Ahead of the opening of Oracle OpenWorld 2015, being held October 25 to 29 in San Francisco, SearchITChannel talked to Bill Swales, group vice president, North America alliances and channel sales, about what's ahead for Oracle partners in 2016. Swales focuses on technology, software, business intelligence, the vendor's infrastructure portfolio as well as platform as a service and infrastructure as a service cloud offerings.
While Swales, who joined Oracle in July 2015, hasn't held any executive channel positions, he did point out that he worked closely with channel partners in previous jobs. In his current position, Swales works with both large systems integrators and value-added resellers (VARs) who focus on software, platforms or infrastructure. He reports to Rich Geraffo, senior vice president, North America technology division and former global channel chief at Oracle.
Swales spent his first 90 days meeting with Oracle partners learning about their capabilities, differentiation, geographies and more, as well as meeting with various specialty sales organizations at Oracle to find out where they needed help from partners. He also reviewed the company's partner program to see if it met partner and company objectives for the upcoming year and came up with three key focus areas in 2016 to help drive growth and new revenue streams: Oracle-on-Oracle messaging, cloud, and the midmarket business segment.
Expand on the Oracle-on-Oracle messaging and the opportunity for the Oracle partner network.
Bill Swales: We have a huge portfolio that is completely, seamlessly and vertically integrated … and our applications run faster on our hardware. The opportunity for partners is to lead with our engineered systems. Partners who are most successful are bolting on adjacent products, such as storage or all-flash arrays, but are also making sure that every engineered system has a bundle which includes some of our cloud capability, such as our database as a service, storage cloud or archive cloud, for example.
It's a much more comprehensive reference architecture to deploy in a customer environment, giving partners the opportunity to show up at the customer environment every week or every month to take a look at how those cloud capabilities are being consumed and how those engineered systems are actually performing.
Oracle has been pushing the Oracle-on-Oracle messaging for a few years. What's different now?
Swales: What's different today is the cloud portfolio and making sure that the right platform as a service is deployed with the engineered systems, and the right level of infrastructure as a service is also included around storage cloud, archive cloud and compute cloud.
Oracle cloud portfolio also comes with some of the richest incentives in the industry for our partners to leverage to improve their profitability.
Expand on the cloud as a focus area for 2016.
Bill Swalesgroup vice president, North America alliances and channel sales, Oracle
Swales: About 28 days ago, we rolled out a new virtual training experience for our entire channel ecosystem around our cloud portfolio -- and called it 28 days of cloud because it was T-minus 28 days until Oracle OpenWorld. I wanted to make sure that every alliance and channel partner that came to OpenWorld understood our cloud capability.
The 28-day, or four week, program was a virtual learning experience that included daily emails, quizzes, and some giveaways. There are 15-minute podcasts every day.
We focused on awareness making sure that the partners understood the portfolio and differentiation. We also focused on building the pipe: So, how do we create the funnel? How do we have conversations with customers to identify cases for the cloud? And we focused on deal execution: So, how do you price? How do you position our portfolio from a competitive standpoint? We also focused on how do you build your Oracle practice? It's really important to us to not only lead with our cloud offerings, but we need our partners to drive the consumption of the cloud offerings that get sold.
This 28-day training is the same that we rolled out to our internal sales team in North America. My goal was to make sure that the channel is speaking the same language as our sales team about the Oracle cloud offerings.
We will be doing more of these trainings and we're going to be kicking off some new training after Oracle OpenWorld, specifically around our engineered systems portfolio -- Exadata, Exalogic and Exalytics.
Partners are excited with our cloud go-to-market and the three programs that they can leverage:
- Provide a referral to us, which provides a partner with the opportunity to on-ramp their selling capabilities with cloud. It's an easy way for a partner to get experience about our cloud offerings.
- We also have a co-sell and implementation program where we go on joint sales calls. A partner goes through some training and enablement and we help the partner understand some of the capabilities that are needed in order to drive the implementation of a cloud offering.
- And, then we have our resell program that provides partners with an end-to-end delivery of our entire cloud offering.
So, we're enabling partners to build a cloud business within their business. There's a very comprehensive array of programs that are designed to meet the partner needs based on their resources, skills and experience and help them evolve and transition over time.
Expand on the new market segment focus for 2016.
Swales: There was some excellent work done with our SMB [small and medium-sized business]/midmarket team around taking a look and identifying under-penetrated accounts that we feel meet the ideal opportunity to consume the Oracle portfolio. We got into a detailed planning interlock with our SMB teams around how could we drive and accelerate the results by leveraging our resellers and VARs.
We made significant progress segmenting the market by geography and zip code, and over the next 90 days, my team in the field is trying very hard to drive interlock with the regional and national VARs about this portfolio opportunity to drive a joint go-to-market. It will be a joint effort between our Oracle engine and partner community to go deliver the results.
We see a great opportunity for our Oracle-on-Oracle messaging, our cloud messaging, and we're going to be at a later date providing additional incentives for partners to be successful here.
What profile are you looking for in the Oracle partner network to work jointly with Oracle field people?
Swales: I've thought a lot about our existing partner capabilities and what does the partner of the future look like for Oracle. I'd say that the partner profile for us to be successful would be:
- A partner that has a business model that is highly services oriented -- 25% services mix at a minimum and ideally 50% services mix. What I mean by that is services that are high value, for example, security services, big data services, cloud discovery/workshop-type services.
- I'm looking for partners that have a unique capability to represent the entire end-to-end Oracle red stack. So, the partner of the future to help us drive this midmarket will really be able to talk this end-to-end, entire stack.
- There's also a criteria for our partners to understand our cloud, our engineered systems and security and have, ideally, some industry expertise.
- Our partners need to have the trust, the confidence and the interlock of our sales teams.
If they can drive the right level of confidence and differentiation with our sales teams, and have everything else that I talked about, this is a huge opportunity and success for us going forward to run this with our partner channel ecosystem.
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