Tech Industry

Sun deal to expand portal software

Sun Microsystems has signed a multimillion-dollar deal to boost the wireless abilities of its portal software using products from start-up Aligo, the companies plan to announce next week.

Sun Microsystems has signed a multimillion-dollar deal to boost the wireless abilities of its portal software using products from a start-up called Aligo, the companies plan to announce next week.

Portal software lets an organization set up a customized Web site for a group of people--for example a bank's customers or for a company's technical support staff. Sun's next portal product will come with an add-on from Aligo, which sells software that lets people perform tasks such as checking e-mail using their cell phones, Palm and PocketPC handheld computers, and BlackBerry e-mail gadgets.

The deal helps Sun extend the reach of its portal software. "We are providing applications on top of the portal," said Alper Turgut, a vice president of sales and business development.

The three-year agreement is worth a few million dollars to Aligo, Turgut said, through a combination of up-front and recurring payments. One customer of the Aligo products through the Sun deal is Australian telecom company Telstra, which is using the products internally and reselling them to a business partner.

Aligo, a San Francisco start-up with fewer than 50 employees, sells modules to read e-mail and check calendars and contacts through wireless devices. It also sells modules that Sun will use to let roving salespeople tap into Siebel Systems or Amdocs software for managing customer accounts and for dispatching technicians and engineers.

Sun initially will sell Aligo's current software separately, then will integrate it into a version of Sun ONE Portal Server due in mid-2003, Turgut said.

Portal software is one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy computer industry.

Sun, a Santa Clara, Calif., server specialist facing intense competition from Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, is trying to garner more revenue from software such as its portal product. Sun argues that its advantage over competition is tighter integration between software products such as the Sun ONE suite and Sun's other hardware and software products.

The company bundles much of its higher-level software along with its Solaris operating system. Sun is working on expanding its Sun ONE software so it works on Linux as well.