Oracle’s Channel Balancing Act
On the one hand, Oracle President Charles Phillips says the company will hire 2,000 sales professionals to more directly engage enterprise customers. But on the other hand, Oracle Channel Chief Judson Althoff is assuring partners that the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Specialized strategy continues to gain momentum. Can Oracle have it both ways?
First, some background. Oracle, as expected, has closed the Sun Microsystems acquisition. CEO Larry Ellison, Phillips, Althoff and other Oracle executives participated in a virtual summit today — to describe Oracle’s strategy for Sun. Put simply, Oracle hopes to compete directly against Hewlett-Packard and IBM in the high-end market, while Oracle will also continue making investments in OPN Specialized, a channel program launched in December 2009.
Hmmm… Balancing acts aren’t easy to maintain. But Oracle has been down this road before. Rewind to Oracle OpenWorld 2009 (October, San Francisco), and Phillips made some strong statements about how Oracle will balance direct and indirect sales. At the time he said:
“We have an embarrassment of riches at Oracle. We have 9,000 products. Between the $3 billion a year we’re spending in development and the 50-something acquisitions [Oracle has made] we’ve come a long way and we have the breadth of products. Our key challenge right now is two things: Educating people on what we have — customers and partners. And secondly, distributing those products and getting in front of the right people and solving the right needs. We can’t do it ourselves.”
Translation: Oracle relishes direct relationships with CIOs from big companies. But to reach the masses, Oracle will continue to partner.
Fast forward to the present, and Oracle spent much of today describing how Sun SPARC, Solaris, Java and MySQL technology will potentially benefit customers. Moreover, Oracle’s decision to hire 2,000 direct sales professionals caught just about everyone’s attention.
But in a letter announcing that the Oracle-Sun deal was official, Oracle offered up the following line:
Oracle also plans to extend its partner specialization program to include Sun technologies to better enable partners to deliver differentiated and value-added solutions to customers.
Hmmm… The VAR Guy will be watching — and listening — to learn if OPN Specialized programs engage MySQL, Java, SPARC and Solaris partners.
Other highlights from today’s Oracle-Sun news include:
- Servers: Expect Sun’s server hardware portfolio will be greatly simplified and a build-to-order model is coming. Smart move. Long overdue.
- Managed Services: The VAR Guy doesn’t didn’t hear Oracle mention the managed services term. But in some ways, it sounds like Oracle hopes to offer proactive, monitored support to customers.
- The Memo: Sun Co-founder Scott McNealy’s bittersweet goodbye.
Alas, McNealy couldn’t restore Sun to its early glory on his own. Can Larry Ellison? Hmmm….