Sun partner initiatives emerge from design room

New management system and partner specialities planned to help build channel skills

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By  Julian Pletts Published  March 19, 2009

Sun Microsystems has been busy re-designing and composing significant aspects of the way that it interacts with its channel, which will define a huge proportion of the work it does with resellers in the future.

The vendor is planning to roll out what it calls its Integrated Business Information Solutions (IBIS), an ERP-style system that is both internally operated at the vendor and also intended for use by all of its channel partners.

Sun will soon be announcing that it has added ‘Specialities’ which is another level to its Sun Partner Advantage (SPA) Programme. According to Sun, the SPA Programme Specialities is a variation on the SPA scheme for resellers that it hopes will build on the product-set knowledge and skills that its partners already have.

“Nowhere did we address the need of these partners to have complementary knowledge and expertise in areas like identity management and open storage or Sun Rays and desktop solutions,” admitted Bruno Haubertin, PASO manager MENA at Sun, the person who will be overseeing the implementation of the new partner initiative in the Middle East.

“That is why we have created the Sun Partner Advantage Specialities, which is going to be rolled-out in the next one or two quarters and we will focus on either existing or new partners that want to become Sun experts in several fields,” added Haubertin.

There are nine SPA Specialities that partners can look to take advantage of to differentiate their business and offering. These are in either software, such as identity management, or in specific hardware categories such as Sun’s range of open storage products.

“The Speciality partners will have to go through quite an extensive set of training in the area that they want to focus and at the end of this training they will have to prove to Sun that they have used the training to carry out one, two or three successful installations which will be audited,” explained Haubertin. “It is quite a serious curriculum and when they pass this we will give them stamped access to our tools and our intellectual properties. For instance, with identity management, we have tools like fast delivery or fast implementation of software in specific configurations.”

The vendor is adamant that although it is likely Specialities will best apply to its existing SPA certified channel because they will be familiar with the vendor’s product set, the extension to the programme is readily available to new Sun partners.

“You can become a Sun Speciality resellers without being a SPA reseller, for example that means we can look outside of our existing channel, pick a partner or company that we feel is probably the best software expert around to implement a software integration, and then just do this training track with them. Then by becoming a Speciality partner they will have to sign the same set of contractual documents with us as the SPA resellers. They will be only entitled to sell the hardware, the basic open access hardware that goes around the Speciality,” said Haubertin.

Meanwhile regarding IBIS, Haubertin reveals that new ERP system that partners will have access to, will be initiated in the Middle East in April.

“The roll-out of IBIS is one of the largest that we have ever done, everything is completely revamped,” said Haubertin. “We are starting to train our partners on IBIS next week in Dubai and then there will also be five or six sets of training in Saudi as well.”

Haubertin suggests that the new system will greatly benefit Sun’s partners by accelerating the follow-up of orders online, offering better configuration tools and in general simplifying partner interaction with Sun. He also claims that there will be no significant investment required on the side of the partners towards the IBIS system and that Sun has shouldered the cost which apparently is in “tens of millions of dollars”.

“Today, the partners will not have to carry any cost,” asserted Haubertin. “For the partners all this costs are covered by Sun and we are going to be starting the training across the board next week, so all of the partners have been asked to come and train at least one or two personnel. I think it is going to be a major improvement to our tools.”

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