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Rivals eye Sun partners, customers

To say that competitors are circling Sun Microsystems’ customers and partners like vultures is probably overstating the case. But not by much.

Two very large Sun Microsystems’ rivals are actively targeting key Sun partners and big Sun hardware shops, trying to woo them over to their own hardware.  Suffice it to say the two companies go by initials and those initials in alphabetical order are B,H,I,M,P. Get the picture? They’re trying to take advantage of the fear, uncertainty and doubt Oracle’s pending acquisition of Sun has stirred up.

No one’s sure what Oracle, a database software and apps power,  has in mind for Sun’s venerable hardware franchise. And that means customers and partners alike are making sure they have options whether or not Oracle sells off the SPARC chip and server businesses.

One of the rival hardware (and software) companies is telling reporters about ISVs who are “defecting” from Sun. A few phone calls soon ascertain that “defecting” is too strong a word but that in the absence of certainty around Oracle’s plans any partner would be fiscally irresponsible not to have an alternate plan drawn up.

Sun shareholders approved the Oracle buyout in mid July and Oracle expects the Justice Department to sign off this summer, although there is concern that European regulators may have nagging questions that will take longer to resolve.

One Sun VAR said he sees both of the rivals trying to pick up relevant Sun partners–although the “H” company is being more aggressive and seemingly less picky than the “I” company–at least in the geographies he serves.  

For ISVs and VARs who’ve concentrated on Sun, it is by no means clear that Oracle really plans to keep Sun hardware around. There has been some generic talk about Oracle-Sun appliances for vertical applications. The difficulty is that until the deal is done, no one can really talk turkey about the details and these partners have to ensure there are alternatives for the Sun hardware and software they rely upon.

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