Briefs: February 14, 2005


That's the message 150 ex-PeopleSoft/JD Edwards resellers and integrators heard during a three-day meeting in late January, CRN has learned. The sales meeting and training session included the onetime PeopleSoft sales team, Oracle's two presidents, Charles Phillips and Safra Catz, and former Oracle executive vice president, North America Sales and Consulting, Keith Block.

As part of that change, Oracle said it would make it easier to work with the company by "consolidating partner terms, conditions, partner programs and partner portals to provide one infrastructure for partners across the Oracle technology, Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and JD Edwards World product lines," Rauline Ochs, group vice president, North America Alliance and Channels, told CRN.

Another change promised at the event, Oracle said it will compensate its direct-sales force for North American sales going through either resellers or distributors across Oracle's entire product line, including Oracle's infrastructure and all application lines.

It also raised the bar on when midmarket sales cross the threshold into direct territory. As of June 1, ex-PeopleSoft resellers will be able to sell EnterpriseOne to customers with up to $500 million in annual revenue. Under the old regime, resellers had been prohibited from selling to companies with revenue of more than $100 million.

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The next update of Microsoft CRM is now slated to debut in the fourth quarter, a slip from previous plans.

The company had indicated that the product—at first called Microsoft CRM 2.0—would be out early in the second half of 2005. More recently insiders started calling it MS CRM 2005. That nomenclature may now be in jeopardy.

The release was held up to incorporate more partner-requested perks, said Keith Block, Microsoft's brand-new general manager for CRM, formerly with Oracle/PeopleSoft and Epiphany.

The company also last week made its "CompHot" competitive hotline available to Gold and Certified partners.

The Competitive Sales Assistance service aims to help solution providers overcome competitive technology bids to win deals, said Allison Watson, vice president of worldwide partner sales and marketing at Microsoft.

If a solution provider pitching Small Business Server and Microsoft CRM thinks the account will move to SAP Business One instead, he or she can call to get expert advice on how to compare and contrast the Microsoft solution to win the deal.

Services include presales technical support and access to a Microsoft specialist to help with technical and competitive sales questions. Marketing materials, white papers, case studies, and online training are also available.

Sun Microsystems next quarter is expected to unveil its next-generation Opteron-based servers, CRN has learned.

The project, code-named Galaxy, will produce fully industry-standard, Sun-designed and -fabricated servers on forthcoming dual-core Opteron technology from Advanced Micro Devices, which the chip vendor is getting set to launch, said sources familiar with both companies' plans. Like Sun's current line of Opteron-based servers, the new hardware will run various flavors of Linux, as well as Solaris or Windows. AMD's dual-core processors double the performance of each server processor, in essence allowing an eight-way box to act as a 16-processor server, a four-way server to perform as an eight-processor box, and so on.

While Sun initially will launch an eight-way Galaxy server, it is also readying one-, two- and four-way Galaxy boxes, according to sources. Eventually, the Galaxy servers will replace the current line of Sun rack-optimized Opteron boxes, the Sun Fire v20z and v40z servers.

Sun also will leverage the Galaxy server designs for its next-generation blade servers, sources said. Last month Sun discontinued its current line of Sun Fire B100 and B200 blade servers and will stop taking orders for the current blade family at the end of March.

John Swainson last week officially took over the CEO post at Computer Associates International, three months after joining the company as president, CEO-elect and a board member.

The move marks an early close to a transition period initially expected to last four to six months, during which Swainson reported to outgoing interim CEO Kenneth Cron.

"John [Swainson] has quickly displayed an impressive knowledge of the company and its technologies, and his industry background is a tremendous asset," said CA Chairman Lewis Ranieri.

Swainson, a 26-year IBM veteran, is widely credited for the success of IBM's WebSphere product. He led the worldwide sales organization for IBM's software group and was general manager of the company's application integration and middleware group.

Cron will continue as a CA director, a position he has held since 2002. He is a former president of CMP Media, which publishes CRN.