Mark Hurd: The Oracle Of The Channel

Mark Hurd lays the foundation for Oracle's channel charge

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The New Software And Services Scenario

What is happening with the product portfolio at Oracle also has its longtime services and software partners changing up their model and doing what once would have been unthinkable: adding hardware to their business. Keste, a Plano, Texas-based Oracle partner, is doing just that. In fact, Keste has invested $1 million in a Center of Excellence that features both Oracle Exadata and Exalogic appliances. That kind of all-in investment is one of the secrets to succeeding as an Oracle partner, said Howard Moore, president and CEO of Keste. “You never go to Oracle with an open hand,” he said. “It’s a bad move.”

Two years ago, Moore said, he never would have believed that Keste would be selling hardware systems. “But there have been some big changes in the industry,” he said. “Who would have ever believed Oracle would have purchased Sun?”

Keste sees Exalogic and Exadata as key to taking the guesswork out of fine-tuning complex enterprise database and business analytics applications. “It was a no-brainer to add Exalogic and Exadata,” said Sri Ayyeppen, vice president and CTO of Keste. “Now we walk into a customer with a known quantity in terms of the hardware implementation so we can meet the performance and [systems] management expectations of customers. That is a huge change in our world.”

Hurd’s clear line between where the direct sales team and partners play has given Keste confidence to make the big hardware investment, said Moore. “Mark Hurd has cleared a lot of the haziness out of the [Oracle] channel [model],” he said. “The story is very consistent. They are going to focus on the global 2000 and the channel is going to focus on the broad market and Oracle is going to protect you [from channel conflict].”

Hurd’s sales leadership even has Oracle’s direct sales force looking to leverage the channel, said Moore. In fact, he said, the Keste sales team is working cooperatively with the Oracle direct sales force on a number of deals. “We needed someone at the very top to come in and get the reps to understand they should plug into the channel,” he said. “You need somebody at the top to be sort of a benevolent dictator.”

Moore sees the new Exadata and Exalogic systems powering dramatic services sales growth. Keste’s services business alone -- even without Exadata and Exalogic appliance sales -- is expected to soar from $24 million this year to $32 million in 2012.

The time is right for the new Oracle hardware/software-engineered systems, said Moore. “I am very confident walking into a customer that is a longtime Oracle customer that they are very open to looking at hardware from Oracle,” he said. “This doesn’t sound very sophisticated, but Oracle customers continue to buy more Oracle products. Nobody is perfect, but they know Oracle is going in the right direction. If you are going to bet your future on any software company I don’t know how you would bet on anyone other than Oracle because the foundation is there: It starts with the database.”

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