Tplc is poised lose its position as exclusive UK distributor for Sun Microsystems servers and workstations, as the vendor looks to standardise its channel practices across Europe.
Gordon Cameron, Sun's UK distribution manager, said European distribution contracts are expected to be ready within the next quarter and the amended reseller contracts are in the final stages.
Cameron said Tplc's status as sole master reseller for Sun hardware is not guaranteed. "It's not necessarily going to be Tplc. Everybody is being asked to apply for these contracts," he said.
Sun has divided its distribution partners into two categories: logistics and channel development partners (CDPs). Those that perform both functions will be classified as CDP-plus. However, Cameron said Sun Europe would not replicate the dual-sourcing strategy announced last week in the US where the vendor will supply resellers directly over the internet.
Cameron said reseller classification will consist of systems resellers, solutions partners or value-added resellers, solutions associate partners or independent software vendors. Each category is subdivided according to which Sun products are resold. Cameron said a proportion of reseller discounts will be determined by simply "belonging to the club".
Simon Welch, Tplc's European marketing manager, said he would be surprised if European counterparts did not apply to become partners in the UK. He named DNS and Access Graphics as Tplc's two main rivals, although industry experts put forward Computacenter and SCH as potential CDPs.
"Competition is not a bad thing, but will the competition be brave enough to take us on? It's up to them as the cost of entry is high in the UK," said Welch. "Other European master resellers haven't invested in the value proposition like we have. I expect they will be more worried than us."
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