Sun wins $500M USPS deal

The U.S. Postal Service recently awarded its largest single contract ever for Unix equipment to Sun Microsystems Inc. in a deal that could be worth as much as $500 million.

Under the nine-year Scaleable Midrange Computer contract, Sun will provide its full range of Unix servers and associated software to USPS facilities nationwide. The contract will help USPS beef up its infrastructure by offering reliable and scalable servers that can handle many users at once, said John Unekis, information technology planner at USPS. "This will help us better address the needs of our customers and bring [about] a faster and more efficient Postal Service," he said.

The new Unix equipment, which will plug into the middle tier of the information systems infrastructure, will tie into other programs already under way, such as the Point-of-Service One contract, which will upgrade retail terminals and services at post offices nationwide, and the Managed Network Services contract, which will create a telecommunications infrastructure to link these terminals.

The Unix servers at first will be used as high-performance database servers for business-critical applications, but they also will support new applications and possibly replace aging equipment. Any future services offered via the World Wide Web would be heavily dependent on these servers, according to USPS.

"The Postal Service intends to use these servers as database servers, application servers, file servers [and] security servers, and they must be scalable and flexible to be used in a variety of computing roles," said John Leahy, group manager for government relations and public affairs at Sun Microsystems Federal Inc.

The contract includes the Sun Enterprise server family, the Solaris operating system, an Oracle Corp. relational database management system and Java application development tools as well as training, installation and maintenance.

"Unix is very much alive," Leahy said. "There has been a lot of attention on the desktop, but once you get on the other side of the desktop, you get into enterprise computing.... You will find Unix playing an important role in companies and governments around the world."

Other partners on Sun's team include SunService, SunSoft and Amdahl Corp., which will provide support services.

The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract is for five years with a four-year option. Other bidders included IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Digital Equipment Corp.

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