Partner-Friendly Oracle Update - Part 2

Part 1 of this blog series outlined Oracle’s recent (and seemingly genuine) change of heart and approach towards partnering. The analysis then moved into Oracle's VAD Remarketer Program, which was launched about two years ago to allow partners to determine the best growth path for their business.

A Remarketer is a new class of Oracle reseller with the ability to resell only the products that fall under Oracle’s 1-Click Ordering Programs and strictly under standard terms and conditions. The current figures show over 1,200 recruited Remarketers with over 2,000 placed orders since the launch.

The program is currently available only through 47 Remarketer Authorized Value Added Distributors (VADs). Remarketers have to leverage an assigned VAD for all necessary support, training, and customer issues.

The roster of eligible products in 2009 has also doubled in the past year. There are currently the following 10 software products, including versions of database, enterprise content management (ECM), and application server products:

  1. Oracle Database Personal Edition (US$460 per user, with no required minimum number of users)

  2. Oracle Database 11g Standard Edition One (US$180 per user, with a minimum 5-user requirement)

  3. Oracle Database 11g Standard Edition (US$350 per user, with a minimum 5-user requirement)

  4. Oracle Application Server 10g Standard Edition One (US$180 per user, with a minimum 5-user requirement)

  5. Oracle Application Server 10 g Standard Edition (US$230 per user, with a minimum 10-user requirement)

  6. Oracle Business Intelligence (BI) Standard Edition One (US$1,200 per user, with a minimum 5-user requirement)

  7. Oracle Weblogic Server 10g Standard Edition (US$200 per user, with a minimum 10-user requirement)

  8. Oracle Universal Content Management (UCM) Standard Edition (US$1,200 per user, with a minimum 10-user requirement)

  9. Oracle Document Capture (US$7,000 per processor)

  10. Oracle Internet Developer Suite (US$5,800 per user, with no required minimum number of users)

The transparency and clarity about the prices, terms and conditions is commendable. Another side benefit of the program could come for Oracle from dispelling some competitors’ rumors (or wishful thinking) about Oracle neglecting its acquired products. Namely, some of the abovementioned products are former Stellent and BEA Systems products. So much for letting acquired products languish, when they are even tuned up for seeding the entry-level customers.

Building a Community

One new element of the update on the program was that Oracle is trying to get its partners involved into more of a close-knit community. For one, Oracle has set up the Oracle Mix site for bringing together Oracle customers, employees, and developers. You can also find Oracle Partner Network (OPN) on Facebook and LinkedIn; Oracle will continue to grow its participation in these social media platforms in the near term.

Gathering and nurturing a community and transforming the way people share and work together is hard work, but it can come with great long-term benefits. For example, there is the potential benefit of instilling goodwill with members sharing information with easy Web 2.0 social media.

To that end, the general Oracle partners’ site can be found here, whereas this site is dedicated only to Remarketers. The “grow uP with Oracle” blog (some blog entries were mentioned in Part 1), is also dedicated to inform Remarketers about the latest success stories.

Enabling Resellers and Attracting the “Little Guy” with Freebees

In order to further plant its seeds in the lower end of the market, Oracle also offers an easy-to-use Web-based rapid application development (RAD) tool for the Oracle database. Using only a Web browser, users can develop and deploy secure professional applications. To that end, Oracle Application Express (Oracle APEX, formerly Oracle HTML-DB) comes free with Oracle Database 11g, and offers the following prepackaged solutions: Sales Forecasting, Event Manager, People Search, Timesheets, Discussion Forum, and Image Archive.

Oracle APEX seems to be a good tool for Remarketers looking to break new ground with prospective customers or to continue to make inroads with existing customers (and their individual divisions). APEX provides customers (and more specifically the reseller) with the ability to relatively quickly create custom applications. These solutions can be as simple or as advanced as users need them to be.

Yet, it is a little known fact that Oracle APEX comes as part of the database, let alone what one can use if for. Indeed, contrary to Microsoft Office Access, which is on a different code than Microsoft SQL Server, anything written in Oracle APEX can be fairly easily migrated (and scaled up) to Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) [evaluate this product] owing to the same database schema and relations. You can read more about Oracle’s APEX solution here.

What Might the Future Bring?

Thus, Oracle APEX is envisioned as the tool for Microsoft Access replacement. While indisputably a good idea and approach, I was also wondering whether Oracle might be working on its arsenal of products to deliver a similar “SharePoint killer” product to curb Microsoft from virally penetrating enterprises. At this stage, Microsoft could be “eating everyone’s lunch” with Microsoft SharePoint when it comes to planting content management, enterprise portals, enterprise search, and collaborative (groupware) software applications.

At Gartner’s recent BPM Summit, I learned that the success of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) is due to the following three factors:

  1. Microsoft includes the product in its Windows Server operating system (OS), so it is distributed widely and free via Windows SharePoint Services (WSS);

  2. The product has enough appeal and functional features out-of-the-box, and is easy enough to set up, so that a competent businessperson can get it running without the information technology (IT) organization’s involvement;

  3. It is a product for team collaboration, which helps to explain its viral growth. Namely, a company will typically start a project with a few users and if they have a proficiency with SharePoint, they will go on to use it for their next few projects, each with a few more different team members.

An Oracle spokeperson’s response with regard to counteracting SharePoint was sort of noncommittal. My read into it is that there is certainly some temptation, but that Oracle also needs to approach it carefully to avoid the risk of uncontrolled use of easily downloadable and proliferating applications.

Namely, many enterprises have experienced SharePoint’s “side effects” such as WSS anarchy, creeping product dependencies (i.e., for that to work, you need to buy this and that Microsoft product set), and escalating costs. For instance, user authentication works much better with Microsoft Active Directory, although it is not required. However, integration is needed if one wants to use Lightweight Directory Access Protocol [LDAP]-based security systems.

Moreover, like with Microsoft Access, when enterprises outgrow SharePoint’s capabilities, they are either faced with functional trade-offs or pricey reliance on partners to somehow (often painfully) overcome these shortcomings. Given Oracle’s good reputation when it comes to its products’ reliability and its more controlled IT environment approach, it is likely that Oracle will not rush with a freebee product delivery until it figures out how to preempt the possible side effects.

Dear readers, what are your views, comments, opinions, etc. about Oracle’s improved partnering approach, and about the VAD Remarketer program per se? If you are the program reseller and/or recipient, I would appreciate you sharing your experiences with the offerings and the provider (i.e., the Remarketer and its VAD).
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