Oracle Pushes Partner Specialization, Value-Add Opportunity

Oracle's product portfolio isn't the only thing that has grown in the past year - its partner Specialization program is growing as well.

It has been a big year for Oracle's army of partners, some of whom packed the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Forum event Sunday in San Francisco.

There has been significant change in Oracle in the year since the last OPN Forum, most notably the $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems. The deal has not only changed Oracle's product portfolio, but also altered the dynamics of Oracle's partner program-something that has created opportunities for value-add service providers, Pythian Group Executive Chairman Paul Vallee told eWEEK.

"I'm also very excited about the impact of the Sun acquisition on Oracle's partnering model and how it makes our partnering model with Oracle much more compatible and consistent and congruent with what the higher-ups want to find in a partner," he said today. "Because of the margins on hardware as opposed to software, there's a broad de-emphasis on resellers and channel and a new emphasis on value-added services. ... And, of course, that's where we've been playing for 10 years. But we've kind of been in the outhouse for most of those, and we suddenly are hitting our stride."

According to Oracle, about 2,000 partners from around the world attended the forum to learn more about the company's Specialization program, new OPN resources and how to work more profitably with Oracle.

Introduced last year, the OPN Specialization program already has more than 50 options, 200 specialized partners, 25,000 certified OPN specialists and 5,000 implementation specialists. In addition, Oracle announced today it has expanded the program by launching a new "Diamond" level for partners with at least 20 specializations across Oracle's extensive product portfolio and have achieved at least five "Advanced Specializations."

"We have worked tirelessly with our partner community to turn our technologies into solutions and enable our partners to provide the value-added services behind those solutions," said Judson Althoff, Oracle's senior vice president of Worldwide Alliances and Channels and Embedded Sales, during his keynote Sunday. "Being able to deliver on these services is the greatest source of profitability for our value-added reseller partners. And with more than 300,000 Oracle customers that are not using Oracle hardware, this represents a huge opportunity for our partner base."

Services represent a big opportunity for partners to make money, said Oracle co-President Mark Hurd, during the event Sunday.

"Oracle is a product company," he said. "Partners have the ability to specialize across the portfolio to build services around it and grow in markets we don't get to-with complete solutions we don't have in our basket. When they do, they will find a supportive Oracle ready to help them succeed. When we align products and solutions as a group, we become more powerful."