Oracle partners: The company is more in tune with the channel

Oracle partners at the Oracle PartnerNetwork Exchange event in San Francisco said the company is getting better at deal reg, certification, training.

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Oracle continues to snap up companies, push harder to win more deals, and become a more strategic vendor to more businesses, Oracle partner attendees at PartnerNetwork Exchange here at Oracle OpenWorld come to the event to network and get up to speed with where Oracle is going and how it fits their business strategy.

"Our focus at the conference is to learn about the technologies and if there's anything new that we can use on the 'red stack' to make things better for our clients," said Paul Jardin, vice president of technology at Emerald Associates in Calgary, Alberta, and a Platinum Oracle partner. The company, with five offices across Canada, provides innovative and best-of-breed project management products to clients, primarily in the oil and gas, construction and utility industries.

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Patrick Lovelace, president and CEO of Nu Solutions Consulting Inc., a Premier Oracle partner with offices in Bend, Ore. and Anchorage, Alaska, said Oracle OpenWorld is a good opportunity to look beyond Oracle's software suite to learn about other technologies that relate to the industries they focus on. Nu Solutions has been an Oracle partner since the acquisition of Primavera Systems Inc. about four years ago.

With business analytics gaining traction among many of his customers, Lovelace is interested in learning more about Oracle's analytics tools, among other things.

Stephen Merritt, senior manager of software partners for global IT reseller SHI International Corp., based in Somerset, N.J., sees the Oracle event as a big IT technology conference, hosted by Oracle, where he can learn how SHI can best integrate different vendors' products. SHI, a Platinum Oracle partner, is a $4 billion global provider of IT products and services.

"We need to understand where we want make recommendations for our customers, and that includes many vendors, as we're vendor-agnostic," Merritt said.

According to Merritt, SHI broadened its customer focus from high-end to midmarket (which it defines as companies with 5,000 or fewer employees) around 2008.

Oracle has expanded its midmarket offerings with products, such as the Oracle Database Appliance at the low end of its Engineered Systems product line, the latest ZFS Storage Appliances, and the ZS3 Series, announced earlier this month. That's good news, Merritt said.

More good news, according to Sheryl Tucker, sales specialist at SHI International, is: Oracle's executives are getting more behind the idea of working more closely with Oracle partners. "There are more opportunities to have Oracle as a more profitable line of business," she said.

Not too long ago, getting deal registration approvals were difficult, but there are signs of that changing. "If we get deals in early, we get approvals early and even work the deals with Oracle, who lets us drive the opportunity," she said.

Lovelace noted that Oracle is doing a great job of creating content and getting partners certified and more knowledgeable on products. He and Jardin, however, both said they have to plan resources and take on new technologies more strategically, figuring out what fits and where.

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