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Sun spruces up technology showroom

A newly redesigned center will tout new customers and technology systems. It's part of a bid to find customers from new industries to help stem a slump in demand.

MENLO PARK, Calif.--Sun Microsystems on Monday took the wraps off a newly redesigned center to showcase successful technology systems in a bid to expand its customer base.

Sun for years has invited executives to the center to view its technology, but the redesigned facility is more for engineering than for basic demonstrations, Chief Executive Scott McNealy said at the opening of the company's Customer Briefing Center here.

"In the old days, we had a lot of things that went really fast, nowhere," McNealy said.

The move complements Sun's effort to diversify outside its two strongest markets--financial services and telecommunications. To break this mold, Sun needs to create partnerships with companies that hail from new industries. The new customer center is geared to show off the abilities of new partners and of systems integrators.

Sun is looking to tap industries such as health care, manufacturing, government, education, biosciences and retail, said Marge Breya, vice president of industry strategy and development and the new head of the effort.

Sun needs to become less reliant on core industries that spent big in the Internet go-go days, yet took it on the chin when demand sagged and budgets were slashed. Sun competitors--especially IBM--weren't hit as hard by the curtailed spending of the last two years.

Breya formerly ran Sun Open Network Environment (Sun ONE), an effort to create Sun software that now is being shared by several executives reporting to software chief Jonathan Schwartz.

Management roles at Sun have been in flux since April. Breya now reports to Mark Tolliver, executive vice president of marketing and business development.