Oracle Eyes Integrated Channels to Spur Growth

Oracle North American channel chief Tom LaRocca

Oracle North American channel chief Tom LaRocca

The channel message coming out of this week’s Oracle World is nothing short of innovation. Oracle, still the world’s top database company, has a broad portfolio security, business software, middleware, analytics and hardware. The problem: Oracle’s channel is segmented and not addressing enough midmarket and emerging technology opportunities.

Oracle World is the company’s showcase platform where its latest and greatest products debut. This year’s event brought updates for bigger and faster databases, greater business intelligence potential through its Exadata platform, new security potential through its identity management software, and tools for enabling machine-to-machine (M2M) systems. Of course, cloud computing uses and applications are replete.

Channel chief Tom LaRocca and CEO Mark Hurd are challenging partners to invest in Oracle’s platforms, hardware, applications and cloud services, but not through singular efforts. To stimulate growth, broaden market adoption and create bigger deals, Oracle’s executive and channel management want partners to create integrated hardware, software and cloud solutions based on their technology.

“Today, we have a lot of hardware partners that are good at delivering an infrastructure solution in the data center. I have a lot of partners that are great at selling middleware and applications. Partner nirvana for me is [a] partner [that] can go in and sell an application all the way down to the disk and sell everything in between; he can sell the entire ‘red stack,’ said LaRocca in an interview with TechTarget.

“I don’t have enough partners that can do that. I need to take the partners that we’ve got and expand their competencies. So I’m trying to get partners trained to go up the stack and get partners trained to go down the stack. I also want more partners who can sell cloud solutions,” he continued.

The conclusion may sound familiar, as it was a common theme presented by LaRocca and Hurd when they were at Hewlett-Packard. During the Hurd era, HP’s channel was highly focused on driving partner-driven attached and horizontal sales. The concept is to get more single-vendor product into a deal that drives up the average sales price and, if done correctly, drives down sales costs.

To drive this behavior, Oracle’s channel team is stepping up with the usual array of tools. LaRocca and others say Oracle is adding partner incentives for adopting new technologies and capabilities, providing technical training, expanding channel support teams and making market development funds available. What Oracle wants is more partners selling up and down its technology stack and, interestingly, driving Oracle products into the midmarket where its direct sales teams – and many of its solution provider partners – don’t sell.

The strategy – or call to arms, depending on your perceptive – comes a week after Oracle admitted to analysts that it’s struggling to meet its 2013 sales and revenue objectives. Oracle, as a company, continues to grow, but CEO Larry Ellison says economic headwinds are slowing progress. Cloud services are growing at just 4 percent, and hardware products are struggling compared to competitors, such as IBM and Cisco.

Ellison isn’t shooting of rescue flares just yet. He and CFO Safra Catz say Oracle’s sales pipeline is strong and several large enterprise deals in the fourth quarter will put the company’s financials over the top. Sustaining performance and growth, it seems, is where Oracle wants the channel’s help.