It is with a tinge of sadness that we announce that the Oracle Virtual Chapter is no more, but do not despair, all is not lost!
Around 14 months ago the leadership of the Oracle Virtual Chapter changed hands after it had laid dormant for approximately the same length of time. At this time PASS were not entirely convinced that there was an audience or market for this Chapter, but we discussed our vision for it's future and for a time the VC had a stay of execution.
The revised vision for the Oracle Virtual Chapter was to encourage understanding of Oracle based technologies for a Microsoft audience, so we hoped to cover integration topics (for instance SSIS ETL from Oracle data sources) and even showcasing certain Oracle features and contrasting and SQL features (i.e. what rocks or fails in each Data Platform) with a view that this could help encourage discussion.
We are still excited by this vision but I think the key problems remain:
- How do you "sell" Oracle Technology Training to a Microsoft Community?
- Is there a need for Oracle Technical Training in a Microsoft Community?
- Should we be trying to "sell" Oracle Technology Training to a Microsoft Community?
The "how" was always going to be a difficult question to answer but in many ways I think is largely dictated by the more important question of need. If there is no need for training then the how you "sell" it will fail regardless. It became quite apparent early on in our efforts to start the ball rolling again that there was a distinct lack of interest in Oracle within the SQLPASS Community if social media responses (or lack of) to our messages was anything to go by. Even during presentations I would talk about the re-launching of the Oracle Virtual Chapter and would receive blank stares -and only ever had one single person show an interest during all this time. I could only conclude that the need for Oracle training within the Microsoft (SQL) community was far less than I had expected.
I found the question whether we should even be attempting to "sell" Oracle Technology to a Microsoft Community the hardest one to answer. While many of us work in Multi-Database Platform environments, there is no getting away from the fact that this Community is first and foremost Microsoft centric and exists (in part) because of the funding and support of Microsoft. However it was unlikely that we would help Oracle marketing shift more units (over SQL) since we were mostly trying to speak to an audience with existing and heavy Microsoft deployments. Therefore even though I am sure Microsoft would not see the Virtual Chapter as a conflict of interest in any way, there is no doubting that it is/ was an unusual fit to the existing Virtual Chapter Portfolio.
So ultimately we always ended up coming back to the question of relevance. We believe that the OracleVC is no longer as relevant to PASS's Microsoft centric audience in the same way that it may have been 5 or 10 years ago. The Microsoft Data Platform has grown so large and integrated (and partnered) with other platforms and technologies (such as Hadoop) that suddenly most of us are either stepping firmly in one camp or the other (at least it feels this way) and integrating or utilizing other technologies into that stack where required, but obviously there are always exceptions.
With a shrinking potential audience we have decided to move with the times and change things so the Virtual Chapter has a purpose to exist. First we set out some basic goals that we wanted to address.
The new Virtual Chapter:
- Must be Microsoft Data Platform centric
- Must have a potential (existing) PASS audience
- Should incorporate some of the original revised vision (integration, compare and contrast)
- Should provide something different but relevant
In the end we came up with the mission statement that the VC would "cover all technologies and solutions that may be integrated with (or used alongside) the MS Technology stack, in order to complement or improve existing solutions". These may include 3rd parties or pure MS product deployments.
Sessions we could cover might include:
- AlwaysOn Availability Group hybrid deployments using Azure
- Big data solutions - contrasting Hortonworks, Cloudera and MS Insight
- (or even) SSIS ETL from Oracle data sources!
...Obviously there is lots of room and scope for cross over with existing VCs and we think this is a good thing. It means that their should be a captive audience and (just as important) speakers.
After lots of head scratching, there was only ever one name that seemed a right fit...Hybrid Virtual Chapter. Coincidently our existing DNA-like logo feels like a perfect fit for this new name so at least that is one thing that can remain the same. So for now I would like to thank everyone who has worked on the Oracle VC in the past and in particular would like to thank Jen Stirrup, Wendy Pastrick and Elizabeth Jeffs for their immense patience and understanding over the years while we attempt to move things forward. This time the aim is to succeed. Wish us luck!