Oracle ramps up midmarket self-service business programs

Oracle says it wants to make buying software easier for small to midsize businesses (SMB), and its sales & marketing programs are part of a larger effort for the enterprise vendor to play catch-up with players like Microsoft that currently dominate SMB sales. One such effort is a new “one-click ordering” program that offers an alternative to Oracle's paper-based sales contracts.
By Tony Baer, senior contributing editor (tbaer@tbaer.com) October 1, 2007

Oracle says it wants to make buying software easier for small to midsize businesses (SMB), and its sales & marketing programs are part of a larger effort for the enterprise vendor to play catch-up with players like Microsoft that currently dominate SMB sales.

One such effort is a new “one-click ordering” program that offers an alternative to Oracle’s paper-based sales contracts. It allows authorized VARs to book product orders online, and for their customers to download Oracle software without having to sign the usual stacks of paper contracts that Oracle, until now, has required.

“This is a self-service model that will expose us to a new set of partners,” explains Judson Althoff, Oracle’s VP of Global Platform & Distribution Sales, who also heads the SMB Program Office.

The new SMB online ordering program covers specific Oracle products aimed at that sector, including Oracle Database 10g Standard Edition and Standard Edition One; Oracle Application Server Java Edition, Standard Edition and Standard Edition One; and Oracle Business Intelligence Standard Edition and Standard Edition One.

Backing up the new online ordering channel, Oracle also launched a new VAR program that lowers barriers to entry. Until now, VARs had to formally sign up with the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN), which required payment of up-front fees. The new SMB VAR program eliminates the need to pay fees or sign contracts in advance. The only requirement is that they make arrangement with existing authorized Oracle distributors in order to book sales.

According to Althoff, these are just the first steps to boost Oracle’s business with smaller customers. Like IBM , Oracle plans quarterly updates of its SMB partner programs, with future efforts focusing on product pricing and packaging, and new branding and messaging to publicize its SMB presence.