Sun Microsystems is strengthening ties to its top 10 industry partners in a new program being presented to customers Wednesday at a Las Vegas conference.
The Sun StorageTek Ready program includes makers of networking equipment, software, disk drives and other technology that works with Sun storage technology. Although most of the partners have long been working with Sun, the company has enhanced the partnership ties with these 10 firms for the benefit of end users, said Gastao de Figuredo, director of market development and new business ventures at Sun StorageTek, a group within Sun Microsystems.
Technology provided by the partners has been tested and certified for interoperability with Sun's storage platforms, sales teams will offer each other's solutions and both Sun and the partners will provide after-sale support to customers.
The 10 partners are: BakBone Software; Brocade Communications Systems; Dot Hill Systems; EMC; Hewlett-Packard (HP); Hitachi Data Systems; LSI Logic; McData; Oracle; and Symantec.
"We are choosing among the several storage technology partners we are currently working with that are closely related to us, are industry leading and which have a meaningful track record of engagement and solutions with Sun," de Figuredo said.
Although Sun works with 64 storage-related partners in its Sun Partner Advantage program, the 10 companies in the StorageTek Ready program are ones whose technology is most often requested by enterprises investing in a Sun storage platform, he said.
While Sun sales people will resell certain partner products to end users, they can also offer additional partner products they hadn't offered before.
"There are other [partner] products that do not appear in the Sun price list because we couldn't resell them or OEM them. Yet, those products are compatible with Sun infrastructure, too," de Figuredo said. "This will now enable those companies to go to end-user customers and say, 'You can get all this stuff from Sun but you can also get this other stuff.'"
The list includes Sun's storage competitors HP and EMC, he acknowledges, but Sun partners with those hardware makers on providing HP or EMC software to run on a Sun StorageTek platform.
To be sure, many technology companies depend on partnership programs to sell to enterprise customers. IBM has its IBM Partnership Program, HP has its PartnerONE program and EMC has EMC Select.
Consultant Judith Hurwitz, president and chief executive officer of Hurwitz and Associates, wrote about the value of the right "partnering ecosystem" in a white paper published earlier this year that featured IBM's partner program.
"A business partner ecosystem should focus on improving the technology and services provided to customers in vertical industries. This helps partners to gain traction in specific industries," Hurwitz wrote.
A small software maker, for instance, may have trouble selling into a particular industry because customers may doubt it will have the resources to serve them, even if their software effectively addresses a particular pain point, she wrote. But as a partner with a larger firm, the customer's investment is better protected.
Sun's enhanced partnership program will be discussed at SunForum 2006 scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday.