DENVER, COLO. – As Sun Microsystems moves to align its global partner organization, within Sun Canada the vendor has taken several steps recently to improve value for its channel partners, including moving more incentives to the front-end and launching deal registration in the Canadian market.
Sun Canada held a townhall meeting with its Canadian partners that were in attendance at Compass, distributor Avnet Technology Solutions’ conference for its Sun partners. John Cammalleri, vice-president of channels and alliances with Sun Canada, said while it’s not an area he’s able to talk about, the pending acquisition of Oracle by Sun was certainly one topic partners raised.
“There are some questions partners need to get answers to that aren’t coming as quickly as they’d like, but generally they’re excited about what’s coming in that area, and they see the potential of the company going forward,” said Cammalleri.
Besides Oracle however, Cammalleri said he had a good discussion with the partners around Sun’s partner programs, their competitively with other vendors, how Sun is doing around transactional margins and profitability, and where they need to improve.
As part of the global alignment on Sun’s partner program launched in April, Sun Canada has aligned with North America. Cammalleri said this allows Sun Canada to take leverage marketing collateral, backend processes and reporting more efficiently than developing it internally. There’s still room for regionalization where appropriate though, he added.
In February, Sun Canada revamped its incentives program to encourage partners to go deeper with current customers as well as drive new business development. The program has been recently rebranded as the New Business Incentive Program with changes in two areas: recognizing front-end investment by the field sales rep with greater gross margin, and helping business owners protect margin on the backend to invest in skills and training.
“The reason it’s critical to address both (front and back end) is both play a very important role to Sun,” said Cammalleri. “You want to drive behavior at the sales engagement level, and you want to drive different behavior on the backend, with the company principals. There’s a finite amount of dollars available, you want to get the mix right.”
Sun has also brought deal registration to Canada, something partners have been calling for and that Cammalleri said has been well received.
The program includes three different levels and each are tied to rebate levels, which increase with the level of partner engagement, investment and complexity.
“Its not a first come, first serve program. We want to reward partners for the right kind of behaivour; just uncovering an opportunity doesn’t qualify as value-add,” said Cammalleri. “It’s a big commitment from the Sun partner sales organization to evaluate these opportunities.”
From a market health perspective, Cammalleri said Sun had a decent fiscal 2009: two quarters up, two quarters down. Margin was healthy in Canada, but Q4 was a particularly bad quarter Sun is happy to have seen the last of.
“The future is hard to tell. Q1 is looking strong, we’re well above our quarterly linearity with a healthy pipeline and good partner engagement,” said Cammalleri. “All signs so far are very encouraging.”