Oracle’s Althoff Defects to Microsoft

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Oracle’s longtime channel leader is heading to Microsoft to become president of North America sales and marketing, opening more questions about where Microsoft is going next.

[caption id="attachment_2304" align="alignright" width="294"]Oracle channel chief Judson Althoff believes Exadata is the platform of the future for ISVs. It may also be the catalyt for Oracle's hardware success. Judson Althoff is leaving Oracle to assume the role of head of North America sales and marketing at Microsoft.[/caption]

Judson Althoff, Oracle Corp.’s longtime channel chief, is heading to software rival Microsoft Corp. to head North America sales and marketing, reporting directly to chief operating officer Kevin Turner.

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Althoff is known as a superior sales and channel relationship manager, with nearly 20 years of experience in the technology industry. His most recent position was senior vice president of worldwide alliance and channels and embedded sales at Oracle. In his 14 years at the company, he held positions in worldwide alliances and global distribution sales. Prior, he held sales roles at EMC Corp.

What Microsoft gets in Althoff is a sales, marketing and channel leader who understands hardware and software markets. This could point to Microsoft expanding its hardware portfolio and competing more directly with rivals and longtime allies.

“Judson has a track record of successfully developing, growing and leading global sales organizations with a culture of execution excellence,” said Turner, in a statement. “Judson’s proven leadership will enable us to continue to excel in delivering the best devices and services experience to our customers including businesses and consumers.”

In the past year, Microsoft has refreshed nearly every major product in its portfolio and has new products -- including Office 2013 -- waiting for launch this year. It’s ventured into the tablet market with Surface, rankling OEM partners as it tries to take on Apple Inc. and Google in the growing mobility market.

While Microsoft remains a solid, high-performing company, the moderate sales of Windows 8 and the lackluster sales of Surface are raising concerns over the venerable vendor’s ability to remain relevant in a rapidly shifting technology marketplace.

The appointment of Althoff, an executive with experience in hardware and software sales and marketing, may signal Microsoft wants to escalate its go-to-market activities and, perhaps, venture deeper into hardware. Microsoft is lending Dell $2 billion in its proposed privatization deal, and there were rumors Microsoft was interested in buying Dell, Nokia and BlackBerry.

It's unclear what Althoff’s appointment means for Allison Watson, Microsoft’s head of U.S. marketing and former channel chief.

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