An Oracle executive on Tuesday confirmed the company's plan to push more specialized products -- and conceivably more margin -- to select partners in North America starting this year.
Under the proposal, first reported by SearchITChannel.com in May, qualified resellers that gear up on specialties such as Agile product lifecycle management, supply chain management or complex parts of Oracle's middleware stack will be the go-to reps for those technologies.
"We take a fair amount of investment from partners in terms of pre-sales and advanced sales expertise and you'll see us recognize partners who specialize, and we will drive more marketing through and to those partners," said Judson Althoff, senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels for Oracle Corp.
The move reflects the value to Oracle of its higher-level technologies and its desire to entrench more of its stack beyond the database into accounts.
"We wouldn't draw a ton of attention to basic application server sales and Java programming, but ID management or BPEL or integration or advanced business intelligence, which was formerly part of Hyperion, are key areas."
Althoff said there are 40 areas in all where select VARs will be groomed as the reference partners in given geographies.
Erasing the $1 billion direct sales line
Althoff also tacitly acknowledged that the $1 billion line dividing direct and indirect sales of Oracle databases and middleware will go away in a move that the company will talk more about later this year, either at the Virtual Partner Kickoff next week or at Oracle OpenWorld in October.
While referring questions on the $1 billion line to Ted Bereswill, who heads North American channels for Oracle, Althoff said changes to the model are being made for fiscal year 2010, which started June 1.
"The intention is to rely more on the open market model versus drawing lines [between direct and indirect sales]. At the end of the day, if the partner registers an opportunity, the partner registers that opportunity."
Partners told SearchITChannel.com last month that this is a big switch in theory that may not end up meaning much in practice. Oracle continues to maintain a long roster of big strategic accounts that it reserves for direct sales. In addition, the company has been blasted for cherry picking partner-registered leads and trying to take them direct --meaning that the lead registration system actually ends up hurting partners more than helping them.
Oracle standardizes SaaS contracts for ISVs
In other Oracle news, the company announced new standard licensing models to make it easier for ISVs to host their software on Oracle's foundation software.
Oracle traditionally works one-off deals with large SaaS providers like Salesforce.com, but it can't customize deals for the huge number of players now in the field, Althoff said.
"We had no scalable offering for ISVs. This is a come-one, come-all offer for pure-play SaaS players or for traditional ISVs who want to enter the field," Althoff said.
Several options are available. At the entry level, an ISV can make no commitment and just pay a monthly fee based on utilization. If the ISV commits to two years or more, it will get better terms.
The SaaS foundations include the database, Oracle Fusion or WebLogic middleware and Oracle VM.
Oracle is kicking of its new fiscal year with a flurry of activities. The SaaS licensing news came today, tomorrow Oracle will launch its next-generation Fusion middleware in Washington D.C. ; next week it will host its virtual partner sales kickoff--reprising its internal sales kickoff from last month.