Oracle: Partners with specializations are much more successful

Oracle executives laid out the company's partner and channel strategy for its fiscal 2013

Oracle's partner community had a "phenomenal" fiscal 2012, but those who achieved official specializations did far better than ones who didn't, a top Oracle executive said during an event on Tuesday.

Specialized partners closed three times as many deals as non-specialized ones, and those transactions are 50 percent larger, said Judson Althoff, senior vice president of worldwide alliances, channels and embedded sales. Althoff revealed those details during Oracle's fiscal 2013 partner kickoff event, which was webcast.

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"We're focusing on specialization because we think it makes you sell better," Althoff said. Of course, Oracle also generates revenue from specializations, which are offered in silver, gold, platinum and diamond tiers, with fees rising accordingly.

Oracle has also certified 30,000 additional implementation consultants in the past year, nearly doubling its base to almost 60,000, according to Althoff. The company wants that number to get even higher, and also hopes systems integrators can "wrapper" Oracle's technology into "repeatable offerings" that can be sold again and again, he added.

Last year, Oracle spelled out a partner strategy that would see its own internal sales team focus on the company's largest accounts, with partners urged to tackle the broader market. That plan hasn't changed for Oracle's fiscal 2013, Althoff said. "Our strategy is to be consistent."

Oracle got into the hardware business with the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, a deal that closed in early 2010. It has been rolling out a series of specialized "engineered systems" that combine its hardware and software. These include the Exadata database machine and Exalogic application server.

The company has tried to get ISV (independent software vendor) partners on board with this one-stop-shop mindset through the Exastack certification program, which was launched in June 2011. Under the program, ISVs certify their products for Exadata, Exalogic, and the accompanying stack of software they run, which includes Oracle's database, WebLogic application server, and Unbreakable Linux.

Exastack has two levels, Ready and Optimized. Within the past year, 100 ISV applications have gained Ready status, and another 35 have reached the Optimized level, Oracle announced Tuesday.

Partners will now also be able to gain Exastack Optimized certification for the SPARC SuperCluster T4-4, Oracle said.

Another big consideration for partners is how they'll adapt to Oracle's emerging cloud computing strategy, which includes its new Fusion Applications delivered as SaaS from data centers powered by Exadata and Exalogic.

It took Oracle seven years to develop and release Fusion Applications, which will also be available on-premises using the same codebase. Many large systems integrators have developed practices around Fusion Applications implementations.

Right now, about 200 customers are running Fusion Applications, said executive vice president of product development Thomas Kurian in a prepared presentation during the webcast. "A number" of these customers "are live," he said, presumably meaning in full production, while "many more will go live this summer."

Some have gone from buying the software to going live in as little as 18 days, while others have done so in two or three months, Kurian said.

Right now, Oracle is offering Fusion HCM (human capital management), recruiting, sales, marketing and customer service, with ERP (enterprise resource planning) and supply chain coming soon, he said.

Oracle plans to support and assist systems integrators who currently specialize in one of Oracle's previously available business application lines, such as E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft, said Michelle Hallett, vice president, Oracle Diamond alliances, worldwide alliances and channels.

"All of your foundational skills with Oracle are going to be relevant whether you deploy in the cloud, on-premises or a combination of the two," she said.

"It's about evolving your practice," Althoff said. "We're investing heavily in applications that enable customer choice."

"You're going to evolve with us to capture this opportunity and we've set up a system to allow you to do so," he added. "Moving to the cloud will be easier with us than with any other platform."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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