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Helping Sun hardware VARs take the Oracle leap

Arrow ECS yesterday unveiled a Fast Track program to help Sun hardware VARs move into the Oracle Partner Network (OPN).

This is no easy task, since no one outside of Oracle appears to know what role there will be  for Sun hardware resellers going forward. Or if there will be a role. Oracle will host a web cast on this year’s channel go-to-market plans later this afternoon.

Uncertainties aside, Jeff Yakubik, director of sales for strategic accounts for Arrow’s North American Sun group put the best face on the effort. The goal is to guide current Sun Partner Advantage (SPA) VARs over to OPN in a simple, straightforward way.

But, since OPN is not yet “hardened” there are a lot of unknown variables he said.  Arrow works with a couple hundred SPA members.

One might guess the numbers will get smaller  since Oracle has signaled its intent to take most big Sun accounts direct.  Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said it outright in a January conference call that the top 4,000 Sun accounts would be sold and serviced directly–words that struck fear in the venerable Sun hardware channel that kept Sparc and Solaris alive in many accounts when Sun Microsystems itself faltered.

 More than a half dozen big Sun hardware VARS have told me personally that they will try to keep their Sun-Oracle affiliation intact but will all start pushing alternative hardware from HP, IBM or Dell given Oracle’s aggressive direct-sales stance.

Oracle claims that Sun hardware sales are brisk but even on the love-fest that was the Q4 earnings call last week, one analyst asked what impact Oracle’s “elimination” of the Sun hardware channel would have on hardware sales. Co-President Charles Phillips said there had been no such elimination.

But he and others acknowledged that many more sales will go direct and that only value-added partners would be kept on.

There are reports from the field that Sun hardware VARs now have to communicate with Oracle only indirectly through Arrow or Avnet.  Yakubik could not confirm that.

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