StorageTek VARs Irked Over Sun's Distribution Changes

Sun also said that Avnet Partner Solutions can continue to sell StorageTek. However, since Sun has a sole distribution model, legacy StorageTek partners who buy from Avnet are concerned that VARs selling both Sun and StorageTek will have to buy their equipment from either MOCA or Access Distribution once the Sun-StorageTek integration is complete.

Jeff Barteld, director of U.S. channel sales at Sun, said any notion of solution providers having to consolidate Sun and StorageTek purchases through one distributor is speculation for now. “[But] we will be revisiting our distribution strategy on an ongoing basis,” he said.

But several StorageTek solution providers said they have been told to choose one distributor and expressed displeasure about having to change relationships.

“We buy StorageTek from Avnet because MOCA doesn&'t know StorageTek. They do high-end servers,” said Mark Graham, general manager of Network Storage, an Indianapolis-based solution provider. “I give Sun credit for sticking it out there and saying it&'s black and white, but they&'re making a mistake if they don&'t consider where people buy from. There are more reasons to do business with a distributor than that they carry a product line. It&'s not easy for a business to switch distributors.”

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Another solution provider who buys Sun from MOCA and StorageTek from Avnet said Sun&'s actions are a big disservice to the channel. “Sun has a known entity in Avnet,” said the solution provider, who did not want to be named. “The storage group there grew from $100 million to $500 million in five years. MOCA, to this point in time, has not established itself as a storage distributor.”

Rich Severa, president of MOCA, acknowledged the solution providers&' concerns but said MOCA&'s legacy as an enterprise-class distributor should cause no disruptions in service.

“Anytime there is an abrupt change about distributors, it can have an unintended fallout,” Severa said. “But distributors are in the business of adding product lines, and MOCA is no different. We have dedicated resources from inside sales and our engineering group, and we are adding more resources around all of Sun&'s products.”

Access Distribution already carries StorageTek but also plans to help additional StorageTek partners transition their business, said Mike Hurst, vice president of the Sun business group at the Westminster, Colo.-based distributor.

“We&'re refocusing internal sales and marketing resources to drive programs in what we see as a big opportunity in storage growth. We obviously want to reach out to StorageTek partners today and help through the integration,” Hurst said.

Executives from Avnet could not be reached for comment, and Bell Microproducts declined to comment.