Sun Microsystems will announce plans next week to overhaul its iForce partner program, through which it works with ISVs, systems integrators and other partners around the world to help them bring Sun-based offerings to market.
Few details were available, except that the program will be rolled out in stages starting with its ISV (independent software vendor) partners. Channel partners, systems integrators and vertical industries will follow at a later date, according to Sun's public relations agency, which declined to elaborate.
The announcement is expected Sept. 7.
Through the program, Sun works with hundreds of partners to help them develop and market products and services that include its products. Equipment makers can embed its software in their hardware, for example, while integrators use Sun products to build complete systems for specific industries or tasks.
Bigger partners include Accenture, Computer Associates International and Oracle, along with hundreds of smaller firms.
The top vendors, including Sun, IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Cisco Systems, are constantly tweaking their partner programs to resolve conflicts between direct and indirect sales, settle compensation issues and make sure customers can find good-quality partners.
"A lot of the management of distribution is common sense," said Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst with Illuminata in New Hampshire. "The problem is getting everyone's interests reasonably well aligned, getting people to play nicely together even though their interests are often not strictly aligned, and getting people to not act as though everything is a pure zero-sum game."