Sun Microsystems has opened up the distribution of its x86 AMD Opteron-based products to Interface Solutions International (ISI) to aggressively pursue Hewlett-Packard's reseller channel.
To date, Sun has relied on enterprise distributors Clarity Technology and Access Distribution - formerly GE Access to build share in the volume server space.
Gary Nugent, iForce partner and mid sales director at Sun, said the Birmingham-based distributor had a sizeable IBM server business but added he wanted the partner to focus on HP resellers.
"We'll focus on HP resellers first, organisations that have been buying Intel architectures... we feel that community is disaffected at the moment," he said, adding ISI would be included in the HP Away migration programme.
He said Sun wanted a more "broad based" distributor to take the Opteron-based x86 products to SMEs and existing partners did not fit the profile.
"ISI has demonstrated a core competence in selling to a large number of resellers where the average transaction size is tens of thousands instead of tens of millions," he said.
Nugent said it was encouraging ISI to use a pay per use promotion with a monthly subscription fee rather than an upfront capital investment. "This will help SMEs' cash flow".
Rob Tomlin, enterprise business manager at ISI, said it had taken on board a specialist team to sell Sun and its appointment by Sun was part of a move to climb up the food chain in the enterprise space.
"We want 200 resellers selling Sun within a year," he told MicroScope.
Matt Tedstone, sales director at Clarity Technology, said it was not suited to the volume space and x86 sales accounted for less than five per cent of its revenue.
"We are not concerned [by the appointment]," he said.
Last December Sun launched x86 servers based on Intel architecture and this April expanded the line to include products based on AMD Opteron - the Intel line will now be phased out.
Appearing unconcerned by its rival's threats Phil McLean, HP product marketing manager for Industry Standard Servers, said he was not surprised Sun was trying to gain a footing in the x86 space.
"Customers will make the decision about products and resellers will make decisions based on what customers buy. We have been in the x86 market for 14 years and are comfortable with our position," he said.
HP distributors also appeared unconcerned by the claims with Mark Walker, systems and enterprise director at Bell Microproducts, claiming that Sun's large box business had dried up and he was not surprised the vendor was looking for new hunting grounds.
"Sun will find competition tough in an over populated market, not just from HP but from IBM and Dell as well," he said.