IBM is claiming it is on the verge of signing up Sun's top 10 reseller partners, after it signed a deal with Sun VAR Q Associates last week.
Q Associates is Sun's third-largest reseller in the UK, and Big Blue said it is in negotiations to sign up other Sun partners.
Mark Hughes, channel development manager at IBM, said: "We have been actively targeting Sun's channel for a few months.
"Sun has taken its eye off the ball in the channel and taken feet off the streets, which makes IBM more attractive to the channel."
Andy Griffiths, business development manager at Q Associates, said the time had been right for the reseller to become multi-vendor.
"We have a strong Sun business, which is still growing. While in the past it was appropriate to be Sun-only, the market is changing and Q needs to be far more independent," he said.
Q Associates is now certified to sell the IBM p-series and storage and is aiming for x-series and software accreditations.
"It's important to have multiple revenue streams. Resellers have to have more than just one vendor, otherwise they are not perceived as independent.
"That makes it the right time for IBM to be [targeting Sun VARs], but at the same time it cuts both ways," Griffiths said.
Chris Sarfas, sales manager for partner development at Sun, said the vendor did not see the value in targeting rivals channel partners.
"VARs have to make a decision on what's best for their businesses. We have a mix of VARs and we expect our partners to have other abilities," he said.
Sarfas suggested IBM was tempting partners with marketing funds and rebates.
"IBM could be using cash to buy short-term loyalty. I would question its ability to follow through and keep this up," he said.
But Hughes said: "We aren't offering any incentives besides wanting to make more incremental business with our partners."
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