IOUG: 25 Years, One Unified Voice

    By: Mike Carrozzo on Apr 09, 2018

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    By Mike Carrozzo


    The year was 1993. Intel introduced the world to its Pentium Processor and Microsoft just released Windows NT 3.1. Web browsing became popular for the general public through a little product named Mosaic, and gamers worldwide got their first glimpse of a game that would change their lives named ‘Doom’.

    This was also the year in which Oracle was busy re-writing all of its applications to run in client/server mode. This was in response to more businesses adopting this model for mission-critical applications. For Oracle, it was a path that began with the release of Oracle Financials for OS/2 just three years prior.

    “Back then the market was very fragmented, and it would be hit or miss in terms of being able to obtain information when it came to Oracle products,” says Troy Ligon, IOUG Director of Event Program Management. “It basically came down to whether or not you knew someone.”

    That all changed with the formation of the International Oracle Users Group.  That name later changed to what it is today—the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) when Oracle was in the process of acquiring PeopleSoft.

    IOUG would become the first official user group to represent the voice of Oracle technology and database professionals—to give these professionals a voice not only amongst their peers, but to Oracle itself. And 25 years later, it’s safe to say the words: mission accomplished.

    “I think what makes IOUG really successful is that we have evolved as Oracle has evolved,” says Ligon. “Think about that—one of the most dynamic tech companies in the world and our organization has been able to remain nimble enough to keep pace—and to truly make a difference when it comes to Oracle-based technology.”

    This ability to stay nimble comes through the fact that IOUG’s diverse membership represents the voice of all sizes and types of Oracle customers. From the very large powerhouse organizations, down to the ‘mom and pop’ shops—IOUG has representation across a wide swath of the marketplace. This fact has been critical to ensuring it provides a collective voice that covers all perspectives.

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    “It's one thing to read about a particular aspect of technology and quite another to have someone to discuss it with,” says Ray Smith, IOUG President. “IOUG provides opportunities to meet experienced professionals and other technicians with problems like yours. Nothing like a quick email or chat to improve your solution and build your confidence!”

    Through it all, it’s been the personal connections and the one-on-one discussions that rise to the top for members. And those discussions are never sugar coated. Throughout its 25 years as an organization, IOUG has built a solid reputation for “telling it like it is” when it comes to working with Oracle-based technology. That comes from members who have a vested interest in making the technology as good as it can be.

    “IOUG has been my primary source for meeting many Oracle professionals, and getting a world view of Oracle technology,” says IOUG member Gary Gordhamer. “Often we see only what we are working on, or our single employers view. Through IOUG … an entire landscape of invaluable views and experiences has opened up.”

    Being able to uphold that voice of IOUG has come through the hard work of the board of directors, made up of individuals who work diligently to ensure the diverse needs of its membership are represented. IOUG ensures all voices have their issues brought to the table with Oracle with the same level of clout.   

    IOUG member Jim Czuprynski calls it an ability to keep “a finger on the pulse of the IT industry”. He adds, “… especially how the role of Oracle DBA has changed since the early 2000s and what we as professionals need to do to remain relevant in an ever-changing arena of challenges and possibilities.”

    The Resources
    For IOUG, the resources have been highly valuable, ranging from technical articles, seminars, and events. For instance, the publication SELECT has been the voice of the IOUG community since 2002. Evolving from a printed piece to an online PDF, to now a dynamic online content hub that launched in 2017, SELECT has played a significant role in helping many get their voices heard in the market; while at the same time helping them evolve as professionals.

    Michelle Malcher, current executive editor of SELECT, helped oversee this digital transition, and believes it’s the people who have made the biggest difference. ““The great value of being a part of the IOUG community is the people. They are passionate about what they do, they want to succeed and help others get there too. The sharing of ideas and support of others has helped me in my career and honestly do things such as presenting, writing articles and books, which I never could have done on my own.”

    Seth Miller, IOUG’s Director of Marketing and Communications likens reading IOUG SELECT to being a part of the most interesting conversations with the most passionate people in the industry. He says, “SELECT has always been a reflection of the IOUG membership and an invaluable resource to the Oracle community. SELECT has been a part of my career since it began and continues to evolve with me. I can't imagine my professional life without it.”

    Gordhamer credits SELECT with spring-boarded his writing skills, and eventually his leadership skills in volunteering. To him, the publication has provided access, contacts, and mentors to help his career evolve.

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    One of those mentors is April Sims, former executive editor of SELECT, who approached Gordhamer 11 years ago to author an article. She says, “SELECT content is associated with the best in the technical community. Being able to coordinate the effort in a unified manner provided opportunities beyond my expectations which includes giving valuable feedback to the vendors at the beta stage.”

    Of course when talking about IOUG resources we would be remiss to not mention COLLABORATE. This annual event put on by IOUG, in collaboration with Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) and Quest International Users Group (Quest), has been the definitive technology and applications forum for the Oracle Community. As an educational conference, COLLABORATE helps users of the full family of Oracle business applications and database software gain greater value from their Oracle investments.

    “One of the best things IOUG brings is the networking and growing your profile and connections outside of your local geography, and COLLABORATE is a great opportunity to meet up with old and new friends, and build a strong network of resources you can draw on from around North America or even the world,” says Simon Pane IOUG Director of Content Strategy.

    Editor’s note: You can still attend COLLABORATE 18—and one day, two day and Virtual Forum passes are still available!

    A Pacesetting Organization
    Twenty-five years is impressive. When you consider the rate at which both business and technology changes, to have an organization that remains as a pacesetting one for its members for more than two decades is rare.

    Most organizations can be characterized as being “trailing”—ones that are in constant state of reacting to the trends in the market. IOUG doesn’t fall into that category—it’s quite the contrary, actually. Throughout its 25 years as an organization, IOUG has been at the forefront of IT developments, even elevating bugs to Oracle on behalf of its members.

    In many instances have been the first to introduce Oracle innovations to its members (before the broader public was able to get their hands on these releases). Case in point the Cloud Attack, hosted at COLLABORATE 2016, which gave members a first look at the newly available Oracle Cloud before others. This of course was in the model of the 2008 RAC Attack event where IOUG play an integral role introduces this to a broader community. A look back at the timeline of significant events of which IOUG has been a part shows that the list of examples is broad and deep.

    “In the early days we were the ones going to Oracle with questions, and now Oracle is asking us the questions,” adds Ligon. “That demonstrates to us that Oracle definitely sees the value proposition in IOUG.”

    Here’s to the Future
    Plenty of user groups exist, but there is definitely something special about IOUG--and the community of experts which proudly call themselves members. 

    "I have been involved in dozens of user groups in the Oracle community over the last decade, but IOUG takes the user group experience to another level," adds Miller. "The diversity of experience, passion for technology, and willingness to share with others in IOUG's membership is unmatched. The greatest value of being a part of IOUG is being inspired every day by IOUG members all over the world."

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    Twenty five years of IOUG users helping each other learn and grow. Where do we go from here? What’s next? Michelle Kolbe, IOUG Executive Vice President, gives us a glimpse into her vision:

    “Look at all of the amazing things we've been able to accomplish in our careers due to this IOUG community! Twenty-five years ago some of us were playing Oregon Trail and learning to type with Mavis Beacon. Others had the foresight to create IOUG so that Oracle professionals had a place to come together and share their experiences and knowledge. Our technology and careers have changed so much since then, just imagine where things will be in 25 more years (I'm really hoping we all get a robot maid like Rosie from the Jetson's in the next 25 years)! I'm excited to see how things change but I also treasure in the fact that I know the IOUG community will be helping me navigate these changing waters and keeping me informed and prepared as my career continues to shift with technology. Here's to 25 more years of IOUG and to robots that clean our house!”

    Released: April 9, 2018, 10:13 am | Updated: April 9, 2018, 2:08 pm
    Keywords: Feature


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