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Sun Pushes Partners Into Two-Year Deals

Sun Microsystems' iForce is gone, but not its channel program. Under the new moniker Sun Partner Advantage Program, the IT powerhouse is looking to the channel to help it enter new markets with new products.

"It was decided that it was time to look at all the partner programs worldwide and develop an new umbrella branding that could be used to promote Sun's value-added partners and their unique capabilities," says Mike Walsh, director of U.S. partner communication at Sun.

But there's a catch. Partners no longer have the option of annual renewals. Beginning this month, half of Sun's partner community must renew with two-year agreements with one of Sun's two master distributors, GE Access and MOCA. The other half will enter the expanded contracts this time next year. The change is designed to minimize the distraction of continually being pitched by distributor salespeople to change suppliers.

"This removes all of that activity that went on all the time and allows us to focus on growth," explains Bill Cate, director of Sun's U.S. partner program office.

It also removes an annual opportunity for resellers to wheedle a little margin out of competing distributors, but VARs seem content with the change.

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