Oracle OpenWorld: Partners Must Always Bring Cloud To The Table

Oracle wants its partners to always pitch cloud services when selling data center infrastructure, to emphasize Oracle's public cloud credentials and diverse Software-as-a-Service portfolio, and to remind customers that Oracle's cloud seamlessly integrates with its on-premise hardware and software.

Steve Zivanic, vice president of Oracle's storage business group, repeated several times Sunday at an Oracle PartnerNetwork session for solution providers that if they're not adding cloud to deals, they're probably leaving money on the table.

The opening day of Oracle OpenWorld 2015 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco was about partners of all stripes; Oracle held separate sessions for ISVs, system integrators and VARs. Each focused on the transformation the cloud is bringing to enterprise IT and how it enables new business models.

[Related: 3 Reasons Why Oracle's Cloud Business Will Boom (And 3 Reasons It Might Not)]

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In the solution provider session, Zivanic reflected on the industry as a whole, calling it an "industry in chaos." And, he said, solution providers need to make sure their customers understand that the cloud is responsible for the shakeup, he said.

Putting it bluntly, Zivanic told Oracle partners at the session: "Any infrastructure vendor you work with who does not have a successful public cloud will fail."

A great differentiator for Oracle, he said, is the unification of on-premise solutions under one vendor -- especially converged infrastructure -- with cloud solutions at every level of the stack, from SaaS, to PaaS to IaaS. The most successful Oracle solution providers will package everything they sell -- from engineered systems, to storage, to backup to database -- with complementary cloud services.

The 25,000 solution provider partners in the ecosystem need to hammer home this simple sales pitch, he said: "You can develop in the cloud on Oracle hardware and deploy on-premise on Oracle hardware. It's all seamless."

Only with Oracle, across data center and cloud, will you find common SLAs, support, management, billing and security, he said.

And Oracle's converged systems -- called Engineered Systems, according to Zivanic, because the software and hardware engineers actually sit next to each other in the same room -- focus on convergence from the application, to middleware, to database, all the way to the level of the chip.

Jeff Porter, director of Oracle's product channel sales, told partners attending the session that Oracle's expansive portfolio of SaaS applications addresses every business process, within just about every vertical.

The cloud market is not about creating demand, Oracle's Porter said, it's in hyper-growth.

With the many Oracle solutions at their disposal, partners, especially those who focus on the small-business market, can be "a force multiplier to where we cannot get to with our sales organization," he said, adding most small companies can easily afford to subscribe to a database cloud service.

"You need to discover the value-added services you can deliver around the cloud within your organization," he said. And Oracle can help partners do that, Porter said.

A good place for partners to start selling cloud is the referral program, where they get a one-time referral fee for registering a deal, according to Porter.

"Use this program to explore the appetite your market has for cloud services," he said.

Once the concept has been validated and the partner has seen the complete cloud sales cycle, many are emboldened to invest more to become co-sell implementation partners with core skill sets delivering cloud services.

That opens the door to a full resale relationship, where partners can participate in the entire product life cycle -- making money on every add-on, renewal and replenishment. And they should keep profiting by providing managed services, Porter said.

To further help partners pivot to the cloud, Kim Lasseter, director of Oracle PartnerNetwork, unveiled some new programs during the session.

Lasseter first revealed a new entry point for Oracle partners -- a classification called Cloud Registered.

And on Feb. 1, Oracle will launch four more designations: Cloud Standard, Cloud Select, Cloud Premier and Cloud Elite.

The incremental designations, achieved with revenue and demand-generation goals, differentiate partners and allow them to receive benefits as reward for advancing. The designations were designed to align with the go-to-market programs while "putting icing on top," she said.

"What we'd like you guys to do is to prepare for that launch," she said.

Arisant, a managed services provider based in Denver, has been an Oracle partner since Arisant's founding in 2006.

Niklas Iveslatt, one of the company's founders, said the business focuses on recurring revenue, which is why Oracle's cloud strategy is so compelling.

The company is now figuring out how to grow its services business in conjunction with the Oracle cloud, Iveslatt told CRN.

While the session was informative, Iveslatt said, he's still hoping to better understand the new program structures described.

And there are still many challenges to work out, like figuring out suitable processes for migrating large amounts of data into Oracle's Business Intelligence service.

"For us, it's important to understand all the pieces so we can provide our customers a smorgasbord offering," Iveslatt said.

Greg Hoggatt, Arisant's project manager who worked for Oracle in the 1990s, told CRN the challenge for his company and others was integrating all the offerings that Oracle's channel leaders discussed at the session.

"There's a lot of excitement around the cloud. But everything's not here yet," Hoggatt said.