Sun To GE Access VARs: Storage Elite Program Doing Well


New programs to help Sun Microsystems' elite solution providers sell more storage are coming, Sun executives said at the GE Access New Frontiers Conference, held here this week.

Sun currently has about 35 partners in the United States in its Storage Elite program, which gives extra support to partners that make storage at least 25 percent of their Sun revenue on a monthly basis, said Mark Canepa, executive vice president of Network Storage at the vendor. Another 10 or so are engaged in the certification process, he said.

Canepa on Wednesday unveiled Sun's Surveyor program, under which one free license to the vendor's storage resource management application will be available to a Storage Elite partner each year. That license, worth about $15,000, can be used by the partner with as many customers as needed for demonstration purposes, as long as it is not used at multiple customer sites at the same time, Canepa said.

"This lets the partner lead with storage resource management as a consultative tool in helping customers determine storage capacity," said Steve Stewart, group manager for worldwide partner marketing at Sun.

Surveyor was quietly launched 45 days ago, said Stewart.

Because some solution providers were buying the license for demonstration purposes, it was difficult to convince everyone it should be offered free of charge, Stewart said. "We labored for a while to get this out," he said. "Internally, some execs were resistant to giving it away for free."

Over the next six months, Sun also plans to expand its professional services offerings to its Storage Elite partners, said Stewart. The company is currently in negotiations with Sun's professional services organizations about which storage services should be offered to the partners, he said.

Canepa said the Storage Elite program has proven successful. Solution providers in the program have seen storage revenue on a monthly basis rise 111 percent in the past three months compared with before the program started.

However, he admitted that the program is still small, targeting only a small portion of the company's total solution provider population of about 600 companies.

"In theory, we have a potential of 600 Storage Elite partners," he said. "The reality: Only a fraction are in the program. Only the largest partners can benefit from the program. . . . But we're not limiting it only to the very few. Anyone with the competency and . . . willing to make storage 25 percent or more of their business, we are willing to work with them."