Tech Access joins Sun to build iForce Centre

Sun is to establish an Authorised iForce Ready Centre with its channel development partner, Tech Access to provide customers with access to tailor-made solutions.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  July 1, 2002

|~||~||~|Sun Microsystems is to establish an Authorised iForce Ready Centre with its channel development partner (CDP), Tech Access. Due to open its doors this month, the Dubai Internet City (DIC) based ‘proof of concept’ facility will provide customers with access to a pre-purchase testing ground for tailor-made solutions.

“Until now, there has always been an element of risk in IT infrastructure investment. The iForce initiative changes this because customers will have access to a fully operational end-to-end solution model, built to their specifications, before they invest a single dollar,” explains Denis Heraud, regional manager for Sun Microsystems, Middle East & Africa.

Users of the iForce Centre will have access to more than just Sun solutions and Tech Access’s expertise should they cross the facility’s US$1 million threshold. Martin Molnar, business solution architect at Tech Access, explains that the CDP is already working with a number of partners at the centre to create industry specific solutions.

“With Oracle, for instance, we would be looking to take elements of its application infrastructure and apply them to a specific industry. For example, we would like to see a solution footprint that fits the applications requirements of a bank that is focused on extending its CRM,” he says.

“As a result of working with our partners, we will give [the customer] access to the architecture that drives a particular solution and deliver a ready installed application footprint for a particular vertical,” he adds.

Despite the Sun-centric nature of the centre, potential customers will be able to see how their solutions work with other applications and infrastructures, such as Windows NT.

“Some of the scenarios we will be working on require a degree of interoperability [with other systems]. In terms of the ‘proof of a concept’ strategy we do not want people to think that if it doesn’t run on Sun it will not work in any shape or form. In this instance, we would undertake the engagement in the normal way and then integrate the outstanding component,” explains Molnar.

While the marketing messages from Sun and Tech Access suggest that each visitor to the iForce centre will obtain a customised solution for their particular needs — Heraud calls it “test before they invest” — this is not necessarily the case. The vendors are actually developing core vertical solutions that can be tweaked for each customer.

“We are trying to create certain types of scenarios that we feel customers in the markets that we are targeting are susceptible to… Essentially, customers will get access to a pre-built environment with 80-90% of their functionality under one roof and then we can work to customise the nuances for the architecture that the customer requires,” says Molnar.

The ‘develop once and reuse often’ approach is obviously more cost effective for the vendors. However, Molnar says it also allows the iForce team to focus on both the customers’ business strategy and what they really need to achieve a competitive advantage.

“The intelligence comes upfront and the team can then paint some scenarios that the customers really need to think about. We are then in a position to wrap some application technology around it and build something tangible for them to see,” he says.

Whether or not Sun and Tech Access’s upfront investment in the iForce centre pays off in terms of customer converts remains to be seen. However, Molnar is realistic. “Not everyone is going to bite,” he confesses, “but there will definitely be the fly there to catch the fish.”||**||

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