Cutting Fat From Supply Chain

Sun's ONE initiative will help food service industry increase efficiencies.

A network of major players in the food service arena last week tapped Sun Microsystems Inc.s Web services initiative as the tool for reducing costs and squeezing inefficiencies from the supply chains in the arena.

EFS Network Inc. has based its supply chain solution on Sun ONE (Open Network Environment), employing a suite of business network applications from Model Inc., of South San Francisco, Calif.

Model Ns software enables brick-and-mortar companies to integrate disparate business processes, said CEO Zack Rinat.

Chicago-based EFS, which was founded by leading food service companies such as Cargill Inc. Sysco Corp., Tyson Foods Inc. and McDonalds Corp., represents more than 20 percent of the $411 billion food service industry, the company said.

Sun and EFS officials said they expect the Sun ONE-based plan to reduce the more than $14 billion in inefficiencies in the industrys ordering, processing and other supply chain systems.

"With the current economic environment, they have to optimize internal processes," said Mike McNerney, group manager of e-business market segment for Sun, in Palo Alto, Calif.

EFS platform, EFS Network, sits on top of Model Ns private business network. The initial release of EFS Network automates interenterprise functions, such as the end-to-end, order-to-cash management cycle, and enables the synchronization of data among business partners. In addition, EFS Network will help integrate disparate systems among companies.

As the network evolves, later releases will support data standardization among trading partners and allow for tools that foster collaboration among companies on complex, interenterprise business functions such as contract management, inventory management, product design and logistics, Model said.

Both EFS and Model have prior relationships with Sun. Model Ns product is based on Sun ONE, and Rinats relationship goes back to his stewardship of Net Dynamics Inc., which Sun acquired for its application server technology in 1998. Rinat was co-founder and CEO of Net Dynamics.

Rinat said he likes the Sun ONE platform as a foundation for building services on demand because it "provides a complete stack of solutions focused on mission-critical systems." He also said Sun ONE represents an end-to-end system, based on standards, that gives developers freedom of choice.

EFS CEO Hank Lambert said group members in the food service industry constantly look to improve cost efficiencies and productivity.

EFS Network was built in about four months, Rinat said. The implementation uses Suns Solaris Operating Environment for Unix Servers, iPlanet Web Server and J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) platform, and it runs on Sun servers. The network architecture supports any J2EE-compatible application server.