Sun Microsystems has given partner recruitment, training and distribution responsibilities to Express Data in New Zealand. The agreement is similar to the one between Sun and its value-added distributor ITX Group (formerly Alstom IT) in Australia, which Sun says has successfully developed its partner base there.
Sun Microsystems’ Michael May, head of Australasian partner sales, says prior to the arrangement with Express Data, most partners ordered directly from Sun and product was shipped from the US or Australia.
“It wasn’t efficient and we didn’t believe we gave the best support, especially from the perspective of stock availability and timing,” says May.
He says the model being implemented in New Zealand has “put us in much closer touch with the partner community” in Australia. Express Data’s large partner base will give Sun much better regional coverage into its accounts and bring incremental growth by adding new partners, he says.
Sun says the agreement with Express Data covers all key growth product areas, including the Sun Fire x64 server platforms, Sun Fire SPARC-based server platforms, the storage portfolio and Sun Secure Global desktop software.
Sun’s New Zealand partner account manager, Brian Lawrence, will oversee the relationship with Express Data and handle Sun’s 22 directly managed partners. Until 2003, Sun worked with distribution agent Solnet and after this increased its direct links with partners.
May says Sun currently has about 25 to 30 New Zealand partners, and under the new agreement would like to double this number and attract “those who would really engage with our technology”.
He says the most important criteria when Sun tendered for the Zealand Channel Development Partner (Distributor) was coverage, and Express Data national sales manager Paul Plester says his company has about 1,000 partners around the country.
Express Data aims to recruit 50 to 100 new partners, and will also support Sun’s existing channel. It has a business development and technical support team which will focus on Sun’s offerings.
Plester says Express Data partners want to work more closely with Sun.
“We’ve had long-term business relationships with just about all Sun’s partners, and all the large ones for nearly ten years. They’ve expressed a desire to work more closely with Express Data.”
Plester stresses that Express Data is aiming for quality not quantity in recruiting Sun partners. “The traditional Express Data partners are networking and storage specialists already and we believe we can now offer them a viable alternative in product lines. We don’t want people that want to be a ‘me too’ or have a third option.”
Plester says the arrangement allows Express Data to focus on core areas of expertise — including software licensing, thin clients and storage — and opens new markets.
“We see niche relationships around specific applications, such as VoIP developers looking for a server platform.”
He says new product bundles could result from the agreement.