J.D. Edwards Camp Feels The Love

That message is not just being directed toward customers. Oracle also has taken pains to soothe any concerns its midmarket applications channel might have. And on the applications front, that midmarket channel is the J.D. Edwards crowd. Last week Oracle invited these partners to its Redwood Shores, Calif., campus to share how it expects them to play in its SMB strategy.

One piece of good news: Oracle has reinstated the J.D. Edwards brand. "The customers were thrilled when we brought the brand back," said Oracle President Charles Phillips. "It has a high loyalty rate."

Besides returning a well-loved brand, Oracle has also reinstated the marketing plans that PeopleSoft had put on hold while it focused on survival, including telemarketing and vertical-specific campaign material. Oracle also will supply a formalized process for discounts that partners can access as they target companies with up to $500 million in revenue.

Perhaps most welcome of all, say partners, is Oracle financing that allows midmarket customers to take out loans on any combination of software, hardware and implementation costs.

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"For midmarket clients, that's a godsend," said Karen Mills, co-CEO of Axion Solutions, a longtime J.D. Edwards partner in Irvine, Calif. "It's difficult to find financing if they don't have hardware bundled with it. And getting the services bundled is next to impossible. So the fact that Oracle will finance software and the services just makes life easier."

Still, some partners are worried that Oracle's newfound channel religion could fade should Phillips leave the company. "It's not contingent on me," Phillips said. "[The channel is] in our institutional makeup now. With over half of our revenue coming in through partners, we have no choice."