Sun will open a European data centre in the next few months, the head of the company's services business, Don Grantham, has revealed. The facility will be based in Linlithgow in Scotland. Sun is also considering establishing a similar facility in Asia-Pacific.

The decision follows Sun's acquisition of remote management specialist SevenSpace late last year. Sun now monitors and remotely manages more than 100 customers' data centres from SevenSpace's former data centre.

As for the proposed data centre in Asia-Pacific, Grantham said. "The location is not decided, but we recently consolidated our remote support call centre. We had nine in Asia and now have two - one in Bangalore and the other in Beijing. Those [locations] would be the two prime sites we'd look at." Its development is based on whether the European centre is deemed successful.

Sun's managed and preventative services operations is experiencing very strong growth Grantham said, as the company moves more of its support operations on pro-active rather than reactive monitoring. One of the challenges Sun faces is in retraining support staff to carry out remote systems support rather than the traditional call centre approach, he added.

The ultimate goal is to provide IT as a service via computer grids. "The data centre of the future will be a virtual place, not a physical place," he said. Customers are already embracing the concept, debating along with IT vendors, how and when the industry will move to grids, he said.