Sun Microsystems' disparate channel structure in Europe threatens to cause IBM a headache when Big Blue ships Start Now for e-commerce connectivity for the Solaris platform this year.
Start Now, a channel-only initiative, is being launched in Europe for Microsoft NT, IBM AIX and Sun Solaris, following completion of a US pilot that promised customers an e-commerce system within 30 days.
In the Americas, IBM will work with Sun distributor Access Graphics, but will face an uphill struggle to find a partner in Europe because there is no Sun distributor with pan-European coverage.
Sun is understood to be looking to changing its European channel structure, but the plans are not expected be finalised until the end of the year.
Richard Sullivan, vice president of integrated systems marketing at IBM, said: 'That's why it's going to be difficult in Europe.'
But Start Now has also brought the scruples of the IBM integration partners into question. One US consultant told PC Dealer the price did not buy integration between the e-business front end and back-end applications such as ERP, supply chain management and customer management systems.
'Some Vars are only interested in the fast sale,' he warned.
IBM countered by arguing that partners would be ignorant to turn their backs on the additional revenues integration could bring. Ian Bonner, vice president of software partner marketing at IBM, said: 'Start Now e-commerce is just the starting point. The revenue of the base product is just a minute part of the total revenues from this.'
He added resellers that did not look for extra revenue opportunities were cutting their own throats. 'Resellers need to sell 10 times more to get the same revenue as 10 years ago,' Bonner said.
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