Number Of Oracle Partners Achieving 'Specialized' Status Reaches 1,000

Nearly 1,000 solution providers have joined Oracle's PartnerNetwork Specialized program and the company is shooting to double that by the end of its fiscal year May 31.

On Monday, Oracle unveiled a new OPN Specialized Partner Premier Web site where partners who achieve "specialized" status can market their business expertise.

The growing number of partners seeking the specialization designation reflects how Oracle is "effectively increasing [its] focus and resources on the partners who want to get certified," said Judson Althoff, Oracle senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels and embedded sales, in an interview.

Althoff said the new Partner Premier site is the first of several initiatives Oracle will launch exclusively for partners who win specialization certification. The site will allow partners to showcase their expertise and prospective customers can review partner success stories and technology backgrounds. "It's effectively their exclusive marketing vehicle," Althoff said.

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Under the OPN Specialized program unveiled at Oracle OpenWorld in 2009, channel partners can get trained and certified to work with Oracle products in 60 technology categories.

Through the initiative Oracle has sought to upgrade partner skill levels to what Althoff described as "a different class of partner that's becoming a VAR-Integrator," and provide resellers with a way to differentiate themselves from competitors and expand the range of solutions and services they offer.

Specialization certification requires demonstrating proficiency in implementing Oracle products and providing pre- and post-sales support. Customer references are also required. Specialization is open to partners at the Gold level of Oracle's OPN program and is required to achieve Platinum status.

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Althoff said the number of specialized channel partners, which totaled around 600 to 700 just a few months ago, has crossed the 1,000 mark. "We are well on target to reach 2,000 specialized partners by the end of our fiscal year," he said. He added that the program had trained and certified some 10,000 individual implementation specialists under the program.

The 1,000 specialized partners have certifications that span all 60 product categories, Althoff said, with database, middleware and ERP application software tending to be the core specializations. Of the 1,000, more than 600 are Platinum partners and more than 350 are Gold.

Altogether Oracle has more than 20,000 partners worldwide, many remain at the lower Remarketer and Silver levels. Althoff said he ultimately expects about 25 to 30 percent of Oracle's partners to achieve certification in at least one product, if not multiple certifications, with more than 3,000 of those at the Gold level and about 2,000 achieving Platinum status.

At Oracle OpenWorld last year the company added a Diamond level to the Oracle OPN program that requires specializations in 25 or more categories and is targeted largely at global systems integrators. To date two companies, Accenture and InfoSys, have achieved Diamond status.

Oracle also created an "advanced specialization" designation last year for companies with a minimum of 50 certified implementation specialists in a specific area.

Earlier this month Oracle Platinum partner Systime won OPN Advanced Specialization status for working with Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Financial Management applications. "Systime's continued investment in building capabilities around JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Oracle Fusion Middleware will give customers access to the best talent in the global marketplace, resulting in superior business outcomes," said Systime president and CEO Vishal Grover, in a statement.

While all elements of the OPN Specialized program were in place when Mark Hurd became Oracle president in October, Althoff said Hurd has put a greater "executive level of support" behind the program.

Althoff also said in the interview that nearly all solution providers who were actively selling Sun Microsystems products prior to Oracle's acquisition of Sun in January 2010 have been successfully moved to the OPN program, most at the Gold level. A few that were not actively selling Sun products opted not to make the transition, he said.