NHL Makes Sun Top Pick to Head Online Activities

Scoring another win for its Java-based Web strategy, Sun announces an agreement with the National Hockey League to power all of the league's online activities.

Scoring another win for its Java-based Web strategy, Sun Microsystems Inc. on Wednesday announced an agreement with the National Hockey League to power all of the leagues online activities.

Company and league officials called the deal a technology and marketing agreement, and said it will encompass all areas of the NHLs business, while also enhancing the online experience for the 8 million visitors per month to NHL.com, the official Web site of the National Hockey League.

In praising the agreement, Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL, called hockey fans "the most computer literate" sports fans.

"The marriage between Sun and the NHL is an interesting branding; both are fast, powerful and aggressive," Bettman said.

"We look forward to using the power of Sun to make NHL.com faster and more powerful," he said, noting Suns Java functionality and ability to enable users on wireless devices to access content.

"Were Web-enabling all aspects of our operation," Bettman said.

During the announcement in New York, Bettman also joked that Sun CEO Scott McNealy, an avid hockey fan and amateur player, "even thinks he knows a little about hockey."

McNealy called the deal the linking of "the coolest game on earth with the coolest company on earth."

The relationship is intended to help grow the leagues fan base and increasing revenue by streamlining

Sun officials also said the company will deliver real-time game data and scores to wireless devices and interactive TV users. Sun also will add to the online fan experience by offering real-time statistical coverage of more than 1,200 games, historical data, merchandising and video highlights, officials of the Palo Alto, Calif., company said.

Sun said its planned projects will leverage the iPlanet Portal Server to aggregate content and present information in a personalized and customizable interface to both internal NHL users and fans. In addition, the company said it will help the NHL rewrite its Real Time Scoring System in Java to enable real-time game data to be fed into applications such as alerts, fantasy leagues, games and in-arena kiosks.

Sun is touting its Sun Open Net Environment (Sun ONE) Web services software portfolio as a key driver behind the deal. Sun ONE incorporates the Solaris 8 Operating Environment, the iPlanet Portal Server, iPlanet Portal Server: Mobile Access Pack, iPlanet Application Server, iPlanet Web Server, iPlanet Directory Server and iPlanet Messaging Server.

Sun officials said the NHL implementation is planned on a range of Suns hardware and storage systems, including Sun Fire 4800, Sun Fire V880 and Sun Fire 280R servers; Sun Ray 150 thin clients; Sun StorEdge storage products; and Java Card APIs.

In addition, the site infrastructure will be architected by Sun professional services along with the NHL, the company said.