Oracle Lays Off Veteran Channel Execs, Cuts Support Staff In Push To Sell More Cloud Licenses Direct

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Oracle last month laid off several channel and sales executives as well as its entire channel pre-sales technical support team -- a move that bolsters the company's plans to push more cloud licensing sales direct, according to multiple sources close to the vendor.

Oracle in early June notified between 225 and 300 members of its North America sales team that they would be laid off at the end of the month, including many sales engineers and sales consultants who worked closely with channel partners, sources said.

"Oracle has laid off its entire channel pre-sales technical support team. These are the specialists who go into the customer with the partners and determine how the solutions should be engineered and fit together," a source close to the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based software giant told CRN this week. "This is going to make it difficult for the channel to get deals closed," the source said.

[Related: Oracle Confirms 12.2 Database Release Will Be Cloud-Only At First, Analyst Predicts Move Will 'Frustrate' Customers

Oracle CTO Larry Ellison has been forthright about his desire to beat out to become the first SaaS vendor to reach $10 billion in annual sales. The layoffs may shed some light on how Oracle plans to reach this lofty goal as the company adjusts its workforce to bring in skills that better suit the cloud era, sources said.

Some of those let go were vice president-level sales managers who'd been focused on selling hardware and on-premise software at Oracle for more than 20 years, sources said.

Gary Koopman, group vice president of alliances and channels in Oracle's North America sales group, was among those laid off, according to the sources. Koopman, who joined Oracle four years ago from Hewlett-Packard, managed a team of 85 Oracle channel sales executives, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Also included in the layoffs was Christine Aumann, a 15-year Oracle veteran who was director of sales consulting for Oracle's North American hardware alliances. Aumann led a team of pre-sales technical support staff that worked closely with Oracle partners, but that team was let go in the round of job cuts, said the sources.

Several other longtime Oracle executives were laid off in last month's cuts, including Steve Vakulskas, group vice president of North America technology sales consulting and a 23-year company veteran; Anthony Cioletti, a senior sales consulting manger and 21-year Oracle veteran; and Dennis Schurmeier, an 18-year Oracle veteran who was sales consulting manager in Oracle's public sector business.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment on the layoffs.
In an emailed statement, Bill Swales, Oracle's group vice president of North America sales, said partners are on board with the vendor's ongoing shift to cloud computing.
"As a company, our number one focus remains clear. We are committed to continuing our investment in resources that are critical to the success of our partners’ and customers’ transformation to the cloud," Swales said in the statement. "The response from our partner community has been incredibly positive as we expand our offerings, invest and enable our partners to help them grow their cloud business."
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