Sun snags storage and KM vendors

Sun Microsystems took a bite out the storage market Monday when it announced plans to acquire HighGround Systems.

HighGround makes data storage-management applications and will join Sun's back-end lineup in a deal valued at about $US400 million. Sun offered a stock-for-stock deal expected to close by the end of March 2001. The agreement still hinges on regulatory and HighGround shareholder approval.

HighGround will become part of Sun's network storage organisation, reporting to Janpieter Scheerder, executive vice president at Sun.

Sun officials look for HighGround's storage experience to help advance its Net Effect program. Sun has long promoted always-on, ubiquitous Internet computing and hopes to profit from the Net with a strong back-end presence.

Sun is holding a conference in the US this week on some future initiatives to its Net Effect concept.

Meanwhile, realising the importance of knowledge management tools for businesses battling information overload, Sun-Netscape joint venture iPlanet is bolstering its portal offering with search, indexing and knowledge management capabilities.iPlanet will gain these features through Sun's acquisition of grapeVINE Technologies, which makes collaborative knowledge management software. All grapeVINE technology and resources acquired by Sun will be integrated into the iPlanet Portal Server software, company officials said of the deal. The iPlanet Portal Server is part of iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions. iPlanet Portal Server will continue to remain system-agnostic and will support other applications, content and services, including other knowledge management tools, says John Fanelli, iPlanet's director of product marketing for portal and communications. However, grapeVINE's search and indexing capabilities will become free, standard features of iPlanet Portal Server.

With this technology, iPlanet portal users will be able to search internal and external Web sites and then create an index or database that can be searched from the portal or remotely through a Web browser.

Analysts say knowledge management capabilities will become increasingly important in portals as more companies go online. The knowledge management software market is expected to grow from $1.4 billion in 1999 to $5.4 billion in 2004, according to IDC.