Sun Microsystems and Legato Systems Inc. say they're going to work more closely on their intertwined backup-and-recovery products, with the goal of reducing competition between the companies? sales forces.
For Legato, this agreement could be the spark it needs to restart its lagging backup-and-recovery business, business it?s been losing to Veritas Corp.
Sun servers were the first servers that Legato?s Networker ran on. In 1993, Sun came out with its own backup-and-recovery product, Solstice, which is based on Networker. Legato got a licensing fee for Solstice, but the Legato sales force didn?t get a nickel for Solstice shipments. So while Sun sold Solstice to customers, Legato was moving in on the same accounts to sell Networker. And Sun updated Solstice on its own.
Now, Solstice will be engineered by Legato with specs from Sun. The two vendors will work more closely on technical support regarding backup and recovery. More importantly, Legato salespeople will get a cut for every shipment of Solstice. Their compensation is supposed to be the same whether they sell Networker or Solstice. While Legato will lose money each time Solstice is bought instead of Networker by a Sun shop, the two vendors hope they will more than make up for those losses by selling Solstice in much higher volumes.
"Over the years, Sun?s percentage of our total sales has shrunk down to the single digits," says Jim Chappell, senior VP of corporate development and marketing at Legato. "It was once 10%, and we expect it to grow with this relationship."
Amy Lynch, line manager for software products in Sun?s network-storage division, says the partnership is driven by customer requests. "We?re vendors cooperating to provide a system," she says, "rather then making them turn to Legato for one thing and Sun for another thing."
Mark Shakespeare, computer systems manager at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., oversees servers from Compaq, Dell Computer, SGI, and Sun, and says the Sun E 450 servers are the most stable and scalable. But at one time, the lab was using a different repackaged version of Networker on Compaq, SGI, and Sun machines. Last year, Shakespeare says, the lab gave Legato a "big chunk of money" for a site license. Now, Shakespeare says, his staff has a version of Networker for everything and access to all new components for "a really nice backup-and-recovery system for a low ? cost."
He questions what advantage the lab will get from the new arrangement. "We get a good deal from Sun on the hardware, and there?s a Networker product for everything," Shakespeare says. "Besides, I can?t see Legato salespeople saying ?Solstice is better then Networker? because they?d be shooting themselves in the foot."