WorldCom, Sun to jointly offer hosting services

WorldCom and Sun Microsystems announced a joint marketing and sales agreement Monday to promote global hosting product and service offerings for enterprise customers.

Financial details of the agreement were undisclosed, and the deal doesn't specify what equipment will be used, beyond Sun providing Unix-based hardware and software. A Sun executive said that the company's new StarCat server would undoubtedly be employed in WorldCom's data centers, however.

The agreement grew from overlapping customer lists, said Derrick Knight, director of strategy and programs for Sun's server division. "A lot of this is an acknowledgement that we've got a lot of customers in common," he said. "We've never tried to leverage those common relationships before."

WorldCom's deal with Sun is typical of other agreements Sun has with hosting providers, said Melanie Posey, hosting analyst with research firm International Data Corp.

"You go look at any of these Web hosting companies and they all have a deal with Sun," she said. Like other hosting companies, WorldCom needs a channel sales partner for its hosting business, she said. "UUNet had all kind of problems getting a coherent indirect sales channel."

With WorldCom's acquisition of a controlling interest in Web hosting company Digex Inc. through its purchase of Intermedia Communications Inc., WorldCom acquired a company with a stronger indirect sales channel, as well as one with strong pre-existing ties to Sun. Digex was the first hosting company to become "SunTone certified" by Sun, a merit badge of sorts for meeting the company's criteria for redundant network architecture and service reliability.

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