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Sun Snatches Thin-Client Software Maker Tarantella

Sun Microsystems is looking to advance its utility-computing strategy through the acquisition of Tarantella Inc., a provider of software used by desktop PCs and other client devices to access and manage data over the Web. Sun expects the transaction, worth about $25 million, to close by September.

Tarantella's Secure Global Desktop software is designed to provide secure access to server-based applications running on Linux, Unix, Microsoft Windows, mainframe, and midrange operating systems. Like competitor Citrix Systems, Tarantella's business revolves around providing thin-client devices with access to enterprise applications and information residing on back-end servers.

Although Tarantella's market presence has been on the decline, Secure Global Desktop is used by companies that espouse the server-based computing model that Sun has promoted to, in part, compete with competitors Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM, all of which relied on a PC business at one time and were heavily indebted to Microsoft for their desktop operating systems.

With Tarantella's technology, applications aren't stored or run locally on a PC. Users access their applications through a Web browser by authenticating themselves to a server running Tarantella's software. Once they're authenticated, users access their applications through an HTML-based desktop which allows them access only to the apps they have permission to use.

Now that Sun has access to the source code for Tarantella's software, the company will sell the thin-client technology both as a standalone product and as an integrated part of its Solaris platform, Sun executive VP John Loiacono said at a Tuesday press conference. "Having it fully integrated with Solaris makes it that much more functional," he added. "Because we can integrate with Solaris, we can use those management tools."

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