Microsoft Nabs Oracle's Althoff To Lead Sales, Marketing

Althoff's official title at Microsoft will be president of North America sales and marketing, and he also will be a corporate vice president, reporting to Microsoft COO Kevin Turner.

Althoff held a variety of roles during his 14 years at Oracle and for the past five years served as senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels and embedded sales, a position that included oversight of Oracle's channel business. Althoff came to Oracle from EMC, where he held several sales-related positions.

[Related: Oracle Misses Big In Q3 As Software, Hardware Revenue Drops ]

Andrew Brust, CEO of Microsoft analyst firm Blue Badge Insights, New York, described the hiring of Althoff as "a coup" for Microsoft that could help spark sales of its Dynamics CRM and ERP suites, as well as SQL Server and the full data platform stack.

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"Oracle does know the corporate IT sales game much better than Microsoft, by and large," Brust told CRN. "A cultural change there is welcome, especially to partners who hope Microsoft can help drive their own pipeline."

Yet in light of Microsoft's current sales and marketing focus on Windows 8, Windows Phone and Windows Azure, and Oracle's minimal presence in the OS market, its lack of a mobile play and its late arrival to the cloud, bringing in Althoff "seems a bit counterintuitive," according to Brust.

Since taking over the top channel job at Oracle in 2008, Althoff has stepped up partner training for Oracle products, increased focus on partner specializations and driven more lucrative rebate incentives for partners.

Althoff also led an aggressive channel recruitment campaign to bring in partners from Hewlett-Packard, VMware, Red Hat, EMC and NetApp, as well as small- and medium-business focused partners. "Those are the guys we are going after," he told CRN in November 2011. "They actually know how to speak to this notion of a federated stack."

Oracle's recruitment efforts resulted in the addition of 7,000 partners in its fiscal 2011 year, including some 4,000 in North America.

Althoff also spearheaded Oracle's cloud computing channel programs, which included the vendor's unveiling last September of programs designating specialized Oracle partners as cloud builders, and others that pay referral fees and additional incentives to partners with cloud integration expertise.

Althoff's departure comes a week after Oracle reported fiscal third-quarter results that missed Wall Street's expectations by a significant margin. The results included a 23 percent drop in hardware revenue and a 2 percent drop in software and cloud revenue.