COMMUNITY: Up Close
Top of the StackBy Jeff Erickson
OAUG helps members make the most of evolving infrastructures.
These days when Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) members gather to talk shop, they often discuss infrastructure technologies such as SOA and business process management. “It’s all very exciting,” says OAUG President Ray Payne. “This is where Oracle is going with its next generation of applications, and we intend to help our global membership stay on top of it.”
As an Oracle ACE and president of OAUG, Payne was a busy guy at Oracle OpenWorld 2009. I used several of his fellow OAUG board members to triangulate his position and get a few minutes with him. Payne was eager to talk about OAUG on the cusp of its 20th year.
Payne has been a part of OAUG for 18 years. In that time, he’s seen a lot of changes in applications technology—and OAUG. In 1993, Payne presented a paper at a conference on how to query Oracle E-Businesss Suite data through a Web browser. “That’s old hat now,” he says, “but back then it was innovative.”
About 600 members attended that 1993 conference. By 1997, when Payne joined the OAUG board of directors, almost 8,000 attended the group’s annual meeting. “Our growth mirrored the explosive growth of Oracle in those days,” Payne says. Payne’s career grew at the same time, as he moved from application developer to application manager. By the time he was elected OAUG president in 2008, the group’s database had grown to more than 1 million individual contacts around the globe, and Payne had become chief architect for Oracle infrastructure at his employer.
All individual members join OAUG through corporate memberships. “We have about 2,200 corporate members,” says Payne. “Anyone from those organizations can sign up to be part of an OAUG event and use the online resources.”
This huge and diverse body of technologists forms more than 100 special interest groups (SIGs), and 53 of them held meetings at Oracle OpenWorld 2009. “Our SIGS are very active,” he says.
OAUG’s vast activity is reflected by the volume of online resources exchanged on the OAUG site. “It’s full of nitty-gritty stuff like how to do encumbrance accounting in general ledger, or how to incorporate document imaging into your workflows,” Payne says.
OAUG provides free online classes and hosts the OAUG Knowledge Factory, which features online forums, education and information resources, and a database of more than 4,000 papers. Still, the best way to meet people and gain firsthand technical knowledge is through a face-to-face meeting.
“Our group meets everywhere from Argentina to Russia, and we continue to grow our international membership,” says Payne. “We held our first Dubai conference last year, and we will inaugurate a Budapest conference this May.” Payne often makes the international scene, having spoken in Singapore; Tokyo, Japan; Paris, France; and New Delhi, India. But all roads lead back to Las Vegas, Nevada, for COLLABORATE 10, the largest independent Oracle user conference (to be held April 18 through 22), which OAUG sponsors with Independent Oracle Users Group and Quest International Users Group.
New technologies present new learning opportunities. “With Release 12 of Oracle E-Business Suite based on Oracle Fusion Middleware, we’re seeing more OAUG sessions on topics such as Oracle SOA Suite and Oracle BPEL Process Manager,” says Payne. “People are excited about the possibilities.”
In addition, members have shown a lot of interest in Oracle’s Hyperion applications. “In 2010 we’ll try to meet that need with three conferences dedicated to Hyperion,” he says. The first of those conferences will take place in Jersey City, New Jersey, February 22 and 23.
While OAUG helps its members follow Oracle’s lead, it also helps Oracle gain a better view into the real-life use cases of its technology. “A few years back, I relayed to Oracle executives that our members would like to access Oracle support right from the Oracle E-Business Suite console,” says Payne. “This year, Larry Ellison announced that feature in his Oracle OpenWorld keynote.”
That cycle indicates the value that OAUG and Ray Payne bring to members. “Evolving with Oracle,” says Payne, “has always been a rewarding experience.”
Jeff Erickson is a senior editor with Oracle Publishing.