Sun Marshals Services for Utility Computing

Sun wants to give services more prominence by uniting its managed services and utility computing groups.

Sun Microsystems Inc. is hoping to expand its services offerings by combining its managed services and utility computing groups under one umbrella.

The move, which officials at the Santa Clara, Calif., company discussed for the first time at an event here last week, is an effort to attract more utility computing contracts and services engagements. Ultimately, Sun hopes this and other moves will set its services offerings apart from those of Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM, officials said.

Sun also hopes to distinguish itself by expanding into such areas as managed network security; working with partners, such as Electronic Data Systems Corp.; creating a more unified approach to customers; and being more proactive, said Patricia Sueltz, executive vice president of Sun services.

"We said [last year] that we didnt just want [Sun services] to be break/fix," Sueltz said. "And we didnt want to just be hardware, so we moved to [focus on the] life cycle and to extend our reach to the engagements."

The goal of the managed services is to set up a utility computing environment, then hand over control to the customer, Sueltz said.

Suns remote managed services offering will be important to MLB Advanced Media L.P., which has already bought into Suns utility computing initiative. The New York-based company operates the Web sites for Major League Baseball and its teams. A Sun Fire E15K server with capacity-on-demand capability enables the sites IT staff to shift resources to meet the volatile demands of users, said Justin Shaffer, director of operations at MLB Advanced Media.

Remote managed services will be important for MLB Advanced Media next year when the company moves from a single data center to multiple data centers. Shaffer said he likes the fact that Sun hands back daily management responsibilities after setting up the data centers. "We can turn up and turn down CPUs as needed," Shaffer said. He added that with Sun, "we maintain control of our processes and our technical decisions."

"Some customers get [the idea of utility computing]; some customers dont," said John Madden, an analyst with Summit Strategies Inc., in Boston. "Thats services capability, communicating it. CIOs are acting more like business folks, not just technology people."

While Sun is slowly crystallizing its services message, it is still running behind HP and IBM, Madden added.