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.
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.