Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

One of the biggest opportunities for Oracle’s partners is a growing role in what the company calls its cloud transformation. This transformation is considerable despite the company’s late entry into the cloud computing space. Oracle believes its channel partners will be critical to increasing the industry’s adoption of its cloud solutions and services.

Oracle’s total cloud revenues reached $735 million in the third quarter, ending Feb. 29, up 40 percent in U.S. dollars. Cloud software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) revenues were $583 million, up 57 percent. However, cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) revenues dropped 2 percent to $152 million.

“Oracle has the ambition of being one of the leading providers of cloud services, but they won’t be able to accomplish that without a notable ecosystem,” said Yefim V. Natis, vice president and fellow at Gartner.

“Oracle is just entering the cloud computing space, and a partner strategy is essential for success. They, more than anyone else, need to invest strategically in expediting their path to success because they are coming in later than everyone else,” Natis said. “They need to be particularly aggressive to catch up and succeed.”

Oracle needs a broad three-pronged partner strategy–one for SaaS, one for PaaS and one for IaaS, according to Natis. “They will need system integrators that will allow customers to take best advantage of their SaaS; they are going to need partners to build on their platform so there is an ecosystem of other SaaS solutions that are well integrated and sell their core SaaS, and they are going to need partners in IaaS as well–various distributors and local partners because they are a trailing player and almost an absent player.”

OPN Cloud Program

Oracle took a step toward growing its ecosystem with the launch of a cloud partner program that leverages its existing partners’ investments in cloud skills and expertise. After receiving feedback from key stakeholders, including internal constituents, partners, analysts and an advisory board, Oracle launched the OPN Cloud Program, complementary to the existing Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN). The new program gives partners additional benefits and bonuses based on their investments in Oracle Cloud. Oracle currently has more than 25,000 OPN members.

Built on the foundation of OPN, the OPN Cloud Program provides partners with a roadmap to invest and build an Oracle Cloud practice. Based on four tiers–Cloud Standard, Cloud Select, Cloud Premier and Cloud Elite, program qualifications are based on cloud performance metrics. These include a partner’s cloud specializations, applications on the Oracle Cloud Marketplace, cloud fixed-scope offerings, successful “Go-Live” cloud implementations, cloud success stories, dedicated cloud-focused resources and expertise.

“We believe that partners are critical to our long-term success,” said Kimberly Lasseter, director of Oracle PartnerNetwork for Oracle. “We’re hoping this is the road map they need, and that it will continue to drive value for them and their businesses, but also to help deliver value to our mutual customers.”

OPN and OPN Cloud Program are complementary programs that work together. Partners first need to achieve an OPN level–Silver, Gold, Platinum or Diamond, and based on their Oracle Cloud skills and expertise, they would join one of the cloud tiers–Standard, Select, Premier or Elite.

“We launched a pure set of cloud designations that complement the existing OPN levels and allows our partner network community to showcase their expertise, skills and successes they’ve had with Oracle Cloud over the past 12 to 18 months,” Lasseter said.

“We want to make sure these four cloud designations remain agnostic by the partner type,” she added. “We want them to be able to invest and lean into their business model, but still have access to the progressive level of benefits. The more they invest, the higher they go into those progressive tiers and the more benefits they’ll receive.”

Credit for Cloud Achievements

The cloud program allows them to take advantage of all of their cloud training and skills that they’ve invested in, including specializations they have at the Platinum and Diamond levels, and in some cases, the Gold level, to further differentiate themselves as a Gold member of OPN at the Cloud Premier level, Lasseter explained.

When partners achieve certain milestones and targets at each tier, they receive the additional benefits and recognition. Benefits are focused on several areas including sales engagement, technical enablement and marketing support.

Oracle also enhanced and added a host of other benefits, all designed to give partners credit and recognition for their cloud achievements. New benefits include highly discounted cloud test, development and demo environments that are production-ready. The company also added higher level go-to-market engagements to drive cloud opportunities in a partner’s region, and marketing and joint lead generation activities.

Lead partners can also earn a bonus package by adding incremental non-revenue activities, which include successful Go-Live or completed implementation services for a customer. Elite partners also can receive additional bonuses such as five or 10 free days of engagement with the Oracle consulting services team on-site for solutions development or mentoring.

The feedback from partners has been favorable, Lasseter said. She attributes the success to deep engagement with different types of partners across the globe to develop the program, asking them what they need from Oracle as a vendor.

“We expect to see similar benefits of the OPN cloud program to what we have experienced in the past–including access to product information through OPN webinars and training sessions, access to cloud-based environments to enable asset development, visibility to customers and the Oracle salesforce for our invested solutions, and the ability to resell Oracle cloud products when it is of value to our mutual clients,” said Jay Saddler, managing director of the Oracle alliance at Accenture, Oracle’s largest systems integrator.