Oracle and its application users group mend fences

After more than a year-and-a-half of storm and passion between Oracle Corp. and the Oracle Application Users Group (OAUG), the relationship is now on the mend, declared OAUG President Jeremy Young.

To cement that relationship, Young also told the audience here at the OAUG's Fall 2001 Conference Tuesday that Oracle will send its vice president of applications technology, Cliff Godwin, to the conference this week.

"[Godwin] will be here [Wednesday] in this room to provide insight into Release 11i. We appreciate this gesture from Oracle and hope that it represents a sign of a new partnership between our organizations," Young said.

Version 11i of Oracle's applications suite and early "desupport" for the previous version, 10.7, has been a bone of contention between the two groups. Another major sticking point between the groups has been Oracle's decision not to send technical support personnel to OAUG conferences and to start its own user conferences.

"Initially, [Oracle] asked the OAUG to fold our conferences into the Oracle-managed conference, a suggestion that with the input of our members through a survey we declined," Young said.

Young stressed the importance of the OAUG staying independent so that it has the ability to "call Oracle on the issues" when it believes the company is headed in the wrong direction, and to insure its membership of the "objectiveness of the information" they receive.

Members of the audience expressed relief at the seeming end of hostilities between the two companies.

"I was disappointed that Oracle was playing hard ball. They wanted to control the conference and the information so I [will be] pleased if they get back together. We need Oracle," said Marty Schloss, an executive with Protégé Software Services Inc. in Beverly, Mass.

In softening its position, Oracle may have considered the fact that the OAUG's 2,000-plus members come from some of the largest corporations in America and are Oracle's biggest customers. This is especially true when the results of a new survey show an overwhelming number of those members -- 92 percent -- responded in the affirmative to the question of whether or not to keep the OAUG conferences independent of Oracle.

At the OAUG's urging, Oracle also announced earlier this year that it would extend support for Version 10.7 for an additional six months.

"One has to assume the OAUG members bullied their board and the board in turn bullied Oracle into extending support," said Mike Chapman, director of Total Solutions Group, in Newcastle, England.

However, the recently completed survey also revealed that 67 percent of the members want the OAUG to find a way to work with Oracle to provide support for the OAUG conference.

To that end, Young announced that OAUG and Oracle are in discussions, the first fruits of which will be that the OAUG will assist in selecting the "user paper track" for the Oracle conferences. This track comprises about 20 percent of the total content, Young noted.

Young concluded his talk with a promise to remain independent of Oracle but at the same time to move forward on improving the relationship and the collaboration between the two organizations.

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