Oracle Cloud Partner Director: Start Your Cloud Transformation Now

Solution providers can pave the way for a smoother business transformation if they start investing in cloud services now, said Jeff Porter, director of Oracle's cloud partner programs.

Speaking at this week's NexGen Cloud Conference & Expo Wednesday in San Diego, Porter urged attendees to start making investments in providing cloud services now so when their on-premise revenue starts to decline, as it inevitably will, enough time will have passed for those recurring sources to mature to a steady revenue stream.

Navigating the transformation to the cloud is proving a serious challenge for many legacy companies, Porter acknowledged.

"It's not easy," Porter said, "but it's going to be a benefit."

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But the challenges aren't unique to solution providers, he said.

Oracle, like many other software vendors, finds itself in a situation much like that of the conference's attendees. The tech giant, headquartered in Redwood Shores, Calif., has sold software licenses for 30 years, and is now making a sharp turn to developing a recurring revenue strategy for its new breed of products, Porter said.

"We need your assistance to do that quite frankly. It is our partner ecosystem we rely on to get out to the broader part of the market," he told solution providers at the conference, which is run by The Channel Company, the publisher of CRN.

The boards of many companies are mandating cloud-first strategies, even when their own IT departments are hesitant, Porter said. The boards are insistent, however, because "companies that don't innovate get lost by the wayside," he said.

Still, up to 90 percent "of spend is being invested in status quo, and only about 10 percent in innovation," he told attendees, adding, "We need to help some of these CIOs convert some of that investment over to that innovation strategy."

More than $100 billion is being invested in cloud technologies -- a spend that is growing at a factor of 5x. That rapid move to a service-based model is growing the top line for many solution providers that have adopted cloud strategies, and those companies are also seeing greater returns compared to legacy rivals.

There's plenty of work for cloud-focused solution providers out there -- it's not easy to shut down a customer's on-prem hardware and spin up a replacement cloud solution. Consultants are necessary for migration and testing to make sure all customizations remain working properly in the new environment, he said.

Oracle wants its channel partners involved in -- and profiting from -- renewals, upgrade cycles, add-on cycles and in closing the deal.

The company's corporate strategy "is enabled by the cloud," Porter said, adding the software vendor wants to deliver its entire stack not only as on-premise software, but simultaneously in the cloud.

Oracle's channel program has been designed to help potential partners explore the value of delivering the company's cloud solutions, he said.

"The cloud is all about getting to that renewal. If the customer doesn't renew at the end of that on- year term, no one is making any money. We have to make sure that the customer satisfaction is at an all-time high ... In order to do that, we have to impart a deep skill set within our partners," Porter said.

The onramp to partnering is a simple referral program that offers a 10 percent referral fee. Oracle hopes solution providers will reinvest that referral fee into developing skills by taking advantage of Oracle's specialization processes and training programs.

Those programs, in turn, will qualify partners for Oracle's resale program that enables them to buy subscriptions directly from the vendor at a discount, and invoice the customer with whatever markup they see fit.

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Kumar Nandigam, CEO of Dallas, Texas-based solution provider TEKPROS, is already an Oracle partner, and he was encouraged by what he heard at NexGen.

"It's good to know Oracle is finally adopting to cloud," Nandigam told CRN, adding, "I hope they will offer all their products, including the e-business suite, in the cloud."

Nandigam told CRN he believes Oracle's new co-CEO, Mark Hurd, will pursue the cloud model more aggressively than the company has in the past.

Brad Wohlander, CEO of Sentry Global Technologies in Plano, Texas, said Porter helped "reinforce something we've known for many years, which is the cloud is the service room of the future," Wohlander said.

"Operating on-prem servers makes about as much sense as operating your own power plant," Wohlander told CRN, though he noted that the timeline to profitability from joining Oracle's cloud program "appears to be too steep."

Wohlander told CRN he came to NexGen to learn about vendors that would make good cloud partners for Sentry. His company is only interested in companies that exclusively sell through the channel -- Wohlander said he is unwilling to feel like he's competing with his own technology partners.

"We're trying to figure out which vendors to pursue after the conference," he told CRN.

Some of those vendors at NexGen he knows a good deal about, others he's aware of but didn't know they had channel programs, and still others he's never heard of. He wants to hear from them all.