Joel Makower got to the heart of yesterday’s story on Sun MicroSystems’ new environmental initiatives before I could get back to it. I’m absorbed in work on the Sustainable Business Rating System (and other projects), so I’m going to leave this one to him:
The major server manufacturers — Sun, HP, IBM, Dell, and others — have been vying to improve server energy efficiency for years; the 2000-2001 energy crisis in California, where roughly one in five servers lives, was a giant impetus. But Sun seems to have ratcheted up the competition a notch or two….
McNealy has long been championing Sun’s ‘thin-client’ strategy, in which individuals log on to a server that contains, in effect, their desktop, including all of their programs and documents, just the way they left them. That strategy — McNealy calls it DOIP, for ‘Desktop Over Internet Protocol,’ eliminates much of individual computers’ innards — hard drives, memory chips, fans, and more. (Thereby eliminating, as McNealy puts it, ‘a personal space heater on everybody’s lap or workspace.’) And it means not having to upgrade your hardware every time Microsoft (or whomever) introduces a radical new operating system or software suite; the latest version lives in the server. It also facilitates “commute-free remote access work environments for employees,” enabling employees to work from anywhere, thereby eliminating office space (about half of Sun’s employees don’t work from company offices). That saves even more energy and improves worker productivity.
Then all I’ll need is a thin-client laptop and ubiquitous WiFi. (Or maybe an inkpen and notepad and a nice shady tree.)