Oracle Cloud is opening its arms to channel partners -- including referral partners and resale partners. Referral partners can earn 10 percent of value of their Oracle Cloud customer wins. And resale partners can manage end-customer billing while setting end-customer pricing for Oracle Cloud. Those details (and more) surfaced when Talkin' Cloud spoke with Jeff Porter, Oracle's (NASDAQ:ORCL) director of worldwide alliances and channels for go to market and cloud programs.

Porter joined Oracle through the RightNow acquisition. When describing the Oracle Cloud partner program, Porter last week painted a pretty simple but compelling picture:

  • Referral Partners: This is for resellers that are just dipping their toes into the cloud market. The referral program has a low barrier to entry. Partners must be OPN (Oracle PartnerNetwork) members, and they can earn 10 percent of the guaranteed value of a customer engagement (for the term of the customer contract, which I believe is typically one to three years).
  • Resale Partners: This is a bit more sophisticated. Here, resellers must be OPN Gold-level members and they must specialize in the Oracle cloud service they're seeking to resell. The reseller can mark up the Oracle Cloud price however they want. "They own the billing relationship," said Porter. "We want the partner doing the renewal. They should give that Nordstrom-level of service. The key with the cloud is the renewal and the long-term relationship mode. It’s not a win until you see the renewals coming."

Oracle announced the partner programs at Oracle OpenWorld 2012 and the "pent up demand shocked us," said Porter. Though he didn't describe specific dollars and cents flowing through the channel, Porter said Oracle's SaaS-oriented cloud services are currently the most popular with partners. Oracle also offers IaaS and PaaS services.

What's Next?

Looking ahead to Oracle's Fiscal Year 2014, which starts in June 2013, Oracle will focus heavily on partner education. "How can you build a cloud business in your reseller organization? We're going to help partners answer that question," said Porter.

Moreover, Porter wants cloud partners to focus on consulting services (not just recurring cloud revenues) that engage the entire executive suite -- from CEOs to CIOs, CFOs, Chief Marketing Officers, VPs of Operations and more. The idea is to specialize in verticals (say, financial services or manufacturing) while also going horizontal with multiple Oracle cloud services --CRM, supply chain management, social marketing, HR management, and more.

Overall, the Oracle Cloud partner program sounds promising. But there are some caveats. For instance, I believe Oracle's cloud billing cycles involve annual customers commitments -- though many customers moving to the cloud prefer monthly billing with no long-term commitments. Also, I think Oracle pays cloud partners in various lump sums -- rather than at predictable monthly intervals. Be sure to double-check with Oracle for the specific partner program financial parameters.

Those points aside Oracle has a compelling story. Gold OPN partners can control end-customer relationships, billing and pricing -- key requirements that some rival partner programs lacked or offered in an incomplete manner. And Oracle partners can sell the entire Oracle stack. Oracle also claims customers' applications can essentially run unchanged whether they are on-premises or in Oracle's cloud.