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Microsoft poached Oracle’s top channel executive, not to head its own channel organization, but to lead its Dynamics ERP/CRM channel.

Doug Kennedy, Oracle’s former worldwide channel chief and a 16-year veteran of the company, will now head the Microsoft Dynamics Partners business, as of March 24, Microsoft confirmed.

Late last week Oracle confirmed that it had appointed Judson Althoff to head up its channel organization, as senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels.  The move comes just two months after another prominent Oracle channel executive, Rauline Ochs, left Oracle to head up sales for Safeco, an insurance company.

Microsoft and Oracle both declined interview requests, but Microsoft offered a brief written statement about its new hire and its plans for him.

"Our partner ecosystem is a core part of our business model," the company said in that statement. "As such it is critical we place the most experienced and talented person to lead this crucial part of our business. We considered multiple candidates as part of an extensive search process."

Microsoft cited Kennedy’s experience at Oracle as one of the reasons he was the best candidate for the job. It did not say how it coaxed the Oracle executive over to his new home.

The move comes as Oracle announced March 11 that it had created a Web-based version of its application software, designed to make the more traditional vendor of ERP/CRM software more competitive with online upstart rival

In its prepared statement Microsoft said that the current acting head of Microsoft’s Dynamics Partner program, Steve Malme will assist Kennedy with the transition and is also "exploring new opportunities for himself."

Microsoft said that Kennedy’s hire does not indicate any changes in its investment plans for fiscal year 2008. Microsoft also said that the new hire was a single event and that it did not expect further organization changes to immediately follow the Kennedy announcement.