Full service provider (FSP) Breakaway Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: BWAY) has announced that it will distribute and host the StarOffice suite of office productivity tools now offered by Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW).
The move is the latest development for a product offering that some industry analysts feel will permanently change the Microsoft-dominated office suite market. “As we explored ways to effectively distribute StarOffice, we felt strongly that Breakaway Solutions had the technology, application management expertise, and state-of-the-art infrastructure to provide this service to our customers,” commented Dale Ferrario, director of software products and platforms; network service provider IT at Sun Micro. “Breakaway Solutions is the only Application Service Provider (ASP) providing access to StarOffice from data centers both in the U.S. and Europe and we plan to expand that access to the Far East in the near future.” Relationship Expansion The agreement builds upon a current strategic relationship between the two companies, which has included development work on Sun’s NetDynamics Java Application Server. Boston, Massachusetts-based Breakaway — an e-business solutions provider, systems integrator and consulting firm — offers its customers Internet, relationship management and strategy solutions along with application hosting. “Through Breakaway Solutions’ data centers in both the U.S. and overseas,” said a company statement, users are now able to download the StarOffice software at no charge.” “We’ve had a great working relationship with Sun Microsystems and are extremely pleased that Sun has once again looked to Breakaway Solutions to host and deliver one of the most exciting new offerings on the Internet,” stated Dev Ittycheria, Breakaway vice-president and general manager. “Sun was looking for a hosting partner who could provide a flexible and scalable hosting and distribution service so that Sun could focus on supporting the software business. We were able to bring that into effect in less than two weeks to allow Sun to begin to offer its product rapidly to market.” StarPortal Wars Sun Micro recently completed a much-analyzed acquisition of StarDivision, developer of the StarOffice productivity suite offering. A central component of Sun’s plan is the StarPortal initiative, which will bring free word processing, presentation graphics, spreadsheet and other office software features to anyone with a Web browser. The suite will also be available as a free download, with minor royalty fees applying to corporate users. The free availability of such high-powered productivity software could signal a major paradigm shift, according to many industry analysts, someday rendering obsolete the immense and high-priced offerings by the likes of Microsoft. “Sun continually thinks of where the industry is going instead of where it is today,” observed Sun president and CEO Ed Zander. Mandrake’s New PowerPack In other news, MandrakeSoft announced Friday the availability of the latest version of its Linux open-source operating system (OS) distribution. LinuxMandrake 6.1 PowerPack — available through the company’s Web site — will include enhancements to its standard 6.1 product released for testing and review last month, including the Apache Web server 1.3.9 customized by Mandrake, KDE 1.1.2, XFCE 3.0.2 and XFree 3.3.5, among other updates. Linux is a freely distributed OS, based on UNIX, that was created in 1991 as an alternative to Windows. International Data Corp. numbers indicate that Linux grew more than 212 percent and captured more than 17 percent of all server OS shipments in 1998. More than 12 million end users and organizations now use Linux technologies worldwide.