Sun to Expand Data Center Services

The hardware maker will expand its Networked Services offerings over the next four months, adding coverage for all Linux distributions and earlier versions of Solaris.

Sun Microsystems over the next few months will start expanding its newest line of data center services, dubbed Customer Networked Services.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company currently offers Sun Update Connection, which provides customers with automated patch management and update services for their systems.

In the next quarter of 2006, Sun will upgrade that offer, according to Mike Harding, vice president of the companys Customer Networked Services unit.

Currently the service supports Solaris 10 implementations, Harding said. Thanks to Suns February acquisition of Aduva, a Linux and Solaris patch management software company, Suns service will also be capable of covering Solaris 8 and 9, as well as all distributions of Linux.

Sun will also be able to expand the number of competitor hardware systems the service can support.

Over the next three to four months, Sun will roll out new predictive services for its customer networked offerings around such areas as asset management, power management and security.

Harding said the goal of the new services line is to enable customers to have the critical data within the data center automatically collected and analyzed. From there decisions can be made about preventative actions, or those actions can be done automatically through the software.

He compared Suns telemetry services with General Motors OnStar technology, which not only can help drivers get in contact with emergency personnel in case of an accident, but also can monitor the cars engine and performance and alert the driver to any problems.

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The new services will join a host of others that Sun currently offers, including helping customers develop and deploy data centers, consulting around such issues data centers, storage and ID management, support and managed services.

Sun wants to focus its services energies around its core experience with data centers and infrastructure, rather than grow massive services arms like IBMs Global Services unit and Hewlett-Packards HP Services group, Harding said.

"Were not doing different things than they do, but we likely achieve these things in many different ways," he said.

In particular, Sun is working to give users the tools necessary to automate such tasks as configuration management and patch updates. A tool like Sun Update Connection can reduce the amount of time systems administrators need to spend updating their systems, from 5 hours per server per month to about 15 minutes per server per month, he said.

"This is high value for few dollars," Harding said.

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Like most systems makers, Sun is trying to ramp up its services offerings, both to add value to the infrastructure products it offers and to create new avenues of revenue. The percentage of Suns revenues that comes from services has climbed from 18 percent in fiscal year 2004 to about 30 percent currently, Harding said.

About 5 percent of Suns R&D dollars are spent on developing services in areas where Sun "can go in, apply technology and take out complexity" from a customers IT operations, he said.

"We want to give [customers] reasons to continue their investments in Sun technology," Harding said.

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