Sun builds on financial solutions, revised pricing

NEW YORK CITY — Sun Microsystems Inc. is trying to “”take back Wall Street”” — including its Canadian counterpart Bay Street — by launching a comprehensive set of solutions for financial services companies.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said at its quarterly

Network Computer ’04 event it will revolutionize Wall Street with the debut later this year of Solaris 10, as well as next-generation storage and professional services.

Wall Street is “”the spawning ground for Sun,”” and therefore the place to which it must return to build the next generation of technology, said president and chief operating officer, Jonathan Schwartz.

The message from customers has been: “”‘You’ve got to get back to your roots. Come back and prove you can continue innovating,'”” Schwartz explained. He said users had told him in 2001 they want a multi-platform Solaris system, greater choice and interoperability, and innovation to give better price and performance.

Back then, however, “”our shelves, in all honesty, were empty,”” because the company was focused on growth, he said.

As part of its new range of services, Sun is also offering a pay-per-use pricing model starting at US$1 per processor, per hour (the same price is available in Canada). Sun said the move, which targets customers and developers needing fast, flexible access to resources to test and develop a range of applications, is not unlike the way people purchase power or water.

“”We will use our pricing to open the market,”” Schwartz said. It’s inevitable Sun’s pricing model will prompt customers to question other vendors about their pricing models, he said.

This business model also extends to storage. Beginning at US$0.80 per Sun power unit, per month, the strategy is being touted as a way to cut capital costs, improve the use of assets, build storage needs and tailor storage costs to business activity.

Translating Sun’s American-crafted initiative to Bay Street is a bit tricky, said Catherine Whitelaw, director of financial markets for Sun Microsystems in Canada, who works with all the major banks in the country. “”You’ve got to be very careful. You don’t necessarily expect that it will be a cookie-cutter approach.””

That said, the same issues on the minds of CIOs at financial services firms resonate north and south of the border, including tight budgets, resource use and compliance problems, she said. Canadian financial firms, however, don’t have to “”buy technology on as grand a scale,”” she said.

In Canada, Whitelaw said, her team spends a lot of time cultivating partnerships with customers, as part of Sun’s cultural shift from being a straight vendor to a company that understands the problems organizations face.

One partner, AMD in Austin, Tex., believes Sun’s announcements indicate “”an extremely wide range of choices now for the customer, not only from a hardware perspective, when you look at Sun’s SPARC, but also in the volume space with the Opteron as well,”” according to Pat Patla, director of server workstation marketing for AMD-Opteron.

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