NRF and Sun Microsystems Join Forces to Deliver Distance Learning Service

January 15, 2002

The NRF Foundation, the research and education arm of the National Retail Federation, announced it has joined with Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) in a first-ever initiative to introduce an open, highly scalable distance learning service for the retail industry. Known as NRF University, this program features the Sun-hosted, Sun LearnTone™ Learning Management System (LMS) integrated with retail training coursework available from the NRF Foundation and other leading content providers. It is designed to provide retailers with an affordable, Web-based solution that facilitates the management of both online and classroom learning, and offers a reliable vehicle for the delivery of high-quality consistent baseline retail training.

“This initiative with Sun represents an unprecedented opportunity for the retail industry to access education options that meet its unique needs,” said NRF Foundation Vice President Kathy Mance. “The benefits of online training — including its flexibility and efficient distribution of coursework — are particularly exciting aspects of distance learning. We believe this effort has the potential to become a foundational model for delivering training to other industries, like retailing, that require creative methods to provide information to their workforce.”

The new NRF and Sun Web-based learning service will act as the backbone of all future distance learning training operations, providing an exceptionally flexible application to help retailers efficiently create and deliver intellectual capital. By providing an easy and consistent training platform, retail businesses can reduce training costs and improve employee productivity by enabling quick and effective education and dissemination of information to staff. In addition, the NRF and Sun distance learning application is built upon a solid foundation of original, top-quality coursework that has been peer-reviewed by the NRF Foundation and a committee of retail training experts. Coursework covers a variety of critical topics, including customer service, product training, manager training, and loss prevention

“Together, we’ve taken the retail industry to a new level, providing easy access to key technologies, solutions, quality content and improved training consistency,” said Bob DeLaney director, Retail Industry Solutions Worldwide, Sun Microsystems. “With this latest development, Sun is a leading full-service education provider to the retail industry. As a trusted advisor to retail businesses, we are dedicated to offering open systems choices and the widest range of options to help retailers implement distance learning in their organizations.”

Based on open standards, the NRF and Sun distance learning service allows content to transfer easily among systems, and scales to support a virtually unlimited number of users in many locations. This flexibility provides retailers with an online learning solution that can eliminate the upfront investment in hardware, software and course assessment. The new distance learning service also enables retailers and suppliers to offer employees new product information in a more timely manner. Rather than incurring the expense of sending employees in disparate locations to classrooms for training en masse, or using difficult-to-manage video training tapes, the NRF and Sun initiative allows much of the training to be delivered over the Internet. In addition, this Web-based solution helps retail businesses better track the educational growth of their employees through closer management of the training process and certifications, helping to increase employee loyalty and retention.

“Retailers will increasingly look to various distance learning solutions to improve their employee training and education programs,” says Jeff Roster, senior analyst, Gartner Dataquest.

Retailers, software, hardware and content companies interested in taking part in the NRF University solution should contact Kathy Mance, NRF Foundation Vice President, at 202-626-8111 or via email at

About the National Retail Federation

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is the world’s largest retail trade association with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution, including department, specialty, discount catalog, Internet and independent stores. NRF members represent an industry that encompasses more than 1.4 million U.S. retail establishments, employs more than 20 million people — about 1 in 5 American workers — and registered 2001 sales of $3.4 trillion. NRF’s international members operate stores in more than 50 nations. In its role as the retail industry’s umbrella group, NRF also represents 32 national and 50 state associations in the U.S. as well as 36 international associations representing retailers abroad. For more information about NRF, visit The NRF Foundation is the education and research arm of the National Retail Federation.

Sun in Retail

Sun’s global retail clients include hard and soft goods specialty businesses, discount and mass merchandisers, department stores, food service, grocery businesses, convenience store businesses, chain drug stores, electronic retailing merchants, catalog and home shopping. Fast-growing retailers are building their technology foundations on Sun Enterprise™ servers and Sun StorEdge™ arrays. Sun offers the scalability to ensure retailers can meet the extreme load demands they experience in seasonal peaks throughout the year. Additionally, with its iForce Initiative, strong relationships, its open infrastructure and best-of-breed iForce solutions, Sun supports the retail enterprise, from store systems to headquarter systems, enabling traditional transaction management, training and corporate communications.

About Sun Educational Services

Sun Educational Services, the training arm of Sun Microsystems, Inc., is recognized as one of the top IT training organizations in the world. Each year over 450,000 students are educated through both technology-based training and at over 400 Sun and authorized training sites located in more than 60 countries. It provides comprehensive learning solutions for enterprises, IT organizations and individuals, including education consulting services, courseware, professional certifications, eLearning and a learning management program. Sun Educational Services offers a complete catalog of instructor-led and technology-based training. Instructor-led courses are also available through training sites around the world, and eLearning courses are delivered through the Sun WebLearning Center virtually 24/7 around the globe. Please check the Sun Educational Services website at for prices and availability.

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision — The Network Is The Computer™ — has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc. to its position as a leading provider of industrial-strength hardware, software and services that power the Internet and allow companies worldwide to take their businesses to the nth. Sun can be found in more than 170 countries and on the World Wide Web at