IOUG Forum to Spotlight Oracle and Sun Technologies at COLLABORATE 10

IOUG Forum to Spotlight Oracle and Sun Technologies at COLLABORATE 10

COLLABORATE 10 will at long last bring together Sun and Oracle users for the first time under one roof. Ian Abramson, president of the Independent Oracle Users Group, talks with DBTA about what the group is planning for the April conference in Las Vegas, and how the integration of customers and technology is being handled by Oracle and the IOUG.

DBTA: Certainly, Oracle is no stranger to the process of accepting new companies and technologies into the fold and integrating them within its organization, and by extension, the same is true for the IOUG. How is this acquisition or merger different from others that Oracle and the IOUG have dealt with in the past?
Abramson: I think this acquisition is very much the same as other acquisitions. Obviously, the scale is much larger. From a user group perspective, there are a lot of user groups - the Java user groups, Solaris, large tape users groups, MySQL user groups. But they were very much supported by Sun. So, for them it is a bit of a change of environment or just in the way that they are going to be getting services.

Oracle is really working with all the Sun groups to try and integrate them in and bring them into this Oracle environment and make them feel comfortable. It is a little different in that the scale is much different. It is happening very much on a productized basis. We are going to be working pretty quickly through the groups to find the ones that make the most sense for the various communities and integrate them in or start them as a new community. It is no different than when Oracle acquired Stellent and brought the content management people to the IOUG. That has been a very successful acquisition and very successful integration. We expect more of that with Sun.

DBTA: While the delay between the initial acquisition announcement and the closing of the deal was somewhat of a cliffhanger, it also gave everyone plenty of notice about what was happening and time to make plans.
Abramson: During the time that that all was happening, user groups were not talking to each other on any official basis because we weren't allowed to. The Sun acquisition had not been completed and Oracle had asked us to wait until everything was done. There obviously was work going on in the back rooms but there was nothing official happening and because of that, the work really got started as soon as the acquisition was finalized.

DBTA: COLLABORATE is the first opportunity for customers and partners of Sun Microsystems to join with Oracle customers and partners.  What is planned to bring the two groups together and to allow Oracle database and technology professionals to learn more about Sun's role and how it will affect business?
Abramson: We are definitely doing a lot of programming to support people who are Sun technologists around MySQL, OpenSolaris, and we are looking at some other stuff even potentially for the large tape users right now.  The key is that this will be the first event since the acquisition so it really is the first place for Oracle to start speaking about how the integration is going to work. We are expecting a lot of direction from Oracle. A lot of those people providing direction will be there.  As well, we are going to have technical presentations for people who are Sun users and for Oracle users to start learning about this technology that is about to enter their world. The training for the Sun people will be there as well as the training for Oracle people, so they can start understanding both sides of the technology which, obviously, is very important to Oracle going forward.

DBTA: Is there an overall focus or theme this year for COLLABORATE?
Abramson: We are always focused on overall Oracle technology but within the IOUG Forum we have an event called "Get Analytical." It is really about focusing information on business intelligence, warehousing, and analytics in a very concentrated offering. Sixty presentations will be occurring during the week just focused on this particular topic. We are also focusing on security and performance. The other big topic for this year is obviously upgrades. With people getting up to 11g Release 2, this is going to become much more important to businesses.

DBTA: So the focus will be on using all the components of the Oracle portfolio, including all the Sun pieces as well at COLLABORATE?
Abramson:  Absolutely.  COLLABORATE will be addressing the entire Oracle stack now. There will be topics on hardware; we are going to be talking about Exadata, the Sun Oracle database machine; we are going to be looking at MySQL with presentations around open source, and ultimately middleware applications - so anywhere in the Oracle stack  where you work, COLLABORATE is able to provide you with the real-world education you need. 

DBTA: Early on, there had been a lot of concern about MySQL and Java and what Oracle would do with those technologies. Do you think those fears have been put to rest?
Abramson:  I should hope so. Oracle is definitely moving forward. The whole objection to the acquisition was all based around MySQL, but if you really look at it,  MySQL is in a  very much different place in the market from Oracle, and it was a spot that they didn't serve as well, which was small, agile databases. Oracle's is much more enterprise-based and MySQL was more aimed at the web, so it complements what Oracle was providing. As far as Java goes, Oracle has always been a great open source citizen and I think Java obviously has a very strategic value to them. That was always their direction, to ensure that open source was what Oracle would use as well.  With the acquisition of Java, they have become the gatekeepers, and really I think will provide better level of support and make it even more of an enterprise-type product.

DBTA: What else should people expect at COLLABORATE?
Abramson:  We have a lot of programs. There are these "Deep Dives" which we run on Sunday which are full-day programs with very deep technical education. But the other thing that we are doing this year are "Boot Camps" and Boot Camps really take a topic and provide you with a guide on how to get the best value out of this event with a number of sessions that are grouped together to provide great technical content. But also the people who are in the boot camp with you have the same cares and needs. It just increases the value of the Boot Camp because ultimately I think networking is ultimately the greatest value that you get of the conference anyway. In terms of content, we have great content around Sun, we have great focus content on these  Boot Camps and Deep Dives.  It is solid technical content - and really the only event of the year where this content even exists.

DBTA: The difficult economy has affected the ability of many organizations to participate in in-person events, but are the additional Sun customers, as well as the excitement about the merger  giving attendance at COLLABORATE this year a boost?
Abramson:  We budget conservatively for events like this, but we are tracking very positively. We are seeing a lot of people who want to be there and are coming, and we expect great attendance this year. But there are still economic concerns out there and still people with no budgets so at the IOUG we have launched a program called Get Connected.  It allows you to attend a virtual IOUG Forum from COLLABORATE. We stream about 40 presentations through on this particular offering, so even if you can't come this year, you can.  You can still attend the event, and still pose questions to the speaker like anyone else who may be in the room because there is a facilitator that provides that. We are able to provide 40 great sessions that DBAs and database professionals, and architects really need in to learn about.  It is paid by seat, by single login. We suggest that organizations create a meeting room with in their office and stream into there.

At the end of the day, COLLABORATE has got great content. We are doing a lot of work to get the Sun community involved, and we hope that all the communities can start coming together and make it an even stronger Oracle community - Oracle/Sun community.

For more information about the IOUG Forum at COLLABORATE 10, go here.