Adventures in Partnering

Vendors first started to hone in on these three emerging database markets with partnership programs a couple of years ago.

Vendors first started to hone in on these three emerging database markets with partnership programs a couple of years ago.

Sybase, which launched its business intelligence (BI) and "mobile and embedded" database divisions as part of a major company restructuring in January 1999, is now working with 30 systems integrators in the BI space, according to Debra Neumeier, partner sales manager for BI at Sybase. Like other database vendors, though, Sybase also teams with ISVs, which typically either integrate their applications with the vendors databases, or embed database code into their own software.

Likewise, Oracle two years ago identified BI and mobile as a couple of key markets to pursue under its newly created Strategic Alliances program. At the time, CEO Larry Ellison concluded that Oracle "wasnt making a strong enough play into these emerging markets," says Renee Knee, a senior VP in Oracles partner program.

"We inverted our partner model so that we had fewer account managers in Big Five accounts. We took some of the most senior of these account managers, and asked them to go out and incubate the best and brightest in the emerging markets space," adds Knee.

Oracle has now incubated about 80 players in emerging markets, and is keeping its eyes peeled for more. "One thing that may happen is that well try to incubate one or two of the Big Five partners," she says. In some situations, Oracle has backed its incubation efforts with financial investments.

Oracle also runs a "broader and more self-service" partnership program called "Partner Value Services." Sometimes, solutions providers inquiring about Partner Value Services are referred to the incubation program.

At IBM, database partners constitute a separate group within PartnerWorld, according to Janet Perna, general manager of IBM Data Management Software. Many of the database partners are integrators with BI, content management or mobile implementations under their belts.

At American Airlines, for example, IBM partner A3 Solutions has used DB2 OLAP Server as the basis for a hefty BI system dealing with head count, salary, benefits and expense planning.

Marcel Van Hulie, IBMs director of worldwide content-management sales, says IBMs content-management partners run the gamut from Accenture and PricewaterhouseCoopers to small vertical players such as Syscom.

IBM will add more partners when its pending acquisition of Informix goes through later this quarter. "Well also be integrating selected technologies from Informix into DB2," Perna says. Those technologies are expected to include Informixs DataBlade database extenders, in addition to analytic, object-relational, and massively parallel technologies from Informixs Arrowhead project.

Finally, Microsoft, which has been revamping its partnership programs since last summer to support its new .NET servers, in June will launch an advanced certification program called "BI Gold." A BI Gold partner will need to hold Microsoft certifications as both an MCSE and a DBA (Database Administrator).