To be or not to be (part of IOUC), that is the question

Last modified by Charles Sabourdin on 2015/03/05 15:03

Oct 18 2010

Vous l'avez tous suivi, Sun a été racheté par Oracle. Une société qui en rachète une autre, ses employés, ses produits... et sa communauté (ça s'achète ça ?). Ce rachat a donc un impact sur l'activité communautaire, sur l'activité des JUGs, sur l'activité du Paris JUG. Que vas-t-on devenir ? 

Petit historique. Sun créa les JUGs (Java User Group) peu après la création du langage (vers 1997 aux US). Ces derniers étaient (et sont encore) organisés de manière chaotique (pas vraiment de charte, de règles) et quasi autonomes (pas beaucoup de liens avec Sun si ce n'était pour qques speakers et goodies). L'avantage de ce modèle c'est qu'il laissait libre les 300 JUGs qui peuplaient la planète : "chacun fait fait fait, ce qui lui plaît plaît plaît" (pour citer un tube des années 80). Et puis Oracle a racheté Sun, et est arrivé avec ces règles assez définies : oui, Oracle a aussi des User Groups, ils se nomment les Oracle User Group. Oracle a donc aussi l'habitude de dialoguer avec la communauté. Par contre, il est évident que ces deux sociétés ont leur manière de faire, et de voir les choses : Sun avait plutôt une approche bottom-up (les développeurs parlent aux managers), Oracle, top to bottom (les managers parlent (imposent ?) aux développeurs). Le rachat consommé, il fallait bien que ces deux mondes se parlent.

Il se trouve qu'Oracle effectue 2 réunions annuelles avec ses Oracle User Group... c'était donc le moment adéquat de se mélanger aux JUGs et de les inviter. Ce qui a été fait du 12 au 13 octobre à Bruxelles. Ci-dessous le mail que nous avons envoyé aux JUG Leaders du monde entier (attention, c'est en anglais)

Dear JUG Leaders,

This (long) email to give you some feedback on our very first Oracle EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) President meeting ( A few weeks ago several European JUG leaders received an email from Oracle inviting us to their EMEA User Group meeting in Brussels (12-13 October 2010). We didn't really know what it was about but felt curious about it, so, we enrolled. When we say "we", we are talking about Antonio Goncalves (Paris JUG), Stephan Janssen (BeJUG), Bert Breeman (NLJUG), Abraham Otero (JavaHispano) & Sebastien Stormacq (YaJUG). It looks like Oracle had invited few other JUG Leaders, but only 5 of us turned up. So, here is our debriefing.

Oracle has 2 annual meetings in EMEA with their User Group leaders (or presidents, that's how they call themselves) and an annual one in the US with ALL the User Groups leaders throughout the planet (the IOUC -International Oracle Users Group Community- summit). The idea behind these meetings is to meet (it was actually a nice experience to spend two full days with other JUG Leaders, something we've never done before), talk about User Groups activities, send messages back to Oracle, and get some information from Oracle concerning User Groups. As the new (cool) kids on the block (we were 5 JUG Leaders and there were about 30 OUGs Leaders, 1 MySQL UG leader, plus Oracle staff), we didn't really knew the agenda of such gathering, didn't know any of these new faces and were really skeptical about the entire "User Groups using this opportunity to talk to Oracle and vice-versa" (at the end of the day, the Java Platform goes beyond a single vendor, so we didn't feel that talking to Oracle was that important). 

The first morning, we listened, looked and stayed quite... but of course, that didn't last long. We could see some similarities between JUGs and OUGs (for example: How to run a community, how to get speakers, sponsors; even if OUGs are related to Oracle products, they do complain about Oracle and can be very vocal... great!), but we surely could see many differences (OUG talk about Oracle products, we talk about the Java platform), and we started to express it (in a fun but direct way). At some point we even turned out to each other thinking "what the hell are we doing here?". Why didn't we leave the room? Because we could acknowledge that it was the first time that JUG Leaders were together for 2 days in a very nice hotel in Brussels, and that Sun never really offered this service. So being in the same place for 2 days resulted in some very valuable quality User Group time together, was worth the effort. Just think about the dynamics when more JUG Leaders would attend this meeting!  At the end of the first day, with the extra information we had, we decided to put up some ideas/questions into several slides that we would present the following day to the group.

Point number one, what is the added value JUG Leaders could get from these meetings? 

  • Have more EMEA JUG Leaders attend this gathering/networking/brain storming opportunity
  • Use these bi-annual meetings as a vehicle between EMEA JUGs
  • Create synergies between JUGs
  • Consolidate a single European JUG voice towards other companies beyond Oracle
  • This only works of course if we can have an uncensored communication channel

Point number two, customize these EMEA meetings with JUG Leader needs

  • "We" should define the agenda of those meetings ("we" OUG Presidents, JUG Leaders and also Oracle)
  • We should have common discussions with OUG but also have separate ones only between JUGs
  • Record the sessions so other JUG Leaders can listen to (and this also adds a bit of transparency)
  • We could also have unconference sessions between us

Point number three, structure the JUGs

  • Oracle likes umbrellas, they can't talk to everybody at the same time, so they need a Russian dole structure (because they can't invite everybody to these meetings)
  • Talk as as single voice back to Oracle (an example is the South American OUGs who asked Oracle to help them to setup a tour around local UGs, by being strong and united, they managed to get some help).
  • So we could consider creating an EMEA umbrella JUG similar to what Van Riper is doing in the USA
  • European Countries could have umbrella JUG per country (a bit like the Germans -
  • OUG have two ambassadors, we could have the same. But that brings money issues (ambassadors need to travel to OUG on their spare time at their own costs) but that could be solved by JUGs donations. 
  • Ambassadors also represent EMEA when they go the big Oracle UG summit (the IOUC Summit)
  • Ambassadors have to be elected
  • And BTW, forget about the entire Oracle model 1, 2, 3 (they don't want it ether emoticon_smile

All in all, we were quite positive about the entire experience. Again, we want to stress out that it is really interesting to have the opportunity to meet for 2 days, twice a year, and exchange experiences, challenges and opportunities in the Java and Oracle User Groups eco-system!

So, the question now is "Is the EMEA International Oracle Community the vehicle for us?"  (sorry about repeating EMEA, but we don't know what Oracle is doing with other regions, we don't know if you have been contacted to participate to such events in other contintents). We could see some clear benefits, we could see some constraints (we need to organise in umbrellas) but we could also see some fear (does Oracle want to control us by doing this?).

A problem we also see in joining IOUC right now is that Oracle presentatives attending the meeting could not define clearly who could become a member of the IOUC and who couldn't. The Java community is very heterogeneous and has very diverse interests. On the contrary, the current members of IOUC are fairly homogeneous: they mostly are Oracle customers and partners; i.e., they all are users of Oracle products. During the meeting, some IOUC members initially said that if someone belongs to IOUC they must be a customer or partner of Oracle, which in the case of the JUGs would be (from our point of view) unacceptable. After discussing this issue, Oracle representatives could not give us a clear and definitive answer on who can join IOUC (and we are still waiting for it).

From our point of view, either the entire Java community has the doors opened for joining IOUC (which does not mean that all communities must join, but they can if they choose to), or no community should join. We should stay together. We must not create two classes within the Java community: the IOUC members who would have Oracle's blessing and a direct channel of communication with them, and the groups with an interest in Java technologies not blessed by Oracle. For example, communities created around Android, Spring, Groovy & Grails, Scala ... and many other technologies in which Oracle is not a player.

What we propose is to exchange thoughts using this mailing list, and use the Devoxx JUG Leaders' BOF on Thursday evening to further discuss this possible opportunity (FYI nearly 70 JUG Leaders will be present at Devoxx next month). It's a decision that we all have to take.

PS : This document has been created in a collaborative way by Antonio Goncalves (Paris JUG), Stephan Janssen (BeJUG), Bert Breeman (NLJUG), Abraham Otero (JavaHispano) & Sebastien Stormacq (YaJUG)

Created by Administrator on 2010/10/18 19:04
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