Sun eyes dot-com startups

Looking to entice dot-com startups to its software and hardware, Sun Microsystems last Thursday unveiled the iForce Startup Community and an accompanying portal, intended to provide a community of software vendors, integrators, and application service providers (ASPs) that will help dot-coms get up and running.

Sun has thus far attracted 40 companies to pitch their wares to the startups, offering product and service discounts that could range from 15 per cent to possibly even higher than 50 per cent, according to Sun. Some of the companies participating include Oracle, Lotus Development, Portal Software, IBM, and Inktomi. Some companies may even provide free software to startups through iForce.

"Individually, many of [the startups] would never get an opportunity to negotiate [discounts]," said Doug Kaewert, vice president of market development and developer relations at Sun.

To qualify, startups must be in business for four years or less, have no more than 75 employees, and have an intent to deploy Sun products.

The iForce portal, featuring news events, interactive forums, vendor information, and the capability for qualified startups to access special offerings, can be found now at www.sun.com/iForce/startup.

Sun officials acknowledged the program is an effort to persuade startups to deploy the Sun platform by offering multi-vendor software and services intended to help the startups focus on their own core competencies.

"What we're finding is that startup companies are choosing a single [deployment] platform", and are no longer deploying multiple platforms, said Jeanette Kennedy, director of dot-com and ASP market development at Sun.

"We are looking at startup companies as partners;, we're not looking at them as revenue-producing opportunities today," Kaewert said.

Sun's program is an extension of two previous Sun programs: Startup Essentials, which provided startups with access to Sun products; and Startup Accelerator, which added service provider offerings to the mix.

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