OPENWORLD - Oracle looks to improve partner offerings

Oracle is looking to enhance its relationships with its indirect sales partners by giving them more access to its technologies

Oracle is making a raft of announcements later this month designed to buff up and add to its current tools and training for channel partners.

The database, applications and middleware vendor will announce the moves at its OpenWorld conference due to take place in San Francisco, October 22-26.

Indirect sales of its software continue to be very important for Oracle, according to vice-president of worldwide alliances and channels, Doug Kennedy.

For the company's fiscal 2006, which ended in May, Oracle derived 44 per cent of its worldwide license revenue from sales by its 17,700-plus partners. The percentage of indirect sales has mostly risen over the past five years at Oracle up from a starting point of about 30 per cent, Kennedy said.

However, fiscal 2006's 44 per cent was down on the previous year's 47 per cent, a slight dip, he said, due to a number of acquisitions. Some of the companies acquired, like Siebel, included sizeable direct sales forces. The ultimate goal is for Oracle to derive just under half of its total license revenue sales from its channel partners.

Oracle's mix of direct and indirect sales is different around the world, with channel sales predominating in Asia-Pacific, accounting for 78 per cent or higher of license revenue, Kennedy said.

With its new and revamped planned resources, Oracle is looking to address concerns voiced by partners.

In the past, Oracle brought out new releases of its applications and then built the training for the channel, Kennedy said. Going forward, it plans to offer its partners access to more than 500 pre-release training courses for its applications. Oracle also plans to offer such courses for its non-application software in future.

Partners also criticised Oracle for its training being "incomplete and inconsistent across the world", Kennedy said. Oracle is addressing that concern by building about 200 so-called "guided learning paths", each containing 12-16 courses, so that partners can educate themselves on the vendor's products. He expects the rollout of the new training will be complete within six months.

In fiscal 2006, Oracle's focus was on how to better enable its systems integrator partners. In fiscal 2007, the emphasis is on ISVs, Kennedy said. Oracle currently has more than 8500 ISVs.

Oracle is working to improve the content on its Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) portal, aimed at ISVs that are also developers. The company is also enhancing its OPN Solutions Catalog, which provides information about Oracle partners worldwide so it'll be easier for say an ISV in France to find a systems integrator in the US, Kennedy said.

Oracle will also provide ISV Solutions Maps via OPN. The maps will give partners an overview of the software Oracle and some of its partners provide vertically in a given industry as well as horizontally across a particular technology. Oracle intends to release more than 20 maps, starting with overviews of the communications industry and human capital management.

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