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Sun Deals Java in Korea

Sun Microsystems signed a multi-million dollar deal with Korea Telecom to create an advanced broadband network in South Korea, officials said Tuesday.

As part of the deal, KT will run J2EE-based middleware on SPARC and AMD Opteron-powered Sun Fire servers, consulting with Sun's client solutions services to create a broadband convergence network (BCN).

Sun officials wouldn't say how much the hardware, software and services contract nets the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, saying only the deal runs in the millions. What they would say, however, is how much the contract means in terms of Sun's success down the road.

The deal lets KT upgrade its technology to provide next-generation services and integrate with legacy systems, so it isn't forced to completely overhaul the network infrastructure.

"We have been looking forward to an open-standards-based solution to manage our BCN networks and services that we can implement quickly and cost effectively," Seonghak Seok, KT director of OSS Labs, said in a statement.

The success of Sun's operation support system (OSS) and business support system (BSS) business in the past meant trying to sell hardware to customers, said David Orain, Sun director of strategy for the telecom industry. Today it's just as much about the software that runs on top of hardware, an area of success in the telecommunications industry for J2EE.

"It's not just about the hardware, it's about the middleware infrastructure," he said.

So, not only will KT be running an undetermined number of Sun Fire E25K, E4900 and E6900 servers -- with a list price of $5.2 million for the three -- and other Sun hardware, the telecom will also be running Sun's application, portal and Web servers on top. They will all run on the Solaris operating system and will be designed, integrated and consulted upon by Sun consultants.

"We made the investment around Java and now it's paying off," Orain said.

One of the challenges in securing the deal, Orain said, was convincing KT executives Java is able to handle the amount of data that comes with a carrier-grade solution, which is generally more transaction-intensive than what would be found in an enterprise setting.

Sun, however, has been working on carrier-grade Java middleware for some time through its work with the OSS Through Java Initiative (OSS/J).

The OSS/J, comprised of several big-name tech companies, uses a set of APIs standardized or under review in 11 separate Java Specification Requests (JSR), all dealing with various functions germane to an OSS setting.

Currently, Sun has struck carrier deals with Vodafone , British Telecom and Covad Communications , and Australian-based Telestra is performing proof-of-concept tests with Sun.

According to a report earlier this year by market research firm Dittberner Associates, J2EE-based application servers will make up 78 percent of the $870 million OSS/BSS middleware market in 2008.

"Plain vanilla middleware is yesterday's flavor," Dan Baker, director of OSS research at Dittberner, said in a statement accompanying the report. "The toughest task in telecom integration is not connectivity but figuring out how to get a trouble ticket system to talk with network monitoring. The new OSS/J tools basically let you write from an expert outline instead of from a blank piece of paper."