Sun denies squeeze on SolNet agency

Sun's plan to appoint an "account manager" for SolNet in New Zealand is not an indication that the manufacturer is trying to squeeze its long-standing local agent out of the market, says SolNet head Mark Botherway and his Sun Australia counterpart, Jim Hassel.

Sun’s plan to appoint an “account manager” for SolNet in New Zealand is not an indication that the manufacturer is trying to squeeze its long-standing local agent out of the market, says SolNet head Mark Botherway and his Sun Australia counterpart, Jim Hassel.

It is, rather, “an indication of Sun’s support of the business model in this country”, Botherway says. The account manager, still being sought last week after several months, will act as a “single point of reference to interface [between SolNet and] Sun offshore”, he says.

Industry sources have suggested that the appointment could be the start of an attempt by Sun to take over the local market, having sensed that the recent diversification in SolNet’s activities — a venture into Australia together with its services emphasis and the planned OpenCloud subsidiary — might reflect a reducing commitment to Sun hardware in this country.

Botherway and Sun Australia’s Hassel discount this impression. The post as advertised is the equivalent of a Sun state manager in Australia, but Botherway says Sun had tried to squeeze “a unique position” into its standard structure. The job description that went out internally to SolNet and Sun staff here was quite misleading in that respect, he says.

Hassel says far from driving SolNet out, Sun Australia wants to strengthen the link; “to ensure full representation of SolNet in Sun and vice versa. Our go-to-market plan in New Zealand is still with SolNet; it’s been very successful for us.”

Hassel confirms that at least one person was offered the job and turned it down, but he declines to discuss that point further. Computerworld understands that at least two prominent figures in the industry refused the post, seeing difficulties in working with the local SolNet team.

One source suggested last week that the account manager had been selected and an announcement was imminent, but Hassel denied this.

The job description says the appointee will report directly to the national sales manager of Sun Australia. It makes several references to the account manager working “closely in partnership with SolNet”, as well as “other alliance partners, the New Zealand business community, government organisations, industry bodies and Sun employees”. It also refers to “raising the profile of Sun and SolNet” in the New Zealand market.

Botherway notes that Sun already has 50 staff in New Zealand on its own behalf. “This is just one more senior position,” he says.

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