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Sun announces software, service alliances

The company teams up with software makers i2 Technologies and iPlanet to create a software bundle to help companies better manage how they sell and deliver products to customers.

Sun Microsystems on Wednesday teamed up with software makers i2 Technologies and iPlanet to create a software bundle to help companies better manage how they sell and deliver products to customers.

Under the agreement, Sun will bring together i2's suite of customer-relationship management (CRM) software and iPlanet's billing and invoicing software with Sun's Java development software.

i2, which makes software that manages a company's supply chains and inventory, also provides CRM software that automates order creation and fulfillment and product-delivery logistics.

Slated to be available later this year, the combined products also will mark Sun's first major offering from its heavily touted Web services initiative, dubbed Sun Open Net Environment (Sun ONE).

Sun earlier this year outlined its technology road map for Web-based software and services, following similar plans announced by Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. Sun ONE is the company's plan for building Web-based services and software using the Java programming language.

Like its rivals, Sun has been busy positioning its existing developer, middleware, and operating-system products as the underlying plumbing necessary to build, run and manage Web services.

Company executives touted the alliance Wednesday morning and said businesses need a complete package that ties the software, hardware and services to help companies get a more complete view of their business activities?from the back-end supply-chain systems to front-end customer systems.

iPlanet President Mark Tolliver said that during the current economic slump, companies need a technology package that will help give them "better predictability in terms of delivering results to company shareholders by managing supply chains more precisely."

Executives said they expect to generate "hundreds of millions of dollars" through the partnership.

The new alliance includes joint engineering, sales, support and marketing efforts. Management consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is also working with the partners as a services provider. PwC consultants will be trained on the software and will help clients install the products. Other providers including Sun's own services arm, Sun Enterprise Services, will also participate.

In separate news, i2 on Wednesday promoted Reagan Lancaster to president of worldwide field operations. Lancaster, who joined i2 in 1995, is known for helping i2 expand its sales teams and overseeing worldwide sales.

Lancaster's appointment comes just a week after Greg Brady was promoted to the company's top spot as chief executive officer, replacing chairman Sanjiv Sidhu. Brady has his eyes set on fueling i2's growth, but like many of its competitors in the rocky business-to-business sector, the company has recently suffered from lackluster sales and has had to cut its work force to trim expenses.

i2 on Wednesday is also holding its annual customer conference, eDay, in New York.