Oracle Plans One-Two Punch With Specialized Partners and ISVs
Apparently, the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Specialized effort is taking hold with channel partners. Indeed, Oracle now has 1,000 specialized channel partners, and that figure will surpass 2,000 specialized partners by the time Oracle wraps up its fiscal year 2011 in May, predicts Channel Chief Judson Althoff. But that’s not all. During a lengthy interview with The VAR Guy yesterday, Althoff provided clues about an aggressive ISV (independent software vendor) strategy that will surface in Fiscal 2012. Plus, Oracle plans to reward specialized partners with a new match-maker portal that helps customers find specialized partners. Here’s the multi-part scoooooop.
“We are at core mass with [OPN Specialized],” said Althoff. “We now have 1,000 specialized partners; and 600 are specialized in multiple areas.” In order to connect those highly specialized partners with more customers, Oracle plans to launch a new match-maker portal within the next few days. The VAR Guy’s hunch… Keep an eye on the following URL: http://www.oracle.com/specialized. The intriguing twist: Only truly specialized partners will surface on the portal, according to chatter within the halls of Oracle.
But is Oracle really serious about helping partners score business with end-customers? Apparently yes. The VAR Guy points to Cloud Creek Systems — which has earned a long-term database optimization engagement with MyLife, the social media site, thanks to a sales lead that came directly from Oracle.
Also on tap: A major ISV push that should give Oracle customers and partners an additional boost, Althoff hinted. The VAR Guy’s best guess: Watch for Oracle to start certifying and rewarding ISVs that develop toward specific stacks — such as the Exadata and Exalogic offerings.
A Lot on His Mind…
So, what else is Althoff cookin’ up at Oracle? Here’s a sampling of the conversation…
Oracle President Mark Hurd’s Business Impact: “I’ve been [leading channels] for nearly three years. When Mark got here he poured gas on the flames. He really gets this business. He comes to the table with a channel background. Before Mark was here I had to get the executive team to understand the [channel] lingo. When Mark arrived he was already on board. So it makes my job that much easier.”
Oracle’s Channel Performance for the First Two-Thirds of Fiscal 2011: “So far things have been great. There aren’t many companies that choose to fire on all cylinders as hard and as fast as we do. We implemented a new version of Siebel internally to use for the partner program. We rolled out OPN Specialized. And, oh by the way, we decided to become a hardware company on top of that. We inherited a Sun channel that needed answers. The first two-thirds of the year was about nailing down our structure for all types of partners and all types of engagements. Now, it’s about throwing down the hammer and executing.”
Oracle’s Channel Milestones and Opportunities Ahead: “We’ve now got 1,000 specialized partners, and we’ll have 2,000 by the end of fiscal year. We’ve trained people and accredited people in every discipline. We’ve certified 10,000 new implientation specialists this fiscal year. By default that gets our technologies baked into more customer opportunities out there. Is there headroom? Oh my God there’s tremendous headroom. We’re just starting to get partners to sell all solutions to customers. We’ve got an installed base of 300,000 customers who are not running our hardware yet. We’ve got $4.5 billion in R&D to optimize our hardware with our software.”
Relationships With Arrow, Avnet Technology Solutions and Other Distributors: “It’s going pretty well. We spend a lot of time with those guys. We’re selling direct to roughly the Global 2000, which leaves hundreds of thousands of customers below that line. We’ve got long-term incentive plans to ensure the right margins and profit potential for our distributors and their partners.”
Distributor Consolidation: “On a global basis, there were more than 100 distributors working with Sun. We’re taking it down to 20. We want to do more strategically with fewer distributors.”
Grading Oracle’s Handling of Sun Legacy Partners: “I’d give us an A- or B+. To earn an A we should have delivered less friction. We wish there had been no hiccups. But I don’t know if that’s inherently possible. We had some learning curve issues. But the net result: Every Sun partner that is selling Sun product has migrated successfully [to the Oracle PartnerNetwork Specialized partner program].”
Althoff concedes some Sun partners were left behind, but he says those examples involve partners that had the Sun partner logo but weren’t really selling product.
Independent Software Vendors: (Teaser alert from The VAR Guy… Oracle won’t be announcing major ISV changes near-term. But it sounds like some big plans are emerging for fiscal 2012…)
“I’m lovin’ what we’re doing for ISVs right now. Unfortunately we’ve had a fairly multifaceted approach toward ISV coverage… different models in different regions that was confusing at best. But our largest ISVs don’t operate in single region. They want a global relationship with Oracle.”
The idea, going forward, is to certify an ISV base on the Exadata and Exalogic stack and also work more closely with embedded OEMs. “We’re going to give ISVs the power of choice, running optimized on premise or in the cloud. We believe Exadata and Exalogic are the cloud platforms of the future, whether it’s on premise or off premise.”
He hints that a revamped ISV strategy is coming in Fiscal 2012. The VAR Guy’s best guess: Watch for details at Oracle OpenWorld.
Competing With SAP, Microsoft and IBM: “We’re feeling pretty good about the competition. With SAP in particular, the bottom line is they don’t have the portfolio to properly compete with us. In the application business, we don’t think ERP is the really big core growth opportunity. We’ve come out with all these new modules in Fusion [Middleware], both acquired and organic. We’re going to move the needle in multiple dimensions. Against SAP we feel really good right now. We also feel pretty good vs. IBM and Microsoft.
Is Microsoft in the phone market? Gaming market? What’s happening to PCs? Are laptops turning into pads [tablets]? Microsoft is dealing with a lot of questions while we remain focused.
We still have some ways to go. I honestly think we have the best portfolio of products in the industry right now — the application footprint, the middleware, the server and storage footprint all in one portfolio. Now, we need to execute. Our biggest challenge is education.”
Coming January 31: What About the Cloud?
Of course, The VAR Guy threw a bunch of cloud computing questions Althoff’s way. But heck, this blog entry is pretty darn lengthy. So re-read it a few times… and bookmark it for your kids and Oracle’s competition. Then, come back on January 31 for Part Two of The VAR Guy’s conversation with Althoff, and insights from Kevin O’Brien, a key Oracle leader who’s driving SaaS relationships with ISVs.
Plus, The VAR Guy will weave in a reality check on Althoff’s claims. The chatter above from Althoff is pretty darn positive. But does Oracle really have a leg up against IBM, SAP and Microsoft — particularly in the channel?
The VAR Guy will share more views on January 31.