Blog: Oracle’s channel silence is deafening

Opinion Jan 28, 2013

Will Garside isn’t holding his breath for any comment from Oracle about its channel plans

A couple of weeks back, Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) announced a new Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) that mixed on-premise with capacity-on-demand elements.

This means customers should be able to deploy Oracle-engineered systems in their datacentres in a more economical fashion. According to the vendor, its IaaS would include a mix of Exalogic Elastic Cloud, SPARC SuperCluster, Exalytics In-Memory Machine and Sun ZFS Storage Appliance. However, the IaaS would be hosted in customer datacentres behind their firewall all for a simple monthly fee.

For clients who have had enough of managing Oracle’s technologies, a new “Platinum Plus” Service will, according to the press release, offer “quarterly proactive analysis and advisory by Oracle experts to identify issues with system performance, security compliance, and system availability, and provide guidance on how to resolve these issues.” Sounds fantastic!

So what are the channel opportunities in all of this? What part of Oracle IaaS is direct, versus indirect? Is this a good or bad deal for channel partners in terms of margin? Well, unfortunately the press release doesn’t say. So like any good journalist, I asked the vendor (I wanted to speak to the Oracle, if you will.)

So here comes the part that our colleagues in the channel press will recognise; Oracle’s reticence to deal with the channel press. But why, you ask? Put simply, they just don’t need to even pretend to care.

Using the powers of Google search, try and find any channel press story about Oracle IaaS that has any depth. There have been a few worthy press release re-hashes, but nothing that answers any significant questions. Or try and find a quote from an Oracle partner about IaaS.

The question that still needs some clarification: Is this a good deal for the channel or is Oracle moving more direct?

Why should you even care? Well, the fact that Oracle as one of the largest enterprise software vendors is moving closer to an ‘as-a-service’ model is a significant pointer to where the wider market is heading. Innovators in Oracle’s shadow have long-argued that its monolithic and rigid nature has made it expensive and lacking in flexibility. So for a channel partner with customers asking about Oracle as IaaS versus potential rivals, knowledge is key.

Before this blog gains a “sour grapes” mentality, I would like to stress that technical people tell me that Oracle platforms are fast, reliable and fully-featured. Based on revenue and customer references, the planet seems to agree. So does it matter that the firm simply refuses to communicate with channel press on any meaningful level?

No, not really. Oracle is a closed shop, a bit like Apple’s laughable and entirely one sided ‘channel strategy’. If you speak to both current and former Oracle staff (always off the record), they will tell you that growing partners is not really a requirement. All of the top 100 SIs and global solution providers have alignment with Oracle. Some whisper that each big partner has its own contract terms that varies from region to region. So ‘channel’ in the broader sense no longer applies to the mighty O.

From what has been said (by Oracle) and from what has been written (based only on the limited Oracle press release), the IaaS announcement is essentially a way of switching from CAPEX to OPEX when it comes to Oracle investment. Clearly, a sensible option in this challenging economy, but does it help the channel community?

Nobody really knows and don’t hold your breath in expectation that Oracle will start answering any serious questions regarding its channel strategy any time soon.

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