Sun has become the second vendor to offer European customers the opportunity to buy software across the Internet. It has extended its Sun Plaza electronic commerce service, established in the US since June, to western Europe. It also hopes to encourage third parties to sell their wares in the Plaza.
The facility is initially available for buying products from Sun Express, the aftermarketing division that sells consumables, networking and storage add-ons and other devices for attachment to Sun workstations and servers. It will provide an electronic catalogue of Sun and third party products with pricing and availability information. Customers can fill an electronic shopping basket with items and pay by credit card, and also check the status of their orders, 24 hours a day.
From January, the software divisions - Sunsoft and Javasoft - will also be participating in Sun Plaza, and will offer downloading services to registered users.
Sun expects all its divisions to be offering goods over the Plaza service by the end of next year, and plans to draw more third parties with complementary products into the site too. Al Aucoin, director of Sun Plaza, said: "We aim to provide customers worldwide with secure access to Internet commerce for all Sun products over time. Additionally we are exploring opportunities to allow other third party companies to take advantage of Sun Plaza."
Sun is only the second vendor - after Stream - to offer a service of this nature. Initially it is available in the UK, Germany, France, Benelux, Switzerland and Sweden. The European site is hosted on Internet servers in Bagshot, UK and purchasing services for Sun Express are available immediately, with prices in local currency.
Gerrold Walker, vice president of Sun Express Europe, said: "Sun Plaza gives customers the tools they need for secure, instant access to the information necessary to make purchasing decisions, conduct transactions and track orders." Sun Plaza is designed to mirror standard business-to-business purchasing procedures - for instance, customers are registered with various levels of purchasing power according to their authorisation limits within their organisation.
For security, the Sun Plaza connection to the Net is protected by the Sun Solstice Firewall and thre is also support for encryption and authentication of data via the Secure Sockets Layer protocol.
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