Sun/Intel alliance driving system builder differentiation

As part of its long-term strategic alliance with Intel, Sun Microsystems has announced four new products created in collaboration with the vendor, including a workstation, two servers and a blade.

Since announcing the alliance last January, Greg O’Keefe, market development manager, Intel Americas, says the partnership has been very positive for its channel.

“We’re excited to be able to work with Sun’s channel partners as well as our own now,” O’Keefe said. “We see the working relationship as a new opportunity to not only sell Intel and Sun solutions, but to solve end-customer needs as well.”

Under the alliance, Intel now endorses the Sun Solaris Operating System (OS) as a tier one, open source OS. In addition, Sun has agreed to come up with a family of workstations and servers are based on Intel’s Xeon processors.

Doug Cooper, country manager of Intel Canada, says he hopes Intel’s work with Sun has brought about a range of options for system builders that build whitebox servers.

“This gives system builders opportunities to optimize on the products and to differentiate themselves in the market place,” Cooper said. “In general, servers have always been a strong proponent in the market in terms of opportunities. Wherever there are new options, there will be opportunities for the channel to go after markets that they may not have participated in before.”

Mike Morrison, x64 business development manager, Sun Microsystems of Canada, says Sun and Intel have since focused their efforts on addressing some of the business challenges that customers face, such as requests for more performance, better systems management, or system design.

“Intel has done a lot with the processor design to reduce power consumption,” Morrison said. “Sun has taken that a step further with our system design so now users use up to 30 per cent less power and they get better efficiency, combined with better performance all while using a smaller processor.”

It’s a message of doing more with less that Sun wants to convey to its channel partners, who Morrison says play an important role in Sun’s go-to-market strategy.

“We’re really focused on our partners driving the market for us because we don’t do a lot of direct sales,” Morrison said. “They’re really an extension of our sales force so they are a key play for us in our strategy.”

Currently, Morrison says Sun has 72 partners spread throughout the country, and is always looking for more. However, he says Sun’s partner recruitment strategy is very strategic in its approach.

“We don’t just want to sign up any partner because that promotes partners competing against themselves,” he said. “We want to grow our share and our products with partners who are highly focused, extremely competent and differentiated either by their location or by the solution that they offer.”

In addition to benefits such as minimum 10 per cent margins plus rebates, Morrison says partners are also able to test Sun products through the company’s Try and Buy program.

“I encourage partners to utilize this program so they can test without spending any money and can ultimately make money on the sale and have money in their pockets,” Morrison said.

The products Sun announced are available now and can be tested through the Try and Buy program. They include the Sun Ultra 24 Workstation, Sun Fire x4450 server, Sun Fire x4150 server and the Sun Blade x6250.

The Sun Ultra 24 Workstation is Sun’s first quad core, single-socket workstation with an Intel processor and is certified to run the Solaris OS, Windows, RedHat and SuSE Linux. Morrison says because the workstation has 8GB of memory, it is ideal for high performance computing.

The Sun Blade x6250, which Morrison says is Sun’s latest and greatest blade, is supported by Intel’s quad-core Xeon processor and offers users high performance. And the Sun x4150 is a rack mounted server that offers users performance, expandability and manageability and is a 1U, dual-socket rack system. For those who work with databases, the Sun Fire x4450 is available as a 2U rack, four-socket system.

Carlo Vanini is a member of the sales team at Markham, Ont.-based Parameter Driven Solutions, which has been a Sun elite reseller partner for 11 years. He says the new products coming from Sun are making it even easier for resellers to sell to customers.

“From a customer perspective, it’s all about choice,” Vanini said. “Customers now have a choice on which OS they want to use and the choice of which processor they want. Customers can now buy a Sun box and know that it will work on what they have running now, so there’s little to no problem in transitioning.”

Up next for Sun and Intel, Morrison says, are new blade products and rack servers to be available within the next two to three months, in addition to new enhancements to the Solaris 10 OS. O’Keefe adds improvements to the Solaris OS will include enhancements to Intel’s virtualization technology in addition to demand based switches.

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Maxine Cheung
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