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CeBIT 99: Thin clients cache in

As American as Applet Pie

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Netco, a small company from Blankeberg in former east Germany, is showing an interesting Applet Cache device at CeBIT and, for some strange reason, in the US Pavilion. The Applet Cache is intended for use with thin-client workstations in branch offices. The Cache is designed to eliminate the need for on-site expertise, to reduce telcoms costs, and generally to avoid having a conventional server with the usual support costs. NetCo says its product should reduce the overall cost and increase the reliability of managing thin clients. Installation is fairly idiot proof: the device is plugged into the electricity supply, the phone, and the cluster of thin clients. It then makes a pre-programmed call to receive an Internet address, and hangs up. The device is then re-contacted to configure it and the clients from a remote server. Intelligent cacheing enables a systems administrator to determine what legacy software features should be permanently cached for each client and cluster, and when remote updating will take place. Although there are no moving parts, in the event of breakdown it is only necessary to plug in a replacement device. Other envisaged uses include intranets, automatic tellers and information kiosks. The most frequently requested applets are held in cache for instant use. Of course, all this assumes a new Java world where Windows will be thrown out of the window. It also rather assumes that Linux will not become the alternative fat client, although who can predict what may happen in a proper Java-Linux marriage: perhaps Linux servers could do a fair job of managing Java clients with a touch more reliability than with Windows NT. If so, there's a future for the likes of NetCo GmbH. ®

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