Oracle Introduces Its First MSP Program Ahead Of OpenWorld

Oracle launched its first-ever managed services program Sunday, with 13 global systems integrators that have made deep investments in Oracle's expanding cloud portfolio as inaugural partners.

Details of the new Oracle Cloud Managed Services Provider Program were first shared with partners at the Oracle Partner Network keynote, kicking off the company's OpenWorld 2016 conference in San Francisco.

The formalized MSP channel, opening to partners a new business model through which to engage the software giant's customers, was driven by demand from customers looking to have their solution providers be a single source for delivering Oracle cloud products, added services, ISV solutions, technical support and all the billing around those products, Sanjay Sinha, vice president of platform products, told CRN.

[Related: Oracle Q1: Cloud Business Up, But Software Business Flat While Hardware Revenue Plummets]

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Oracle, Redwood City, Calif., previously offered partner programs for VARs, systems integrators and ISVs but had never formalized a track around managed services. The rapid adoption of cloud, including a budding Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering, necessitated the program, he said.

"Many [customers] don't have deep expertise in the public cloud. They're looking for partners that can offer these services and help them move to the cloud," Sinha said. "And they wanted one contract from the partners."

While some channel partners already offer managed services around Oracle's cloud and on-premise products, the program empowers them to drive and consolidate that business, said Kimberly Lasseter, a senior director of Oracle's partner program.

"This formalizes the model, adds benefits and some rigor to the criteria," Lasseter told CRN.

Sinha said Oracle intentionally didn't set the bar high to enter the program based on the criteria of references, number of staff trained or revenue.

"But it is high in terms of capabilities," he told CRN.

Sinha hopes to see the program grow to more than 100 partners within its first year, with a large number of regional solution providers added to the mix, including a good fraction not currently involved in the Oracle ecosystem.

The IaaS product has changed the skill set required of those partners, Oracle's Sinha said. Many customers are running a large percentage of non-Oracle workloads, including hundreds of open-source technologies, in Oracle's public cloud, necessitating the new batch of MSP partners to be proficient in migrating and managing products from a number of vendors.

While the program is now open to regional solution providers who can meet its "strenuous criteria," Sinha said, the current 13 partners are all consulting and integration giants, including among them Deloitte, Infosys, Cognizant, Fujitsu, Tata Consultancy Services and Accenture.

"It's the big guys," he said. "Off the bat, we wanted some feedback from experienced partners and a global presence."

Accenture was the first of that crop to start offering managed services under a beta program, he said.

Terri Strauss, managing director of Accenture's Oracle business, told CRN that the company's interest in helping pioneer the program was driven by customers looking for deep capabilities and assets around cloud migrations.

"We have the unique skill set to offer joint clients the professional services to build, test, integrate and manage their journey to the cloud," Strauss told CRN. "Our clients are asking for this, and we are delivering it."

The MSP designation enables Accenture to bring to customers the full range of its offerings -- from Oracle, other cloud providers and home-grown -- as cloud services, she said.

Tata Consultancy Services, another global systems integrator with a large customer base running both Oracle and non-Oracle workloads, joined the MSP program to address the challenges of managing complex IT environments involving technologies from a variety of vendors, said Sunder Singh, global head of TCS' Oracle practice.

"Customers also get worried with multiple integration and architectural challenges, which deter most of the existing customers to take a plunge to cloud," Singh told CRN.

Cloud providers like Oracle have introduced MSP programs around their IaaS and PaaS products to help customers find a single systems integrator to manage a single environment for them, Singh said.

The benefit to Oracle is the company can focus on advancing its cloud technology while leaving to the partners the nuances of how to bundle and integrate systems.

"The [systems integrator] takes over the complete ownership on managing the pricing of any such managed service with the customer directly, hiding all complexity of licensee and subscription prices," TCS' Singh said.

Sinha told CRN most of Oracle's largest partners have traditionally operated independent Oracle practices and cloud infrastructure practices.

"This is galvanizing them to work together," he said of the new program.