Sun shaping a mid market channel

Sun Microsystems is expected to announce new distribution relationships soon to address the mid-market space.

In the US, Sun has increased the number of products and services it sells through PC distributor Tech Data to meet the needs of the market. Tech Data is already a channel for Sun's Cobalt server appliances, but under the expanded arrangement, the distributor will also sell Sun's LX50, Sun Fire V60x and V65x, V210 and V240 systems as well as a variety of storage and software products.

This relationship will primarily help Sun to sell into companies with 99 to 1000 employees, said the director of Sun's iForce Program Office, Bill Cate.

With its revenues shrinking, Sun is eager to address a market segment that it may not have considered lucrative enough to merit its attention a few years ago, analysts said.

"Everybody's talking about the mid-market these days, because they're seeing more growth there than is in the enterprise," said Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff.

The two companies are also creating two new Sun reseller programs, which will be available to Tech Data's network of 100,000 resellers in the US. "Registered Volume Resellers" will not have to pay fees or pass certification tests, but will be able to sell Sun's Intel servers and storage hardware. "Authorised Volume Reseller" status will be available to certified resellers who want access to Sun's iForce Partner Program. They will have access to a broader range of products, including Sun's V210 and V240 servers.

Sun will have to work hard at providing simpler, more integrated products in order to succeed with mid-market customers, Haff said. "Sun is going to need to have a lot more than just products," he said. "Sun certainly has the capacity to put together mid-market solutions, but it's a fairly long distance from where they've been traditionally," he added.

Sun is not pursuing any other mid-market reseller relationships in the US but plans to announce a number of new mid-market distributor relationships outside the US, Cate said.

Locally, director of partner sales, Paul O’Connor, told ARN earlier this month that the vendor was committing ten additional staff to customer and partner support in the mid-market space.