Sun salesforce offered triple bonuses to sell software


10 January 2003 Sun Microsystems is offering its salesforce triple commission on software in a bid to boost disappointing sales of application servers and software tools.

The cash bonuses are part of a plan to push through “behavioural changes” in the mindset of sales staff, who have traditionally been hardware-oriented and ignored efforts to encourage them to sell more software.

As a result, repeated attempts by Sun to build a software division in the mould of the IBM Software Group have failed.

Sun has tried to build a software business via a series of acquisitions of highly rated software vendors. These include application server software supplier NetDynamics, software tools vendor Forte and Czech Java tools specialist NetBeans.

Sun’s enterprise software acquisitions
NetDynamics July 1998 >$160m Application server SW
Beduin Comm’s Oct 1998 Not disclosed Embedded Java
iPlanet Oct 1998 Not disclosed Remote access SW
Netscape 1998-2002 Not disclosed Directory &app servers
Star Division Aug 1999 £73.5m Office SW
Forte Software Aug 1999 $700m SW tools
NetBeans Oct 1999 Not disclosed Java IDE
Trustbase Feb 2000 Not disclosed PKI SW
Innosoft Mar 2000 Not disclosed Messaging &directories
Gridware July 2000 Not disclosed Resource mngmt SW
GrapeVINE Dec 2000 Not disclosed Knowledge mngmt SW
Highground Dec 2000 $400m Storage SW
InfraSearch Feb 2001 Not disclosed Peer-to-peer SW
LSC Software Feb 2001 $74m Storage SW
Clustra Mar 2002 Not disclosed Clustered databases
Terraspring Nov 2002 Not disclosed Infrastr’ automation SW

In December 1998, it announced the acquisition of browser pioneer Netscape in a peculiar 50-50 partnership deal with America Online (AOL).

However, sales of these companies’ products proved disappointing under Sun’s auspices, partly as a result of neglect by its hardware-focused sales staff.

Despite the fact that Sun is the main standard setter for the Java Two Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application server standard, its own application server software has sold poorly. As a result, BEA Systems and IBM have been able to claim a clear market lead with about a third of the market each, while Sun has less than 10%.

The incentive plan is part of a long-term software strategy initiated in mid-2001, Sun Microsystems’ vice president of worldwide software sales Barbara Gordon told CNet News.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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