Sun user groups are vital in delivering a cohesive customer voice to Oracle.
by Stan Jakubik, May 2010
In January, the Sun rose at Oracle. Well, maybe it was not the meteorological sun, but it certainly was the dawning of a new era at the company. With the transaction closed, Oracle and Sun are now one, and, as can be expected, the questions begin. What is Oracle’s strategy for integrating the two companies? What are the advantages for customers? What will become of specific Sun products? What of MySQL? What about JavaOne? What will it mean to customers to have Oracle own the entire technology stack? What technology changes can we expect? How will Oracle’s business model change?
When Oracle announced the completion of the acquisition of Sun, the International Oracle Users Group Community (IOUC) was meeting at Oracle’s California headquarters for its annual summit. More than 100 representatives of user groups from around the world had gathered for three days of networking, updates, and discussions.
Some of us were able to join the live audience attending the Oracle + Sun announcement. This was a great chance to hear directly from Oracle executives about how the company intends to integrate Sun into Oracle’s long-term strategic plan. Starting with Oracle President Charles Phillips, through multiple Oracle (and former Sun) executives, and ending with CEO Larry Ellison, the message was consistent and cohesive. Oracle executives believe the ability to integrate applications, hardware, middleware, database, operating system, services, and storage gives them the opportunity to maximize the efficiency of the technology throughout the stack. The Oracle executives delivered the message that this acquisition will quicken innovation; increase performance, reliability, and security; shorten deployment times; and lower total cost of ownership.
Having experienced Oracle’s acquisition of PeopleSoft as a customer, I was pleased to hear that Oracle intends to follow the same model for Sun that it developed for the inclusion of PeopleSoft products by pledging to continue to invest in the Sun product line. While all PeopleSoft customers faced considerable anxiety in the 2004 acquisition, Oracle’s continuation of support for PeopleSoft products and its pledge to further develop the PeopleSoft line under Applications Unlimited eased many of those anxieties. And the products have seen multiple new upgrades and major technological improvements.
I was also pleased that some of the Sun user group leaders attended the IOUC summit. The independent user groups that form the IOUC have developed a strong connection to each other. Much of that connection involves our ability to see where we can all work together. Our groups represent horizontal products, vertical industries, applications, and technologies—yet we can see where our interests overlap. Oracle has played a significant role in giving our groups a venue through which to work together: the IOUC.
Rather than take a corporate “divide and conquer” approach to user groups, Oracle took a courageous step in bringing the groups together while respecting their independence. Our individual user group leaders have been able to network with each other and find avenues for joint ventures and new learning experiences for our members. It is our hope that the Sun user groups (and I understand that there are nearly 370 such groups) will become part of the IOUC community. The Sun user groups should retain their own identities, as all our groups have, but should also take advantage of all that we have learned in our years as part of the Oracle ecosystem. We also hope to learn from the Sun groups and together forge an even better association of all the user groups that serve the Oracle client base.
We will all be paying very close attention in the next few months, as Oracle and Sun continue the process of becoming an integrated company with a single mission and strategy. As the two entities combine as one, hopefully the customer base—reflected in its user groups—will find avenues for joining their independent voices to reflect a cohesive message to Oracle. <>
Stan Jakubik is the assistant vice chancellor of the University System of Maryland and president of the Higher Education User Group.