SAN FRANCISCO – With almost half of its North American revenue flowing through its channel partners, there is no way that Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) can meet its objectives without a robust channel, according to the company’s newly-anointed senior vice president of North America alliances and channels, Ted Bereswill.
Speaking to over 1,500 partners from around the world at Oracle OpenWorld’s Oracle Partner Network Forum, Bereswill, a 19-year Oracle direct sales veteran who moved into his new position just three weeks ago, said, “The channel has done some remarkable things for Oracle over the last five years. In my tenure here, we’ve recognized the sheer volume of opportunities and expertise that you bring to us. I see that going forward, we’re increasing the number of partners, and we’re enabling the partners more than ever before – that’s the theme of this conference.”
Since the rest of Oracle’s organization is split into Technology and Applications groups, it made sense to segment partners the same way, said John Gray, group vice president, technology, and for FY09, his group is initiating a number of strategies to enable partners of all types.
For VARs and VADs, Oracle has established a new National VAR team, dedicated to assisting national VARs. This will, he said, bring focus at the executive level rather than only at a tactical, deal by deal level.
“What we’re looking to do is work with our VARs to drive them up the stack, beyond the database,” he said. “The real value, the real payoff, the real ROI now rests in the middleware space.”
The company has also revamped its partner registration process in response to feedback that the current process didn’t work well.
Now, says Gray, there’s a weekly review of lockdowns so partner-led deals are recognized. As well, the company has adopted BEA’s method of accounting for partner-sourced revenue up the management chain to give clear visibility of that revenue at the executive level.
SI relationships had previously been oriented around applications such as CRM and ERP, but a lot has changed in the last few years, Gray noted. For FY09, Oracle has created a team to serve the technology space (databases, Fusion Middleware, and so forth), looking to leverage products already built for industry verticals.
OEMs and ISVs aren’t being neglected either. When there’s a design win, Oracle is looking to bring quick and early focus on its products from a dedicated team of architects who can help build and optimize the Oracle technology stack into solutions.
As well, said Gray, partner feedback indicates that about a third of ISVs want to build Oracle products into their software as a service (SaaS) offerings. The Fast Office program provides a dedicated team with pre-built kits to help rapidly deploy solutions as SaaS.
Tyler Prince, group vice president, applications, then laid out the strategy for Oracle’s applications partners, focusing on enabling continued growth.
“License revenue through partners has grown in excess of 30 per cent year over year, and our license revenue around resale apps grew at twice that rate,” he noted, adding that the number of partners had grown over 20 per cent year over year, and the number of partners contributing $1 million or more in revenue grew 34 per cent. “We’ve seen a tipping point over the past couple of years, thanks to our partners.”
Prince’s key objectives for the application group encompass four areas. First, he wants to expand and protect the core applications business (ERP and CRM). “A number of you have built significant businesses around that,” he said, “and we want to help you to continue to drive it.”
Equally important, he went on, is increasing focus on high-growth products, sometimes known as the edge or complimentary products, such as EPN for Hyperion. He expects triple-digit growth in some of these areas.
His third focus is on industry-based solutions, working with partners industry by industry to identify the key business issues and deliver solutions specific to those markets. These are typically aimed at the upper end of the market, to customers with complex industry requirements. Oracle has launched about 55 of these “Market Maker” solutions in the past year.
For the mid-market, the Accelerate program continues to grow, with 36 partners adopting it last year. Oracle Accelerate solutions provide pre-packaged application bundles that can be quickly implemented by partners and that provide a wide range of industry-specific functionality.
Oracle Business Accelerators, the rapid implementation software, is provided to resellers as part of Oracle Accelerate.
The fourth objective is to align with specific high growth market segments. “It really helps us to align you, the partners, with the right sales force, the right customers, around the right solutions,” he said.
One notably absent area for resellers, however, is Oracle’s newly-announced Exadata hardware line. Both the HP Oracle Database machine and the Exadata Storage Server may only be ordered from Oracle direct sales.