Sun program aims at service providers

Sun Microsystems Inc. recently finalized the first specification of its SunTone certification program, a quality process for service providers.

The firm is hoping service providers subscribing to the certification procedure will be able to use SunTone to differentiate their offerings from their competitors’ services.

One analyst briefed on SunTone expressed some doubts that Sun will be able to put much weight behind the program.

“My question is Sun hasn’t been known for its professional services, so how is it going to do this?” asked Donna Scott, an analyst with Gartner Group Inc. in Austin, Tex.

Scott said SunTone seems more like a good way for Sun to get publicity as a vendor who understands the Web and e-business.

First announced back in May, SunTone is a “strict set of quality guidelines,” said Ben Lenail, group manager for Sun’s network service provider division.

The SunTone program is designed to give network, e-commerce and Internet providers a list of best practices that will allow them to meet high availability goals.

“Users are looking for this, because the market is fairly new and it’s still a little vague,” Lenail explained.

Although Sun is describing the program as vendor-neutral, Lenail said a service provider would need some Sun equipment to meet the availability guidelines outlined in SunTone.

A number of service providers, including Bell Nexxia, based in Toronto, have already lined up behind SunTone.

Lisa Donnan, Nexxia’s vice-president of marketing, said SunTone gives Nexxia a recognizable logo to attract customers.

“With the backing of a company like Sun, customers will have more confidence in our services,” she said.

Nexxia was already using some Sun products, so it shouldn’t need to add more Sun equipment to meet SunTone certification specifications, Donnan said. And just because Nexxia will be SunTone-certified doesn’t mean it will be using Sun gear exclusively, Donnan noted.

“With our client base, we’ll use whatever we decide is best for them,” she said. “We will not be a Sun-only shop.”