When faced with complex technical requirements compounded by limited workspace in its GSM Fault Management center, Africa’s leading cellular network operator, Vodacom, selected Dimension Data to implement Sun Microsystems’ Sun Ray thin client technology to address its needs.

According to Mr Johan Engelbrecht, Director; Central Operations for Vodacom, the Fault Management Centre has had to expand to accommodate the rapid growth rate being experienced by the cellular network operator.

"Various challenges had to be overcome in order to achieve this growth. Vodacom needed a solution that could merge multiple Unix and Microsoft applications into a unified multi-headed system that must be run by a single operator", he says.

"In close collaboration with Sun Microsystems SA and technical specialists from Vodacom, we evaluated the available technologies that could satisfy the requirements of this complex hybrid environment," says Jakes Jakobsen, Account manager at Dimension Data.

The SunRay appliances have proven so successful that Vodacom has engaged with Dimension Data to investigate the suitability of the technology in further work environments.

SunRay technology was identified as the solution of choice, as it offers compact workstations with hotdesking capability. The space-saving design of the SunRay appliances saves valuable desktop real estate, removing the need for physical expansion of Vodacom’s facility, while the system also provides the ability to run Unix and Microsoft applications over multiple monitors using a single keyboard and mouse.

"Embedded smart card technology central to the SunRay systems also enables hot desking. Each user has a Java-card, which when inserted into any machine, brings up that user’s desktop environment and all the applications required to conduct their work. This provides flexibility and efficiency particularly for shift workers in the call centre environment," comments Jakes Jakobsen, Account manager at Dimension Data.

Christel van den Berg, account manager at Sun Microsystems SA, notes that support on a SunRay system is also considerably simpler than with a PC workstation. "Support on the PC was cumbersome, taking up to five hours to rebuild a machine if there was a problem. It now takes about thirty seconds to replace a desktop unit if it breaks, which is highly unlikely," she says.