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Offices in dodgy areas, apparently

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Sun has launched its first European competency centre, housed in an elegant building in an upmarket area of Paris just a spit from the Seine. As any good estate agent will tell you, the three most important things to consider when moving to a new property are location, location and location. "We used to have cheap real estate outside of town that no one wanted to go to, especially late at night," admitted EMEA VP Robert Youngjohns. And with revenues currently growing at 27 per cent, Sun obviously has plenty of spare cash burning a hole in its pocket. The glitzy new centre is packed with Sun hardware running a wide selection of software from partner organisations . This is designed to provide a walk-in centre where potential customers can see how their systems will look and feel rather than having to rely on the traditional means of benchmark performance predictions and sitting through interminable PowerPoint presentations. The aim is to demonstrate interoperability between systems, and 20 full-time engineers will be on hand to make sure everything keeps running. Paris joins Menlo Park in California and Tokyo as the three main worldwide knowledge centres with partners planning to open up to 40 smaller ready centres in their own premises around the world. While the concept makes perfectly good sense, one has to wonder why it took Sun so long to get started – dear old ICL, for example, had just such a customer centre in sunny downtown London some 15 years ago. Youngjohns also takes a perverse pride in being bad-mouthed by his previous employer, IBM: "It's nice to be regarded as the standard in dotcoming, but then everyone takes shots at you. At the IBM user group meeting in the US last week, we were attacked more than anyone else," he claimed. ®

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