Judson Althoff has a standing, open invitation for the channel to engage in a partner ecosystem that’s filled with specialists for the 2.0 world.
Oracle’s channel chief, who recently stood in front of edgy Sun partners to show his company’s commitment to them, wants to show solution providers a path that has services opportunity and new ways to extend business such as data warehousing and business intelligence. He also is offering free training, night school courses, boot camps and other flexible options so that sales consultants don’t have to give up valuable billing hours to learn new technology practices.
Althoff, who is officially the senior vice-president of worldwide alliances and channels for Oracle, took some time out of his schedule to talk to CDN about specialization and a new channel program. The following is an edited transcript conducted in November of 2009.
CDN: <a href="http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/Home/News.asp?id=54300&PageMem=1" target="_blank"The Oracle Partner Network focuses on specialized partner programming and networking opportunities. What’s the strategy behind this?
Judson Althoff: It’s really open and what we strive to do is differentiate across the product portfolio. Customers will now be able to recognize those who make the investment. The analogy I use is the military system of ranking. So in the Marine Corp. ranking officers start at Lieutenant and then there is Captain, Major, Colonel and General. Then there are trades such as artilary, rifleman, medic and those talks to the resources you need. If you need an airman you will seek that out where he or she is a Captain, a Private or a Lieutenant. If you think about it, it represents a partner who has skills in all aspects of the portfolio or in some of the new products. You can be a Gold partner, but might not have right specialization for the job. We will promote this to the customer base and these specializations will have depth and breath of skill.The best way to think about this is if a customer looks at Oracle’s Web site with a database that goes to other areas where they can drill down and find a specialist-type of business partner who has a mid-sized business intelligence solution for the healthcare industry and can get his information; that is what we are trying to accomplish with this new program.
CDN: Can you ball park what the growth and profit figures may be for the channel under this program?
J.A.: From an end plus one standpoint we can help partners take on an additional portfolio, which will help grow their business. We have 300,000 customers today and in the last three-years we have acquired 60 companies and gained about 100 to 500 products. Those who sell data warehouse can now sell Hyperion or Seibel analytics. They can now double and even triple license revenues and services opportunities. There is a four or five X multiplier with Oracle because we have not acquired any services or consulting company as part of all those acquisitions. Partners deliver those services and those products that we sell direct there is services potential there. This is huge and I think of it this way: best in class products represented by 50 to 100 reps worldwide. Our footprint on products has grown dramatically and we see two to three X multipliers with products and four to five X in services as a result ofthat.
CDN: One of the concerns channel partners have with vendors is that they would like to sell these solutions as their own branded solutions instead of the vendor’s name in front of it. Does this new program address this concern?
J.A.: It allows you to brand a solution as certified against different areas of the Oracle portfolio and if you so desire put your own branding on top of that. You can take the solution and provide some formal way of accreditation on it and any customer will feel compelled to buy the partner solution with the value add that Oracle does not address on its own, but with the assurance that we do verify and stand by it. This gives the customer a level of confidence that the solutions are integrated with Oracle.
CDN: From your perspective how is this program going to give Oracle a leg up on the competition. What makes it special that will have partners take notice of you more than ever before?
J.A.: A couple of things; we have spent a fair amount of time making the program simple and intiuative so that it can provide value. That sounds easy to say, but it’s not easy to do out in the market. We’ve tried to really engineer value and reputation for partners, while at the same time not get lost in the details and complexity. We deliberately chose terms such as sliver to gold to platinum so there is no question on which is higher and how we go to market with partners. We focus on four major areas for certification and branding of partners. We have the ability now to brand our partner in the ecosystem. We have Oracle reps and about 25,000 partner reps speaking the same language.
CDN: You made some more announcements around Exadata. What are some of the high end margins a partner can make with Exadata solutions?
J.A.: Can’t throw out numbers, but there will be a lot of opportunities here and it’s more than just lip service. The proof is that we can deliver four times more power than others at half the cost. So that translates into margins and is an effective discount. No one else can touch it from a competative standpoint. It’s a high end product and the difference is that it’s not a commodity so there is no pressure on the market. There is a level of performance here that is not matched out there so partners who have the skills to sell this can command a fair amount of value in the market place.