Q&A: Oracle Channel Chief Says Partners Will Play Starring Role In Expanding Its Cloud Business

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Rich Geraffo joined Oracle last October as head of worldwide channels and alliances, becoming the latest member of former boss Mark Hurd's roster of former Hewlett-Packard channel executives.

Geraffo was senior vice president and managing director of HP's Americas enterprise business and he has previously held channel positions at VMware and IBM. He now oversees all of Oracle's routes to market, including global systems integrators, Java business partners, ISVs, and distributors and resellers.

CRN sat down with Geraffo at Oracle's headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif., for a wide-ranging discussion about Oracle's channel reputation, its evolving cloud strategy and why Oracle partners have nothing to fear from the company's practice of hiring college graduates and training them as salespeople. Following is an edited transcript from that interview.

Q: Oracle has a well-established channel program. Yet we regularly hear from partners that are frustrated with channel conflict and other issues. Why do you suppose that is?

I don't agree that Oracle is not channel-friendly, because the fact of the matter is we have a pretty big channel organization. And if you look at routes to market, commitment to the Oracle Partner Network [OPN] and all the work around enablement of the channel, the fact is, we have programs in place that allow partners to build businesses around Oracle.

I think people get confused about how Oracle engages with and embraces the channel. And I think it's very different than most large companies.

What we are looking to do is leverage routes to market to help us grow. But Oracle has 20,000-plus salespeople, so they cover large portions of the market already. Now, as we expand the portfolio from traditional software into infrastructure, or cloud, we want to extend our reach.

We need distribution and resale to help us reach segments in the market where we're not covered. We're not trying to leverage the channel the way an HP, or IBM, or other large companies would. We want to extend our reach and become the sales force for Oracle to drive end-to-end solutions.

Second, We really want the ISV ecosystem in a big way, because most customers are looking for solutions today in a SaaS model. We need ISVs to build their solutions, take the Oracle solutions around database and middleware, help them build their apps in the cloud and then host them in the cloud.

I think partners are starting to see that we're serious. We're not building a fulfillment channel; we're building a value channel. And I think that's different from what our competitors are doing. It's all around value-based selling, so it’s going to be smaller, but it's also going to be different.

NEXT: How Oracle Keeps Young Salespeople From Going After Channel Deals

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