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Oracle to VARs: Specialize

So, if you’re an Oracle VAR (or a Sun VAR wanting to become an Oracle VAR) here’s what you gotta do: Specialize.

That word came down from on high Tuesday afternoon at an Oracle Partner Network web cast hosted by Judson Althoff, Co-presidents Safra Catz and Charles Phillips both stressed the “s word” repeatedly. (Top dog Larry Ellison was a no show for the company’s biggest partner event.)

“We don’t need a lot of generalists,” Phillips told the partners listening in.

Another “s word:” Solutions. As Oracle execs have said for months since closing the Sun Microsystems acquisition, they want value-add partners, not box pushers or fulfillers. Sadly, many solutions-oriented VARs still rely on the sale of software licenses and servers, to fund their solution work, but never mind that. Oracle wants all that revenue–and I mean ALL–to go direct.

When VARs specialize and provide very deep, “complete solutions” the business will be there, Catz said.  “If you make yourself the expert, customers will come to you,” she noted.

There was a lot of talk about Sun partners selling into Oracle software accounts and Oracle partners selling into Sun hardware accounts. One speaker said pre-acquisition Sun had 35,000 customers compared to 350,000 for Oracle so that even though Oracle plans to take the top 4,000 Sun hardware accounts direct, there’s plenty of white space for partners.

But Oracle and Sun VARs have said for more than a month now that Oracle’s direct and telesales teams are already calling partners’ existing customers–and these are not necessarily enterprise accounts–trying to push Oracle software and Sun hardware. So there might be a lot of accounts out there, but there are already lots of sales people calling into the same ones.

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I expect Oracle will be very understanding when VAR's start directing THEIR Clients away from using Oracle/Sun solutions because of fears of poaching. Especially, as according to a Forrester Research report, what customers actually want is someone who understand their business and can prescribe tailored solutions to meet their needs.
Yes, every Sun VAR I've talked to in the past few months has said they'll say yes to Oracle, but will guide customers to HP, IBM, Dell hardware from now on. And why would they not?