Oracle Withdraws Education Support from OAUG Conferences

A lack of Oracle user education support at a recent OAUG Asia Pacific User Conference turned the event into a networking opportunity for regional IT executives and analysts, rather than an educational forum, according to Don Payne, executive vice president of the OAUG board.

"The Oracle Applications User Group (OAUG) absolutely met the goal of creating user group visibility. But we wanted to get more Oracle leadership and a [sense of its] geography," Payne said of the conference.

Karen Gilbert, OAUG Texas board member, said of the extent of the Oracle backing: "Typically, Oracle will set up a support booth explaining how better to interact with Oracle, how to solve customer problems. That was missing this year.

"Oracle didn't allow for education support. There were no classes for Oracle 11i from educators. I would have liked more people from education and support -- the people I deal with as a touchpoint and face to face," she added.

Oracle senior executives' response was: "Our corporate policy is to fund other Australian outreach opportunities", failing to elaborate on what this meant.

According to Payne, the relationship is unstable due to the vendor's marketing division's recent push for a product-centric corporate event with OAUG.

"OAUG events are more focused on educational value. Something like Oracle Open World was proposed to take over our [user] event," he stressed. "Financial independence from Oracle is valuable for OAUG in terms of user education, visibility among users and to function as an advocate for our user group."

OAUG board members said the ideal relationship between OAUG and Oracle would be a "collaborative" one, where both parties discussed ideas on "product future and product reality".

"In the one sense, product sessions at user events could be viewed as marketing of Oracle's directions, but the value for users is in where Oracle is going, not only with its technology, but its business," Payne explained.

He conceded OAUG's Asia Pacific base made some small inroads in resolving longstanding enterprise client issues.

Jeannie Dobney, OAUG Australia board director, said: "Traditionally developers had no documentation of where they were going with Oracle products. When Oracle 11i was released, Oracle placed the documentation free on the product. This was the work of one customer. Since we represent 2200 customers worldwide, we've won this for them.

"With a user group, you can speak to a higher level and win concessions with Oracle."

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