Sun dawns on new channel strategy

Sun dawns on new channel strategy

The past 12 months have not been Sun Microsystems's brightest in the channel. A rash of conflicts and growing frustration amongst its partners has forced Sun to re-evaluate its entire indirect model.

The result is a total overhaul of its channel program for Australian iForce partners that Paul O'Connor, director of partner sales Sun Microsystems, says will reduce the number of contracts partners hold with various divisions within Sun and level the playing field for its regional and smaller partners.

The new System Provider Program to take effect September 1 is designed to reward partners based on the value they provide rather than the volume of sales claims O'Connor.

Under the new strategy Sun will replace its former Silver, Platinum and Gold volume-based partner categories with Workgroup, Enterprise and Datacentre accreditations. These accreditations will relate to the product sets sold by partners. Existing accredited partners will automatically transfer into the Enterprise level and have an additional six months to gain accreditation relevant to the new classifications.

Sun has also introduced a new system of rebates and discounts to increase margin for resellers that sell a range of technologies and bring in new business.

"We have consolidated several go-to-market models throughout Sun into one structure to remove duplication and unnecessary administration. Typically Sun partners had between three and five contracts with different divisions of the company. Under the new system, they have one. It's all about making Sun so easy to deal with so that partners prefer to build solutions on Sun platforms," said O'Connor. "But more importantly we have come up with a program that classifies partners based on their skill sets and the value delivered to the customer, rather than the size of a partner's business."

The effect of this will be a boost for smaller and regional partners that do not have the buying power of their larger counterparts. O'Connor said the larger partners Sun has consulted with in the development of this program do not view this as a disadvantage.

Instead Sun will now implement a system to ensure registered business opportunities be protected from other partners and Sun's own direct sales force. This includes a new remuneration process for Sun's direct sales staff that sees staff receive increased commission and revenue targets if the business is fulfilled by the channel.

Last year Sun recorded 48 per cent of its revenues went through the channel. This year that figure jumped to 52 per cent but O'Connor said the company has committed to generating 70 per cent of its revenues through the channel in two years.

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