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Looking to put more weight behind its software
product sales, Sun Microsystems has announced a series of software specialty
certifications available to members of its Sun Partner Advantage Program. Sun
also announced an Open Access Channel Program, providing access to this
software to companies that aren’t Sun partners.

"Software specialties are designed to provide increased revenue
opportunities to partners that invest in our software," says Bill Cate,
Sun’s global channel chief. The program will include six specialties—identity
management, SOA (service-oriented architecture), MySQL Web, XVM (Sun’s
virtualization technology), Sun’s virtual desktop technology and Sun’s open
storage technology, according to Cate.

Identity management and SOA are available today, Nov. 3. The others will be
rolled out over the next two quarters. A recent Gartner report noted a
steep decline in companies planning SOA projects.

Partners who achieve one of these specialties can "lead an end-to-end
sales process around these technologies," Cate says. "It also allows
partners to enter the deal as an integration partner" rather than a
reseller, providing them with another entry point.

Partner investment required to achieve certification in these specialties
depends on the specialty, according to Sun. Specialties typically require sales
skills and deep technical skills, and in most specialties there is also
architecture-related and deployment expertise required. Educational sessions
are free of charge, but require the time of employees to complete.

"These are for partners who want to build a practice around these
technologies," Cate says. "We have 92 partners that have jumped in.
The investment for the specialties is not trivial, but it helps partners focus
on delivering higher value."

Once certification is achieved, Sun will also shadow partners and mentor them
on the first few opportunities, says Cate.

Sun also announced a new Open Access program that allows distributors to sell
Sun software to their own reseller bases without those resellers having to
become Sun partners.

The channel announcement comes days after Sun released a bleak quarterly
report—a quarterly net loss of $1.7 billion and a 7 percent drop in revenue
from the same quarter a year ago.

Sun’s sales of RISC-based servers that run Solaris—Sun’s Unix
implementation—have suffered as more companies have opted for x86-based
servers. The company has pushed its open-source model for software in an effort
to get more customers on board with the company’s solutions. In its earnings
announcement Oct. 30, Sun also said it planned to cut staff.