Oracle, application user group remain at odds

Differences between Oracle Corp. and an independent group of its business application users over future conferences related to the software have yet to be bridged. But the user group is now surveying its members to see if they want to reconsider an offer from Oracle that's largely similar to one that was voted down a year ago.

Oracle and the Atlanta-based Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) have been talking for the past two months in an effort to find some middle ground in their yearlong feud over the sponsorship and control of conferences. But in an update posted on the OAUG's Web site last week, officials from the user group said Oracle had definitively turned down a request that it support an annual conference run by the OAUG while also putting on one of its own.

That leaves the OAUG mulling whether it should continue to go its own way on conferences or accept Oracle's proposal that it participate in the software vendor's new AppsWorld event. The new survey is meant to gauge how OAUG members are leaning and to poll them on how they want to proceed without any Oracle presence at the conferences run by the user group.

Oracle held its first AppsWorld conferences earlier this year and diverted its software developers and other employees from the OAUG's spring conference in Atlanta, causing considerable tension between the two sides. OAUG directors and Oracle executives then traded public jabs late last month when the software vendor went public with the ongoing negotiations and directly asked members of the user group to support its proposal for a merged conference.

Oracle officials didn't respond to requests for comments on the latest developments in the saga. But Mark Jarvis, the company's chief marketing officer, said last month that Oracle had no intention of supporting a separate OAUG event. "The choice not on the table is an independent conference [that's] dependent on Oracle," he said.

The OAUG fears that a single conference run by Oracle would diminish the independence and openness of its own events. In the update on its Web site, the user group's board stated that the OAUG "remains dedicated to the values and principles on which it was established" and will "continue to provide the highest quality user-focused education" at its upcoming conferences.

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