Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cloud computers for Australia

Suhit Anantula sent me a message to say they write a weblog "World is green" are the co-founder of TechNovus Corp in Adelaide. The company is launching two "cloud computers" in the in Australia in a few months time. These are similar to the Zonbu Linux computer: the unit is a small low power computer with enough memory to run a web browser and desktop applications. The main storage and some (or all) applications are provided remotely via the Internet.

TechNovus are releasing two models: the Nova Navigator uses about 22 Watts, about the same as the Zonbu and the current crop of netbook low power notebook computers, less than a typical desktop computer uses when in standby mode. The Nova NetPC is claimed to use only 5W of energy and appears to be similar to a thin client computer: that is about all it runs is a web browser, with everything else run remotely.

The hardware is from Indian company Novatium Solutions. However, the issue is not so much with the hardware, which is derived from that of notebook computers, but the business model. Zonbu and similar units assume that consumers will be willing to pay an ongoing fee for online storage and applications, much as they pay by the month to use a mobile phone. However, consumers who already have computers are not used to having to keep paying for them. Like cars, PCs give the illusion that once you buy it you can drive for free, forgetting the cost of fuel, registration, tools, insurance and taxes, or in the case of PCs the cost of software upgrades and maintenance.

It will be interesting to see how TechNovus do convincing Australian consumers that low power, low cost network computers make sense here.

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