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Do Sun Partners Really Need to Embrace Oracle Solutions?

Oracle continues to evangelize software solutions to Sun legacy partners. But do Sun partners need to specialize in Oracle databases, applications and middleware? The VAR Guy gathered some thoughts from Oracle VPs Tom Wagner and Jim Standard, plus Avnet VP Mike Hurst. Here are their perspectives.

The VAR Guy

July 29, 2010

Oracle Sun OPN Specializations

Oracle continues to evangelize software solutions to Sun legacy partners. But do Sun partners need to specialize in Oracle databases, applications and middleware? The VAR Guy gathered some thoughts from Oracle VPs Tom Wagner and Jim Standard, plus Avnet VP Mike Hurst. Here are their perspectives.

First, a little background. The VAR Guy caught up with Wagner, Standard and Hurst during the Avnet Technology Solutions Partner Summit, held July 26-28 near Denver, Colo. Much of the conference focused on transitioning Sun partners to the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Specialized partner program.

The VAR Guy’s key questions:

  1. Do Sun partners truly need to embrace Oracle-centric software solutions?

  2. For those Sun partners exploring Oracle-centric software opportunities, which Oracle offerings should Sun partners embrace first?

  3. How is Avnet, a value-added distributor that works closely with Sun and Oracle, helping partners to potentially master OPN specializations?

Here’s how Wagner, Standard and Hurst addressed those questions.

Oracle Software Expertise: Must Have for Sun Partners?

Sun partners know Wagner well. Indeed, Wagner is Sun’s former channel chief and he has also worked for a Sun VAR. These days, Wagner is Oracle’s group VP for North American Alliances and Channel Sales.

Throughout the Avnet partner conference, Wagner maintained a careful balancing act — conceding that Oracle was growing its direct sales force but pointing out that Sun partners can pursue roughly 130,000 North American Oracle customers that don’t have any Sun solutions in place.

But do those Sun partners need to start specializing in Oracle’s software? Wagner addresses the question in this FastChat video:

The bottom line: Wagner sounds like he’s politely nudging Sun legacy partners toward software specializations. The reason: Partners who choose to focus purely on the general purpose server and network maintenance markets are going to face a competitive slugfest.

Oracle Software Specializations: Potential First Moves

Now, let’s assume a Sun partner buys into Oracle’s software vision. In that case, which Oracle software solutions should the Sun partner master first?

Jim Standard, Oracle’s group VP for global alliances and channels, says there’s no single magic bullet answer. Instead, he offers some tried-and-true advice: Listen to your customers, and they’ll ultimately tell you what Oracle software solutions they need. This FastChat video expands on Standard’s thoughts:

How Sun Partners Can Prep for Oracle Specializations

Now, let’s assume a Sun partner has spotted an Oracle software specialization of interest. How can the partner master and earn that OPN Specialization?

Hmmm… One potential answer involves Avnet Technology Solutions, which has launched two programs — Value Master and Under Our Wing — to help Oracle and Sun partners move forward within the OPN Specialized partner program.

Mike Hurst, VP and a global supplier business executive at Avnet Technology Solutions, offers some insights on the Avnet-Oracle relationship, and the potential upside for Oracle and Sun partners:

The Bottom Line for Sun Partners

No doubt, The VAR Guy in recent months has heard Sun partners express concerns about (A) Oracle’s direct sales efforts and (B) transitioning into Oracle’s OPN Specialized partner program.

Transitions are never easy. Oracle still needs to polish various partner reward and loyalty efforts for Sun solutions providers. But here’s a riddle: How did Sun partners expect to survive if Sun had remained an independent, money-losing vendor whose very survival was in serious doubt?

Time to face facts: Oracle’s buyout of Sun actually mitigates customer questions about Sun’s long-term technical viability. And, perhaps shockingly, Oracle has already restored Sun’s business to profitability.

Nobody is saying Sun partners are going to have an easy time (A) potentially competing with Oracle in very high-end enterprise accounts and (B) navigating new and emerging OPN Specializations. But Sun partners were facing certain doom if Sun had remained independent.

Still, a big question remains: How many Sun legacy partners will follow the advice offered by Wagner, Standard and Hurst? The VAR Guy will be listening for clues.

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