Haubertin sets out channel agenda for Sun

Bruno Haubertin, partner and alliances sales organisation (PASO) manager at Sun Microsystems talks through the plan to evolve the regional go-to-market strategy as part of a new channel programme.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  August 29, 2006

|~|brunohau200.jpg|~||~|Bruno Haubertin, partner and alliances sales organisation (PASO) manager at Sun Microsystems talks through the plan to evolve the regional go-to-market strategy as part of a new channel programme.

CME: Sun has added new distributors in recent months. How does this fit with the overall go-to-market strategy?

Bruno Haubertin: What we realised was that there was a need to move our regional distribution model towards a degree of greater specialisation. Sun has spent serious money to expand its portfolio — and I am not just talking about the StorageTek acquisition. There have been other strategic purchases such as Tarantella. We have worked hard to build up the software portfolio and we have also started delivering some very attractive volume products based on AMD Opteron processors. We need to make sure that we push these products out through the channel otherwise these acquisitions are useless.

CME: And did that require a change in the distribution strategy?

BH: Sun now has a full range of attractive industry standard products that represent some of the best kit available today in terms of price-performance. We have to make sure that we market and develop these products properly across the Middle East. Traditionally, most of our partners have focused in Sun’s midrange legacy products and worked in areas such as Solaris.

CME: So how have you evolved the channel to reflect the increasing portfolio that you now offer?

BH: The challenge has been how to maximise product sales through distribution. This meant either developing existing partners, which we are actively doing, or alternatively acquiring new partners to work with. We have signed up additional partners this year such as STME on the storage side and also found distributors capable of working in specific areas. For example, Al Jammaz has come on board as a volume distributor in Saudi Arabia and Aptec has been signed up to develop the volume software channel. We are always looking to develop the existing partner base through ongoing training as well. A new partner like STME, which has a strong background as a StorageTek partner was an obvious move but we are looking for more specialist partners as well. At the same time, we realise that we may need volume product distributors for key markets such as Egypt and Pakistan as well. We could need a software distributor for North Africa too.

CME: STME is an interesting one. Talking to some of your other partners, there is still an element of confusion on whether STME is an integrator or a VAD.

BH: I would call STME an infrastructure systems provider with a strong speciality in storage.

CME: What does that mean?

BH: STME has a standard agreement with Sun today — the same terms and conditions, the same discounts and the same treatment as any other first tier partner. The only benefit that STME has — and this is due to their past investment — is that they are able to provide the high-end storage services requirements because they have invested in this area of the business. Now as I have said to other partners who have raised this issue with me, we would love to have three or four partners capable of doing this in the market — it would be great in terms of competition. Having only one partner in one service area is not always a good thing because it limits customer choice. Sun does not like over-distribution and we have a fairly conservative stance but at the same time we need to find the right balance between reasonable competition and enough distribution.

CME: The new Sun partner programme is now rolling out. Are you confident it will be a success?

BH: The implementation will start in September for the new programme. The ISV track was introduced early because it had become important for Sun to re-engage itself with the ISV community. That part of the programme rolled out beautifully and we now have more than 30 local ISVs signed up in the Middle East. I am confident that the other parts of the programme will also be accepted well by the channel.

CME: Do you see any areas where you can improve the way that you reward partners in the Middle East?

BH: There is an investment plan that has to be agreed with each partner — one size does not fit all. We decide the targets with the partners and then make sure that the investment is there in terms of training, staff and go-to-market initiatives. Sun has been in the past a discount driven company and now we plan to separate that into an up-front discount covering distribution and selling costs and a rebate that will be based on staff training, marketing campaigns and the like.||**||

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