Updated from 12:49 p.m.

Sun Microsystems

(JAVA)

has snapped up Belgian software specialist

Q-layer

, as the troubled tech firm prepares to immerse itself in cloud technology.

Cloud services, which offer computer power and storage via the Internet, are expected to be one of the 2009's

top technologies

as users struggle with

shrinking tech budgets

.

Sun, which faces stiff competition from

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

and

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

, is also

struggling

with falling sales and an increasingly tough economic climate, resulting in a recent slew of

job cuts

.

In its recent fiscal first-quarter results, Sun posted a $1.7 billion net loss, along with a hefty writedown. During the quarter, Sun's computer-system sales fell 15% year over year, while sales of storage systems grew a scant 0.4%.

Clearly keen to open new revenue streams, Sun has acquired Q-layer for an undisclosed fee, and plans to make the Lochristi, Belgium-based firm part of its cloud computing division.

Q-layer touts its software as a way to simplify cloud computing, enabling users to quickly deploy server and storage applications in the cloud. Founded in 2005, the startup opened its first U.S. office in Mountain View, Calif., last year, and lists virtualization giant

VMware

(VMW) - Get Report

as a partner.

"Q-layer's technology and expertise will enhance Sun's offerings, simplifying cloud management and speeding application deployment," said David Douglas, Sun's senior vice president of cloud computing, in a statement Tuesday.

The deal will not be material to Sun, according to the Santa Clara, Calif.-based tech giant, although Q-layer's technology will feature prominently in the company's future cloud strategy.

Sun already offers cloud-computing solutions for the MYSQL database management system, and Q-layer's software could also form part of Sun's "Project Caroline" research and development effort, a hosting platform aimed at small and medium-sized Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies.

Cloud computing is certainly gaining momentum at the moment.

Even the

Department of Defense

has

thrown its weight behind

cloud technology, which is

championed

by the likes of

EMC

(EMC)

,

Amazon

(AMZN) - Get Report

and

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

.

Sun's rivals Hewlett-Packard and IBM have also been ramping up their cloud efforts, and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

, recently unveiled a cloud-based version of Windows, underlining the technology's growing popularity.

However, cloud computing is not without its challenges, and it was recently cited by Microsoft as one of security professionals' biggest headaches. Outages, such as those suffered by Amazon's S3 offering, also have focused attention on the reliability of cloud services.

Sun is not the only tech firm looking to bolster its cloud story through mergers and acquisitions. Storage giant EMC, for example, bought some parts of software specialist

SourceLabs

for an undisclosed fee.

SourceLabs, which develops technology to support and manage open source software, is also parting company with some of its employees, who will join EMC, according to media reports. A spokesman for the storage firm confirmed that the SourceLabs assets and employees will be integrated into EMC's cloud infrastructure group.

Shares of Sun closed Wednesday's trading session up 12 cents, or 2.4%, to $5.09.