Inside Information: Stavros Vougas

Sun Microsystems is looking to drive its partners towards selling solutions not hardware says Stavros Vougas channel manager Sun Microsystems Middle East & North Africa

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By  Mark Sutton Published  October 1, 2003

|~||~||~|CME: Sun recently held a regional Partner Summit, what was the reason for this?

Stavros Vougas: We took the opportunity to meet in September, as it is the beginning of our fiscal year, so it is a kick-off kind of thing. The underlying reason was to introduce to our partners the idea of solutions selling, which we believe in very strongly. The other thing was to introduce our new certification channel model, which is called SMI; to reinforce our position on the CDP model, we believe that the CDP brings value to the channel, and increase our commitment to solution selling.
The event lasted two days, we had something like 100 participants, from the whole MENA region, we invited key ISVs to speak about their commitment to solution selling through Sun Microsystems—SAP, Oracle, Wipro, Infosys. We think it was a very good success, the message was very well accepted, we held individual meetings with our partners to see how they feel about Sun, their relationship, so overall it was very positive.

CME: How much work is there to do in getting partners thinking about solutions—are many still focused purely on hardware?

Vougas: Traditionally all our resellers were hardware resellers. The idea of moving to solutions was first of all initiated by the fact that we had to address the market, because every company right now is addressing solutions, for the very simple reason that the customers want solutions. If we were to replicate the IBM Global Services model it would take us almost ten years to reach that level of maturity, so our approach is very simple—we are trying to transform our partners, to try to understand what kind of solutions our partners can bring to the market, and alternatively recruit solution sellers that already have specific solutions, that could run on our platforms, tie them together and enable them to put the value proposition to our customers.
We discovered that lots of [partners] were already representing some solutions that we as Sun were not interested in before, so they already had some solution skills and expertise. By doing the [research] we understand what are the growth markets, what is the growth potential, we look at the existing channels to see what are the competencies, where we need to fill new areas, and from that we decide to recruit or partner with an ISV that can address particular needs.

CME: Are you looking for ISVs for any particular sectors, and are you confident of finding them?

Vougas: We have two sets of ISVs, the global ones, the Oracles and SAPs, and the local ones—for instance, Medicom a software company that generates healthcare solutions; we partner with Synergy Log-In; we have partnered with a Kuwaiti company that develops MMS applications for telcos; ITS, who are very well known with proprietary banking and telco applications—this is the type of partners we are looking for.

CME: Do these partners have the expertise to port to Solaris?

Vougas: There are partners that are developing their own proprietary applications or that are customising well known applications that already run on wintel architectures. The effort is to convince them to port their applications to Solaris, and therefore we have the iForce Solutions Centre with Tech Access. One of the main reasons for investing [in the centre] was for this, we provide all these facilities through them, this is the concept of test before you invest. Tech Access has all the technical expertise to make this happen, given that there is a market opportunity behind it. Last year 38% of our channel revenue was handled by Tech Access, that is the value they are putting into the channel, and shows their importance in developing, recruiting and maintaining partners.

CME: Is there much more to do to develop your channel here?

Vougas: The process of recruiting ISVs is a continuous process, it has to do with the opportunities as they arise. In terms of other initiatives we may be looking perhaps to appoint a volume distributor, to attract more partnerships.

CME: This will be a volume distributor to address the low end?

Vougas: It is definitely an area we have to look at especially with the growth of linux. We still believe that because of the competition in this market we cannot just address it with a hardware box, it has to be tied to a specific solution, this is something that does not exist right now in our competitors.||**||

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