Deadline Approaching For Sun Partners To Migrate Reseller Contracts To Oracle

The question is how many Sun resellers will make the move.

Oracle currently works with approximately 2,500 Sun solution providers worldwide (600 in North America) under contracts held over from the Sun Partner Advantage channel program. Those contracts expire Oct. 15 and solution providers will be under Oracle PartnerNetwork contracts beginning Oct. 16, said Judson Althoff, senior vice president of worldwide alliances, channels and embedded sales, in an interview Monday at the Oracle OpenWorld conference.

Since Oracle acquired Sun in January for $7.3 billion Oracle executives have said they plan to sell more Sun products directly to large customers and rely less on the channel for fulfillment as Sun did.

Just last week, Oracle president Safra Catz said on the first-quarter earnings call that Oracle had "ended numerous reselling agreements accounting for hundreds of millions of dollars of hardware revenue that usually came to Sun at little or no profit at all."

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Those changes have led to discontent among some Sun resellers.

This week at Oracle OpenWorld, channel program managers, while not backing away from their stance that Sun resellers must go beyond fulfillment and add value to Oracle and Sun products, have put a great deal of emphasis on the opportunities Sun resellers have under the Oracle PartnerNetwork program.

Oracle has more than 370,000 customers worldwide and in his keynote speech Sunday Althoff noted that more than 300,000 of those are running Oracle software on hardware from vendors other than Sun. That, he argued, is an opportunity for Sun resellers who join Oracle's channel program to sell servers and storage hardware to Oracle's installed base.

Oracle also has added training and certification programs in Sun products as part of its OPN Specializations initiative and Oracle is encouraging Sun resellers to "move up the stack" and sell more solutions combining Sun hardware with Oracle software.

In an interview Monday Althoff said about 80 percent of Sun channel partners have already migrated to the Oracle Partner Network program and those who intend to migrate bring that number up to 90 to 92 percent. Of the rest, he said some are undecided while a few have concluded they can't make the transition. "Which is pretty much in line with what we expected," Althoff said.

"It's a lot of change, to say the least," said Tom Wagner, group vice president of North America alliances and channel sales for Oracle's systems business, in an interview. His organization is responsible for the 600 legacy Sun resellers in North America.

Wagner said Oracle is not actively discontinuing any Sun partners from joining OPN. "It is purely a partner choice," he said, but he acknowledged that some partners "will be challenged to make the transition."

Like Althoff, Wagner emphasized the opportunities for Sun partners with Oracle's programs and product portfolio. "The channel now gets it. The portfolio is a big deal," he said. "They're recognizing the increased opportunities in the Oracle ecosystem."