Oracle, customers play nicely

There is little evidence of last spring’s public feud between Oracle Corp. and it’s applications users group as the two sides mixed and mingled in Toronto recently.

Instead, a senior Oracle executive told the Oracle Applications Users Group’s (OAUG) Spring 2002 conference for North America that the company continues to track down the root causes of its application errors.

The company’s 11i E-Business Suite is so broad that quality control procedures used for earlier releases don’t really work well, and users are rightfully concerned that they have had to apply too many patches, said Cliff Godwin, Oracle’s Calif.-based senior vice-president of applications technology.

However, Godwin told ComputerWorld Canada that most users he hears from are happy with the latest releases of 11i, and that, generally, those who had problems with earlier versions have now sorted them out. The push to develop new quality control, he said, came in response to users who wanted reassurance that Oracle has addressed that issue.

“We’ve made progress but there are always things we can do better,” he said. “With the scale of companies (implementing 11i) that stakes are very high, so we need to do this almost perfectly.”

Oracle and the OAUG first split over the control of applications-related conferences in spring 2001, when the user group rejected a proposal to fold its two annual North American events into a single one that would be sponsored by the company. Shortly afterward, Oracle announced plans for its own AppsWorld conference. The company hosted the first two AppsWorld events earlier in 2001 in Paris and New Orleans, while diverting resources and personnel from the OAUG’s conferences – a change that caused considerable friction between the two sides.

However, a new OAUG president and board members elected in March 2002 vowed to mend fences while still retaining an independent voice for users, and in Toronto the air seems to have cleared. Delegates seemed much more interested in talking about total cost of ownership, return on investment, integration and implementation rather than past tensions between the company and its users.