Oracle makes big changes to partner program

The new system is supposed to help showcase partners' specialties with Oracle technology and make it easier for customers to find the help they need

Oracle will announce significant changes to its partner program on Sunday, at the start of its annual OpenWorld conference.

The new Oracle PartnerNetwork Specialized will see partners slotted into one of four categories, determined partly by their level of specialization with particular Oracle technologies.

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The new system aims to help partners showcase their skills and in turn make it easier for customers to find the right help they need, said Judson Althoff, senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels.

The system will be put in place Dec. 1, and all partners will have to migrate to it. Early adopters will get a discount on membership fees, according to Oracle.

The entry-level "remarketer" designation will enable partners to resell Oracle's SMB products through the 1-CLICK program. No contract or fees will be required, and partners will get access to online training resources and sales tools.

At the Silver level, which centers on 1-CLICK products as well, partners get better training options, development licenses and other features.

Additional levels include Gold, wherein partners get broader access and reselling rights to Oracle products and can also begin working toward "specialized" status.

Platinum partners will get the most help from Oracle, but will need to specialize in at least five areas of Oracle technology.

As part of the effort, Oracle is broadening the amount of certifications it offers, according to Althoff. Its certification program traditionally focused on Oracle's database, but will now provide "that same in-depth level of certification and coverage across the portfolio," he said.

Staffers who feel prepared due to their experience in the field can take certification exams without any mandatory classes, Althoff said. There is a "small administrative cost" for the exams, according to Althoff.

Oracle's move makes sense, given its long string of acquisitions in recent years, as the increased complexity of its offerings may have made it harder for customers to find qualified help, said 451 Group analyst China Martens.

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