Will Partners Get Crushed in Oracle-PeopleSoft Merger?

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-01-14 Print this article Print

As Oracle's 14,400-strong partner program gears up to swallow the much smaller PeopleSoft partner community, Oracle must face its history of dicey relations with its own partner ecosystem.

As Oracles 14,400-strong partner program gears up to swallow the much smaller PeopleSoft partner community, some say Oracles biggest challenge may well be its history of dicey relations with its own partner ecosystem. "Oracle has only recently gotten back into the religion of partner management in a big way," said Joshua Greenbaum, a principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting. "Thats the largest single difference: Oracle has a much larger partner ecosystem, since theyre a larger company, but they havent been the friendliest and best company to do business with." Indeed, VARs, systems integrators and other partners have long said that, even pre-merger, Oracle Corp. must become more channel-friendly.
Oracle is known to be difficult to deal with for two reasons: First, the companys sales compensation plan is not neutral to source of sales. Second, Oracles rules of engagement dont rule out competition with partners.
Oracle has been working to change the situation. In August, Rauline Ochs, group vice president of Oracles North America Alliances and Channels, unveiled a program called "Cover the Subsidiaries." The program was designed to allow Oracles 2,800 North American partners to sell their goods and services to subsidiaries of Oracles biggest, most strategic accounts. Now, mere months after taking steps to improve relations with its own partners, Oracle is facing the prospect of absorbing hundreds of PeopleSoft Inc. partners. Bronwyn Hastings, vice president of worldwide alliances and channels at Oracle, told eWEEK.com that her division is still working through the exact number, "but its in the hundreds rather than thousands," she said. It will require time to gauge how well Oracle does with its own partner-repair work, never mind how well it does in setting up relations with its new partners. "Theyve made a lot of promises, and I want to give them some time to see" if theyll improve their partner relations, Greenbaum said. Meanwhile, as the merger continues, Hastings said its business as usual for partners of both stripes. Oracle is focused on customers needs first and foremost, she said, but it is also speaking with partners to ensure that theres no disruption to their businesses during the merger. "From a focus perspective, assuring how we continue to service them so they can continue to operate in their business environments is important," she said. Oracle has been reaching out to smaller partners—those who have the least ability to absorb business disruption—to try to increase communication, Hastings said. Oracle sent out a welcoming letter to the partner community, for example, reinforcing its commitment to keep product development and business development moving forward. With Oracle announcing layoffs of 5,000 people, there are plenty of options for the victims, writes Database Editor Lisa Vaas. Click here for her column. PeopleSoft channel partners also have been invited to the Tuesday launch of the combined company, an hours-long Webcast event featuring top Oracle executives that will encapsulate the companys strategy, competitive strength, customer commitment, supported product lines, development roadmap and more. Next Page: What do partners think of Oracles communication skills?

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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