Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nervous Water

One of the sure signs of an upcoming Oracle-related conference: I've been getting peppered lately with queries about release dates for Oracle products, especially the 12.1 release of the E-Business Suite or the first version of the integrated Fusion Applications suite. So I'm hoping I can save everyone some time and trouble by sharing here and now what I know regarding planned or firm release dates for all Oracle products:

Not a doggone thing! I got nothin'... notta... bupkis... squat... diddly... zip... well, you get the idea.

First, Oracle executives don't share that kind of info with me. Nor is there any good reason for them to do so. It just doesn't make any sense. I can just imagine that telephone call: "Floyd, here. Listen, we now know exactly when we're releasing XYZ. We also decided, Oracle corporate and stakeholder concerns notwithstanding, we'd really like to put your blog on the map by having you break the news on ORCLville. Sure, we spend gazillions on PR to really emphasize these types of events, but that's not important. What is important is that we really like what you're doing with the blog and it'll be fun to change things up a bit. We think there are huge business benefits for Oracle by breaking this news exclusively through your blog. Sound good?" Yeah, that's gonna happen any day now...I'm holding my breath waiting for it.

Second, even if I did know something solid in this regard, I wouldn't share that information here. It's almost an ethical thing from my perspective. Frankly, it's not my news to share. The people who made the effort to build the product should be the ones sharing the release news and popping the champagne corks. That ain't me. I speculate before the fact and comment after the fact...that's the extent of it.

Now, with those things being said, how does an Oracle customer get a fix on product release dates for planning purposes? Well, to be honest, it's a lot like fishing from a boat on a lake (Yeah, I like fishing. Why do you ask? Know why I like fishing? Because a guy taking a nap next to a stream or in a boat is lazy, while a guy taking a nap next to a stream or in a boat with a fishing pole in his hand is a sportsman). When I fish in lakes, I keep in mind that fish traditionally or historically like to hang out in certain places: submerged tree limbs, big rocks, that sort of thing. In addition, I also look for signs of active fish: ripples, splashes, maybe a fish or two jumping out of the water to grab a snack. Lots of fishermen call that "nervous water". Casting my line into nervous water increases my odds of catching fish pretty quickly. However, it does not resolve the greatest frustration my wife has with my fishing...I can't say exactly when I'll be home with dinner. I can only answer "soon", "in a bit", or "it'll be awhile". Sometimes you just have to take what the fish decide to give you when they decide to give it to you. I'm pretty sure I'll catch something in the next little while, but I can't really give an exact time for hauling in a big one.

The fishing analogy applies very well to forecasting Oracle product release dates. First, keep in mind traditional or historical patterns: application updates 1.5 to 2 years after previous release, apps technology changes usually trail other technology changes, and so on. Second, watch for the Oracle equivalent of nervous water: do public comments reflect an imminent release of something? Is there any chatter on the Oracle forums? Is documentation in support of the new release beginning to show up on OTN or MetaLink? Third, take what they give you: for example, Oracle recently conducted a strategy briefing on the roadmap for the acquired BEA products. It's not hard to forecast product release dates within a quarter or two if you follow the roadmap. Another example of taking what they give you is the amazing amount of information you can get by engaging in Oracle's customer collaboration opportunities, either through user groups or directly with Oracle. With this info, you can be pretty sure when things are coming even though you can't provide an exact date. So spend a little time working through things, following these guidelines, and your guess is as at least as good as mine.

So you know my thoughts now on Oracle product release dates. What do you think? Comment away.

1 comment:

SDOAUG said...

Hey Floyd,

Great analogy and thanks for plugging the user groups. Get out and join your local user group!

See ya next week.

Mike Forgey