Oracle Says Specialization Program to Benefit Channel Partners

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Oracle introduces Oracle PartnerNetwork Specialized, the next step in its Oracle Enablement 2.0 strategy, designed to help train partners and let them earn one of about 50 specializations that stratify expertise along technology domains, industry verticals and partner tiers.

Oracle is taking its partner enablement initiative a step further with the announcement of about 50 different specializations for its channel partners, called Oracle PartnerNetwork Specialized.

The goal? To create better ways for partners to differentiate themselves and to help end customers find highly skilled channel partners. Partners will find specializations available to them in any of an number of technology areas and vertical industries.

Oracle is billing this as the biggest change to its partner program in 10 years, a change introduced by Judson Althoff, who was promoted to the Oracle channel chief role after two longtime Oracle channel leaders departed in 2008.

"Specialization will represent a depth of skill," Althoff, senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels, tells Channel Insider. "The design goal of this program is to better accommodate all different types of partners in our ecosystem at the same time we are creating a system to help them better differentiate themselves."

According to an Oracle news release Oct. 12, "Partners achieve Specialization in specific areas through competency, business results, expertise and proven success."

As part of the changes, Oracle will make its "remarketer" partner level an official part of the channel partner program, but without establishing any new fees or contracts. Althoff estimates that about 2,000 have taken advantage of the remarketer program in the past year—selling Oracle technologies without paying the fees required to be part of the company's channel partner program.

As for the new specializations, partners will be able to declare a certain specialization if they believe they have the expertise to meet the criteria. Then they will have a 12-month grace period in which to pass the requisite third-party accredited exams, which will be offered at cost, says Althoff.

"We've spent a lot of time profiling [our] existing partner base as well as defining a transition plan that makes this easy," Althoff says. "We wanted the program as a design element to represent rigor and integrity [when it comes] to having a competency in a given area, but not to make it so hard for partners to leverage their existing investments."

Oracle launched the OPN Specialized program at its Oracle OpenWorld event held Oct. 12 to 14 in San Francisco, with about 30 specializations already available out of the box, and Althoff says about 50 will be available by the end of May 2010.

According to the news release: "OPN Specialized will feature four partner levels: Oracle Remarketer, Silver, Gold and Platinum." A complete list of the specialization areas is available here. 

Oracle says the program will also offer a set of new tools, "including a new partner ordering portal, an improved enablement environment for training, a new marketing events calendar and an enhanced Solutions Catalog."

Oracle says the OPN Specialized structure will be available Dec. 1, but partners that migrate early will receive a discounted membership. The new program is "built on the foundation of Oracle Enablement 2.0 training and support," first announced over a year ago.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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