SCO resellers entered the murky waters of network computing this week when the Unix vendor unveiled its worldwide Tarantella Solution Provider program.
Launching the program, which already has a Web site (http://tarantella.sco.com) for reseller registration, Dave Ewart, SCO's Tarantella product marketing manager, claimed the technology is integral to the vendor's plans to capture high-end enterprise accounts.
"At the moment we are giving our resellers the challenge of going after the two market segments - finance and telcos - which SCO believes can provide Tarantella with the 'bell cow' reference sites it needs to convince potential customers to have a look at the technology."
However, prospective Australian resellers (including both existing SCO partners and non-SCO resellers) would do well to consider the experiences of one US reseller before committing to a Tarantella sales pitch.
A large US bank looking to implement a Tarantella solution recently approached Technology One to handle the implementation.
But according to the reseller's spokeswoman, even getting to the point of implementing a Tarantella pilot required the company to dedicate an "amazing amount of hand-holding and service to work get the client up to speed".
"There is an incredible amount of project management involved to secure a Tarantella sale," she said.
"Our experience has shown that a typical Tarantella sales cycle could be as long as 3 to 6 months, during which time the reseller needs to keep in weekly and even daily contact with the customer."
Ewart added that Tarantella solutions differ from typical SCO implementations in that they require resellers to integrate complex environments such as SNA gateways, Unix emulations and Web applications.
Tarantella is what SCO calls "application broker" software. It is claimed to offer any client access to applications including Windows, Unix and mainframe 3270 and 5250, without the need to add software to the client.
"This is why we are looking for resellers which have strong networking integration skills and Web development backgrounds," Ewart said.
Back-up support for Australian Tarantella resellers is available from the Tarantella Web site. It includes customer profile information, technical support libraries and sales scripts and support services.
To qualify as a Tarantella Solution provider resellers will need to: assist SCO in joint marketing efforts; identify new accounts; qualify for eight-hour/ five-day front-line support; and provide Tarantella product information for customers on their own Web sites.
Ewart stressed that while Tarantella also resides on UnixWare 7, SCO's operating system: "It only exists there to enhance the network management capabilities of UnixWare.
"Tarantella is a strategic direction SCO has taken to break into the enterprise market. Customers can use the functionality provided in UnixWare, however for true 'application brokering' we suggest that resellers should focus on standalone sales of Tarantella software," Ewart said.
He also alluded to the development of a cut-down version of Tarantella and the option of running Tarantella on SCO OpenServer for those resellers whose customers are predominantly Windows shops and are not running high-end legacy environments.
"We expect that a cut-down version of Tarantella will be made available on UnixWare before the end of the year to allow resellers to customise solutions."