Oracle  (ORCL) is set to announced Q4 2013 earnings on June 20. The database, application and server hardware giant will also kick off its fiscal year 2014 with major channel partner events in the next few weeks. The big questions facing Oracle and its partners have not changed much in recent months: Can the company strengthen its engineered systems and hardware sales, while also growing Oracle Cloud and SaaS revenues? And who, by the way, will replace former Channel Chief Judson Althoff? Hmmm...

Investors Business Daily outlines the usual challenges facing Oracle in this column. The list includes everything from SAP and Salesforce.com gaining momentum to Oracle trying to grow its hardware business while fending off cloud competition.

Oracle President Mark Hurd has previously told The VAR Guy that buying Sun was one of the most successful deals Oracle has ever completed. But overall, Oracle's hardware sales have been falling, and ZDNet's Larry Dignan wonders when they will bottom out.

At the same time, Oracle has been busy building out its public cloud initiative. Hurd has previously stated that Oracle's annual cloud revenues are now more than $1 billion. And if you take a closer look, you'll see that Oracle has a very compelling cloud partner program for resellers and VARs.

So where does Oracle go from here? First up are the June 20 financial results -- which will reveal key business and financial trends. Then comes Oracle's annual fiscal year kick-off with channel partners. Oracle has a deep bench of channel partner executives. But to the best of The VAR Guy's knowledge, the company has yet to publicly discuss a successor for Judson Althoff -- the former channel chief who has since joined Microsoft.

Pure speculation from The VAR Guy... but perhaps a new Oracle Channel Chief could emerge in the next few days...