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Sun Microsystems is quietly at work on an initiative to develop and market maintenance and services as a feature of every product and solution.

Project Mercury, as the effort is known within Sun, while seemingly more expensive up front, would lead to improved user experiences and better adoption of technology, Sun officials and partners familiar with the effort told The Channel Insider.

“If you embed service with everything we do, it becomes a product feature and it’s just part of what you buy,” said Don Grantham, Sun’s executive vice president of Global Sales & Services, who revealed the initiative during an address to partners Aug. 16 at Access Distribution’s New Frontiers forum in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Sun executives acknowledged Project Mercury but declined to discuss it, and several VARs admitted involvement with the effort, but they also would not discuss it openly, citing nondisclosure agreements.

Sun is nearly finished developing the backbone of the Project Mercury solutions and needed only complete marketing and pricing measures, Grantham said.

Such an initiative would lead to better user experiences and higher rates of technology adoption, said Don Lukasek, chief technology officer at Advanced Systems Group, in Thornton, Colo., a Sun VAR and managed service provider. Lukasek was unaware of Project Mercury.

“Utilization and adoption improve whenever services are attached,” Lukasek said. “You’ll often see people buy a piece of technology and never fully use it because they don’t understand how to use it. Then they come back and say “it didn’t do what it was supposed to” or “it wasn’t worth it,” and they blame the technology.”

The program would eventually lead to remotely delivered services, where everything would be monitored and service would be delivered remotely, Grantham said.

Sun recently made several acquisitions to build out pieces of the offering, including the 2004 purchase of SevenSpace, whose SpyGlass Portal added application and infrastructure monitoring and management capabilities. In March Sun bought Aduva, whose OnStage product allows enterprises to automate the processes associated with patch management.

The market remains large, Grantham said, citing the fact that 37 percent of data in the world was stored on StorageTek software and hardware.

For VARs, the offering promises to be a cash cow, Grantham said.

“If you attach services to everything, you make money, we make money, customers are happier,” he said. “You’ll be delivering services remotely and we and you will have a relationship with that customer through life.”