Sun Microsystems is looking to get up to $100 million worth of its latest equipment to its channel partners for demonstration purposes over the current fiscal year, and will pay for it under a new program unveiled on Tuesday.
Bill Cate, Sun's senior director of global channel planning and programs, said the new partner growth fund is targeted at helping solution providers sell Sun's technology.
"Partners tell us that Sun's greatest asset is our technology—Solaris, servers, the whole works," Cate said. "This fund was created to fuel their investment in our technology."
Under the program, Sun will set aside dollars based on sales specifically for use in purchasing demo equipment, including any of Sun's hardware and software products, Cate said. Those dollars will be accrued directly by Sun's global systems integrators and by its Sun Partner Advantage executive-level and principle-level partners.
Associate-level partners' demo dollars will be accrued by their distributors, Cate said. "The distributors will manage the fund for us," he said. "They have to spend it on associate-level partners."
Sun expects to invest a total of $100 million in the partner growth fund over the current fiscal year, which started on July 1, 2007, Cate said. That includes a significant amount that will be used in the first quarter of the fiscal year for demo products while the investment dollars accrue during the quarter.
"This is a kick start from our Systems Business Unit to get the demo systems into partners' hands right away," he said. "This will be for all our newest stuff, including our new Sun Fire 4500 and 4600 servers, and our blade chassis with blades based on Intel, AMD, and SPARC so partners can demo the interoperability between the different blades."
Hope Hayes, president of Alliance Technology Group, a Hanover, Md.-based Sun solution provider, said that a lot of the demo equipment in her company's lab is starting to show its age. "I like the idea of getting new equipment," Hayes said.
Hayes said that the most interesting part of Sun's new demo program is how it treats its channel partners compared to other vendors.
"I don't like to become a customer of my manufacturer," Hayes said. "A lot of time, manufacturers may give you 60 percent off for demo purposes. As a group, we VARs are their biggest clients. The may also gives their other large clients 50 percent off for demo. So they are treating me like a customer. Sun's program is Sun's way of treating us like one of their own."
As long as Sun can implement the new program without impacting other programs, the partner growth found could be the best demo program ever, Hayes said. "As long as they don't bite me somewhere else," she said.
Details of the program, such as the ratio at which demo dollars accrue based on sales, have not been finalized, Cate said.
Sun currently has about 15 executive-level, 60 principle-level, and between 450 and 500 associate-level partners in the US, he said.