OpenWorld To Take Wraps Off Oracle/HP SMB Effort

Even as the company tries to expand its channel-only offerings--such as the new SMB package, Oracle E-Business Suite Special Edition North America--longtime partners wait for concrete signs that the Redwood Shores, Calif., company has mended its ways.

That topic probably won't be addressed by OpenWorld's long roster of keynote speakers, including CEO Larry Ellison and President Charles Phillips. They and the other presenters are expected to focus on products, including new enterprise content management software, code-named Tsunami, as well as updates to the application server and Oracle Collaboration Suite.

Meanwhile, partners are hoping to hear that Oracle plans to return to an all-indirect model. Oracle has discussed a plan that would direct to Oracle partners sales for companies with either less than $30 million or less than $75 million (the number is in flux) in annual sales.

In a recent interview, Rauline Ochs, Oracle group vice president of North America Alliances and Channels, said over time the new Special Edition packaging and the full E-Business Suite will sell only through partners. But Oracle first must qualify those partners. With just two Oracle Special Edition resellers signed up--and only 37 in the pipeline--the SMB package currently is sold almost entirely by Oracle's own telesales agents.

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To boost the size of its Special Edition reseller channel, Oracle plans to announce at the show that it has launched with Hewlett-Packard a joint initiative that pairs their products, resellers and marketing efforts for the SMB package. Under the initiative, qualified Oracle and HP resellers will sell E-Business Suite Special Edition with the HP ProLiant ML350G4 server, validated for up to 50 users.

Frank Prestipino, vice president of Oracle's midmarket effort, said the companies will provide equal training, support and marketing dollars.

"Because Oracle is selling this only through the channel, the [customer] will no longer have to reconcile any discrepancies between the channel's sales and marketing message and the messages from [the] direct sales [team]," said Jim Bistis, CEO of Core Services, Morristown, N.J., which is certified to resell the Special Edition.

Oracle has not set a target for the number of resellers it will recruit, saying it prefers to see "what the market will bear" before adding to the number now in its pipeline.