Despite its significant investments in the Unix platform, Sun Microsystems is actively seeking channel partners that have skills in the burgeoning Linux space.
Of the 75 new channel partners the vendor has signed in Australia in the recently-ended financial year, Sun is making a lot of noise about Remora — a systems provider that has signed on as a Sun Certified “Workgroup partner”.
Remora is a systems provider and application developer that specialises in the Linux platform. Targeting the corporate and Government sectors, the integrator builds systems for the edge of the network (such as Web servers), where Linux has been making most of its gains.
Director of partner sales for Sun Microsystems Australia, Paul O’Connor, said that while most of Sun’s channel partners had some dealings with the Linux platform, Remora stood apart due to its “specific focus” on the open source operating system.
“Our channel program to date has been designed to attract a broad range of partners,” he said. “But we are certainly looking for partners with a specific focus on Linux.”
O’Connor claimed Remora had already won a number of deals using Sun Microsystems technology (servers and SunOne software) since the system developer’s appointment.
Sun did not see Linux as a threat to Unix operating system, Solaris, one of the vendor’s core investments, O’Connor said.
“Our view is that whether it is Linux or Solaris, the buying decision should always be based on what application you need to run rather than looking at price points,” he said. “Sometimes Unix will best suit your needs, sometimes Linux. Either way they are definitely better options than Microsoft.”
A wide range of Sun’s servers now support Linux. Sun’s interest in Linux partly stems from the vendor’s increased commitment to the mid-market space (businesses with under 500 employees).
O’Connor said Sun had invested heavily in mid-market solutions and support, and had internally redeployed an additional 10 staff in Australia to help both channel partners and their customers in this space.
“We are dedicating resources to this area to help customers with the solutions they need and the partners that can satisfy those needs,” he said.
“What we have learnt already is that you cannot take enterprise solutions and just scale them down for the mid-market — there has to be specific focus.
So putting together an entry-level server, with Sun software running on Linux, is ideal for the mid-market.”
O’Connor is confident he has met his commitment to increase the amount of business conducted through Sun’s channel.
In fiscal 2001/02, 48 per cent of the vendor’s recorded sales were made via channel partners and upon his appointment O’Connor promised this figure would reach 70 per cent within two years.
He said that after the first year of this commitment all was going to plan, as he was confident this figure had already hit the 60 per cent mark.