Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Fruitcake Has Hit The Fan

Seems like the fruitcake has hit the fan over the past few days in Redwood Shores. Quoting the Wall Street Journal, the news coming from Oracle HQ is:
  • John Wookey, the Sr. Vice-president of Applications Development, is leaving Oracle. (He may have already left or he may still be there to help smooth the transition of his departure, depending on who you believe. Oracle is not talking yet.) I've only had the opportunity to meet John a few times, but I was very impressed...I'm sorry to see him go.
  • Thomas Kurian, Sr. Vice-president responsible for Fusion Middleware, will take over the development of Fusion Applications. Ed Abbo will lead all applications development outside of Fusion. Both will report to Chuck Rozwatt, an Executive Vice-president in charge of all applications development.
As is always the case, change of this magnitude is accompanied by plenty of rumors. Some of the most interesting rumors I've heard today are:
  • Wookey was essentially fired because the development project for Fusion Applications is at least a year behind schedule.
  • During OpenWorld 2007, Oracle will announce a delay of at least one year in the release of an integrated Fusion Applications Suite.
  • Oracle will place all applications other than Fusion in "maintenance mode"; new releases will only consist of minor tweaks and bug fixes.
  • Fusion Applications will not be a real applications suite, but simply a set of user interfaces on top of the Process Integration Packs and other Applications Integration Architecture components.
  • Fusion Applications will never be released at all as a distinct product; Oracle will simply migrate Fusion Middleware to their existing applications suites and call the product line "Fusion Applications."
So with all this excitement flying across the ether of the Oracle Universe, what should we make of it?

First, let's stick with relatively reliable news. The Wall Street Journal says that Wookey is leaving and that the development groups will be reorganized under Rozwatt, Kurian, and Abbo. My experience has been that the Wall Street Journal is a pretty reliable and conservative source of high-quality journalism. When they report news, I generally believe it to be true. So let's put Wookey's departure and the subsequent re-org into the relatively reliable news category. I suspect there is more news coming but, for now, this is what we've got.

Second, let's recognize the rumors for what they are: "an unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in public concern". Because rumors are "unverified", experience shows that many rumors are just flat-out wrong. So let's not waste our money and resources in reacting to rumors and speculation. Instead, I suggest we sit tight until better information becomes available.

Third, what should we do with the reliable information we have? Frankly, I'd suggest doing nothing at this time. Software companies change managers as naturally as cats have kittens. Changes in leadership are just part of the business.

Fourth, keep your eye on the user groups as your best source of new information and strategies for managing change. For example, as I write this, I know that the folks at the Oracle Applications User Group (OAUG) are working hard to track Oracle's product development progress and provide strategies to their members as reliable new information becomes available (as a Co-Chair of the Fusion Council, I'll personally be working this issue this afternoon). Ditto for the International Oracle User's Council (IOUC). I'll reiterate information from the user groups here as it becomes available and provide my own thoughts on what it all means, but the user groups continue to be your best source of information.

So stay tuned. I'm sure there will be lots to talk about as the fruitcake continues to fly!

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