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Oracle partners urged to step up cloud game

Oracle is pushing its partners toward the cloud, whether that means developing for the cloud, influencing customers to buy cloud-based applications or reselling or referring them.

SAN FRANCISCO --- With more than 8,000 partners attending Oracle OpenWorld 2014 here this week, either physically or virtually, it's the most partner-attended Oracle OpenWorld in the vendor's history. In the past year alone, Oracle added more than 4,600 new partners to its ranks and the company isn't stopping there. It's actively seeking more partners, including new partner types such as born-in-the-cloud ISVs and digital agencies, for example, with the goal of growing partner expertise in cloud, in particular.

To that end, Rich Geraffo, senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels, ISV and OEM sales at Oracle, announced yesterday at the Oracle PartnerNetwork keynote session, the OPN Cloud Connection, a new framework for all partner types that creates an easy onramp for Oracle partners interested in building a cloud practice. The OPN Cloud Connection is open to existing OPN members as well as new partners.

"We're going to make it easy for partners to come into this cloud community for free, try it out, see what we’re doing , look at the Oracle cloud portfolio, then join the OPN specialization program," he said.

The OPN Cloud Connection is also a place for Oracle partners and potential partners to engage with subject matter experts, access best practices and technical resources, and understand the various business models Oracle has to offer, according to Jeff Porter, worldwide alliances and channels go-to-market director at Oracle.

"We want partners to come into the OPN Cloud Connection community to determine their strategy going forward and which program is right for them: develop in the cloud, influence or transact in the cloud with resale or referral," Porter said.

The OPN Cloud Connection goes hand in hand with Oracle's goal to be the No. 1 vendor in the cloud, a topic that Oracle OpenWorld attendees will hear about all week.

"The biggest news of today and all week is about the biggest opportunity that's in front of us, and that’s the opportunity around cloud," Geraffo said.

Quoting IDC research that points to how CIOs will spend money in the future, Geraffo noted that IDC predicts that more than $60 billion will shift to software budgets by 2017 and 70% of CIOs will adopt a cloud-first strategy by 2016, and, he said, that will drive real revenue for partners.

Terri Hall, group vice president of North America alliances and channels and applications at Oracle, talked about a few areas where Oracle continues to make investments in cloud that benefit both partners and their customers. For example, she pointed to the Customer to Cloud Program, which allows customers to redirect maintenance dollars to comparable cloud products. Hall also noted that Oracle continues to make investments to support partners is in its Fusion Success program.

"We're adding significant resources to the program this year so that we can provide Fusion Success manager coverage on every single implementation," she said, with the goal of guiding partners around best practices and escalating problems during implementation.

Oracle Consulting is also available to partners as a resource, or to fill skills gaps as partners grow their cloud practices. However, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd noted in the OPN keynote session that Oracle has decided not to grow Oracle Consulting going forward. The vendor's strategy is to bet on Oracle partners to build their expertise.

While partners grow their cloud practices, Oracle has been busy churning out SaaS applications. According to Hurd, the company boasts 171 SaaS applications that are cross-industry and 32 SaaS applications that are industry-specific.

Oracle also announced the Oracle Cloud Platform, a set of platform services for building cloud applications.

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