Oracle's New Rules

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Oracle's new rules of engagement mark a big step forward for a company that has traditionally been viewed by solution providers as difficult to work with.

Under the rules, which are detailed by CRN Industry Editor Barbara Darrow in one of our top news stories this week, solution providers can now play in accounts with as much as $1 billion in annual revenue.

STEVEN BURKE Can be reached at (781) 839-1221 or via e-mail at

The changes come on the heels of Oracle making cuts in its consulting and sales operations. The shift underscores once again that solution providers are the most economical and efficient way for technology vendors to gain market share. The question is, will Oracle field sales and services reps execute on the new rules?

Ironically, Oracle's channel push comes at a time when rival Microsoft is grappling with channel conflict issues. Microsoft, for its part, has repeatedly delayed the release of new rules of engagement but will finally unveil them this week. CRN Senior Writer Paula Rooney has been all over the Microsoft consulting controversy, breaking one story after another, including this week's vow by Microsoft that it will clearly draw a line in the sand. That said, If Oracle can execute on its new rules of engagement, this is a big opportunity for the vendor to gain loyalty and mind share in the channel.

Grady Crunk, executive vice president of Central Data, an 18-year-old, $63 million solution provider based in Titusville, Fla., is investing in Oracle Certified Professional Database Administrator certifications. His advice to Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison: Make anonymous phone calls each week to get specific sales data on whether Oracle field reps are partnering with solution providers. "The proof is in the purchase order," said Crunk.

As for the question of Oracle vs. Microsoft, Crunk said the accounts he is bringing Oracle into are much more profitable professional services engagements with margins often as high as 20 percent to 30 percent vs. 3 percent in Microsoft accounts. "It's like Microsoft is a drive-through and Oracle is sit-down dining," he said.

If Oracle sticks to its new game plan, the database leader may soon find itself eating more of Microsoft's lunch.

What do you think of Oracle's new rules? Let me know at (781) 839-1221 or via e-mail at

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