Sun is licensing Zeus Technology's software so it can offer application delivery controllers (ADCs) to the telco and service provider market. Sun will sell both Sparc and Opteron-based appliances that run Zeus's ZXTM traffic management system on Solaris 10.

ADCs are used in the datacentre, typically in front of webservers, to improve the performance of web and IP-based applications via services such as TCP optimisation, compression and load balancing.

As well as its application traffic management features, ZXTM also includes traffic scripting tools, said Zeus VP of engineering David Day. He said these are particularly useful for service providers, as they can write scripts to prioritise and route traffic according to that client's SLA, for instance, or according to what servers are available.

He added that ZXTM can take advantage of multiple processor cores and blade servers. It can run as a virtual machine or on clusters as well. He claimed the Sun deal will allow Sun to deliver more powerful and scalable ADCs than Zeus can currently provide - as well as offering software to download, it sells ZXTM packaged as an appliance on a standard x86 server.

"ZXTM runs off the shelf on Sun hardware," he noted. "We support Linux, FreeBSD and Unix as well, but we were one of the first to support Solaris 10 when it came out."

The deal is a important win for Zeus, said Paul Brennan, the software company's CEO. "It is an incredible endorsement from Sun for our technology," he said.

The telco market is a big one for Sun - it has blade servers designed specifically for this market, plus a carrier-grade version of Solaris - but it didn't have its own ADC offering before. It will now add ZXTM to its price-book, said Brennan.

He admitted though that the server supplier didn't have a huge choice: "Sun was very keen to get into the ADC market, and we were the only one running on Solaris," he said.