Oracle Reshuffles North American Sales Force

Ted Bereswill, who formerly directed the eastern region of Oracle's North American sales, now has responsibility for all of the vendor's North American technology--or database--sales, according to company documents viewed by CRN. His group, dubbed NA Commercial Technology, will field both sales representatives and sales consultants.

Dan Stoks, who was Bereswill's counterpart for the western region, will now head Retek Global Sales and Consulting, the documents said. Oracle completed its acquisition bid for Retek, a leader in retail applications, in April after beating out enterprise apps rival SAP. And on the applications side, Oracle promoted John Boucher to senior vice president of North American commercial applications.

The personnel moves, which Oracle Executive Vice President Keith Block disclosed internally last week, likely will get an airing at Oracle's annual sales "kickoff" this week in Las Vegas. Oracle couldn't be reached for comment.

Some Oracle partners are optimistic about the sales staff changes. "Word is that Bereswill is very channel-savvy, and that should be good for partners," said Mick Gallagher, president of Life Science Technologies, a Southern California-based Oracle partner.

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"Ted [Bereswill] running North America bodes well for the channel," agreed Matt Reaves, vice president of business development for Agilysys, a Cleveland-based Oracle partner and distributor.

Oracle's relations with solution providers have been unsteady over the years. In the past two years, channel vice president Rauline Ochs has been trying to fashion a more conflict-free coexistence between the Redwood Shores, Calif., software vendor and its partners. Last year, Oracle published rules of engagement designed to prevent conflict and give partners a way to address problems if conflicts arise. Skeptical partners say the new rules are, in fact, very little changed from an older set which did not work well. One source said immediately after the rules were re-issued, enforcement was stringent but that fervor has cooled in recent months.

With PeopleSoft now in the fold, Oracle has made a huge $10 billion-plus move into enterprise applications, where it must face-off with SAP. In addition, Oracle contends with BEA Systems in application servers and tools and is meeting with aggressive competition from IBM and Microsoft in databases. Some partners said the lower-price Oracle 10g Standard Edition One offering is making some headway in getting Oracle into smaller accounts. Its historical strong point has been the enterprise.

"SE One is doing well by [Oracle's] expectations, but it isn't hitting the cover off the ball," said one longtime partner, who requested anonymity. Still, Oracle 10g Standard Edition One--which costs about $5,000 per processor--gives Oracle an entry into price-conscious database accounts, he added. That's roughly the same cost as Microsoft SQL Server, which has dominated SMB and departmental accounts. "It at least gets conversations started that otherwise would not have been," the partner said.

Other longtime Oracle partners, citing past battles for account control, said they still watch the vendor carefully. Some expressed concern that Oracle didn't host a VAR Council meeting at its sales event this week, for example. The meeting now is expected later this summer.

Microsoft maintains that its three-year-old SQL Server 2000 has retained momentum, pointing to double-digit year-over-year growth for the product in its most recent quarter. Oracle is expected to launch Oracle 10g Release 2 later this year.

This story was updated Wednesday morning with more information and partner comment on Oracle's rules of engagement.