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Desktops

Sun touts contract with Office Depot

The hardware, software and services company will provide servers, services and more for the retailer in a deal that will squeeze out IBM in some areas.

Sun Microsystems announced Monday that it has snagged a contract with retailer Office Depot that will squeeze out IBM in some areas.

Sun said it had signed a broad agreement to replace and augment many of the back-end computing systems Office Depot uses to manage its 870 stores and 50,000 employees. Sun will also be the retailer's "preferred vendor" for systems based on the Unix operating system. Both companies declined to disclose the length or dollar value of the agreement.

Among the components to be replaced is an IBM mainframe the retail chains uses for inventory management, with a system running merchandising software from retail specialist Retek on Sun Fire servers.

"It's replacing a homegrown, legacy application--they've had it for quite some time," said Marty Robins, senior director of industry and product marketing for Sun.

Sun Fire servers will also run a new warehouse-management system based on software from Manhattan Associates and a new content management system based on software from Documentum.

Office Depot also will use a number of Sun services for managing its information technology resources. The retailer has also agreed to sells Sun's StarOffice productivity software in its stores.

Patty Morrison, chief information officer at Office Depot, said the new Sun systems will ultimately help the retailer improve customer service.

"Office Depot set out a strategic direction to transform its business to meet these needs, and that required an open, standards-based network-computing infrastructure," she said in a statement. "One of the important things that attracted us to Sun was their understanding that in retailing, IT is the strategic enabler for fanatical customer service."

Robins said that while Sun isn't widely associated with retailing, the industry represents one of Sun's top customer segments.

"We do quite a bit more business in that area than most people realize," he said. "It's one of our top five industries that we focus on."