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November 13, 1997


India is strategic partner, says Sun president

Sun Microsystems, riding high on the growth of its Java programming language, has decided to focus attention on India by declaring it as one of its strategic partners.

At Sun's second International Internet Associate Symposium in Berlin recently, Edward J Zander, president, Sun Microsystems, admitted that the company has been slow in recognising India's potential. "We know we haven't done enough there and I don't really know the reason, but it is a fascinating country, a very big market and we have to grow it," he said.

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Zander said that the company has now empowered Timothy J Dwyer, vice-president International operations at Sun, to "explore how exactly we should go about expanding our presence in India".

Helping Dwyer in this effort would be Lionel Lim, managing director, Sun Microsystems, Asia South, and also looking after India operations from Singapore. "India is among my top four nations in South Asia, the others being Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. By the turn of the century, my aim is to make it among the top two," he said.

Towards that aim, the company has recently opened a Java Competency Centre in Hyderabad. The centre, in collaboration with the Department of Electronics and CMC corporation, will bring "technology to the country and speed up Java development", says Lim.

When asked why they chose to team up with a government department for the centre, Lim explained that it is necessary for the government of the country to be excited about the project for it to succeed.

He also assures that this is just the beginning. "In the next year and half, we will have 4 to 5 such centres spread over different cities of India. Each of these centres have a substantial investment from Sun in terms of manpower, training, and equipment subsidy," he says.

Lim is categorical that he does not look at Indian merely as a big market but as a strategic partner. "I believe that Sun can be a catalyst to transform Indian into a true exporter of information technology that is made and conceived in India," he said.

Elaborating, he says that all that other companies have done so far is treat India as a "sweat shop", where you end up doing no more that working at the tail end of the technology, basically assisting them to increase their product life cycle. "We look at it differently, we want to build up global companies so that they can learn and go global."

"It is for this reason that we don't sell direct in India," he says. If we do that, then the Indian company gets no expertise in servicing, development, etc.

At the moment, apart from a relationship with Wipro Systems, Sun is working with Microland for developing Internet products, Tata Infotech for systems integration, and Infosys, for Software integration. Lim is also optimistic about Java's future in India. "This is one technology where India is on an equal footing with the rest of the world.

"Earlier, it was always at the tail end of the technology cycle," he avers. It is an opportunity that should not be allowed to slip, "putting all efforts on older technology, specially on the low-end desktop, will be a disastrous for India," he added with a touch of finality.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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