Oracle's Channel Rules

As promised, Oracle has devised a list of "guiding principles" to govern its ongoing relationships with channel partners.

The six general principles are meant to stress that Oracle is dedicated to fruitful co-existence and collaboration with its reseller, integrator and ISV partners.

Oracle "will identify and work with partners in accounts and will respect the partner's position and value-add in those accounts," according to an outline sent to CRN.

But wording of the fourth guideline raised hackles among some partners: "In all cases, Oracle will actively compete for new customers and, above all else, will respect customer choice. The end customer will be the final arbiter for who sells or implements the solution."

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Resellers say new customers sometimes call Oracle first to get pricing and then call VARs for a second price quote and implementation advice. "Then Oracle claims it knew about the lead and takes it direct," said one VAR who requested anonymity. "Oracle wants us to do all this presales validation, and then takes the deal."

Rauline Ochs, group vice president of North American Channels at Oracle, said the guidelines were discussed at Oracle's annual sales kickoff in June and are geared to ensure predictable, reliable behavior toward partners.

She reaffirmed Oracle's commitment to its Global Channel Opportunity Registration System (GCORS), where partners log new sales opportunities. In theory, such registrations prevent Oracle from taking the sale direct.

Oracle will also use a Joint Opportunity Plan to work out up front any details on a large deal. "This is a one-page checklist where we outline our joint value proposition to the customer and lay out that [for example] Accenture will do this, Retek will bring its retail expertise, what Oracle's consulting role is, if any, who's the sub[contractor], who's the prime," Ochs said.

Problems erupted in the past because this communication was not made early in the process, Ochs said.

Partners will wait to see how the rules play out. "I'm sick of words. I want action," said one West Coast VAR.

Rules of engagement are nothing new for Oracle. The company has rolled out such guidelines in the past.