As Published In
Oracle Magazine
July/August 2008

COMMENT: In The Field

Thank You for Your Time

By Ari Kaplan

A lot has changed during my three years as IOUG president.

This is my last column as president of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG). My three years as president seem like a short time, but many changes have taken place.

To begin, Oracle has acquired more than 40 companies, adding technology, applications, and products to the Oracle brand. As a result, the Oracle community has expanded tremendously, adding all the users of those separate products and technologies to the Oracle family.

Moreover, Oracle has held on to experience and expertise and done a good job integrating technologies and products into the Oracle universe. As a result, users enjoy a wider and deeper range of solutions than ever before.

During this time, Oracle has forged deeper bonds with user groups. Top Oracle executives, including President Charles Phillips and Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Judy Sim, work with user groups on many levels. It's now common for Oracle executives to speak at user group events, which drives attendance and participation.

The user group scene has changed as well. Many readers are familiar with the International Oracle Users Group Community (IOUC), a federation of Oracle user groups. Recently it has done a tremendous job of working with Oracle to get the features and strategic direction that worldwide users want to see, as well as helping to develop beta programs so users can shape and test products.

Regional groups are also stronger than ever—the IOUG hosts the Web sites of dozens of these regional groups—and Oracle Application Express technology makes that possible. The IOUG also helps regional groups with their programs by coordinating speakers and vendors for local events. The end winners are the members of the user groups and Oracle's customers.

The COLLABORATE 08 conference was a joint effort by the IOUG, the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), and the Quest International Users Group (Quest). More than 7,500 users and 250 vendors attended this year's conference in Denver. Last year, there were 250 sessions from the IOUG alone; this year, the IOUG had more than 400 sessions. Such growth in this one conference represents the expansion we've seen in user interest and participation just in the last two years.

IOUG membership has grown 25 percent in the last three years, and more users than ever are realizing the benefits. Special interest groups now offer year-round programs. These reflect a new attention to business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics. The growth in awareness of these areas parallels a fundamental shift in the Oracle marketplace.

I'm not even tempted to claim credit for these wonderful advances in our user group system. We have a strong and dedicated board of directors that keeps us moving forward. Our enthusiastic and hardworking volunteers make it all happen. With a success like COLLABORATE 08, you're looking at the effort of hundreds of volunteers working for the best interests of everyone.

Looking ahead, we have interesting things to anticipate. Oracle's research and development has created an amazing technology in Oracle Fusion Middleware. In the next few years, you can expect releases of applications based on it, and these releases will be easier to integrate with existing Oracle solutions.

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I have a bullish view on the economy's impact on Oracle. If companies seek to consolidate to save money, who better to consolidate with than Oracle? If they want to use virtualization to squeeze the maximum return from their hardware, Oracle VM is the obvious choice. And attendance at COLLABORATE was up significantly this year—a good sign for Oracle users, given that in tough times companies tend to cut back on travel, education, and marketing efforts.

I wish the incoming IOUG president, Ian Abramson, the best of luck. I've known Ian for 14 years. He's a smart and charismatic leader, and the IOUG is in good hands. His special expertise in business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics will be quite valuable.

I'd like to thank Charles Phillips and Judy Sim for seeing the value of user groups and supporting so many of our activities and events. Thanks to Mary Lou Dopart, Oracle's senior director, user group management, and her team in promoting Oracle and user interests through the IOUC. My thanks to the IOUG board for all that they have done during my three years as president.

Most of all, thanks to the members of the Oracle user community, who are so involved and passionate about Oracle technology. You make it all worthwhile. 

Ari Kaplan ( is the outgoing president of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) and a senior consultant at Datalink. He founded Expand Beyond Corporation, a leader in mobile IT software. He has been involved in Oracle technology since 1992.

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