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Gap deal helps Sun's push into new areas

The clothing retailer taps Sun Microsystems for a computer system overhaul, giving Sun a boost as it tries to compensate for slowing sales by moving into new markets.

Clothing retailer Gap has bought Sun Microsystems hardware, software and services for a computer system overhaul, the companies said Tuesday.

San Francisco-based Gap will use high-end Sun Fire servers to run Oracle Financials software for accounting and other tasks, and use other Sun servers for data warehousing and merchandise planning, the companies said.

The deal is a boost for Sun, which has been hurt by weak sales to its two traditional customer segments, financial services and telecommunications customers. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based server company is trying to compensate by finding new customers in the retail, health care, manufacturing, energy and government sectors.

There are ample competitors in the retail market, including IBM, which historically has been strong in retail. Also this week, Dell Computer announced a deal to sell thousands of servers to supermarket chain Winn-Dixie. And Hewlett-Packard's NonStop systems power Target's high-end retail systems.

Also part of the Gap deal: The retailer signed a multiyear top-level platinum support contract for round-the-clock help from Sun, the companies said.

Gap also bought 360Commerce's Java software for point-of-sale terminals, sales records and store management. Other 360Commerce customers include Home Depot, Circuit City, Apple Computer and KB Toys.