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Sun Signs Second Software Supplier

Sun Microsystems is keeping with its strategy to sign tighter agreements with independent software vendors (ISVs), this time signing content manager Vignette as an OEM reseller.

This is the second such arrangement for Sun and a software developer: in early October, the Santa Clara, Calif., company signed a similar deal with collaboration software makers Manugistics .

Vignette can now sell its V7 content management software platform pre-configured on Sun's Java Systems Directory. It's a good deal for the Austin, Texas, ISV, which stands to make inroads with the more than 1.5 billion licensees of the LDAP-based directory server.

Michael Bohlig, Sun director of western global alliances, said there's been a shift in trend the past couple years from hardware developers adapting their systems to accommodate software.

"Now, there's this emerging trend where they're looking to us for software technology as well," he said. "At the end of the day, it actually makes our relationship that much tighter with the ISV partners when we become a part of their software solution."

It's a tit-for-tat arrangement: Vignette's V7 will now come with support for Sun's Java Enterprise System components, a software suite of email, calendar, directory and application server software.

Also included in the support arrangement are the two company's intention to develop and support a portlet library connecting V7 and Sun's System Portal Server for its customers. The initial focus of the agreement is to attract attention to the benefits of its Web services framework, J2EE . Public and employee portals will be jointly developed and marketed.

Therein lies the rub. Two days ago, Sun was one of four companies that announced the launch of a portlet developer's community, where ISVs could come together to trade ideas, advice and code to build support for the newly-minted Java Specification Request (JSR)-168, the Java Community Process (JCP) standard for portlets.

Officials for the four sponsoring companies said the SourceForge-hosted community would start a wave of interoperability for developers trying to get their apps to work with disparate portal servers.

Bohlig said the reason for the joint-company portlet development -- rather than through the SourceForge community -- is that JSR is still evolving and customers from both companies need pre-developed portlets right away.

When asked whether the portlets would ever find their way onto the community site, Terri Brown, Sun spokesperson, said the answer was uncertain.

"When we developed the agreement with Vignette, the SourceForge initiative was still in development and discussion phase, so that wasn't part of our discussions with Vignette," she said. "At the same time, Sun supports all standards and open source efforts, so it is certainly a goal of ours to make it available."