Despite concerns that its new online applications subscription service will burn the channel it is supposedly trying to woo, Oracle officials deny partners are at risk.
Instead, Nick Evered, the company's regional channel manager, claims they will benefit from Business OnLine, which is to provide the full complement of Oracle Applications modules online on a rental basis.
"There are a number of ways that Business OnLine can be delivered," Evered told ARN. "Firstly, there's obviously Oracle providing its generic applications package online, but even in that particular space there is still a high demand for partner solutions to be put around the outside and included in the offering.
"More significantly though, there are areas where partners themselves will be able to take some of our technologies, including the Business OnLine applications, and wrap them up with their own applications and offer them online as well."
Evered claims one of Oracle's partners is already offering a low-end retail solution in exactly that paradigm and has recruited a New Zealand-based retail organisation as its first subscriber.
"Business OnLine is also going to bring a whole new set of partners who are actually going to be reselling those kinds of services," Evered said. "We're only providing the hardware and the base setup of the environment. The channel will still need to then go through the process of tailoring it to a customer's specific needs."
But Oracle will need to do some fast-talking to convince a channel already sceptical about the company's true intentions for its newly-formed indirect sales model.
"For a software author like Oracle, I can see the logic in applications outsourcing," Tim Bedford, managing director of ERP systems integrator, FocalPoint Solutions, recently told ARN (September 30, page 8). "In the past, they have had to cast a margin on to a reseller or a third-party implementer, and this service will enable them to save paying that margin."
The Business OnLine applications are hosted in a central data centre, and subscribers can connect to the service via a Java-compliant Internet browser.
The service, which is currently being piloted, will initially only include Oracle's financial, distribution and manufacturing application modules, according to officials. The other components will be added at a later stage.
According to Evered, Oracle is merely starting a trend for both vendors and the channel in the future.
"Having started to work with a number of local business partners who are already starting to put forward proposals for their own Business OnLine-specific solutions leads me to believe we will just be one of many providers of online applications."