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RealTime IT News

Sun Deal Makes Good On Semel Promise

Yahoo! and Sun Microsystems, Inc. officials announced Monday an alliance to put customized portal applications on Sun ONE portal servers.

The deal is good for enterprise manager's looking to implement a ready-made portal server with individually customized information tools for its users.

It's also another sign Yahoo!'s bosses are looking to capitalize on their name to bring about more revenue. In addition to Sun, Yahoo! has Tibco and SAP portal servers as customers, who in turn offer the service to corporations.

Yahoo! has 45 corporate customers using the corporate portal tool, including CIGNA Corp. , which hooked up its 16 million employees and customers to the corporate service earlier this year. Others include McDonald's , Bayer and Merck & Co.

My Yahoo! Enterprise Edition is free to Sun ONE server customers for the first 120 days, giving them a peek at the services available through the tailored offering, before charging for the service. According to Yahoo! enterprise edition officials, the price depends on the size of the customer and the customization products they purchase.

Sun plans on making the service available in the late second quarter to early third quarter of 2002.

Steven Nathan, Sun ONE portal and communications services vice president and general manager, said it's those offerings -- giving enterprise customers access to 2,000 content sources from 25 countries and instant messaging (IM) -- that boost employee productivity.

"Personalized content is what makes the portals more relevant, and thereby makes the portal a central force for productivity," he said. "The breadth of personalized, high-quality content and ease-of-use that we are delivering is essential for chief information officers (CIOs) looking to attract and retain portal users, and in turn, to fully realize the return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) potential."

With a personalized corporate My Yahoo! account, intranet administrators control the look and content of the Internet information they present to employees. In addition to branding it to the particular corporation, administrators can format the page to deliver company news, stock tracker information and let users customize other areas for their own use.

Little more than a year ago, Terry Semel took over the reigns of the world's most popular but financially-strapped Internet portal, Yahoo!, promising an overhaul to investors. Monday's news is just further proof of that commitment, putting money in the company's coffers and giving its stock "real" value.

The company was one of the industry's media darlings, with skyrocketing stock value despite the fact most of its offerings were free. But since the company paid its bills on time, using advertising revenues, no one seemed to mind.

But once the dot com bubble burst, advertising dollars disappeared, and Yahoo! was forced to make tough decisions. Tim Koogle, the visionary who made the portal a household name, was replaced with Semel, who quickly outlined a plan to bring revenues in from Yahoo!'s free services with a new business focus.

He quickly penned deals with businesses to give them corporate-level Yahoo! services, and leveraged the power of its name to broker deals with SBC Communications , a carrier with plenty of potential digital subscriber line (DSL) customers, but no content to go with the service.