Oracle Rolls Out New Program For Cloud Software Implementers

Oracle told partners Sunday that its new channel program designed to ensure successful implementations across its portfolio of cloud software was going live.

The Cloud Excellence Implementer (CEI) program, addressing the critical implementation phase of any cloud service engagement, was first introduced to partners in June when Oracle shared some details around the benefits of participating and the rigorous criteria to join. Oracle's channel learned more Sunday at the Oracle PartnerNetwork sessions that kicked off the OpenWorld 2017 conference in San Francisco.

"It's very much looking at some of our larger partners and making sure they adhere to high standards. But also there's appeal to some of our smaller implementers, since we are also going to look at it from a regional perspective, as well as a modular level," Penny Philpot, group vice president for worldwide alliances and channels, told CRN about the new program.

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"This is all about ensuring the customer can find the best implementation possible," she said.

The program, which already has won commitments from many resellers and integrators in Oracle's channel, starts with an accreditation process that's unique to each of dozens of Oracle Software-as-a-Service products.

Camillo Speroni, Oracle's vice president for Worldwide Strategic Alliances, told partners attending an Oracle PartnerNetwork keynote Sunday that a lot of work went into figuring out how to identify and reward partners for developing proven, repeatable skills around its SaaS portfolio.

Oracle had to create criteria for 45 different cloud modules, Speroni said, breaking down its ERP suite to a very high level of granularity.

"It will allow each and every one of you in the room to differentiate," he said, based on unique history, customer base, geographic knowledge, and employee skill sets and accreditations.

The program has a global framework, but is executed at the regional level, due to the significance placed on geographic expertise of partner practices, he said.

Partners who want to be recognized through the program, and as a result charge higher rates and see better margins, need to "commit to train and certify consultants."

Oracle's channel also needs to start doing a better job "to capture our success," Speroni said. The CEI program is intended to help achieve that goal with a platform for documenting successful implementations so they can be used as references when selling future deals.

Through the OPN Solutions Catalog, customers will see a full picture of partner implementation qualifications, helping them identity and engage partners best suited for specific projects and limiting their risk when deploying new cloud solutions.

"Really it's very much an evolution of looking at our cloud business," Philpot told CRN.

At last year's OpenWorld conference, the Oracle PartnerNetwork introduced an MSP program.

Focusing on implementation is another important step forward, Philpot said.

"We're selling a lot of SaaS. We're not able to implement it all ourselves. We very much need our partners in fulfilling our commitments," Philpot said. "That’s why we put this program together, to help fill that gap. And hopefully to support partners' margins and profits in their services businesses."

Now partners must decide if the benefits warrant the commitments.

Michael Lance, lead Oracle Solution Architect at Groupware Technology, a systems integrator based in Campbell, Calif., said his company is still waiting to learn more about the new program before making an investment decision.

For a solution provider like Groupware that has practices across multiple cloud providers, the decision to join any new program, especially one with rigorous entry and ongoing criteria, might come down to Oracle's investment in supporting marketing and development of implementation resources, Lance told CRN.

With other cloud providers, like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, vying for Groupware's resources, "there's an expense on our part to retool technical and services people," he said.

"We need Oracle to basically help fund that investment, either by providing training or even fund some of the head count," Lance told CRN.