The latest tidbits on Sun deals and product news

April  1998
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Sun announces new midrange servers, ERP software

Munich (April 29, 1998) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. today unveiled a slew of new products, including a new line-up of midrange enterprise servers that the company says incorporate mainframe-like features.

Available immediately, the new 3500, 4500, 5500, and 6500 servers run under Sun's Solaris Unix operating system and use the 336-MHz UltraSPARC processor, Sun said in a statement. They scale from one to 30 processors.

The servers are designed for applications including enterprise resource planning (ERP), data warehousing, customer management systems, intranets and high-performance computing, according to Sun. The machines incorporate dynamic reconfiguration and alternate pathing, features normally reserved for mainframes, Sun said. They also feature Sun's 84-MHz to 100-MHz interconnect, called the Sun Gigaplane system bus.

The price for an entry-level Sun Enterprise 3500 system with two 250-MHz UltraSPARC II central processing units (CPUs), 256 megabytes of memory, 9.1 gigabytes of disk space and a CD-ROM is US$49,700. The system scales to eight CPUs.

Sun also introduced new systems management software, called Enterprise SyMON, designed to help corporations monitor and manage large Sun environments.

In addition, the company announced services to support ERP installations, including applications from PeopleSoft Inc. and Baan Co. The vendor has also established three new ERP competency centers in the Netherlands, Singapore, and Latin America. Sun's system sales in the ERP market increased by 400 percent in the 1997 fiscal year, the company said, and it is planning a major push in the midrange ERP market.

Sun also announced a new family of supercomputer-class systems, Sun HPC (high performance computing) 3500, 4500, 5500, and 6500 servers, geared to customers running compute-intensive applications. They scale from one to 30 336-MHz UltraSPARC II processors in a single SMP node, and up to 120 processors in a four-node cluster, Sun said. The systems will offer dynamic reconfiguration and alternate pathing for online repair and configuration of I/O in June, and for CPUs later this year, according to a company statement. An entry-level HPC 3500 system configured with four 336 MHz UltraSPARC CPUs is $85,400.

Sun unveiled the servers at a press conference at the Palace Hotel in Brussels this morning and will feature them at another event at the Equitable Center in New York City at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

--Mary Lisbeth D'Amico, IDG News Service

Sun axes planet business structure in favor of new divisions

San Francisco (April 22, 1998) -- Rumors were confirmed today when Sun announced structural changes in its current business organization.

Prior to today, Sun was divided into operating companies, or "planets," (SunSoft, JavaSoft, etc.). The company also announced the formation of two divisions focused on the networked storage and consumer/embedded markets.

Seven division presidents will report directly to Edward Zander, Sun's chief operating officer. Masood Jabbar will head Sun's computer systems division. Mel Friedman will be president of the microelectronics division. John McFarlane was named president of the Solaris software division. Alan Baratz will lead the Java software division. Lawrence Hambly will head the customer services division. Janpieter Scheerder will head the new networked storage division. And Mark Tolliver was named president of the new consumer/embedded systems unit.

In a statement, Sun cites its goal, "is to align the organization more tightly and streamline internal processes so that we achieve greater operational efficiency and provide a unified face to the customer."

"Based on the info[rmation]" said one source at JavaSoft, "it does not look like they are getting rid of JavaSoft. It looks like they are just changing who reports to who. I guess we will find out over the next few days."

--Stephanie Steenbergen, SunWorld

Sun wins contract with U.S. postal service valued at $500 million

San Francisco (April 17, 1998) - Sun Microsystems Inc. announced today that its subsidiary company, Sun Microsystems Federal Inc., was awarded the U.S. Postal Service's Scalable Midrange Computers (SMC) contract which is valued at a maximum of $500 million.

Sun won the bid to provide a range of products, services and support for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) over a five-year period. Sun will be responsible for managing various USPS applications, including file servers, application servers, database servers, security servers and computer servers, the company said in a statement.

Under the agreement Sun will be installing Sun Enterprise servers, the Solaris operating system and Java technology. Sun will also provide maintenance, programming, support personnel and training to USPS, the company said.

The provisions of the SMC contract will be implemented in the U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, said Sun.

This contract is one of part of an ongoing relationship that Sun has cultivated with the USPS, said Lisa Lanspery, Sun spokeswoman, citing another ongoing joint initiative in which Sun is developing Web forms for USPS using its Java technology.

Sun was not able to provide further details pertaining to the SMC contract.

--Cheri Paquet, IDG News Service

Sun acquisition rumors buoy Netscape stock

San Francisco (April 16, 1998) -- Netscape Communications Corp.'s stock jumped 29 percent today to $25.56 as rumors of a buyout resurfaced.

The stock, which hasn't topped $20 since Feb. 24, rose $5.81 Thursday as 30.6 million shares were traded. Wednesday, the stock closed at $19.75 after 5.14 million shares were traded.

Citing company policy, a Netscape spokeswoman refused to comment on the stock movement or rumors of a possible merger with Sun Microsystems.

Several analysts, who concurred that the reported $2.5 billion Netscape asking price is too steep, speculated the merger rumor may have been floated to bring up the company's stock price, either to enhance Netscape's negotiating position if it were to be a candidate for acquisition or to protect the vendor against a huge stock slide if Netscape's upcoming first-quarter earnings prove to be disappointing.

The company's first financial quarter for fiscal 1998 ended March 31, and will officially be reported May 26. Analysts surveyed by First Call estimated the company will report a loss of 10 cents per share. A year ago, Netscape reported earnings of 9 cents per share for the quarter.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 1997 which ended Dec. 31, 1997, Netscape reported a loss of 22 cents per share, or 92 cents per share including one-time charges related to restructuring and mergers.

--Elinor Mills, IDG News Service


Despite slow sales in Asia, Sun's revenue, earnings up in Q3

San Francisco (April 16, 1998) -- Meeting analysts' expectations, Sun Microsystems Inc. today reported record earnings of US$232 million for its third fiscal quarter, up from $197 million in the same quarter last year.

Revenues for the quarter, ended March 29, were $2.4 billion, up 12 percent from $2.1 billion reported for the same period a year ago. Third-quarter earnings per share were 59 cents -- matching to the cent expectations of a sample of analysts polled by First Call Corp., and up on last year's earnings per share of 51 cents.

Sun's revenues were bolstered during the quarter by stronger than expected demand for its new low-end workstations, the Ultra 5 and Ultra 10, which the company introduced in January, Scott McNealy, Sun's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

In addition, the company's results were helped by operating income of $334 million, which represents a record 14 percent of the company's net sales, officials said.

Continuing financial turbulence in Asia caused a slowdown in Sun's sales in Japan and other Asian markets, but not enough to significantly impact overall revenues, Sun officials said.

For the first nine months of the year, Sun reported revenues of $6.9 billion, up 14 percent compared with $6 billion in the previous year. Net income for the nine-month period was $618.4 million, up 24 percent over the same period a year earlier, excluding one-time items for fiscal years 1997 and 1998, Sun said. Including those items, net income for the first nine months was $489.9 million, Sun said.

--James Niccolai, IDG News Service

Greg Papadopoulos named Sun Microsystems, Inc.'s new chief technology officer

San Francisco (April 15, 1998) -- Sun today named Greg Papadopoulos the new chief technology officer of Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Papadopoulos' new job will entail the assessment of Sun's technological investments. And according to Sun, he will "direct the activities" of Sun Laboratories. Papadopoulos will report to Ed Zander, SMI's chief operating officer.

Papadopoulos has held two jobs within Sun since he joined in 1994. He began as the chief scientist of Sun Microsystems Computer Corporation's Enterprise Servers and Storage business unit. Most recently, he held the position of vice president of technology and advanced development for SMCC.

Papadopoulos received a B.A. in Systems Science from the University of California, San Diego. He also holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.

--Stephanie Steenbergen

Netscape, Sun, HP join on support for workflow standard

San Francisco (April 13, 1998) -- Netscape Communications Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. announced today their joint support for a proposed Internet-based standard that will enable disparate workflow software to interoperate.

More than 20 vendors and organizations are supporting the development of the Simple Workflow Access Protocol (SWAP). If approved, SWAP will allow customers to use software from multiple vendors to build workgroup and process-automation systems on their intranets that can also be accessed by partners, customers, and suppliers on extranets, Netscape officials said in a statement.

The proposed protocol will be used by leading workflow products to manage, monitor, initiate, and control the execution of workflow processes in a standard way, between different systems and over the Internet.

SWAP will be based on extensions to the HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol) 1.1 standard and use the object model of the jFlow submission to the Object Management Group as well as the workflow architecture laid out by the Workflow Management Coalition, according to the statement.

--Elinor Mills, IDG News Service

Sun licenses PersonalJava to Scientific-Atlanta

New York (April 7, 1998) -- Scientific-Atlanta Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. today announced that Scientific-Atlanta has licensed Sun's PersonalJava application environment for the Explorer 2000 television set-top box.

In addition, PowerTV Inc. will work with Sun and Scientific-Atlanta to integrate PersonalJava into the Explorer box by porting it to the PowerTV operating system, according to a spokesman for PowerTV. PowerTV is a real-time operating system for Explorer digital set-top boxes.

The Explorer set-top box, with PersonalJava and the PowerTV OS, will offer a variety of features including Internet access, e-mail, and the ability to run PersonalJava applications, according to the companies.

The PersonalJava application environment was created specifically for consumer devices that people use for communications, entertainment and mobile computing.

Nine U.S. and Canadian cable operators have stated that they plan 1998 deployments of Explorer set-tops, according to Scientific-Atlanta.

Today's announcement is another win for Sun in its battle against Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE for control of the set-top box market.

Cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) and Sony Corp. have announced licenses for PersonalJava for consumer electronics products including set-top boxes. But Microsoft Corp. has also notched up wins, including contracts with General Instrument and Sony Corp., as well.

--Marc Ferranti, IDG News Service


Sun promotes new worldwide operations VP

San Francisco, CA (April 7, 1998) -- Sun has announced the promotion of Marissa Peterson to vice president, worldwide operations for Sun Microsystems Computer Company (SMCC), Sun's hardware business unit.

Peterson, a 10-year Sun veteran, replaces Mel Friedman, who was recently named the new president of the Sun Microelectronics division. Peterson's previous positions within Sun include VP of worldwide logistics and customer quality and director of manufacturing for SMCC.

Prior to joining Sun, she was a management consultant with Booz, Allen, Hamilton, and held various marketing, financial, and engineering positions at Saturn Corp. and General Motors.

Sun releases 333-MHz UltraSPARC chip

San Francisco (March 31, 1998) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. announced today the latest addition to its 64-bit UltraSPARC family of microprocessors, the UltraSPARC IIi, a 333-MHz device designed for use in embedded systems and low-end workstations and servers.

The UltraSPARC IIi is available in a module form with two megabytes of dedicated external cache, and will be used to drive systems running Sun's SPARC and Solaris operating environments, officials said.

The first product from Sun to incorporate the UltraSPARC IIi will be its Ultra AXi PCI-based motherboard, which is targeted at manufacturers of telecommunications servers, cable modem access systems, medical imaging devices, and Internet servers, Sun said.

The 333-MHz processor is available today, priced at US$720 in volume quantities. The module version is priced at $1,250, Sun said.

--James Niccolai, IDG News Service


Sun, IBM to release JavaOS for business NCs

London (April 1, 1998) -- Sun Microsystems and IBM will work together to build a new Java-based operating system for network computers and terminals, the two companies confirmed today.

Sun and IBM -- competitors in the NC space -- plan to make the new software, dubbed JavaOS for Business, available by the third quarter of this year, they said in a joint release. The operating system -- which will be based on Sun's Java language, but not written entirely in Java -- will be targeted at the huge installed base of terminals connected to central mainframe computer systems, said Julian Lomberg, Sun's product marketing manager for JavaOS in the U.K.

The idea will be to encourage companies to replace aging terminals with slimmed-down NCs running the new Java operating system, Sun and IBM said. Many terminals used for applications such as help desks, reservation centers, and order-entry could be replaced by NCs running the new OS, the companies said. In addition to NCs, JavaOS for Business will also run on updated terminals such as Internet kiosks and ticket machines, the companies said.

IBM said it would put the new OS to use in its high-end NCs in early 1999, while Sun will begin to replace the existing version of JavaOS in its JavaStation NCs with JavaOS for Business over the next year. Sun and IBM also plan to license JavaOS for Business to other companies, such as computer and component manufacturers.

"We view it as a good move for Java," Sun's Lomberg said. "IBM is as committed to the network model of computing as we are. We're both major players (in the Java market), so a partnership seemed an ideal way to accelerate the model of network computing."

An IBM spokesman in Paris echoed Lomberg's sentiment, calling the partnership "one of the best things that could happen for Java."

With IBM's large installed base of mainframe customers using many of the world's terminals, a collaboration with Sun -- which has already done a lot of work developing a small-footprint JavaOS -- could be the perfect combination that enables Java and NCs to take off, Lomberg at Sun said. Because the OS runs any application written in 100 Percent Pure Java, software developers and system integrators will be able to easily develop applications that run on JavaOS for Business, Lomberg pointed out.

JavaOS for Business will run on thin clients connected to most types of servers and mainframes, the companies said. The OS will support the ability to implement a wide range of device drivers and will offer improved manageability functions over the existing version of JavaOS, the companies said.

Sun already has already released one version of JavaOS -- dubbed JavaOS for NCs -- and last month, at the JavaOne developers conference, announced JavaOS for Consumers, which is targeted at set-top boxes, Web phones, and other home Internet devices, Lomberg said. JavaOS for Business is "the big brother in the business market," he said. Since IBM is an expert in the corporate computing market, it made sense to develop the OS together, he added.

--Kristi Essick, IDG News Service


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