Mid-day approaches for Sun as partners gather

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Sun is shoring up its reseller ramparts to take on the mid-market, aiming to sign 100 volume system partners by Christmas and building a dedicated sales team for that sector.

Sun is shoring up its reseller ramparts to take on the mid-market, aiming to sign 100 volume system partners by Christmas and building a dedicated sales team for that sector.

Paul O'Connor, director of partner sales at Sun, said the vendor had signed nearly 20 volume system partners and would add 30 more by the end of June. A total 100 would be signed by Christmas 2004, he said.

He said the ramp-up specifically targeted the mid-market. Sun had not been strong in that sector but believed it could take five to 10 percent market share, worth an estimated $50 million, in the next two years.

'It's a big push. For Sun globally, it's at least a billion-dollar market but we've got to organise around it,' O'Connor said. 'We want to be a five to 10 percent market share player in segments where we have currently got almost no presence.'

Sun was also deploying its first mid-market-specific sales team to support those new partners - taking on three sales staff in Sydney, two in Melbourne, one in South Australia, one in Queensland, one in Western Australia and one in the ACT, O'Connor said.

'Their focus is driving our business into the mid-market but that will be 100 percent channel-based,' he said.

Skills-training - as well as product training - would also be rolled out to partners as well as Sun's own staff, he added.

O'Connor said it was difficult to say how much money Sun had earmarked for its volume system partner push into the mid-market, as portions would come from different areas. However, the total amount budgeted was 'substantial', he said.

He said Sun saw its volume system partners as building software and services portfolios around server, software and storage products such as Sun's x86 product range and the Java desktop system.

It was easier for mid-market companies to take advantage of such new offerings than large corporates that might need to rip and replace large amounts of IT infrastructure, he said, but resellers were needed to help them take advantage of those possibilities.

'Traditionally, we have been strong in the scale-up kind of environment with big servers and big corporate applications, but we are now providing strong "scale-out" solutions as well,' O'Connor said.

He said Sun's main advantage over other vendors was its ability to offer Windows, Linux and Solaris-based offerings. Many vendors could offer Linux, but had to forward support queries to Linux software vendors such as Red Hat or SuSE although many end-users preferred to minimise the number of suppliers they were forced to deal with, O'Connor pointed out.

'Our aim is to provide our customers with choices,' he said. 'This isn't about doing a feature/function slug-fest against Microsoft Office.'

Sun and Microsoft recently made a 10-year pact to promote interoperability between their respective Solaris and Windows operating systems.

O'Connor also said the two vendors were working towards improving the interoperability of web services development platforms .NET and J2EE.

All volume systems partners would be iForce partners - a program which mainly splits resellers into workgroup, enterprise and data centre segments -- and as such get the same benefits as those on that program. They would also get access to the same pricing structure, O'Connor said.

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