UK bank strikes a hard bargain for Sun's Linux

A UK bank is planning to roll out Sun's Java Desktop System but the software giant won't be making much money on the deal

Sun Microsystems has admitted that an unnamed UK bank has driven a hard bargain in return for deploying its Java Desktop Systems (JDS) product.

Precise details of the deal aren't yet available, but the bank in question is likely to be named in the next few weeks.

Getting a major financial institution to ditch Microsoft Windows in favour of JDS is something of a coup for Sun, but it may not be a major money-spinner.

"I hope they won't be a template for future customers," said Robin Wilton, Sun's JDS programme manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "Boy, have they put pressure on us for a good price."

The bank in question is using the Java desktop software as the foundation for a customised desktop platform for its staff, which Wilton describes as a "rich banking client".

Ironically, this will involve removing some of the functionality that Sun has included in JDS to compete with the like of Windows, a process Wilton described as "deintegration".

"They want us to rip out the instant messenger client, for example, so they're left with a robust core that needs minimal maintainance."

The JDS rollout will supersede a Windows 3.1 suite which the bank was writing off over a ten to 15 year timeframe -- which is an indication of its thrifty approach to IT.

"If all companies are like this, it really will be earning a fiver the hard way," joked Wilton, in a speech at the Linux User and Developer Expo 2004 in London on Tuesday.

This isn't the first time that Sun has secured a JDS deal that won't yield massive profits. It recently secured a deal with the Chinese government that could see hundreds of millions of PCs running desktop Java, but chief executive Scott McNealy has admitted that this won't be a big money spinner. McNealy told a Sun European user event in Berlin last December that the agreement was a strategic play that stopped Microsoft dominating the lucrative Chinese market.