Fonterra tipped to buy Sun vision

Sun says it's on the brink of a deal with 'New Zealand's largest company' for ultra-thin desktops and 'on tap' computing

New Zealand’s largest company is understood to be buying into the “utility computing” vision promulgated by Sun — ultrathin clients on the desktop with the processing grunt performed in a centralised server farm.

News of a major order was let slip during Sun CIO Bill Vass’s visit to New Zealand last month, when he promoted the utility vision of as much computing as each individual needs when it's needed. A significant contract had been concluded between Sun and "New Zealand's largest company", Vass said.

Assuming Vass has been advised of the structure of New Zealand industry, the pending customer must be Fonterra — almost twice the size of the nation's second-largest company, Telecom. But several weeks later, nothing more has been heard of the deal.

“If there are any announcements to be made, then they won’t be made from our side of things,” says Stephen Wallace, CIO at Fonterra.

Sun NZ head Peter Idoine won't confirm the client's identity, saying there are formal agreements still to be tied up and documents to be signed before the deal can be announced. Earlier this month, he said the complexity of negotiations is due to the fact that this is a “utility computing” deal, which means the terms of the contract are new and different from a straightforward hardware and software sale.

A large-company champion will undoubtedly raise the profile of utility computing in New Zealand. Following a meeting with Vass, IT Minister David Cunliffe expressed a favourable view of the idea as assisting some of the objectives of the Government’s digital strategy and providing a further boost to broadband growth.

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