Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) moved to address a key gap in its product line and signal its commitment to the reseller channel with the launch of the Oracle Database Appliance, a turnkey database appliance designed to meet the needs of mid-market customers and be implemented and sold through the reseller channel.
While Oracle has the enterprise market covered with Oracle Exadata, the vendor saw an opportunity for an offering that will scale into the small and medium-sized business space. The answer is the Oracle Database Appliance, which bundles Oracle Database 11g Release 2 and Oracle Real Application Clusters software on a 2-node Sun Fire server cluster running Oracle Linux.
“There’s a big market below Exadata that’s not tapped, and that’s what we’re addressing today,” said Andy Mendelsohn, senior vice-president of database server technologies with Oracle. “Like Exadata, it’s an engineered system with customized hardware and software designed for extreme simplicity, reliability and affordability.”
The appliance is designed with redundancy in mind, said Mendelsohn, with two servers clustered with gigabit Ethernet, 24 Intel Xeon cores and 12TB of raw disk storage. To help with simplicity and affordability, while there is only one hardware SKU with 24 cores (the hardware costs US$50,000; software licensing is extra), on the software side companies can choose to only turn-on and license the cores they need, scaling-up as their business needs grow without having to upgrade the hardware. Companies can also transfer their existing Oracle software licenses over to the appliance.
The appliance has been designed with the channel in mind said Judson Althoff, Oracle’s senior vice-president of worldwide alliances and channels and embedded sales. Direct sales of this offering will be the exception; it will be a channel-led sale. Oracle is gearing-up its tele-sales organization in conjunction with lead distribution partner Avnet Technology Solutions to build demand around the appliance – demand that will be fulfilled by Oracle partners.
“This product is designed to be sold through our Oracle partners,” said Althoff. “It allows us to target the rest of the Oracle database market the competitive database market from the likes of IBM and Microsoft. This will allow us to penetrate net markets and take business away from the competition.”
The appliance is designed with a channel-led services play in mind around implementation and support, said Althoff. There’s also strong value for partners on the hardware and software sale itself, through Oracle’s rebate program for new registered or incremental business and its rebate program for sales of strategic hardware platforms.
“Together, this enables partners to sell a highly compelling solution to customers and get margins in the mid to high teens,” said Althoff. “We think the channel community will endorse this quite heavily.”
The announcement drew a positive endorsement from HighVail Systems, an Oracle partner and solution provider from Toronto with a practice around storage, servers and management. HighVail’s president, Bradley Brodkin, called it a very interesting announcement.
“From a price-point and flexibility perspective it really offers customers something that is quite unique around the Oracle database, and it gives Oracle a mich better offering to compete against SQL Server,” said Brodkin. “And it continues the Exadata appliance approach, which is interesting for the customer.”
For the reseller community, just how lucrative the services opportunity will be remains to be seen, but Brodkin said it has been geared toward the need for a VAR to provide customers with some service, even if it’s just around implementation.
It’s a good channel-announcement for Oracle, and as a Sun Microsystems legacy partner that came to Oracle with the vendor’s acquisition, Brodkin said he’s been very encouraged by many of the recent channel and product moves Oracle has made over the last six months.
“I find dealing with Oracle today a breath of fresh air,” said Brodkin. “They’re easier to work with today than they were six months ago, and I think that can be attributed to the fact that the dust has settled at Oracle since the Sun acquisition. Everyone is focused on the same goal, and there’s no more uncertainty around where partners should play, where they shouldn’t, and where we should play together.”
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