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Distributor Avnet is entering a new agreement with Sun Microsystems to sell the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor’s entire portfolio.

The new agreement comes as Sun looks to continue growing its storage business in the wake of its purchase of StorageTek (Storage Technology) for $4.1 billion in 2005.

Avnet had a long-standing relationship with StorageTek and the new agreement was a natural and profitable extension of that partnership, said Jeff Bawol, senior vice president of Avnet’s Partner Solution’s Enterprise Software and Storage unit.

Under the newly minted agreement, Avnet will gain access to the full line of Sun storage products, such as its line of Opteron-based technology. The partnership also means that Avnet will start selling the vendor’s Sun Fire Servers.

Bawol said his unit is already receiving interest from its VARs about the revamped relationship with Sun.

“We have been getting weekly calls from our different partners who want to know when they can get started,” Bawol said.

Click here to read more about Arrow Electronics launching a business unit around Sun’s storage solutions.

For Sun, the agreement helps strengthen its presence in the channel.

“This shows that Sun is committed to the channel business,” said Jeff Barteld, director of U.S. channel sales at Sun.

“Two-thirds of our business is through channel partners. It makes sense to strengthen our relationship with Avnet and expand our relationship with the channel.”

The acquisition of StorageTek was seen as a way to help build Sun’s budding storage business as it prepares to compete against EMC, Hewlett-Packard and IBM for position in the data center market. The Avnet partnership is an extension of that strategy to the channel.

With the StorageTek acquisition, Sun is able to bundle servers and storage as a complete package, much the same as HP and IBM have done for years.

In May, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz announced that storage is one of three areas that the company intends to grow in the next several years. By 2010, some analysts believe the storage market will reach $65 billion worldwide.