Taking One Step at a Time

Sun ONE Takes a Small Leap, but Will It Turn Into a Major Opportunity for Partners?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, or so weve all heard. Sun Microsystems recently took its first step to duke it out in the Web services arena, taking i2 Technologies and PricewaterhouseCoopers along for the ride.

Sun and its iPlanet arm recently formed an alliance with i2 to create a software bundle to enable iPlanet services and i2s CRM software to interoperate on the Sun platform. The solutions developed under the partnership will be key to the deployment of Sun Open Net Environment (ONE), the companys answer to Microsofts .Net and Hewlett-Packards H-P Netaction Web-services strategies.

The combined technologies will be designed to help enterprises and service providers deploy open, scalable solutions, including bill assessment and bill payment, and will be made available through joint sales, marketing, support and engineering activities among the three companies.

Company executives say the i2 alliance brings an end-to-end solution for order visibility and parts visibility to customers to power the next generation of Web services. "This really does represent one of the first major wins for the Sun ONE architecture," says Mark Tolliver, president and general manager for iPlanet e-commerce solutions.

Products and services from the alliance will be supported through Sun and i2 sales teams, resellers and integrator partners. So far, the only integrator to be announced is PricewaterhouseCoopers.

PwC will provide a go-to-market strategy for the software bundle, currently dedicating approximately 20 people to the alliance. "Our goal will be to work with i2 and Sun around any type of solutions or activities that they have, but the bigger thing is that well help put together a go-to-market strategy and also talk about how we would move forward into the client base," says Jeff Dearinger, global i2 relationship partner for PwC.

Dearinger adds that the go-to-market strategys details will come into focus by mid-July. "I think that there will be a lot of activity around this. We have yet to take a sampling of the market, but we think it has tremendous potential," he says.

While specific companies have not been named, Sun, iPlanet and i2 company executives say additional integrator alliances will be sought. "Were looking for experts, such that youd see in a PwC organization, folks that are architects that can fully assemble and deploy the kinds of solutions that were offering here," says Marge Breya, senior VP of marketing at iPlanet.

Analysts note that because Suns smaller professional services cant compete with IBM Global Services, it has to pull in other companies like PwC. "And thats not a bad thing. It puts more feet on the street," says Kimberly Knickle, research director at AMR Research.

Knickle adds that i2s moves illustrate a company "in transition," as it rewrites its apps for the Web world. "They need all the stuff Sun sells, and now is the time to make that transition," she concludes.