Below is IDC’s Darren Bibby report on ‘The Partner Perspective from Oracle OpenWorld 2012’. If you missed the 2012 edition, I trust this will give you the willingness to attend next year one!
October 26, 2012
I attended my fourth Oracle OpenWorld earlier in October. I always go in with the lens of, "What's in it for partners this year?" Although it's primarily thought of as a customer event - and yes, the bulk of the almost 50,000 attendees are customers - this year's conference was clearly the largest and most important partner event Oracle has ever run.
There were more partner attendees than ever, with Oracle citing somewhere around 5000. But the format for partners this year was different. And it was better. Traditionally, Oracle hosts a one-day only Partner Forum on the Sunday before the customer-focused conference begins. This year, the partner content still began on the Sunday, but the worldwide alliances and channels group created an exclusive track throughout the week, just for partners. It featured content specifically targeted towards partners, and was anchored at a nearby hotel.
This was a great move for Oracle. The Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) team has been in a tricky position for years in that they have enough partners that they need a landmark event in the year, but perhaps not enough to justify a separate, worldwide, large, partner-only event. Coinciding a four day event with Oracle OpenWorld, where anybody who's anybody in the Oracle world attends anyway, is a good solution. The channels leadership team can build from this success for an even better conference next year. It's expected that they will follow a similar strategy.
As for the content, it was primarily about the Cloud. For customers, for VARs, for ISVs, for everyone. There were five key Cloud related announcements for partners at the event:
Coming back to Specializations, Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) has 4600 partners worldwide that hold 20,000 Specializations. These are impressive numbers just three years into the new OPN framework. The actual number of Specializations has also grown significantly, up to 111 today and soon around 125 or so with the new Cloud designations. Oracle may need to look at grouping some of these and creating higher level, broader designations that partners could achieve by earning several Specializations in that group. At 125 and growing, this is a lot.
On the top of the pyramid, Hitachi Ltd. successfully became the eleventh partner to make it to the highly prestigious Diamond level. Partner programs partially exist in order to recognize capable partners. And it's more than abundantly clear that the Diamond level does this.
But I think Oracle has a gap. Specializations show capability in a very specific product area, and all sizes of partners can achieve these. The next level at which to show a level of expertise is the Advanced Specialization. However, this is a massive step up from the regular Specialization. The advanced level requires 50 people to have certification in that particular product area. Most other industry programs have similar higher level statuses, but none are even close to that number. Whereas a customer who sees an Oracle partner with an advanced specialization can be very sure of capability, there is a gap in that there are hundreds or even thousands of 20-50 person solution providers who are top notch in their area of expertise. They will never get to Advanced due to numbers alone. These boutique partners don't really have a way of showing off their talents in the current program. Advanced may not need to be so high to really show that a company has deep expertise.
Overall it was a very successful Oracle OpenWorld for Oracle partners of all sizes. There was progress made on making it a bigger and more relevant event. And also on catching up and maybe even leading in some cases with cloud opportunities for partners.