Sun Microsystems agency SolNet is likely to take full responsibility for iPlanet products in New Zealand after AOL officially exited its partnership with Sun.
Sun chief executive Scott McNealy sent an email to Sun customers just over a week ago, notifying them that the three-year partnership with AOL Time Warner had come to an end.
“iPlanet is now a division of Sun and a core component of our Sun Open Net Environment (Sun ONE) offering,” McNealy wrote in the email. “We have intellectual property rights for all of the products. And the product-engineering and support organisations are now fully staffed by Sun employees.”
SolNet and Express Data shared the distribution of iPlanet products when the deal was announced in 1999. The tie-up happened at about the same time as AOL took over Netscape, which was to play a key role in the development of iPlanet products with Sun.
The iPlanet range, which includes an application and directory server, a portal product and other software, now complete Sun’s overall software architecture, along with the company’s Solaris operating system, Forte developer tools and Java technology.
However, the alliance doesn’t appear to have been fruitful for Express Data. General manager Ian Jansen says his company hasn’t been involved in distributing Netscape products for two years.
The takeover had been telegraphed for some time. Sun executives have long said they planned to bring iPlanet closer to the company when the contract with AOL expired on March 17. Sun also rehired hundreds of iPlanet employees laid off last year by AOL.
Solnet managing director Mark Botherway expects the change to be positive for iPlanet customers as the partners in the alliance had “slightly different priorities”, AOL focusing on the end user and Sun on corporate customers. This will ensure a clearer product direction and commitment to the iPlanet range, Botherway says, as well as improved support and development from Sun.
One iPlanet customer is comfortable with Sun’s takeover of the range. ACC general manager of strategy and capability Murray Young, whose role includes looking after the organisation’s business automation group, expects no changes as long as the products continue to be supported locally and are developed and invested in internationally. He says the accident compensation body has had “no problems so far” with the products.
SolNet works with ACC on a project-by-project basis according to Young, and is presently working on the organisation’s premium and invoice systems after earlier replacing its medical fee systems.