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Sun Launches Cloud Consulting Services

SAN FRANCISCO -- With all the mania around cloud computing, Sun Microsystems has an interesting take on cloud services; making customers stop and ask if they really need it in the first place.

Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) announced Tuesday at its JavaOne show that it's expanded its professional services with the launch of the Sun Cloud Strategic Planning Service. The new service is designed to help businesses decide how to redeploy their datacenter and determine what cloud services are needed -- if any.

"Everyone is saying cloud is the answer without asking what the question is," Amy O'Connor, vice president of services marketing for Sun told InternetNews.com. "A lot of customers are asking, is cloud the answer? The question is how do you have the most efficient IT environment to grow your business? Cloud is one part but you need a roadmap."

The service will help clients evaluate, plan and implement cloud strategies, such as determining if they should join public clouds, set up their own, or offer cloud services, Sun said. The service will help identify opportunities and customer readiness across four key areas: business; organization/culture; technology; and IT environments.

Sun is primarily known as a hardware firm, but it does have an established services business. It just doesn't get that much attention, even though it is a $1 billion dollar business for the company. O'Connor said Sun isn't going to use the service as an opportunity to peddle its own hardware.

"Professional Services is focused in areas where Sun has expertise. We've been doing datacenter efficiency for a long time, and we've expanded the charter to help customers decide where cloud fits in," she said.

Beyond what Sun offers

Sun recognizes that IT shops are heterogeneous. "We do build heterogeneous infrastructures because that's what customers need. They don't want only what Sun has to offer. So we have a fairly healthy section of professional services business around reselling third party products."

The initial engagement with the customer runs four to six weeks, where Sun determines what the customer wants to accomplish, what their application portfolio is like, and where they want to go next. The cloud is only one of several options and Sun doesn't plan to push customers in that direction every time. "The primary mistake is people assume the cloud will fix everything," said O'Connor.

Then there are data privacy and mobility issues such as whether data can be retrieved if it is stored off-site? Is it protected? And is it compliant with regulatory issues?

Sun will start out focused on enterprise customers, since the company is already working with those customers. There are three types of approaches for those customers, said O'Connor: move them to a public cloud, make their own private cloud, or build their own public cloud offering.

The mid-sized market will come next, but Sun will approach that with partners and VARs in the future, she added.