Sun Microsystems has acquired middleware vendor SeeBeyond for US$387 million in cash, a move its hopes will strengthen its ability to serve health-care customers, among others. SeeBeyond helps organise and deploy software in large enterprises with mixed systems. The transaction was announced last week and follows the US$4.1 billion acquisition of Storage Technology Corp, a maker of tape drives and network management and backup software for businesses and government agencies. 'We have thousands and thousands of applications we can integrate. We can make a mainframe into a Java machine,' SeeBeyond chief executive James Dem said. Sun's influence and size would help SeeBeyond's technology reach a greater number of users, he said, particularly in the health-care industry, a major focus for Sun. Sun's chief executive Scott McNealy said: 'If there is an industry worse off than the tech industry, it is health care. There are 90,000 deaths that could be avoided in this country alone every year; US$300 billion is spent with no benefit, just like OS upgrades.' Fabiane Nardon, chief technology officer of the Brazil National Health System, said a Java-based system had just been implemented in the country, helping to improve health care delivery. 'Patients used to wait as long as three months for a consultation, now they get it immediately. One of the reasons we used Java is that the Brazilian government insisted that all systems we create must be open. We wrote 2.5 million lines of code and it is now in the open source.' The technology is also helping the needy in other ways. In Bangalore, Java programmers wrote a mobile-phone application that matches fruit and vegetable farmers with buyers. Sun chief researcher John Gage said: 'If they can change the way things are bought in a poor country, imagine what you could do to change your world?' Mr McNealy said the benefits of Java could be extended to education. 'I don't know if you have bought a third-grade textbook recently, but they cost over US$100. They are gratuitously changed every few years even though nothing has changed since Newton got hit on the head with an apple.' Sun has started an initiative called the Global Educational Learning Community, which is part of Java.net.