Giants Eye Global E-Commerce Growth

Banking on the theory that the growth of online businesses will continue, Sun Microsystems Inc.
and Vignette Corp. Thursday launched a
global e-commerce initiative
to equip new firms with the latest hardware and software solutions.

The companies said great customer demand for cutting edge solutions,
particularly in new media and the wireless telecommunications sector,
precipitated the play. And, as with many similar enterprise deals, the firms
claim they will help dot-coms reduce business costs and time to deployment
of software and hardware, as well as expand technical service arrangements.

For giants Sun and Vignette, the
deal is an expansion of their five-year partnership to deliver solutions
based on their highly-touted applications and equipment: Sun’s Enterprise
servers, Solaris Operating Environment platform and Java 2, Enterprise
Edition (J2EE) technology, and the newVignette V/5 e-business solutions.

In that period, the firms have outfitted such heavyweights as US
West Inc.
and Sprint

Companies will be able to use Java technology to integrate their existing
applications with other third-party applications, including the iPlanet
Application Server, through the V/5 applications because the solutions are
based on open platforms and standards.

As part of the agreement, the Vignette solution will be added to Sun’s
iForce Ready Centers, which enable customers to help customers needing
assistance building their online businesses. The centers will feature
guidelines for the design, development and deployment of dot-com services on
the Sun platform.

The move, made with an eye toward supplying e-commerce firms that may sprout
up, comes at a turbulent time in the dot-com sector as businesses selling
goods are closing their doors or laying off employees at a clip of a few per

Still, the companies executives remain bullish on their products and their
ability to sell them.

Pat Sueltz, executive vice president, Software Systems Group at Sun, said in a conference call Thursday that the decision to expand the partnership stems from customer for greater access to broadband and wireless solutions, particularly for new media and telecommunications firms.

“Customer demand has proven these attributes to be key in today’s dynamic and competitive marketplace, and were integral reasons behind our decision to extend our relationship,” Sueltz said.

Sueltz declined to reveal financial details of the agreement, but said that Sun had put “some muscle behind it.”

She said the contract extension differ from the original agreement because it has added developmental aspects; the first deal was sales- and marketing-based.

Brian Waryas, an e-commerce research manager at Internationa Data Corp., said the deal was not a sure-fire score in the sense of pure-play dot-coms, but may prove beneficial to the number of reputable brick-and-mortar businesses seeking to develop online presences.

“From the pure-play dot-com perspective, IDC believes it is harder for start-ups to get funding and so what we’re seeing is less velocity and a lot more volatility in the market,” Waryas said. “This would result in slower sales for companies like Sun and Vignette. But for brick-and-mortars that are becoming click-and-mortars, we expect to see a massive expansion in e-commerce, which Sun and Vignette would be able to accomodate.”

Vignette’s Mike Vollman, senior vice president of sales and services, said in the conference call that Vignette’s V5 solution is increasingly becoming more compliant with Sun’s J2E platform and agreed that broadband keeps “coming up on the radar screen” from clients.

Sueltz and

Vollman did not reveal specific deals that they are working on in terms of the expansion, but Vollman did say that Vignette is working to provide broadband solutions to British Telecom.

“British Telecom is looking to extend their interactive television to their customers and we are creating a solution set that fits within that need,” Vollman said.

Vollman also acknowledged that the deal was similar to the one his firm inked with Sun rival IBM Corp. last Thursday in which Vignette’s integrated its V/5 suite with IBM’s
own WebSphere platform.

The two companies agreed to supply customers with e-business
solutions that grow market share, reduce deployment times and provide the infrastructure for each stage
of e-business development.

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