Bank of Nova Scotia gave Sun Microsystems Inc.'s newest network computer a vote of confidence this week.
ScotiaBank, which has been testing Sun's next-generation Sun Ray computer with 50 users, said 300 more workers will start using them. Sun announced general availability of Sun Rays on Wednesday in New York.
The $151 billion-asset bank's Toronto-based capital markets development group, which is responsible for trading, treasury, market, and credit risk applications, has been testing Sun Rays since March.
The computers, which are cheaper, stripped-down versions of personal computers that take up less memory and space, have replaced PCs and Unix workstations.
Sun is leasing out them for $9.99 apiece per month over five years. Server software and monitors run $30 monthly over five years. Sun retailers are also selling Sun Rays.
"There are absolutely cost savings," said Gail Smith, senior vice president of front office development at Bank of Nova Scotia. The units cost "easily less than half of what a PC costs," she said.
She declined to give specific savings projections but called the bank's investment an "overwhelmingly compelling proposition."
"If we get this architecture in place," she added, "we won't add more staff."
Users at Bank of Nova Scotia can access news in real time from Sun Rays, which do not need to be upgraded or maintained. Office productivity applications and departmental software run on the bank's centralized Unix, Windows NT, and Sun Solaris servers. Each central processing unit can support 15 to 40 users.
Sun Rays have "given us more access to computing power, and we have got as good as, if not better, performance," Ms. Smith said. "We have the capability to give remote access to everyone.''
Robert Hall, vice president of worldwide marketing for Sun Microsystems, said, "Until now, the users had a heterogeneous environment. This gives them the chance to simplify."
Bank of Nova Scotia, Canada's third-largest bank, opted to have users access the system through a log-on and password, though smart cards or thumb prints can also be used.
Sun's introduction comes about three years after the launch of the first generation of network computers, which never really caught on.
Aberdeen Group said Sun Ray's Hot Desk architecture, which lets users gain access to any device on the network, was a solid move away from today's distributed-computing model.
"Sun Ray Hot Desk architecture takes the first steps by moving all computing, applications, and data from the desktop to the workgroup server," Aberdeen's product profile said.
"This is the implementation of an enterprise appliance that is compelling economically and performance-wise," Mr. Hall said.
Other Sun Ray customers announced Wednesday included Cable and Wireless Hong Kong Telecom, Carnegie Library, and Stanford University.