AWS Takes Aim At Oracle By Hiring New Americas Sales Leader

“I think the future is much brighter than the past which is why I joined (AWS),” said Rich Geraffo, a seven year Oracle veteran who has left his job leading the Oracle North America organization to accept a position as vice president of Americas Sales for AWS,. “When I think about the innovation agenda from a customer’s point of view we are just at the beginning. I am super excited to be part of this (AWS) team


Amazon Web Services has snatched away Oracle Senior Vice President Rich Geraffo to run its Americas sales organization in what partners are calling a bid to grab database market share from its longtime rival.

Geraffo, a seven-year Oracle veteran who also has experience running Americas sales for Hewlett Packard and VMware, announced that he is moving to AWS as vice president of Americas sales for AWS in a post on LinkedIn.

“Closing out my seven year journey with @Oracle, I feel nothing but gratitude for all of the learnings, growth, insights and relationships I’ve cultivated,” said Geraffo in the post. “Thanks to every one of you who made my experience so amazing, and one that will last a lifetime. In the words of Peloton Coach, Adrian Williams, “Try to fail but never fail to try,” I start my new journey with @AWS, to be a builder and innovate the future of cloud computing. I’m thrilled to begin this new chapter and lead a world-class, customer obsessed team.”

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Oracle declined to comment.

AWS confirmed Geraffo has joined the company but would not comment on who he replaced or who he will report in his new role.

Partners said the addition of Geraffo provides AWS with more sales muscle as it moves to switch Fortune 500 enterprise accounts from Oracle to AWS.

Ethan Simmons, a managing partner for Pinnacle Technology Partners Inc., an AWS managed service provider with an impressive life sciences customer base, said the addition of Geraffo is another sign of AWS moving aggressively to grab share from legacy IT vendors.

“AWS is trying to take all those database services and make them cloud native,” said Simmons. “They are going after those customers that are sick of paying the Oracle and the VMware tax and that want to get rid of crazy licensing fees and move to native AWS services. We are helping customers with that streamlined migration and that frictionless AWS experience that they are trying to get to.”

Simmons said he is seeing strong tailwinds for AWS to replace the likes of Oracle with a channel model that is maturing in order to make inroads into the enterprise market. “AWS realizes they need partners to keep up their growth rates,” he said. “The emphasis on the channel is a big story. This year, we have definitely seen far more effort put into engaging with us as an AWS partner.”

Pinnacle Technology Partners, for its part, is seeing strong customer demand for its popular PeakPlus suite of secure managed and monitored AWS services.

“We are very focused on life science startup companies, they are focused on innovating, finding new drugs and therapies, they look to us to run IT,” he said. “They are relying on our managed services to help them be cloud native and cloud first. They don’t have the time to recruit a team to get them to the cloud. That’s where our managed services fit in.”

The CEO for an SP500 solution provider, who did not want to be identified, said the addition of Geraffo provides AWS with Fortune 500 account sales muscle as it moves to grab big name accounts from Oracle.

“Oracle is betting that Geraffo can walk them into a lot of big Oracle accounts,” said a CEO for an SP500 company, who did not want to identified. “It’s a big hire for AWS.”

AWS CEO Andy Jassy made it a top priority for AWS to migrate off Oracle as it moved to get more customers to switch onto native AWS services like RedShift, Aurora and DynamoDB. It was just one year ago that AWS reported that every division within its sprawling business had achieved the company‘s ambitious goal of extricating itself from Oracle technology by migrating thousands of databases to Amazon Web Services.

After years of phased withdrawal spurred by an increasingly bitter feud stemming from Amazon‘s and Oracle’s competitive cloud divisions, AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr blogged: “I am happy to report that this database migration effort is now complete.”

The final Oracle database powering Amazon‘s consumer business “just turned off,” Barr said, culminating the migration of 75 petabytes of internal Amazon data to multiple AWS database services.

A channel source close to Oracle, who did not want to be identified, said Geraffo’s knowledge of the Oracle Fortune 500 North America account base will open new account doors for AWS.

“Rich know a lot of those accounts, that’s where Oracle plays and he should have good relationships with all those accounts,” he said. “He’s the guy that you would go after if you wanted to make inroads there.”

That said, the source said, AWS will still have a tough time moving long time Oracle database customers to switch to AWS. “It’s tough to get a big customer to move off Oracle,” said the source.

Geraffo joins a host of other top enterprise account sales talent that the cloud sales leader has added over the last year including former HPE Hybrid Cloud President Phil Davis and former HPE Enterprise Group Chanel leader Jeremiah Jenson who both joined AWS in May. They join AWS EMEA Managing Director Andy Isherwood, who joined AWS from HPE in 2018.

One top channel executive, who did not want to be identified, said AWS is beefing up its sales and channel team with established legacy sales talent as it moves to grab a bigger share of the corporate market.

“AWS needs that enterprise credibility because they need to mitigate risk from a customer moving complicated applications to the public cloud,” said the executive. “They are now filling their sales organization with trusted enterprise solution sales people.”

In a Vimeo post, Geraffo said he started his career as an intern at IBM and moved into a senior sales executive role selling to Wall Street firms and financial services accounts. After 16 years on the East Coast, Geraffo moved his family in 2004 to the West Coast to take a sales job at BEA Systems.

Geraffo moved from BEA Systems to Vice President of Sales of VMware from 2008 to 2010. In April 2010, he joined Hewlett Packard Enterprise as senior vice president and managing director of the Enterprise business.

In November 2013, Geraffo joined Oracle as senior vice president of global channels, alliances, OEM and Global Key Accounts. He moved into an executive vice president of the North America business in 2018.

As for the move to AWS after seven years at Oracle, Geraffo said he sees the industry at an inflection point. “I think the future is much brighter than the past which is why I joined (AWS),” he said. “When I think about the innovation agenda from a customer’s point of view we are just at the beginning. I am super excited to be part of this (AWS) team. What really excites me the most with AWS is to continue on the innovation agenda and become a builder and a builder of great teams, being a part of that customer experience and having our team really become trusted advocates for our customers that really excites me.”

Geraffo said friends and family describe him as “genuine,’ someone that really cares about “family first.”

Key to building “great leadership teams,” said Geraffo, is earning the trust of colleagues. That means you “lead from the front, you walk with them into the customer and you win and you lose together but you have their backs,” he said.

Geraffo said he has been journaling for 15 years and has bought a new journal to start at AWS. “I am looking forward to listening and learning and filling this journal up with wisdom and sound bites,” he said.

Geraffo said he hopes to do the best he can to earn the trust of AWS team members and become an Amazonian. “I am not there yet, I don’t claim to be, but I am super excited to walk in these shoes and become part of this great organization and become an owner and hopefully a builder,” he said.

Additional Reporting by Joseph Tsidulko and Donna Goodison