Avnet To Team SAS With VARs

SAS business intelligence

Avnet won't take title to the software but will play matchmaker between its Hewlett-Packard VARs and Cary, N.C.-based SAS. The Tempe, Ariz., distributor hopes its solution providers will buy additional hardware as part of SAS solutions and will help them market and sell SAS Enterprise BI Server software in conjunction with HP server and storage products.

In addition, Avnet is offering third-party database management and analytics software plus education, sales, marketing, implementation and financing services, said Rick Alvarez, vice president and general manager of the HP business unit at Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas.

"Avnet HP VARs grew revenue with HP year over year by 18 percent, which is fabulous. That's greater than double the growth of the enterprise channel partner channel," Alvarez said. "Initiatives like we're [talking] about here today enable them to build upon their solution base and have more value propositions to end customers."

Avnet plans to announce the agreement this week in Phoenix at Acceleration '06, its annual HP business partner conference. The partnership brings SAS into the distributor's HP ISV alliance, which teams ISVs and VARs to market software with corresponding HP hardware. Other ISV alliance participants include Informatica Software, QAD, MicroStrategy and Hyperion Solutions.

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"SAS normally has worked through their direct channel, and now through this program they're working more in the midmarket using our resellers," said Robert Oleander, director of ISV alliances at Avnet.

For its part, SAS now has 42 channel partners and wants to expand into new markets through more channel relationships, said Miles Mahoney, vice president of the SAS Strategic Alliances and Channels division. To bring its enterprise BI products downmarket, SAS offers the software on a per-user basis.

"We as a company understand the growth in BI and are looking at the SMB market. It is just a huge opportunity, and we typically have not played in that market in the past," Mahoney said. "We now have the breadth of offerings -- BI, data, storage and analytics -- that customers in that market are asking for. They're getting bits and pieces of it from different vendors, and as that market has matured, this has really become an ideal time for SAS to take that breadth of offerings and enter the market."

So far, three Avnet HP resellers have signed up with SAS, and another seven solution providers are evaluating the program, according to Mahoney. SAS hopes to have about 50 by the end of this year and 100 to 150 by the end of 2007, he said.

Mahoney added that he expects the channel to contribute 10 percent to 15 percent of SAS' license renewal revenue in the next three to five years. "We're really focused on key VARs who understand and have sold into the BI market space and having partners that have really started to invest heavily in training as we look forward to 2007," he said. "It's going to be really, really important that our partners begin to build that competency around SAS."

Though Avnet is SAS' first distribution partner, Mahoney said the deal isn't exclusive and that the software vendor is open to evaluating other distribution partnerships.

"I would think the most logical one maybe would be with Arrow Electronics. We're not in discussions yet. We're trying to take it one step at a time," he said. "It's an area we are going to pursue very aggressively as we look into near-term goals. The distribution strategy within our overall VAR strategy is going to become a key part of our success. This is the first step that we're going to take."