Getting with the programme

Oracle partners are probably wondering why the vendor recently overhauled its channel programme and, more importantly, what it means for them. Channel Middle East sat down with Hisham Esaadi, director of alliances and channels at Oracle Middle East and Africa, to get all the answers.

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Getting with the programme
By  Andrew Seymour Published  December 4, 2009 Channel Middle East Logo

The Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Specialised Programme was launched earlier this quarter. What are the key aspects that partners should be aware of?

For the first time in 10 years we are completely revamping the partner programme. The old programme is getting a new face-lift - it's changing from the bottom up and I think if there's one message that we are trying to communicate to partners then it is the message of specialisation and verticalisation. In a nutshell, some of the classifications and requirements have changed. In some ways it has become easier to do business with Oracle, and it has obviously benefitted partners and customers in that we are driving most of our partners in specific segments. Some of the terminology has also changed with regards to the partner levels. In the past we used terms like Certified Partner and Certified Advantage Partner. Now we are using simpler terms like Silver, Gold and Platinum.

What are Oracle's expectations of partners when it comes to the specialisation that is required?

We are asking partners to build capacity and build expertise in a specific niche in the market more and more. We are asking them to be healthcare specialists or banking experts or telco experts or construction experts, for example.

Other vendors have made similar announcements when it comes to driving and rewarding partners that specialise. How well is this concept of specialisation understood in the Middle East?

I think the message is getting through to some extent. If I look at our partner ecosystem, and the more successful partners in our region, they are the ones that have developed a specialisation in a specific industry. To a lesser extent, the partners that are generic players - who are opportunistic and will go after every opportunity in every sector - tend to be less successful. In my opinion, the partners that have invested in that message and taken it seriously have fared better in the long run, or at least in the last 12 months.

What kind of partners stand to gain the most from the modifications made to the OPN Programme?

Obviously we have just launched it so it is still a bit premature to make any calls, but I think down the line what I see is that partners who are specialised in certain industries, and who are dedicated to certain products, will gain the most from it.

Will the changes lead to a smaller but more focused Oracle partner community or are you likely to be left with the same number of partners in the Middle East?

I think we are always expanding our partner network to include more specialised partners. We are not really in it to add more numbers to the partner network. But we are always on the look-out for high value partners - a partner that can contribute, a partner that can bring something to the table, a partner that has a product or an expertise that we do not have in Oracle.

You mentioned that this is the most significant set of changes to the OPN Programme in a decade. Is there a particular reason for the timing of these amendments?

I think if you look at the recent acquisitions we have made in the past two to three years, the old partner network could not accommodate everyone. We have to find ways to find a place for everyone to play in the partner ecosystem. In many ways, this has provided a playing field for all the partners to play on and benefit from.

What is the procedure for Middle East partners that want to register for this programme, and what is the timeline for this process?

Two things: all new partners will obviously go straight into the new OPN Programme because it has been launched. Existing partners, as their partnership expires, will slowly be migrated to the new OPN with the new classifications and certification requirements. There isn't a timeline per se.

How large is the Oracle channel team in MEA these days?

We cover the Middle East and Africa so that is about 70-plus countries. We have people who manage certain territories or a cluster of territories. In the heart of all of this we have a call centre in Egypt called the Channel Communications Centre and this is a team that caters to all partners across all industries. In Dubai, because this is our headquarters, we have a number of people, so in total we have close to about 40 people in the channel organisation, catering to in excess of 1,000 partners across the Middle East and Africa region.

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