Oracle Unveils Ground-Up Overhaul Of Partner Program

Cloud partners will no longer be grouped in tiers based on fees and revenue. Instead, dozens of new certifications will allow them to demonstrate relevant expertise to customers.

Oracle is scrapping the structure of its current channel program for a new one that eliminates all partner tiering but adds dozens of new badges that demonstrate a spectrum of capabilities and expertise.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based technology giant told partners Monday at its OpenWorld Partner Summit that it has rebuilt the Oracle PartnerNetwork program from the ground up over the past year in line with customer requests and assessments.

OPN will have one tier but almost 50 new badges that attest to partner skills in delivering specific cloud products and business outcomes, as well as geographic reach, relevant experience and industry alignment—what customers have told Oracle they really care about.

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"Customers were very blunt in telling us what they thought, how they would want us to reshape our programmatic efforts and engagements," Julie Tung, Oracle's vice president for alliances and channels, told CRN.

Those customers have "figured out the precious metal or gemstone tiers," she said, referring to the nomenclature typically used by vendors to distinguish partners based on fees they pay and levels of revenue they generate.

Customers understand those metrics don’t really demonstrate the ability of cloud solution providers to meet their unique needs.

So Oracle will no longer group partners in any tiered system.

Now, "you come in the door and you become an OPN member," Tung said. But then the work begins in distinguishing an Oracle Cloud practice.

To that end, Oracle has added 26 new badges for Software-as-a-Service skills and 20 on the platform side.

Those certifications, both for individual Oracle professionals and the solution providers that employ them, prove expertise across many Oracle products, regions and industries served, as well as success in previous engagements.

When Tung started her career with Oracle 22 years ago, she helped build the company's first partner program. But it was the last 14 years she spent working on the customer side that provided the experience that ultimately roped her back into the channel organization, said Camillo Speroni, Oracle's vice president for worldwide strategic alliances.

The channel revamp project was launched a year ago, Speroni said. It involved bringing together the entirety of Oracle's channel organization with one principle: to build a new program from the ground up that would accelerate cloud growth and customer success.

"We identified we needed to provide a simplified, streamlined, consistent framework that would allow partners to pick what they're good at and accelerate from there," Speroni told CRN.

Oracle started that effort by breaking down relevant partner capabilities across the multitude of cloud services.

"The intersection of industry, region and expertise will provide the right solution for our customers," Speroni said.

The new program goes live on Dec. 1, but partners can take their time, Tung said, earning the new badges when they're ready.

Oracle will unroll learning paths, tools and examinations to facilitate their progress, and will map previous certifications onto the new credentials to ensure partners don’t lose their prior investments.

Jennifer Birk, Oracle's senior vice president for operations, announced the changes at the Partner Summit that kicked off the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

"I think they've nailed it with the new program," said Ronald Zapar, CEO of Oracle partner Re-Quest, based in Naperville, Ill.

Leveling the playing field for all partners by eliminating pay-to-play tiers is a huge evolution, he said.

Zapar said that in more than 20 years as an Oracle partner, it's the first time he's seen the OPN program able to "articulate actual ROI for a partner's investment in the program."