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Breen is driving a recently launched Oracle initiative to identify specific hardware accounts that it's committed to serving through channel partners, said the source.
"He is trying to shake up the culture there," the source said of Breen's efforts.
Seth Feeley, vice president of sales at Cintra, a New York City-based Oracle partner, is pleased with what he has seen from Breen so far.
"It's encouraging to see the programs Mitch [Breen] is putting in place and the message he is getting out to partners. He is certainly someone who sees the value of the channel," Feeley said Friday in an interview.
Breen's role could be poised for a significant expansion in the coming months. Sources told CRN he is still bound by the terms of his non-compete with EMC, which prohibits him from working with other storage vendors. The non-compete is expiring "soon," a source with knowledge of the matter told CRN.
Patrick Dennis, an 11-year EMC veteran who joined Oracle last February as group vice president of North American storage sales, was until recently running Oracle's ZFS network attached storage business and its tape business, sources told CRN. However, he left earlier this month to become senior vice president for the Storage Products Business Unit at Toshiba, according to his updated LinkedIn profile.
Dennis' departure, along with Breen's non-compete clock winding down, could point to Breen getting responsibility for all of Oracle's hardware sales units, sources said.
While bringing in a heavy hitter like Breen could help hardware sales, the fact is that Oracle still makes the vast majority of its money from software, and software is deeply ingrained in its culture.
"Yes, we have a hardware business. Yes, we have a services business. But at the core, Oracle is a software company," Ken Bond, Oracle's president of investor relations, said last month at the vendor's annual financial analyst meeting. "Software drives earnings for Oracle. Almost 90 percent of margin is driven by software."
Whether Breen can boost Oracle's hardware business remains to be seen, but the level of respect he appears to enjoy in the channel suggests he could end up being a truly game-changing hire.