October 3, 2005 4:52 PM PDT

Google, Sun plan partnership

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widely for running desktop software, it has long had the potential to undermine Microsoft's strength by providing an alternative program foundation to Windows.

Other avenues for cooperation between the companies exist. Google's data center could use Sun's "Galaxy" line of AMD Opteron-based x86 servers and, though they're farther afield from Google's current x86-based systems, its upcoming Niagara-based Sparc-Solaris machines that are geared for Web-oriented tasks.

"Google is probably the most important application your CIO delivers to you."
--Scott McNealy, CEO, Sun

Sun's top two executives have repeatedly praised Google's influence. "Google is probably the most important application your CIO (chief information officer) delivers to you," McNealy said in a speech in September. And Schwartz used Google to highlight Google's power to bypass computing decision-makers and reach directly to the computer users.

"How many CIOs picked Google? Zero. How many employees use it? All of them," Sun's president said in a February speech. "Consumers have a great deal of influence."

Wall Street responded favorably to a news advisory about the Sun-Google partnership, sending Sun's stock up 26 cents, or 7 percent, to $4.19 at the close of trading Monday. Google rose $2.22, or 1 percent, to $318.68.

Microsoft isn't the only company that could suffer from a Google-sponsored thrust to rival desktop computing applications, Interarbor Solutions analyst Dana Gardner said. "IBM is in this game as well with their middleware-to-the-client strategy," he said. IBM's approach combines a version of OpenOffice with browser access to Domino and Notes server software. Its focus, though, is on businesses, while Google also has consumers in its crosshairs.

In the longer term, Sun believes applications will move to the network. That's a possibility even with office applications.

"It seems almost irresistible for Google and Sun to combine Google's ubiquitous reach with Sun's grid, Java and server strengths, to deliver hosted access to resources that could cause some pre-winter chills to run through Redmond," Robert Frances Group analyst Michael Dortch said.

In September, Sun's McNealy reiterated his belief that thin clients will prevail, with central servers handling the heavy lifting of computing rather than PCs.

But centrally hosted office software would require some major engineering to be widely used. In 1999, Sun had plans for a Java-based version of StarOffice, called StarPortal, that could run on the network so that Java-enabled devices could access it. On Monday, though, Sun said, "there are currently no plans for a Java version of StarOffice."

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21 comments

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Why does Google need Sun?
Because, believe it or not, the pressure is really on Google, not Sun. Sun can continue to limp along indefinitely and maybe they'll make a comeback or maybe they'll fade away. The jury is still out. But Google cannot continue with their share price at almost 100x earnings. Sooner or later, somebody's going to realize "Hey ... wait a second ..."

Google has already given us some pretty impressive stuff. But how much of that stuff have *YOU* personally paid for, other than eyballing some ads. Sound familiar? Sounds like a replay of the dot com bust, to me.

Google has to move itself to the next level and it has to do it soon. Maybe Sun has something to offer that would enable Google to do that. One thing Google has is an amazing adoption rate. They put something out there, it's got limited functionality, they call it beta, and eveybody starts using it right away because it's already better than anything anyone currently has. That's exactly the kind of influence that could really cut a leg out from under MS Office, and even Windows very quickly.
Posted by Eggs Ackley (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why Does Google Need Sun?
Easy, enterprise customers.

In the telecom space, SBC and Verizon have essentially bought their seats at the table into virtually every large US enterprise by acquiring AT&T and MCI. A match with Sun could achieve the same for Google.

For Sun, Google is a manifistation of everything they claim to stand for.

I also agree that Google may need Sun alot more than they are letting on. I wouldn't be suprised if this is all just a prelude for whats really the only endgame for Sun: to be joined with a company that can actually make good on their "Network is the computer" dream. With their stock as low as it is (I mean, has been), the only issue I see is the timing of Google making the announcement.

Killer Web Services + Grid/Big Iron + Java/OSS = consumer/corparate from the bottom up.

It may be an understatement, but if this comes even remotely close to happening, IBM and M$ have big probelems ahead.
Posted by iometro (3 comments )
Link Flag
Google doesn't need Sun...
...and this is their first big mistake.

Google pulls in 3 billion in ad revenue, so you don't need to pay for any of their services. You just need to use them.

They want you to keep using them, so they think that by creating some online version of Star/Open Office that will make you hooked on Google even more. Maybe if they make it cool enough, but I'll keep using MS word on my local machine for that.

Everone else will to, trust me.

Sun needs Google as the party for Sun has long been over. Hardware business commoditized to nothing, Java not bringing home the bacon and fresh out of ideas. Sun's 6 big initiatives announced by McNealy are 1) Galaxy servers - too little too late 2) Solaris 10 - ok, but it's free so no revenue there 3) New Ultra sparc IV+ chip - nice, but what will the revenues be? 4) Java Enterprise System (Desktop) - Jesus, anyone buying this ought to be shot. It's just a web server, app server, directory server, calendar, portal, etc. 5) Storage Tek - maybe but storage biz is getting commoditized as well. 6)
Thin clients using Sunray and crap they bought from Tarantella - thin clients are not going to fly.

Those are Sun's 6 big ideas. Wow. On that announcement, analysts should have downgraded Sun's stock to "a joke".

The once mighty Sun sells cheap AMD boxes running Linux, that ought to tell you something.
Posted by nazzdeq (74 comments )
Link Flag
Time to Buy Sun Stock
Geez, I didn't see this one coming. I'm going to buy some Sun
stock now cuz it's going to be a good investment again.
Posted by (174 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Luck with that gamble
Turning an office suite into an online application is not something that should be surprising any IT guru at this point. Why on Earth do you think Microsoft began rebuilding Office years ago on the .NET platform? Microsoft Office can easily be hosted in the same way as soon as MS decides to get it going. This strategy has been on the table for ages. The investement question is whether an online version of StarOffice can outsell an online version of Microsoft Office. Given the brand recognition and current install base of MS Office, I'd wager my money on Microsoft rather than Sun for the deployment of online productivity software.... assuming you REALLY think that consumers want to rely on the Internet for everything.

StarOffice competes with MS Office in a packaged software environment now, and it'll continue to compete in a hosted environment soon enough. I see no reason why it should suddenly become the world's most popular package.

By announcing such ideas, Sun and Google are playing their cards pretty early. We already know that Microsoft has been converting the Office suite to the .NET platform... but they've been more secretive with their strategy.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Time to Buy Sun Stock
Geez, I didn't see this one coming. I'm going to buy some Sun
stock now cuz it's going to be a good investment again.
Posted by (174 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why?
>>cuz it's going to be a good investment again

Based upon what? A partnership to release already-free software in a hosted environment? You are aware of the fact that Microsoft has the ability to release MS Office in a similar fashion, yes? You are betting that consumers will widely adopt a hosted productivity application, AND that they will convert from familiar Microsoft software to a version of Star Office... Seems risky...
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Sun has been promising a come back...
A partnership with Google should be good for both companies. I hope that's not the only trick Sun has coming though.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A free online desktop?? But there is one here already...
By the sounds of things these two companies are
planning to create a free online desktop with
office email and all the bits fully integrated,
secure and networked. That already exists at
http:www.cosmopod.com
Posted by iqula (59 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A free online desktop?? But there is one here already...
By the sounds of things these two companies are
planning to create a free online desktop with
office email and all the bits fully integrated,
secure and networked. That already exists at
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.cosmopod.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.cosmopod.com</a>
Posted by iqula (59 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SPAM
spam spam spam... spametty spam
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Link Flag
Bravo, Stephen Shankland!
The story aside, this was a conspicuously well-written news piece. Reporter Shankland resisted the compulsion endemic to his trade of assuming conclusions not in evidence, and chose instead to laboriously detail the clues that Joerg Heilig, Shepherd-in-Chief of Sun's fine "Star Office" product, is now employed at Google. Trends in the trade that other analysts have perceived were quoted and attributed to their respective sources, another bold Shankland break from his peers. And, the anecdotal dichotomy at the top of Sun revealed by the McNealy and Schwartz quotes was at once subtly informative and humorous. It was a great piece, Shankland, timely and sublimely!
Posted by kroebling (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A few weeks ago
I suggested OpenOffice being used towards Google's own Office
solution a few weeks ago. Should I sue Google for reading my
imagination?
Posted by Peej2K (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A few weeks ago
I suggested OpenOffice being used towards Google's own Office
solution a few weeks ago. Should I sue Google for reading my
imagination?
Posted by Peej2K (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wow
I better buy some Sun stock. This has all the makings of something exciting again. Sun has a lot of deep technology that Google could use and create a market.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Sun-Google
This is a great partnership!
Google needs to get into the enterprise with the Google Mini (or enterprise search) before Microsoft does it with future releases. The best way to do this is to leverage Sun's distribution network and bundle the mini with Sun servers. This enables Sun to offer more functionality for not much more money (thus helping their primary business of selling servers), and Google gets their tentacles into the enterprise by providing "mini" functionality for free. Once in the enterprise, the free Google desktop can now hook in to the google index of the enterprise data, and people can search enterprise data at the same speed with which they can search internet data.

The next part of the strategy allows the "Google Mini" cache to also cache the Google-Sun OpenDocuments inside the enterprise, giving almost the same effect as storing them on an enterprise-connected computer. It is win-win-win-win for Google, Sun, the enterprise, and the end user.

Cheers, Jay
Posted by jgodse (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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