Sun Microsystems has agreed to purchase Virginia, IT services company SevenSpace. With the purchase, Sun takes a further step away from its traditional focus on supporting only its Solaris operating system platform and beefs up its support for competing operating systems such as Windows, HP-UX and AIX.
SevenSpace, a four-year-old company that specialises in remotely managing and monitoring IT systems and applications, was of particular interest to Sun because its managed services technology would let Sun's support organisation provide service level agreements for software from vendors such as Oracle, SAP AG, and PeopleSoft on a wider variety of operating systems, vice-president for customer integration with Sun, Scott Woods, said.
"We've been primarily a Sun-based shop," he said. "This gives us a full range of heterogeneous capabilities from the physical network layer all the way up through applications."
These capabilities would make Sun more competitive with industry heavyweights HP and IBM, which already provided similar managed services offerings, Woods said.
"We have been playing in the edges of remote managed and monitoring services, however we had limitations in our current product that were keeping us from being competitive," Woods said.
Though managed services vendors had been struggling, the market had shown positive signs recently, said William Martorelli, an analyst with Forrester Research.
Managed services has been one of the fastest growing divisions within HP, for example, which saw 35 per cent growth in this area during its most recent quarter. And Cisco Systems recently invested in managed services through the acquisition of network monitoring company NetSolve.
SevenSpace's remote management technology, and not its staff of about 100 employees, ultimately might be the most interesting component of the deal for Sun, Martorelli said.
The technology could, for example, be integrated into Sun's existing services offerings, he said.