Last week, Justin Kestelyn Tweeted me to advise me about Oracle's moves in service oriented security. Since the document refers to strategy and what the company has in mind, I wanted to know about the timelines for product release. Justin Tweeted back:
RevRec rules are really strict; timelines almost never discussed anymore.
What has rollout of a new service got to do with revenue recognition? The problem is simple: you can put as much information out as you want but if it's not backed by deliverables then it's not credible. It would seem that Oracle's communications are more messed up than that. Dale Vile of Freefrom Dynamics tells a related story:
I was interested to read about Angela's experience trying to secure a briefing from Oracle on its collaboration related offerings and activities. As Angela pointed out, the 'Big O' was the only large vendor that 'should' have a story in this space that declined to tell her what it was up to.
When I later commented on this (with a link to the above) via Twitter, someone else came back to me to say that they too had been having trouble getting Oracle to open up in this area.
Dale suggests Oracle is a victim of its own aggressive stance towards competition but there may be more to it than that. All the large software companies work the same way with analysts and press. There's an unspoken pecking order and if you're not high in that list then you don't exist. It's harsh, it's unfair but it is what it is. Fortunately, we have open source analysts like Dale to break the information log jam.
In fairness to Oracle, they have been making efforts to reach out to the blogger/press/analyst community. Last week they tried to brief some of us on a new initiative in deal management but I had to pull out of it. They were using a proprietary console that only works with IE. It didn't work for me using IE on XP in VMWare. The irony is that as Dale notes, Oracle has expended a lot of energy on beating up on Microsoft but with little effect:
The Oracle Collaboration Suite was launched a few years ago supposedly to save the world from flaky Microsoft Exchange installations and pretty much fell flat. Oracle believed its own rhetoric about the world hating Microsoft, so looked silly to most people when it aggressively launched an initiative that would only work if customers ditched their existing Microsoft messaging infrastructure, which was never going to happen.
I'm constantly told by Oracle people they're not allowed to comment officially to me about anything. I find that depressing in an age of Twitter, blogs, Facbook and the rest. The illusion of command and control communications are over. I'm sure that's what SAP's 2000+ marketing people learned during their three day virtual conference that featured Seth Godin and Ze Frank.
Operational transparency is a significant part of the general shift I see in the way large vendors communicate. It isn't easy and for many it is far from comfortable. However, if the thing that drives you is quarterly reporting then it is hardly surprising that Oracle should remain relatively defensive. In the meantime : Oracle? More noise please. But of the right kind.