Australian partners raise questions over Oracle/Sun channel

Oracle’s initial announcements around an integrated Oracle/Sun business have left Australian Sun partners with more questions than answers.

Oracle’s initial announcements around an integrated Oracle/Sun business have left Australian Sun partners with more questions than answers. But all agree the software vendor’s decision to increase its direct sales force by 1700 globally won’t have significant ramifications locally.

Managing director for Queensland-based integrator SureBridge IT, Rick Brown, said Sun had been communicating with partners since the acquisition was announced in April last year, but was unable to provide any real information on how its channel would be received within the Oracle fold.

SureBridge is a significant Sun partner but also works with Oracle in a limited capacity. Its customer base includes mid-market corporates and state government departments.

“If this is a game of Texas Hold ‘Em, we’ve got a big pot in front of us and no one knows what anyone has in their hands,” he said.

What will happen to Sun’s technology partner alliances, such as its storage arrangement with HDS, has also been called into question. But despite this, Brown was not overly concerned by Oracle’s plan to take Sun’s top 1700 enterprise accounts direct and 2000 additional direct sales staff as the international decision was unlikely to affect Australian relationships.

“Sun’s sales force has been diminishing here in the last 18 months to two years. For Oracle to increase its sales force to cover what has already gone, then add value on top, will be a difficult job in the current market. Oracle will have an uphill battle,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean we will drop our guard though – in fact, we will lift it and continue using our key differentiator to stay successful, which is service.”

According to Brown, any negative decisions made by Oracle around Sun resellers could also see partners switch allegiance to alternative server and infrastructure suppliers.

"I don’t know if it’s a good thing, or if the cultures will mix. If they don’t, it will be one hell of a fight.”

Express Data vendor manager, David Peach, agreed questions about the long-term integration of the two vendors’ channel programs were rife. In the meantime however, it was business as usual across the distributor’s Sun sales and support team.

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“It is pleasing they are still committed to the x86 platform,” Peach said. “What the channel looks like in a year’s time is up in the air.” He was confi dent Oracle would see value in Sun’s solid Australian partner ecosystem and that its strengths would feed into the integrated local structure.

Both Alphawest and Dimension Data declined to comment on the Oracle/Sun acquisition or channel strategy, while an Oracle spokesperson said it was not yet in a position to comment on local policy.

Brisbane-based integrator, Server Central, has been a Sun shop since launching in 2003. Managing director, Andrew George, was also waiting to gain clarifi cation around channel commitment, but dismissed Oracle’s direct tendencies as a major threat. The reseller focuses on infrastructure and datacentre solutions for organisations with 50-1000 seats.

“We’ll see how the local guys work together and how effective it is. I’m just glad Sun is still there – whether it’s Oracle/Sun, or Sun is a division, it doesn’t worry me as long as we have access to the technology,” George said.

Both George and Peach applauded Oracle’s decision to leave Sun’s x86 server and storage offerings mostly intact and claimed it would help accelerate customer spending this year.

“Given the certainty at an end-user level around Sun’s x86 platform now, customers can have more confi dence in continuing to invest in the Sun platform – during past months, there was some consternation but now Oracle has taken that away,” Peach claimed.

“I would have been disappointed if any Sun products disappeared from the [combined] product set,” George said. “As it stands, just about everything is still there.”