Sun Microsystems Inc. is advancing its services agenda on two fronts with an alliance with systems integrator Affiliated Computer Services Inc. and an expanded alliance with NCR Corp.
The ACS alliance, announced this month, will extend utility computing services based on Sun hardware, software and services to ACS clients, allowing them to pay for computing as their business requires.
Beyond expanding the range of computing choices for customers, this is the first time the Dallas-based systems integrator has offered outsourcing services on a pay-per-use basis.
One key component of the agreement calls for ACS to periodically provide guaranteed cost reductions to its clients that enter long-term deals, allowing those clients to share in the benefits of improved efficiencies. As ACS offers such reductions, Sun has also pledged to follow suit.
The deal also calls for Sun and ACS to work together to refresh computing equipment to ensure that ACS clients are kept on the most appropriate equipment and latest technology.
Pricing for the utility computing service will be based on a number of models, including pay per transaction, per infrastructure use or per seat.
The Sun-ACS alliance is another component of Suns service focus, in which it is relying on partners to deliver customers. But the news left a lot of questions unanswered for Bruce Caldwell, an analyst at Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn.
"There are so few particulars that sounded definite," Caldwell said. "It wasnt clear how the systems would be provided to ACS. It wasnt clear that there is a customer base that wants that service. There should be some basic [pricing] formulas available. And [Suns] N1 wasnt mentioned. That was puzzling."
In contrast to the utility computing deal, Sun this month expanded its NCR alliance to create services and applications for retail, financial and telecommunications customers. The global arrangement calls for joint sales and delivery of installation and support services for the full range of Suns entry-level and midrange servers and storage systems.
NCR, of Dayton, Ohio, will launch a legacy trade-in program to replace its Unix servers with Sun systems running Solaris. It will also integrate Sun technology into its IT infrastructure solutions for the three vertical markets, Sun officials said.