Sun Expands SPA Program

Sun plans to revamp the requirements and benefits of its SPA parter levels based in part on the company's "Grow America" partner strategy introduced last February, said Bill Cate, director of U.S. partner programs for Sun, Santa Clara, Calif.

SPA provides more incentive funds for partners who invest in training and certification, and lower rebates for those who just fulfill orders, Cate said.

For example, at the highest level, Executive, partners are expected to be certified for all four of the company's Elite programs at minimum annual revenue levels, including a $10 million minimum for Strategic Data Center Elite products, a $5 million minimum in Storage Elite revenue, a $3 million minimum in Services Elite revenue and a $300,000 minimum in Software Elite revenue.

In return, those partners get preferred allocation of go-to-market funds, the highest allocation of training credits and an opportunity to join Sun's national advisory council, and they are assigned Sun partner field coverage and technical advisors, Cate said.

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Sun plans to inform solution providers about their new SPA levels by October based on their competencies and performance, Cate said. The minimum revenue requirements will not be tracked until July 2007 in order to give partners time to prepare for the new SPA program, he said. "We will really provide crisper expectations to our partners," he said.

John Varel, CEO of FusionStorm, a San Francisco-based Sun solution provider, said his company is loyal to Sun but doing business with Sun can be difficult because different parts of the company don't always get the same channel message.

"Marketing funds are a big issue," Varel said. "Also, at the field level, Sun [officials] need to tighten their message and make sure they don't come in and grab a deal. They need to work on the [SPA] program. If that's their message, they need to make sure it goes all the way down to the field."