Sun: Channel Generated More Than Half Of Fiscal 2004 Sales

The Mountain View, Calif.-based vendor said 54 percent of its overall revenue came through the channel during fiscal year 2004, which ended June 30. In the previous fiscal year, 47 percent of Sun's total sales came through resellers, according to the company.

Sun executives attributed some of the indirect sales gain to the success of the vendor's iForce partner program, the Putting Partners First (PPF) framework and the Sun Partner Connect ISV program. They also pointed to the buzz preceding the November arrival of Sun's Solaris 10 operating system.

"Sun's iForce priorities this year were to simplify the engagement process, help partners increase their margins and recognize partner investments in Sun's business," said Greg Stroud, vice president of iForce Partner Sales at Sun, in a statement. "Delivering on these priorities enabled our partners to create and deliver innovative solutions based on Sun technology."

Solution provider Atempo became an iForce member primarily to take advantage of Sun's iForce labs, said John Meaney, vice president and general manager of U.S. and Asia-Pacific operations at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm.

Sponsored post

"Access to the iForce labs is a key benefit [of becoming an iForce partner]," Meaney said. "Solaris and Sun represent a pretty important part of our existing customer base and target customers. We have traditionally sold into demanding Unix shops, both department-level and larger enterprise, and iForce enables us, as a small company, to leverage Sun's vast resources in their labs to perform proof-of-concept when we need to."

It's still too soon to tell, though, how much being an iForce partner has improved Atempo's bottom line, Meaney said, adding that the solution provider--an iForce partner for only about a month--is still learning about all of the benefits of the program. "It's still pretty early. I don't doubt the program is a benefit. We just need to get better versed at steering our customers into their labs," he said.

Sun is adding iForce labs for partners, and in fiscal 2004, the vendor opened an iForce Solutions Center for Government in Washington. The lab offers a real-world environment that government and commercial customers can use to solve integration challenges, Sun said.

As part of the iForce program, Sun's PPF framework generated several new efforts during fiscal 2004, such as pricing incentives for partners on Sun Java Enterprise Systems and Sun Java Desktop Systems, an Enterprise Subscription promotion for the Solaris OS, and a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) offering that enables companies to develop their own products around RFID, according to Sun.

The PPF framework also drove the creation of the Solar Edge Elite program, designed to get new and current Sun resellers to take advantage of the interoperability between Sun's AMD Opteron-based products and Windows.

Sun said iForce now has more than 700 members. Still, not all Sun resellers aim to join the program.

Pete Parenti, CTO of Total Sanity Solutions, said the Oak Park, Ill.-based VAR used to sell more Sun products than it does now and, therefore, isn't considering becoming an iForce partner. "We sold a lot of Sun to the financial industry for a while, but Linux has taken that whole ball of wax," Parenti said. "I see a lot more firms doing Linux for Web infrastructure than Sun."

Atempo's Meaney said he also has seen Linux's popularity increase in areas where Sun used to be more dominant, such as a network's outer Web infrastructure. But Atempo commonly runs Linux side-by-side with Solaris in many customer environments, and the solution provider will continue to do so even as Linux increasingly finds its way into the data center, he added.