Mark Hurd: The Oracle Of The Channel

Mark Hurd lays the foundation for Oracle's channel charge

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When Hurd arrived at Oracle, a good portion of the already weakened hardware partner base left from the Sun acquisition was disheartened and disenfranchised. A number of those Sun partners had, in fact, made a decision to migrate to IBM or HP systems. Avnet Vice President Mike Hurst, who oversees the global Oracle partnership for the $26 billion distributor and witnessed the aggressive recruiting of Sun partners by competitors, credits Hurd’s channel leadership with reinvigorating the onetime Sun hardware partners. “Mark stepped in when there was a lot of confusion, a lot of uncertainty and, frankly, a lot of trepidation about what was going to happen specifically with the Sun hardware business and the Sun partner community.”

Hurd’s channel leadership has made all the difference in the world, said Hurst. “He had a very substantial impact in a very short period of time,” Hurst said. “It has been dramatic focus and change in very short order, which was needed, by the way. As a community of partners we were scrambling to understand how to engage with Oracle.”

Hurd brought “clarity” and “trust” to the Oracle channel partner model, said Hurst. “Mark, coming from some of his previous roles, is a big advocate and very astute in understanding how to use and leverage the channel,” he said.

Mardi Norman, president and CEO of Dynamic Systems Inc., an El Segundo, Calif., government integrator, is one of those hardware-focused partners that came from Sun and found a renewed relationship under Hurd’s steady channel hand. Dynamic Systems’ business took a hit in the wake of the Oracle acquisition, but Norman's management team evaluated the alternatives -- including the possibility of lining up with another vendor -- and decided to make a big software bet with Oracle. That meant obtaining a number of Oracle database software specializations, including the highly prized Oracle Exadata specialization.

As a result, she said, Dynamic Systems is a stronger company with a higher services quotient and is poised for dramatic sales growth in 2012. “We are going to take off like a rocket,” said Norman. “There is better potential for us now than if we would have been back with the old Sun model. That had limitations with how far we could grow.”

Norman said she doesn’t like to think about the sizable investment she made to make the transition, but she is confident there will be a significant return. As an 18-year Sun partner, Norman said, professional services accounted for less than 2 percent of her company’s sales, with maintenance support accounting for about 30 percent of sales and the remainder made up primarily of hardware sales.

Now making the move to Oracle’s integrated systems, Dynamic Systems is looking at a business model comprised of about 25 percent professional services, 25 percent support services, and the remaining 50 percent hardware and software sales.

NEXT: The Payback For Partners

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