NEC and Sun Microsystems will work more closely together in the areas of systems integration, network technologies and middleware, the companies said Tuesday.
The effects of the expanded alliance will likely be felt primarily in Japan, where NEC does the majority of its systems integration work, but NEC said it hopes to grow its business worldwide as a result of the closer ties with Sun.
"We'd like to be able to expand our systems integration business in Japan to the global market," said Akinobu Kanasugi, president of NEC, at a Tokyo news conference.
The companies will combine NEC's Univerge VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) gear with Sun's SunRay blade servers and promote the result as a SunRay reference architecture to customers worldwide. In the area of middleware, NEC will integrate its Valumo platform with Sun's Java Enterprise System to offer a joint identity management system.
NEC's "open mission critical systems," which are software and hardware packages for tasks such as supply chain management, will continue to support Sun's Solaris operating system. The companies will also work together on standardization efforts such as the Liberty Alliance, they said.
Sun Microsystems Chief Executive Officer Scott McNealy, who was at the news conference, said the alliance will help the companies compete better against IBM Corp.
"I won't identify the loser but it's a very large, blue global services organization," he said, referring to IBM by its nickname, Big Blue.
NEC is particularly keen to expand sales of its mobile Internet platform for telecommunication carriers. The agreement calls for both companies to promote the system in the Americas, Russia and the Middle East. A smaller version of a system is used by NTT DoCoMo in Japan.
The agreement continues a business relationship that began in 1993 when NEC began reselling Sun products in Japan.