Chasm between Oracle and Applications User Group widens

With the issuance of a press release Thursday by the Oracle Applications User Group (OAUG) stating that the OAUG will "move forward without Oracle support," the opportunity to reconcile the differences between the two groups appears less likely.

The OAUG announcement states that Oracle Corp. has made it clear that it will "not support the user group's global conferences in any capacity."

For its part, a source at Oracle stated that "we had agreed to negotiate privately and not take this to the press," making it clear Oracle would make no public comment.

On Oracle's Web site, www.oracle.com/appsnet, Oracle has a number of proposals for joint application user conferences in venues around the world as well as an offer to pay the OAUG US$50 for each OAUG member that registers at one of these conferences.

An OAUG spokesman, Kevin D. Banks, said it is not about the money. The OAUG conferences are usually break-even events, and the OAUG makes its money off member fees.

At this spring's conference, the OAUG put the idea of joint conferences to a vote, and the membership voted by a 85 percent margin to continue with their own independent conferences.

The real issue, said Banks, is over who controls the message. The founders want a message-free education for their membership, which they were not getting from Oracle, said the spokesman.

Oracle wants to support joint conferences rather than sending as many as 50 to 60 Oracle application engineers to the OAUG conferences, saying the resources are not there to support a total of seven shows: three Oracle and four OAUG. For the user group's part, Banks said the group asked for Oracle representation at only one of its four conferences.

Beyond the question of who wants what from whom is the more important question of whether companies basing their mission-critical applications on Oracle will be the real losers.

According to the OAUG, the answer is no. At its last conference, the Oracle user group used system integrators and OAUG partners in its Hands On Demonstration Areas, one of the main points of interest at the conferences and a place where Oracle usually plays a prominent role.

Banks denied any suggestion that the user group show does not support the Oracle message, saying group members generally like Oracle applications.

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