GE Access has parted ways with Oracle Corp.casting aside a five-year relationship.

Michael Minard says it split from Oracle because it is restructuring into three lines of business– storage, networking and security–and the Oracle software no longer fits in. “We want to focus on the three technology areas and on our Sun relationship,” says the executive vice-president of the Boulder Colo.-based distributor.

GE says it won’t leave resellers in a lurch. The company plans to fulfil its obligation until the end of September and sell Oracle software until that time, according to Minard. GE also plans to move the Oracle business for resellers to one of its other distributors, including Avnet and Pioneer-Standard. “We want to allow for a graceful migration to one of the other distributors.”

“We’re working diligently with Oracle and the other distributors to make sure this thing goes down without inconvenience to the resellers,” adding the breakup was a tough decision.

Meanwhile, “shocked” and still in backup planning mode, Oracle Canada’s Rick Terry says the company is planning its next step. “It was a surprise, but we’re still fully committed to the channel, so we’re going to work out alternatives and we’ll probably need a couple of weeks to do that.” The company’s director of channels says Oracle officials were notified at its California headquarters by GE.

While he couldn’t provide specifics about the contingency plans, Terry says Oracle will take orders directly from resellers who were working with GE Access in the interim. “We’ll work with them directly until we find another distribution alternative for them. So no business should go away.” Currently, officials in the U.S. are looking for a replacement.

Terry says there are about 50 partners that will be affected in Canada, and these VARs were distributing Oracle software including the database and the application server technology.

GE cut ties only a week after its annual New Frontiers conference in Keystone, Colo. Oracle had a significant presence at the show conducting educational sessions, giving a keynote address and even handing out give-away backpacks with GE and Oracle logos splashed all over them.

The breakup also came as a complete shock to reseller Bill O’Drowsky of Vancouver-based Computers and Communications Inc. He says he’ll now have to find another way to buy his Oracle licences. “GE had a few lead generation programs that will be gone, of course, which is unfortunate.”

He says his relationship with GE accounts for a significant amount of business. And while Oracle wasn’t the only reason for the connection, he says, “it will be a little less now.”

Given the fact that nothing seemed awry at the New Frontiers conference, the news is all the more unexpected, Terry adds.

“There was no indication at New Frontiers that this was going to happen,” says Terry “The decision was apparently taken after that. It must have been a very significant decision that they took after New Frontiers because there really wasn’t any indication at that point.”

But Terry didn’t want to leave things on a sour note. “I should say that regardless of what’s happened, the relationship that we’ve had with GE Access in Canada has been very good. We’ve worked well together.”

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