Sun strikes training gap

Sun Microsystems has moved to address training deficiencies by unveiling a new certification program for its iForce partners. The vendor has also launched a new commercial sales model, initially in NSW and Victoria, which will see a small in-house telemarketing team generating leads for resellers.

The Web-based training allows resellers to undertake a skills assessment that lets them know what pieces of the puzzle are needed to gain a particular certification.

"We provide skills assessment for each partner and that lets them know what courses they need to take," Sun partner sales director, Michael May, said. "It's a more tailored and realistic approach.

"We have tended not to focus on training or certification in the past and didn't have our partners adequately skilled. I felt we had fallen by the wayside and needed to refresh the training program to create much better engagement with our direct sales force."

The training and certification will initially address three areas: data centre consolidation; storage and data management; and identity management. Additional certifications addressing mobility and desktop, Web services, and manageability practice are also being considered. While the priority was to address a skills gap among current Sun resellers, May said the company would also be looking to add new resellers for a drive into the volume end of the market with its Opteron-based Galaxy servers.

"We need to recruit partners with a profile in the low end of the market," he said. "We now have a much better value proposition in terms of technology and software stack than we have had before."

The new commercial sales model announced by Sun has seen the vendor appoint three telesales staff to generate channel business among existing and prospective customers. If the customer has an existing Sun reseller relationship, May said the work would be handed over to that partner. If not, Sun would select a reseller with the He said the telemarketing team would initially focus on NSW and Victoria, but the vendor hoped to roll out similar initiatives across the rest of the country within the next 12 months.

Sun currently has six resellers it deals with directly and about 145 that are managed by distribution partner, Alstom IT. Its partner business accounts for more than 60 per cent of product revenues in Australia and New Zealand, according to May.

Sun's local financial performance

Following a two- or three-year period of declining revenues and profits, Sun had a better time in the 12 months ending June 30, according to its Australasia managing director, Jim Hassell.

  • Product revenues +5 per cent
  • Product sales +13 per cent
  • Software sales +45 per cent

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