Because of the uncertainty surrounding Hewlett-Packard's personal systems group since August, Oracle has made it known publicly that it wants to snap up HP partners while the hardware giant is in disarray. But HP partners are not biting.
While Oracle attempting to poach HP partners is nothing new, the trend has certainly intensified. Oracle is trying to hit HP while it’s down, as many HP partners were unhappy with how the company handled the PSG and webOS.
At Oracle OpenWorld 2011, the company’s plans to bring in 8,000 to 25,000 HP partners were leaked while Oracle senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channel sales, Judson Althoff, took a shot at HP, claiming it hasn’t “innovated much lately.”
The rub for HP partners is: How profitable would it be to move from HP to a software-based company and sell Oracle hardware? Oracle has made life tough on Sun VARs with a direct-focused model that includes rigid support and pricing policies, which hasn’t been lost on HP partners.
One recipient of an Oracle phone call a few months ago was Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions Inc. Oracle left Valley Network a generic voicemail requesting partnership that left Duffy less than inclined to return the call. “They used a nebulous, shotgun approach that didn’t indicate any market research at all,” Duffy said.
If Oracle indeed wants to target hardware VARs to sell its new Database Appliance, Exadata or Exalogic, Duffy doesn’t think the effort will work. Both HP and Oracle would be smart to stick to their core competencies, hardware and software, respectively, according to Duffy. “I have yet to see a software company just dabble or experiment in hardware with any level of success,” he said.
Once Oracle acquired Sun in January 2010 and took its 4,000 biggest customers direct, a West Coast HP partner saw the writing on the wall for Sun VARs. He eventually received three to five calls per week from Oracle asking to sell hardware, but had made an early decision to steer clear of Oracle.
“I’ve never sold Sun, and I don’t know what it’s like, but I do know that some Sun guys were interested in HP,” the partner said. “Why would I go to the vendor that everyone’s running from? It’s just not worth it.”
Another HP partner who’s been contacted by Oracle over the past few years is Carl Mazzanti ofeMazzanti Technologies. He is not surprised to be getting recruited but is also happy with HP.
“I think everyone wants to go after the best, which is no different than [it has been in] the past 20 to 30 years,” Mazzanti said. “Other vendors hear from distributors who the good partners are.”
Mazzanti maintains that HP PSG is focused, and its sales reps have stepped up to the plate and increased their level of engagement, making him and other HP partners feel a lot better about continuing their relationship.