Oracle, IBM, Microsoft Sweeten ISV Perks

Oracle aims to get more ISVs aboard by offering an inexpensive entry to the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN). Qualified ISVs that target small and midsize businesses now can join OPN for $300. Full OPN membership costs $2,000 per year.

The new OPN Access option is restricted to Oracle 10g Standard Edition One Database and applications tailored to the midmarket. Under that option, ISVs get online training, demand-generation perks and marketing assistance, according to Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle. Oracle's Standard Edition One products typically cost around $5,000, about a third as much as the Standard Edition offerings.

Doug Angelone, president of Khameleon Software, welcomed Oracle's latest move. Until now, the Tampa, Fla.-based ISV, which develops accounting and finance software that runs atop Oracle's stack, had found OPN too rich for its blood, he said.

"This is a big deal for us. With this program and with the new lower-cost application server, which is really a full-blown Web server, our customers can extend the use and operation of our system," Angelone said.

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Before the new lower-priced products for the midmarket, such solutions--which bring SMB customers into the portal world--started at about $30,000, but with Standard Edition One they now start at $5,000, he said.

Because Khameleon competes with Microsoft's Great Plains software, Angelone is a poster child for Oracle's--and IBM's--stance that Microsoft isn't the best partner for ISVs, since the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant fields so many applications itself. He said Oracle has been proactive helping his business, even sending a specialist to help convert Khameleon from the Oracle 9i toolset to the 10g portfolio.

Earlier in the week, IBM Software said ISVs can get free access to IBM's Virtual Innovation Centers worldwide for architectural consultations. The program also offers unlimited e-mail technical support for six months. With the move, IBM hopes to bring ISVs targeting SMBs into its OnDemand fold.

"The idea is to lower the cost of entry into our program," said Mark Hanny, IBM's vice president ISV alliances and partner programs.

On Tuesday, Microsoft--which even positions its ERP and financial applications as part of a software stack for further third-party development--launched its global ISV Advisory Service. Registered members of the Microsoft Empower For ISVs plan get 10 hours of support. Certified Partners with an ISV/Software Solutions competency get 15 hours, and Gold Certified Partners with that competency get 20 hours, according to the company.