Sun Follows the Money Trail

Sun Microsystems Wednesday said it wants to drum up new business in a place where it has had past success – financial services.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based networking giant said it is looking at everything from midmarket banks to the largest money centers to install its servers and systems. Already, Sun said it has signed long-term contracts with ICICI (the largest bank in India), The Landrum Company (a six-bank Missouri-based holding company), Hanvit Bank (the largest private bank of South Korea), eBank Systems, Financial Data Solutions, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union and BF Goodrich Credit Union.

Sun said revised strategy is a combination of its new Mainframe Rehosting Software as well as its Continuous Operations initiative. The strategy includes Sun’s UltraSPARC processor-based servers, Sun StorEdge Open SAN Architecture, Sun StorEdge storage arrays and SunPlex clustering technology and Sun Services, along with Nortel Networks DWDM-based OPTera 5200 Multiservice Platform.

“Within the last year, over a dozen major core processing software vendors have ported their systems to the Sun platform,” David Littlewood, Director Worldwide Financial Services at Sun, told reporters at BAI’s annual Retail Banking Delivery Show in Atlanta. “This is what I call a very rich soil on which to grow. In addition to the new Reference Banking Reference Architecture, the amount of traction I have seen even in recent months is incredibly gratifying.”

The choice to revisit banks is sensible enough. Analysts at TowerGroup predict that banks will allocate over one-fourth of their technology budgets (approximately $37.5 billion on a global basis) on core banking software, hardware, and services.

“We are making great strides to proving ourselves a robust and scalable platform for the $81B Retail Banking industry, from the in the world,” continued Littlewood.

To help its cause, Sun is partnering with Infosys Technologies on a new iForce program based on the Retail Banking Reference Architecture. The companies say their software/hardware combo makes it easier for banks to respond to customer demand for 24 x 7 web-enabled banking, Straight Through Processing (STP) and a unified channel access to manage their personal financial information.

The Reference Architecture is based on Finacle Core Banking from Infosys and runs on the Sun’s Solaris Operating Environment.

“Many banks today run legacy batch applications on costly mainframes that have limited flexibility to support modern banking solutions,” said Sun vice president marketing, Enterprise Systems Products Group Steve Campbell. “Our solution has been tested, tuned and proven to support a Web-enabled core banking solution that is cost-effective, and offers tremendous flexibility.”

Sun also announced a new facility at its Burlington, Mass. Campus to help it develop new generations of its UltraSPARC processor. The new compute ranch joins a national network of facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif. and Austin, Texas that consist of over 7,500 UltraSPARC processor nodes operating at a sustained 98 percent utilization rate 24 hours a day.

In addition to helping Sun bring new processors to market, the ranch infrastructure acts as a testing ground for its advanced grid and virtualized “N1”-style computing technologies.