It’s probably too early to brand Belleville, Ont. a tourist hotspot, but Beonix Technology says its Linux training centre is drawing people from far and wide.

The Linux consulting company has teamed with Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. to create the Linux Competency Centre of Canada. Located about two hours east of Toronto, the facility will be used for a variety of educational purposes for end users and Sun partners alike. Beonix president Chris Heaven says it plans to do everything from application testing to education.

“”Some of the other contractual things that we’re doing for Sun are everything from Linux advocacy — which would range from writing white papers to delivering seminars and workshops — technical bid assistance to our partners and technical and sales support to other iForce partners,”” Heaven says. Sun’s iForce program is a set of services and products to help partners do business online.

Vice-president for marketing and partners for Sun Microsystems of Canada Brad Keates says the goal is to offer tried and true Linux options. Converting people to Linux, however, is a three step process and all three can be taken at the centre. He says the process works as follows: building a general understanding of what Linux offers; assisting the setup, testing and prototyping; and migrating applications to a Linux environment.

While sharing technical knowledge is helpful, Keates says customers need to understand “”the business and value proposition both to the other Sun partners and help them articulate that to their other customers. . . . It’s great to have partners that are very technically capable and have some business savvy.””

The grand opening was on Jan. 10, but the centre has been open for more than a month. And in that time Heaven says more than 300 people have sampled its service. He says iForce partners from as far away as Central and South America have expressed a great deal of interest in the services.

Keates dismisses the notion hosting the centre in Belleville is a draw back. He says most people will have to travel no matter where it is, geographically speaking its in the sweet spot — between Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. Heaven says Sun Canada gets 50 per cent of its revenue in the triangle.

Heaven says that by offering open source alternatives he hopes to narrow the digital divide, but the decision to partner was also based on self-preservation.

“”I feel the whole market is going to move appliance-based over the courses of the next five to eight years,”” he says. “”Small companies such as ours, if we’re not closely associated with one of the top companies like Sun I think you’re basically out of business.””

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