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As a provider of a secure platform based on x86 running a Security Enhanced Linux (SEL) OS, startup Skyport Systems is trying to break into a server market dominated by the likes of Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

Today, the vendor announced its SkySecure Partner Program based on a sales model in which customers pay a monthly fee to use the company’s x86 servers.

Skyport, which received a $30 million capital infusion in April, makes use of open-source Xen hypervisors running on Intel processors that implement Intel Trusted Execution Technology. Each workload running on the SkySecure platform is isolated from another using a firewall and a defined set of policies that make it simpler to manage and deploy SEL on an x86 platform. Skyport then provides a managed service through which it validates and then continuously monitors each component of the system. Pricing starts at $2,500 a month per server for what is essentially a hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) business model.

Phil Alexander, channel lead for Skyport Systems, acknowledged that shifting to a recurring revenue model for infrastructure will be a challenge for many solution providers. Nevertheless, Alexander noted that over the course of a three-year contract, solution providers that work with Skyport will make a lot more profit than selling IT infrastructure using a traditional capital expense model. The HaaS model, added Alexander, also better reflects how customers these days want to treat IT as more of an operational expense these days.

The key difference under the Skyport plan is that partners get compensated every year the customer renews as if they made new sales. In addition to enabling partners to deploy evaluation units at no cost to them, the SkySecure Partner program also includes deal registration along with sales and technical training materials, including video and Web-ready marketing resources for practice enablement and customer outreach. The end result is a much faster time to market that enables solution providers to monetize their investments much faster, Alexander said.

Skyport isn’t looking for a huge number of partners, Alexander said. Rather, the company is looking for partners willing to embrace a new business model designed for mission-critical workloads that require a high degree of security.

Solution providers may want to remember that usually customers are willing to pay a premium for those types of workloads to make sure they remain both secure and always available.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for more than 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.