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AMD Casts a Wide Net with a First Commercial Channel
By John Hazard

AMD Inc., the world’s No. 2 line of microprocessors, is now available over the counter, so to speak.

AMD on Monday took the wraps off the AMD Commercial Channel Access Program, the first of its kind for the Sunnyvale, Calif., company, making its line of microprocessors, flash memory and low-power processor solutions available to VARs, ISVs and OEMs to support individual applications.

AMD has cast a wide net, partnering with a phalanx of the largest IT distribution houses, including Avnet Computing Components, CDW, Ingram Micro Inc. and Tech Data Corp., with the intent to grow its 10 percent share of the commercial microprocessor market and and fight it out in the trenches with Intel Corp., the market leader, which claims 85 percent of the worldwide microprocessor bazaar.

Michael O’Brien, AMD’s director of worldwide commercial channels, said AMD sees a break in the market waves, including the coming 64-bit revolution and the need for faster, cooler equipment, that will allow AMD to get its solution a better position among the commercial offerings.

“We did this because there is a demand for it,” he said. “More and more customers are asking VARs, ISV, OEMs for a product better aligned with a value proposition, a business advantage. They want data centers that are smarter, cooler; a flexible architecture; the ability to scale; to implement virtualization. The fact that we can do all that means a better price performance.”

The AMD Channel Access Program offers many of the standard marketing and technical support apparatus, but includes some unique collaborative provisions to intended to drive customer-centric business solutions, notably the Access Web portal, O’Brien said. There, partners may register solutions and customers may shop among those solutions.

Under a program, AMD calls joint customer solution pilots, the manufacturer will fund and collaborate, along with its ISV community, to develop certain partner solutions.

Fifteen VARs and ISVs have already collaborated with AMD to develop 20 new solutions, and each has been embraced by one of AMD’s major hardware partners—Hewlett-Packard Inc., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc., O’Brien said.

Along with a greater commercial direction, will be a more commercial approach, O’Brien said, with more customer friendly Web sites and advertising, but he would not comment on the possibility of television commercials.

HP, IBM and Sun are AMD’s largest customers and will be major consumers of AMD’s chips through a four link chain—ISVs, Hardware providers, AMD and VARs, O’Brien said.

Much of the customer-driven demand, O’Brien said, stems from the 64-bit revolution in microprocessors.

Channel Insider Special Report: IT Spending in the Channel

“There are issues with consolidation and transitioning to the technology,” he said. “People getting ready for what partners believe is next wave: 64 bit. We’re one of the only ones to supply architecture that allows you to make the quantum leap. You can architect today and not get locked out of tomorrow.”

While a commercial channel may be new to AMD, the model is familiar, O’Brien said.

“We never sold to customers, but we’ve been selling to integrators for years, and we did that through the channel” he said. “The channel experience, the model is in our DNA.”

O’Brien himself spent 10 years as a channel manager at Sun, before joining AMD.

The Web portal also includes Web-based self-service access to resources and education, white paper and success story templates, channel-specific marketing support, access to the AMD business development team.

Field-based channel account managers will work with partners to develop solutions and channel programs.

Market Development Funds will not be part of the initial partner offerings, O’Brien said.

The program will be a three-tiered channel with Regional, National and Global partners, AMD said.



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