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Sun Hosts Advisory Summit to Firm Up Life Science Strategy

NEW YORK, Dec 20 – Sun Microsystems’ first Informatics Advisory Council Summit, part of the company’s strategy to gain a stronger foothold in the life science computing market, was a “huge success,” the company said Wednesday.

Loralyn Mears, Sun’s Market Segment Manager for Informatics, said the meeting, held November 29-December 1 in Palo Alto, resulted in “a number of collaborative partnerships” that will be announced in the near future.

Delegates from industry, government, and academia gave presentations at the summit on issues that impact the life science computing community. Mears said that the primary issues discussed were performance, security, reliability, accessibility, and scalability.  

One of the goals of the summit, according to Mears, was gaining first-hand knowledge of the needs of the life sciences community “so we can make the delineation between things that are the responsibility of the community versus those that are the responsibility of the hardware vendor.”

The Informatics Advisory Council complements the Discovery Informatics Partners program that the company initiated in September, although Mears said that council members are not part of the Discovery Informatics program. “We wanted to make sure that there was no bias, that it was a completely objective group whose members could speak openly about the challenges that they face.”

The company next plans to host several interactive webcasts on some of the issues that were identified at the summit in order to gather feedback from the life sciences computing community. While no definite date has been set for the next summit, Mears said it would probably be in October.

Mears said that Sun “continues to invest heavily” in its life sciences initiative, although she declined to estimate the amount invested. “It’s a very significant investment and a huge dedicated effort supporting the life sciences,” she said.

In response to similar initiatives by competitors such as Compaq and IBM, who both recently announced $100 million investments in life science information technology programs, Mears said that Sun wants to “shy away from the marketing aspects” of its effort.

“We’d like to focus on finding out what the community’s needs are and then delivering on those needs,” she said.

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