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Sun buys $50m worth of NAS software IP

Partner Procom acquired

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Sun Microsystems has proved its love for small software companies once again by buying all of storage code maker Procom's intellectual property rights for $50m.

Last year, Sun and Procom signed a multiyear software licensing deal. Sun bought the rights to use Procom's NetForce operating system on its line of Sun StorEdge 5000 network attached storage (NAS) appliances. It appears that Sun was quite enamored with the technology and wanted to capture Procom's technology for the long haul.

"Sun's NAS offerings serve as the central building blocks of some of our most compelling solutions, including the Sun StorEdge 5310 Compliance Archiving System which helps customers comply with government regulations and data integrity requirements," said Mark Canepa, executive vice president of network storage at Sun. "Bolstering our NAS portfolio with the acquisition of Procom's technology reflects our ongoing commitment to the storage market."

Procom has been around since 1987 as a player in the storage appliance and NAS markets. The company counts Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and Brocade as some of its key partners. It also lists the likes of Coca Cola, DuPont, Eastman Kodak and Pfizer as customers.

Sun expects the acquisition to close by June if standard regulatory and shareholder approvals are met. Sun will take on the Procom employees that deal with NAS products. Procom currently employs close to 50 people but would not say how many of these work on NAS products. Procom's board is meeting to discuss how best to move forward with the company's other storage assets.

"This deal is a natural extension of our existing software licensing agreement with the company," said a Sun spokeswoman. "By acquiring the NAS IP assets and NAS specialists from Procom, Sun can accelerate time-to-market for next generation products. In addition to the IP, Sun intends to acquire talented employees including NAS-savvy engineers, salespeople, and support engineers to the Sun team."

Over the past few years, Sun has bought a wide range of software startups from server management firms such as Terraspring to identity management software makers like Waveset. The server giant doesn't have the best of track records with turning acquired product into revenue producing code.

Sun's storage unit will be under a great deal of pressure to make the most of this $50m investment. The group has been one of the worst performing units at Sun and has failed to gain market share from rivals such as EMC and IBM despite incredible efforts to do so. ®

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