Oracle's Channel Makeover: Can It Boost Converged Systems Sales?

The big question is whether Oracle's HP hiring spree will help it achieve its goal of getting more channel partners selling converged systems such as Exadata, which combine Oracle database, analytics and other software with hardware from its 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Oracle had more than 4,000 channel partners after closing its acquisition of Sun. Some of its partners are software-focused, while others are hardware-focused.

However, a much smaller number of Oracle partners have skills on both sides of the equation, which are necessary when selling converged systems such as Exadata, one source familiar with the matter told CRN.

[Related: Oracle 'HP-ization' Continues: Oracle Names Ex-HP Exec As Channel Chief ]

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And therein lies the challenge: As Oracle continues to optimize its hardware with vertically integrated appliances, it's going to need partners that can not only sell software and hardware, but also explain the benefits of Oracle optimizing its converged systems at the chip level with its new Sparc processors, the source told CRN.

Oracle brought in Gary Koopman, group vice president of alliances and channels for North America sales at HP, last May. Geraffo, whose 30-year career includes stints at VMware, IBM and BEA Systems, has a background in enterprise software and hardware.

Bringing in HP channel expertise will help Oracle preach the advantages of its vertically integrated hardware, Rhos Dyke, executive vice president at Cloud Creek Systems, a Westlake Village, Calif.-based Oracle partner, told CRN.

"The HP guys come from a space where it's imperative that you have a software and hardware background. That's a big step in the right direction," Dyke said in an interview.

Meanwhile, Matt Mills, who replaced Keith Block as senior vice president of North America sales last June, is helping Oracle adopt a more balanced view toward hardware and software, the source told CRN.

Block, it should be noted, left Oracle after instant messages he wrote disparaging Oracle's management and Sun hardware were made public during the HP-Oracle Itanium lawsuit.

"There has been a changing of the guard on the hardware side," said the source. "And these new people, on paper at least, look like they have the right makeup" to sell converged systems.