Oracle: Leveraging channel for growth

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L-R: Shailender Kumar, Regional Managing Director, Oracle India and Ritesh Syal, Senior Director and Head – Alliances & Channels, Oracle India
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With Oracle India focused on ushering its enterprise customers into the cloud era, the channel partners will play a key role in the cloud and Autonomous Database success story

From helping several Indian organisations to modernise and develop a digital-first mindset, to enabling an intuitive, delightful experience for their end consumers; from helping its partners expand and acquire new cloud capabilities, to nearly doubling the overall customer base (more than 15,000) – the journey continues to be every bit exciting for Oracle India. Adding double-digit growth to the top line revenues last three years in a row, positions India as the best performing region within JAPAC.

The cloud story is on a great growth path and it is growing in double digits. In India, the SaaS business, which was started in 2012, has grown by 30 per cent year-on-year. It is outpacing the market and supporting some of the largest transformational deals in the country. This includes The Taj Hotels Group, Hindalco, Indian Oil and Transworld among others. Oracle now offers the broadest array of software services of any software company or any cloud company. The idea behind the new offerings is to make Oracle a one-stop shop. Oracle is clearly looking to the cloud for growth.

Shailender Kumar, Regional Managing Director, Oracle India says, “We work with a variety of large and small firms. From top ministries in the government to BFSI companies, run on Oracle products. We have also started Oracle Digital Prime (ODP) for SMBs. We enjoy 15,000 customers base with whom we are working through our direct and indirect channels.”

Opportunities for channel
Apart from customers, Oracle, once known for its direct sales model, is now getting more customers through its partner network. Today, the partners network is comprised of global SIs, ISVs, resellers, and distributors. The success of the software major can be measured from the fact Oracle India is the only organisation outside Oracle’s headquarters in California to represent all divisions including sales, marketing, consulting, support and education operations for domestic and global clients.

“Oracle India is contributing a lot to global innovations. We are committed to bringing our enterprise cloud to customers globally. Continuing to support customer and partner demand, we have many customers and partners who want to run their business applications on our Gen 2 Cloud,” states Kumar.

Though a late cloud entrant, the company is catching up by offering new products and initiatives such as autonomous cloud, data centres and increased focus on smaller businesses. With cloud becoming a winning stroke for Oracle India, it will continue to rely heavily on partners for sales to midmarket customers. But the emphasis will be on working with resellers that provide integration services and other “specialisations”, as Oracle does now with its software resellers. It is going to have a more balanced and focused approach to partnering. However, in order to provide better service, support, and accountability to top customers around the world, it will be engaging those accounts directly.

Oracle’s 15,000 strong customer footprint, enabled by its 600 strong partner network, is a testimony to cloud success, with India being one of the fastest growing markets for Oracle APAC. Globally, partners account for almost 40 per cent of its overall revenue and for nearly 80 per cent of its transactions. Data centre is a work in progress and is expected to launch within a year. This will further open the plethora of opportunities for cloud partners.

Giving the detailing of Oracle’s India channel ecosystem, Ritesh Syal, Senior Director and Head – Alliances & Channels, Oracle India says, “We manage relations with our channel partners through Oracle Partner Network (OPN). The program is focused on helping our partners grow their business and be profitable. We constantly look to improve and add new levels of support. We want our partners to invest with us, while we will invest in them. Partner business will continue to be one of the key elements of Oracle’s growth strategy. We expect 2019 to be a significant year for Oracle India, led by strong partner collaboration for customer success.”

The company has been working towards partner collaborations and certifications. Majority of its business transactions or sales in India is done through partners. For non-metro cities, VADs help is to take Oracle solutions to a wider base of customers. The company has set up an Oracle Partner Solution Center in Gurgaon. This facility enables strategic partners to build, port, enable and test their solutions on Oracle’s technologies, and hardware infrastructure in a secure environment. Partner’s specialisation and an ideal mix of product and services will yield the desired profitability that a partner is looking at.

“A growing number of our partners now sell Oracle Cloud, especially to our established client base. Cloud is a key focus for us in India and we have a dedicated senior resource whose main role is to build a Cloud Partner roadmap. We are looking to add consulting firms, system integration firms, partner firms that do deployment/maintenance and those who will sell licenses,” Syal affirms.

Some of the big, as well as platinum partners who are bullish about Oracle’s cloud story, include Huron Consulting, Wipro, Filix Consulting, KPMG, Deloitte, L&T Infotech and PwC.

Cloud – a driving force for partners
With Oracle becoming channel friendly like never before, its stringent channel specialisation and certification process has opened new avenues for existing and cloud born channel. “With cloud as the foundation, we expect more uptake for emerging tech paradigms such as AI/ML, blockchain and chatbots in the enterprise, thereby unleashing a new level of market opportunity for the channel ecosystem. There is an opportunity for every partner to choose an area in the cloud, be it IaaS/PaaS or SaaS and expand their specialisation,” states Syal.

Today, a large number of partners are seizing opportunities in the areas of cloud, analytics and AL/ML and feel that Oracle has thrown up a large number of possibilities in the cloud, with more and more customers looking to move from on-premise to the cloud. The key challenge will be to scale to the increased demand for cloud services by the end customers.

For instance, Chennai based Chandra Muthuswamy, Managing Director, OneGlobe Systems, one of the platinum partners of Oracle, is helping customers with public cloud adoption, advanced business analytics, deployment of ML/AI and blockchain use cases and Oracle ERP, EPM and NetSuite SaaS implementation.

Narrating the customer’s need, he informs, “Customers today are looking for IT partners who are agile with deep consulting, cloud platform, industry expertise and digital technology skills and can deliver solutions to address their needs, which mostly is a business model disruptive type of change. Currently, we are enhancing the solution at Federal Bank to implement advanced analytics with big data which uses Oracle Autonomous Database. We are also working jointly with Oracle to implement Autonomous Database at a leading public sector bank for advanced analytics. Apart from these, there are a few POCs underway with existing and prospective customers.”

Similarly, Shrikant Navelkar, Director, Clover Infotech, who has been receiving specialisation status under Oracle Platform Cloud believes that Oracle’s “Cloud First” strategy is comprehensive and well-conceived. Oracle India has taken great steps to not only align their existing teams to communicate the value proposition of the cloud, but also invested heavily in specialised partners for technical and pre-sales enablement.

“We have collaborated with Oracle on the ‘Cloud First’ strategy by investing further on our team’s enablement and in taking the value proposition to our customers across India. Oracle Cloud Platform simplifies the way our customers are managing their core and non-core applications. Universal Credits (UC) is an innovative way where we can evaluate various solutions for our customers and then optimise their OpEx through pay-per-use model. UC is making the lives of our customers uncomplicated as there is predictability and transparency in terms of cloud services consumption. Oracle has also introduced ‘Accelerated Buying Experience’ for fast purchase of cloud credits. This enables our customers to simplify their purchases and get a complete view of their cloud usage,” says Navelkar.

While there are partners who are specialised in Oracle’s solutions and product offerings, there are also partners like Filix Consulting who work as a management consulting partner and are expanding it into new geographies. “We have created a repository of assets for the Oracle Cloud, and we’re leveraging this experience to ensure faster and predictable delivery to our clients. Post going live, the customers have been running the systems with very negligible support and have found running Oracle products very simple. Customers no longer have to fear their movement to the cloud,” says Gaurav Mathur, MD & CEO, Filix.

With the advent of cloud a few years ago, Filix took a strategic call to move in early and gain first-mover advantages. It helped Filix create a specialisation niche and expand to new geographies. After its initial success with Oracle Cloud, Filix is now looking to take its learnings to markets at large. Opening new offices in major metro cities to address increasing customer requirements, by being local.

Another big focus area for Oracle as well is for its partners is Autonomous Database, the latest edition of the company’s flagship product. Oracle, that has been a leader in the space of database technology for years, is now offering the world’s first Autonomous Database – a “self-driving” software that uses machine learning to enable unprecedented availability, high performance, and security at a much lower cost.

According to Kumar, Indian customers – both existing and new – are fast embracing and upgrading to Autonomous Database. These early adopters represent a mix of large enterprises, mid-size firms and born-in-the-cloud start-ups, hailing from diverse industries such as banking to footwear, spices to digital commerce, consulting to IT services.

Path Infotech, one of Oracle’s platinum partners having competencies across technologies, applications and engineered systems is betting big on Autonomous Database. This partner is collaborating with many organisations for Autonomous Database use cases. Citing one of the examples, Pankaj Ratra, Director, Path Infotech explains, “A large investment management and placement services provider was relying heavily on excel sheets for most of their reporting needs. Such a model comes with its own challenges of consistency and security of data. We migrated their data to Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse (ADW) Cloud and leveraged data visualisation desktop to generate reports. In another case, a supplier of electrical wiring harness for the automotive industry is using SAP BO with backend Oracle database (Oracle 11g R2). We proposed Oracle IaaS for SAP BO application and Oracle ADW. A value offering was established through a POC.”

Leading the cloud race
The cloud race is getting intensified owing to digital transformation. Pricing, performance and strong partner network is going to be a key differentiator for any cloud player. Oracle is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest business applications cloud company in the world. It is aiming to be the leading SaaS provider in India by FY19.

“The India cloud business is really booming. Overall, we have seen double-digit growth for the last three years in the country, which has been the best-performing region in the Asia-Pacific for Oracle India. This growth is being led by its ERP business (Netsuite). We are growing 3-4x times the market in apps, which is a clear indicator that we are taking share from competitors. In FY18, we spent US$ 6.1 billion on R&D. In India, SaaS business has grown by about 31-32 per cent year-on-year and our Fusion ERP 1H YoY growth is more than 50 per cent. So, we are outpacing the market itself and are acquiring market share from the competition,” Kumar points out.

The next big move for California based database company is bringing the data center in India. This step will not only get the customers’ confidence and adhere to the Government’s regulation. In fact, it will help Oracle to take on major cloud players like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure, who already have significant presence in the country.

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