Oracle Exec: We're Getting Much Better At Working With The Channel


Over the past 18 months, Oracle has become much more channel-oriented than it used to be, but it's not done yet.

"We're going to continue to get more channel-centric," Tom LaRocca, senior vice president of North American channels and alliances at Oracle, said Monday in a session at the XChange Solution Provider conference in Los Angeles. "For me, it starts at the executive level and bringing in the right people."

Oracle has hired several high-profile channel executives in recent years, including LaRocca himself, who came over in January, 2012, after a 12-year career at Hewlett-Packard. Last October, Oracle hired Hewlett-Packard enterprise executive Rich Geraffo as its channel chief.

[Related: Oracle Hardware Channel Chief Breen Exits Amid Sales 'Civil War']

Yet one of Oracle's biggest recent channel hires didn't end up staying long. Mitch Breen, a 20-year EMC veteran who joined Oracle last June as senior vice president of North American sales, left in January for a position at converged infrastructure startup Simplivity.

Scott Genereux, Oracle's senior vice president of global hardware strategy and product marketing, has taken over Breen's role, LaRocca said, adding that hires like this will help Oracle continue reshaping its culture to one that's more channel-friendly.

"Nothing gets changed overnight, but we're dramatically different today than we were 18 months ago, and we will get better," LaRocca said.

LaRocca has had a huge and positive impact on Oracle since joining the company two years ago, said Rhos Dyke, executive vice president of Cloud Creek Systems, a Westlake Village, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime Oracle partner.

In addition to bringing in channel-savvy leadership, LaRocca has significantly increased Oracle's channel headcount in North America. Five years ago, Oracle had one channel advocate working with Cloud Creek; it now has five, including two hardware reps and two software reps, according to Dyke.

"These aren't paper pushers, either. These are active channel advocates," Dyke told CRN.

Oracle currently does 40 percent of its revenue through partners, and that's just in the resale category, LaRocca said. Oracle also works with system integrator partners that do consulting for backend services like data migration, and when these deals are factored in, that figure is more than 40 percent, he said.

These services are a key area of opportunity for the channel, LaRocca told XChange attendees.

"We don't have an IBM Global Services -- that's not part of our strategy. If so, we could have bought one by now," LaRocca said. "We like our partners to deliver those services."

If you're a partner that sells both Oracle hardware and software, Oracle wants to make sure you get better margins than partners who just sell one or the other, LaRocca said.

Oracle is currently in its quiet period ahead of its fiscal third quarter earnings, so LaRocca said he wasn't at liberty to provide specific figures, but he did say Oracle's revenue through partners is growing.

To channel partners of other enterprise technology vendors that might be considering Oracle, LaRocca closed with a simple message. "Oracle has a big install base and you run into it every day anyway," he said. "Stop fighting it and let's have a conversation."

PUBLISHED MARCH 3, 2014