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Sun Microsystems Inc.’s partners gathered in San Diego this week, but the road to success may lead through Washington, D.C.

Indeed, Arrow Electronics Inc.’s MOCA Division has introduced new tools that may help Sun partners to secure more business with Uncle Sam. One MOCA database, for instance, helps Sun solutions providers to identify government agencies that are in the pre-RFP (request for proposal stage).

Separately, MOCA’s new Quote Tracking Tool allows partners to manage quote requests, a Renewal Tool automatically tracts contract expirations and a Sun Services database tracks all information on services contracts.

MOCA’s growing list of Sun-related tools arrives at a critical time for solutions providers betting on Sun’s shrinking hardware business. During its most recent quarter, Sun’s year-over-year revenue slid 5 percent and the company posted a net loss of $760 million. In stark contrast, Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and Dell Inc. remain quite profitable.

Sun partners that push into the government market will face plenty of competition. Keep a particularly close eye on DLT Solutions Inc., a Herndon, Va.-based solutions provider that is leading Red Hat Inc.’s Linux efforts in the federal, state and local government.

Although Linux had several false starts in the government sector, the open-source operating system may benefit from Windows security scares and IT budget cuts that render Unix servers too expensive for departmental projects.

Next page: Deal 2–Oracle Loses, but Wins

Deal 2 – Oracle Loses, but Wins
Los Angeles County is standardizing on financial management software from American Management Systems Inc. (AMS). You can bet Oracle Corp. will use the deal to promote its hostile takeover of PeopleSoft Corp.

Federal regulators allege that the Oracle/PeopleSoft deal would eliminate competition in the applications market. However, as I mentioned last week, Oracle says the applications market is flooded with smaller competitors, such as Lawson Software and CGI Group Inc.—a consulting firm that recently move to acquire AMS.

Clearly, AMS isn’t waiting to see how the Oracle/PeopleSoft squabble concludes. The consulting firm’s $13 million contract with Los Angeles calls for the county to use Web-based software to manage a $17 billion annual budget.

Next page: Deal 3–Get on the Honor Roll

Deal 3 – Get on the Honor Roll
I’ve spent the past two years serving as editorial director at a college in New York. Time and again, I urge solutions providers to focus on the higher-education vertical because colleges have limited IT staffs and an endless need for new, student-focused technology.

Just ask ACS, a Dallas-based solutions provider that recently won a two-year outsourcing contract extension with the Communicate College of Philadelphia. ACS has worked with the college since 1993, providing mainframe operations and management services from its Pittsburgh, Pa.-based data center. ACS also provides Web hosting for the college’s online enrollment system, supporting nearly 46,000 students. All of ACS’ existing services will continue under the contract extension, including mainframe processing, storage management, disaster recovery, and web hosting.

Next page: Deal 4–Symbol of Success

Deal 4 –Symbol of Success
Every time I attempt ignore Symbol Technologies Inc., the company jumps back on my radar screen.

Newly appointed CEO Bill Nuti landed in the April 26 edition of Forbes, which praised Nuti but questioned the company’s long-term business prospects. Around the same time, however, Symbol landed a contract with Coca-Cola Enterprises to roll out ruggedized handheld computers to 28,000 mobile workers. The deal reinforces the fact that Symbol can compete against Cisco Systems Inc. (wireless switches) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (Windows-based handhelds).

All it takes is laser-like focus on the mobile computing market and a few hundred motivated solutions providers.

About Contract Watch: Each week, this column examines customer engagements that are stirring the channel, and the solutions providers behind them. Our goal is to strip away the hype and tell you what’s really selling—and what isn’t—in today’s IT marketplace. Send your tips to my e-mail address below.

Joseph C. Panettieri has covered Silicon Valley since 1992. He is editorial director of the New York Institute of Technology . Write to him at