I've been a bit critical of Oracle of late primarily because I see its executive staff preparing to do a repeat of many of the mistakes IBM made in the 1980s and HP made over the last decade. These mistakes include an increasing disregard for its customers, employees and stake holders, and an increased focus on maximizing executive salaries. I think companies should learn from the mistakes of others and not repeat them, and I'm always surprised when otherwise smart executives get blinded by their own compensation and fail to learn anything.
However, there are a group of employees that have been doing a fantastic job at Oracle and for these folks I have no end of praise. I've been hearing how sales and support staff have been jumping through hoops-often in direct contradiction to executive orders-to take care of their customers. And when employees put their jobs at risk to take care of customers, they deserve our respect. These are people who go beyond the call of duty and are largely responsible for Oracle's strong financial performance, and I remain concerned that Mark Hurd will eventually drive them out of the company.
Beyond the Call of Duty
Apparently, interoperability has become a crime in Oracle-at least with respect to named third-party products from the companies Oracle is at war with. Given that Oracle is at war with pretty much everyone but Oracle, at least of similar size, this has gone beyond the headache stage for many organizations that can't yank out all of their non-Oracle hardware and software to get the mess working again. As a result, I'm told that Oracle service people are secretly meeting with counterparts from the other vendors who are working with them to solve these problems.
I'm told that these meetings are not easy and most occur on the employees' own time and away from the office at largely secret locations, and often with donated resources from the other platform holder. Companies like Microsoft that are trying to excel at interoperability are actually getting concerned for their Oracle counterparts because of the risk these Oracle employees are taking and the critical nature of the joint work.
In the end, these efforts have borne fruit and when folks put their jobs on the line to do what's right, they are heroes in my book.
Oracle/Sun Sales Reps
With the exception of the Exedata platform, which has good buzz but a limited market due to its very high price, the rest of the old Sun-now Oracle-lines are out of date and very difficult to sell against focused efforts from such companies as IBM and HP. This is like going to war against folks with automatic weapons with little more than a slingshot and a prayer, but the Oracle sales folks are moving an impressive amount of product based on Oracle's financials and while holding margins so they aren't just giving this stuff away.
Anyone who has been in sales knows how difficult it is to sell when you have a huge disadvantage in how your line is perceived and the depth of that line. I imagine these Oracle reps get up every day, recognize that what they are trying to do is impossible, and then do it anyway. My admiration for folks who can do it is boundless and they are consistently bringing home profitable deals that make their managers proud. This is likely because they take such great care of their customers that the deficiencies they are offering don't offset the strength of their relationships.
Wrapping Up: There Are Parts of Oracle that Deserve Admiration
When the odds are against you and you win anyway, it constitutes heroism. My hope is that Oracle's executive management will eventually recognize that greatness isn't having an unmatched salary, but is in making a true positive difference with respect to the success of your company. The Oracle rank and file gets this and they are the true heroes at Oracle.