Clients Focused on Products, Not Rumors, Sun Exec Says

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The head of Sun Microsystems' hardware business acknowleged the acquisition rumors swirling around his company but insisted that customers are more focussed on finding the best products to meet their needs.

"Whenever you have -- obviously -- a rumor, customers are going to call you and ask you questions. But for all our customers we go back and emphasize what we are building, which is systems, platfoms around Solaris, storage and networking products, and they all solve a problem they have today and will go on for many years," said John Fowler, executive vice president of Sun's systems business, in an interview Monday.

"So after a little bit of 'sturm und drang' it returns to normal, which is, OK, what do I need to do, how will this technology or product solve the problem, and how do we go on from there," said Fowler, using a German expression for "storm and stress."

Reports surfaced three weeks ago that IBM was in talks to acquire Sun, which has been fighting lackluster sales and a declining share price. Neither company has confirmed any talks, which apparently stalled a week ago after a disagreement over price, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Fowler was understandably reluctant to discuss the reports but did so briefly when asked. IBM and Sun are partners as well as rivals, he noted.

"IBM is a partner in a number of areas. We do a lot of business with IBM Global Services ... we cooperate on Java. IBM is also a licensee of Solaris and ships Solaris with its x64 systems. So there's a range of technology areas where we have, over many years, worked together, like we do with many other large tech companies."

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