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Oracle launches partner program for SMB package

Oracle hopes Accelerate's combination of software bundles, deployment tools and a partner program will get SMBs buying more Oracle applications.

Oracle Corp. kicked off its new SMB partner program Tuesday, Oracle Accelerate with the announcement of seven channel partners who will pilot the offering.

Oracle Accelerate combines new software packages and pricing, deployment tools and an updated partner program for channel companies targeting small and midsized businesses (SMBs).

Participating channel companies will gain significant reselling discounts, training, marketing resources and additional benefits from a loyalty program that is planned but not yet implemented.

Oracle president Charles Phillips announced the Accelerate program at October's Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, but details about the partner component of the program, including its initial participants, were only released Tuesday.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based vendor said pricing discounts are still being determined, but Forrester Research principal analyst Ray Wang said some resellers serving companies of $100 million or less could see discounts as high as 90%, according to numbers given to him by Oracle.

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 Jeff Abbott, vice president of Oracle's Global SMB Business Unit, said Oracle is "still determining" discounts for the loyalty program. Oracle will work with partners on marketing campaigns starting this fiscal year, but that program is still being planned, Abbott said.

Under the program, Oracle has divided the SMB market into 70 vertical markets and assembled software bundles designed to fit a typical company within each industry. To qualify, partners must choose both vertical and geographical areas to serve.

Partners must also be able to demonstrate a successful sales history with Oracle and produce client references. There is a minimum revenue generation requirement, but Abbott would not say what it is.

Although all seven of the program's initial partners are based in North America, all of Oracle's 330 partners worldwide will eventually be able to join the program, Abbott said.

The company has "goals" for how many partners to sign up within the next two to three years, Abbott said, but he would not specify what those are except to say that Oracle hopes its partners will offer at least 500 solutions in all by then. Partners will be able to offer more than one solution each.

The program is important but will not change how systems integrators (SIs) do business, according to Hal Hawisher, principal at Baytree Associates, Inc., a Charlotte, N.C.-based SI whose clients include many SMBs. It will, however, make those partners' jobs easier, he said.

"Really, nothing's changed, because [serving SMBs] is something we've been doing for some time. What it's allowed us to do now is take some additional tools and help us develop faster and more cost-effective [deployments]," he said.

One of the chief benefits, Hawisher said, will be the updated deployment tools that will help SIs turn projects around faster. But aside from the explicitly defined perks, Oracle Accelerate partners will also have Oracle's backing as they try to attract customers.

"I wouldn't say it's going to revolutionize the way we do business, but it's going to go get us deeper looks from clients who feel like they're in these industries," he said.

Oracle has had a partner program, the Oracle PartnerNetwork, for more than a decade, but Wang said Oracle Accelerate is "new in the sense that it's thought out... It's a complete package."

That complete package – the combination of SMB-focused pricing, marketing, tools and documentation – will make Oracle a strong contender, said Walt Zipperman, partner at DAZ Systems, Inc., an SI in El Segundo, Calif.

"Oracle has not had a program that's vertically focused that could compete with SAP for many, many years, and the idea was to launch a program with a solution that could address the verticals and could have capacity to go to the SMB market, implement rapidly and get a customer running efficiently," Zipperman said. "They're helping us to develop our literature, our ads, our coreferral programs... It's a very big push."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Yuval Shavit, News Writer.

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