Sun takes swing at services pitch

Realizing that enterprise customers are moving in a direction that underscores the value that a strong portfolio of services can play in terms of how solutions are presented and received, Sun Microsystems on Tuesday introduced its reinvigorated Sun Services strategy.

Downplaying its revamped services message in terms of proactive "out-tasking" a specific managed service, as opposed to full-control outsourcer, Sun unveiled a quartet of basic but new IP-based services offerings to support its infrastructure provider and network computing-enabled technology muscle.

The new services include the N1-deliverable Sun Install Check for Volume Systems, Sun Software Support Services Program, and the Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) platform-based Quick Start Service for Network Identity. In addition, Sun's High Performance eLearning Program service offering should be ready to roll out, according to company officials.

Sun plans to tightly align its Services division with other product, sales, and partner departments and initiatives to help customers improve execution and get a better handle on a simplified managed services portfolio, said Patricia Sueltz, executive vice president of Sun Services.

"In the old days we thought of services as a service. If it breaks -- fix it," said Sueltz. "Yes, Sun is a software company [but] services is a key to the application on how we get those technologies and products delivered."

According to analysts, Sun's headed down the right path of embarking on similar tracks laid by competitors IBM and Hewlett-Packard who have already acknowledged the vital role of services to augment existing products, support, and training.

However, Sun's strategy remains a work in progress and must be reconciled with strong sentiments displayed earlier this year from Sun Microsystems Chairman, President, and CEO Scott McNealy that his company had no desire to become a services company, said John Madden, senior analyst at Boston-based Summit Strategies Inc.

"There is the McNealey factor, where Scott has said things in the past that makes it so much harder on Sun's abilities to change course or to add services," said Madden.

He continued, "[Sun] said today they're trying to learn from their mistakes, but in the same breath, Sun's had enterprise services for awhile. It's not as if they woke up and thought this is something they had to have, but in terms of priority within the organization, this has changed."

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