it's more likely to be because PC 
networks are oftentimes smaller than Unix networks and therefore the sysadmin 
has less stuff to do, but still the customer wants someone inhouse.

>Of course you can always run Unix on a PeeCee and have the best of both worlds 
:-)

Clearly this is not the goal of the NC crowd.  They *really* want you to use a 
"big machine" (or a Sun workstation server or something) as your central 
machine.  (Just look at who the companies pushing the NC are... as a rule, they 
are NOT PC manufacturers).

>    "PCs are more expandable/upgradable"

>Straw man argument.  Many motherboards have onboard SCSI/Ethernet/Video
already ... 

Very few motherboards (PC anyhow) have SCSI.  (Apples tend to have SCSI, but 
they're diminishing towards zero as a percentage of the marketplace).  And 
relatively few motherboards (at least the ones I've been seeing at most 
suppliers!) have Ethernet or video either... Maybe the 'brand name' systems are 
different here, but I would tend to prefer the chance to customize those 
subsystems anyhow.

>what's left to expand except RAM, and you can certainly add RAM to an NC.

What's left to expand?  How about things like voicemail/telephony controller 
cards, hard disk storage, sound cards, modems, ISDN interfaces, TV/FM tuner 
cards (which can display to a window on the screen?), QuickCams, CD-ROM drives, 
controller cards to (say) run your VCR, EPROM programmers, laser printers, 
floppy disk drives, CD-ROM burners, ZIP/JAZ drives, the list goes on and on.

>    "Java is slow"

>It doesn't have to be.  With JIT compilation or Java ASICs there is no
reason you can't get good performance.  

The performance is still poor compared to similar systems written in inherently 
simpler and more efficient languages.

Fact is that we had platform-independent object code *before* in P-code under 
Pascal, and it had a brief surge of popularity and then went into a 
well-deserved decline.  Those of us who have been in this business for a good 
while have seen lots of these 'flash-in-the-pan' products come and go.

>But remember, the type of apps that a typical office user needs do not 
necessarily require a high performance machine (unless you use Microsoft 
bloatware as your example :-)

Certainly there used to be a lot of *simple* applications which people used to 
use and benefit from.  But ease of use features and things like 
presentation-quality graphics output (to screen and onto paper) have hugely 
increased people's expectations regarding what their computer should do for 
them.  I don't think you're going to see people return anytime soon to the types 
of primitive graphics and presentation they used to enjoy on their Apple II 
computers.  

Hey, I'm an assembler tweaker myself... I enjoy shaving microseconds out of 
tight loops.  But the fact is that there are damned few of us around these days, 
in large measure because most clients aren't willing to pay for that kind of 
programming excellence.

Programs like Corel Draw (a real compute-time PIG) will become **intolerable** 
if recompiled into Java... they're too slow already!!!!

>IMHO, the NC is a good idea simply because it allows better use of
resources.

The performance is crippled, the machine is incompatible with most 
shrink-wrapped software and nearly brain-dead... and the cost difference 
compared to a comparable PC-based system just isn't enough to justify all the 
things you have to give up to get the NC's minor savings.

Gordon Peterson
http://www.computek.net/public/gep2/