Sun resellers are confident of holding on to their top customers in the face of new owner Oracle’s direct onslaught.
Oracle lived up to the Sun channel’s worst fears in the wake of its $7.4bn (£4.6bn) acquisition of the server vendor by announcing plans to foster direct ties with 4,000 of Sun’s larger 35,000 global customers.
But Alastair Bell, managing director of Sun reseller Bell Microsystems, said end users primed for direct service from Oracle would stick with their reseller if they had a strong enough relationship.
“We are confident that in every single account our value-add is strong enough to maintain that relationship,” he said. “In instances where the reseller provides no value-add, I can see the customer going direct.”
Alastair Kitching, chief operating officer of VAR Esteem, said the fact that UK partners have not yet been given further details of Oracle’s strategy was “frustrating”.
But he added: “We have had a year of fear, uncertainty and doubt in the Sun marketplace, so the fact the transaction has gone through is very positive. Even though there are concerns about the channel model, the actual opportunity is far greater now it is one company.”
Clive Longbottom, analyst at Quocirca, warned that Oracle’s tactics could drive Sun customers into the arms of rival server vendors, such as IBM and HP.
“Oracle coming along and saying ‘talk to us and we will tell you about hardware’ is only going to push a lot of customers into reviewing their position,” he said.
“Resellers know why some customers are cutting back on Sun kit and Oracle should be using their skills.”
Jacqui Davey, vice president of business partners for IBM UK and Ireland, agreed that the deal would create a “discontinuity” in the market.
“IBM remains as committed to our channel as we always have been and would be delighted to talk to any partner about extending their IBM franchise if any holes open up in their portfolio,” she said.
Oracle also announced plans to slash Sun’s server line-up and move it to more of a build-to-order model by the summer.
John Taylor, Sun business unit director at distributor Interface Solutions, said this would play into the hands of distributors with “near-to-zero” inventory, such as Interface.
“The message was that stock will be taken out of the channel and this backs up what people who are working on a value rather than inventory model are doing,” he said.
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