Oracle Cloud Exec Touts Channel Opportunities With PaaS, SaaS Offerings

Oracle's Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service cloud technologies offer channel partners more business opportunities than they can expect to get from working with SaaS-only vendors, according to Shawn Price, the company's new cloud executive.

Oracle also is seeing evidence that business adoption of cloud ERP and financial applications for core business operations is gaining momentum as more companies go beyond using cloud technology for line-of-business or "edge process" applications, such as CRM and human resource management, Price said.

Price, Oracle senior vice president of global cloud strategy, was the keynote speaker at Oracle's CloudWorld event in Boston Tuesday. He also met with the media following his speech.

[Related: Oracle Cloud Partner Director: Start Your Cloud Transformation Now]

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Price joined Oracle in October. Prior to that, he was head of the cloud business unit at rival SAP before leaving in May. He joined SAP when it acquired SuccessFactors, the developer of cloud-based talent management applications, in 2012.

In his keynote, Price touted Oracle's complete suite of cloud applications compared to what he called "best-of-breed" SaaS components from competitors, although he didn't name specific vendors. Oracle currently has more than 600 cloud applications, he said, including 135 introduced at Oracle OpenWorld in September.

He also promoted Oracle's PaaS offerings, including cloud middleware, database, Java, security and identity-management services, which make it possible to integrate and extend SaaS applications.

"So Platform-as-a-Service, to us, is incredibly important [and] has huge value," he said in his keynote. "But, most importantly, it creates extensibility, and I can't imagine a SaaS provider not having Platform-as-a-Service."

Later, speaking of PaaS, he added: "This is going to open an entirely new service stream for our partners."

In September, Oracle said it would open some of its enterprise cloud products to the channel through four of the company's value-added distributors.

At The Channel Company's NexGen Cloud Conference & Expo in San Diego last week, Jeff Porter, director of Oracle's cloud partner programs, urged solution providers to invest now in cloud services. Partners, he said, need to ramp up their recurring revenue from cloud services before sales of on-premises systems decline.

Price echoed that, noting that partners are still doing "billions and billions of dollars" in business in traditional on-premises software sales and implementation projects.

"And they're going to have to transform," he said. "They're going to have to transform their business models around specification and the creation of new intellectual property with these white-space applications and gap applications."

By "specification," Price was referring to up-front consulting services that solution providers can offer to help customers determine their cloud-computing requirements and which cloud technologies -- and which vendors that provide them -- can meet those needs.

"White space" or "gap" applications are software products solution providers and ISVs can develop that add functionality between Oracle cloud applications or extend those applications, he said.

Price said Oracle's cloud applications also provide its channel partners with integration opportunities, especially within large companies that have a mix of cloud and on-premises applications. SMB customers, however, are generally buying full cloud suites and not "carrying forward a lot of baggage" in terms of legacy on-premises applications, he said.

One of the historic strengths of Oracle has been the breadth and depth of its ecosystem," Price said. "I think we offer the channel some unique opportunities that don't exist elsewhere."