There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
~ US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld could have been talking about technology certifications. As you can infer from previous postings, we're always working with new technologies. One of the biggest challenges is deciding when to release a given certification to you.
This is where Early Adopter Programs come in.
We sometimes run Early Adopter Programs depending on the maturity of a product, implementation risk and complexity, and how well we understand how customers really plan to use a given module. Our Early Adopter Program generally work like this:
- The Applications Technology Integration team produces integration patches and documentation for a particular configuration.
- We invite Oracle account teams and Oracle Consultants to nominate highly technically-skilled customers who are interested in getting early access to these configurations.
- Selected customers get a copy of the patches and documentation, and try it in testbed environments.
- We collect feedback, bug reports, enhancement requests, and produce new incrementally improved versions for our early adopters to try.
- When everything works as expected, we permit those customers to roll those configurations into production.
- When we have sufficient Early Adopter Program participant feedback to assure us that configuration is ready for prime-time, we release it into General Availability, and end the Early Adopter Program.
Managing these programs is my main responsibility within our group.
In the last year, we've run successful Early Adopter Programs for Oracle Application Server 10g, 9iR2 Database with Real Applications Clusters, and the equivalent for the 10gR2 Database. The Oracle Application Server 10g Early Adopter Program was unusual in its scope, with over 260 registered customers. I'll cover those experiences in a series of future posts.
I'm currently managing active Early Adopter Programs for replacing JInitiator with the native Sun J2SE plug-in, with separate Early Adopter Programs for Windows and Linux desktops. If you're interested in participating in either of these programs, by the way, drop me a line. We're actively seeking new customers for these two programs today, given that Release 12 will dispense with JInitiator entirely in favor of the native Sun J2SE plug-in. The more experience we can glean today with Release 11i, the smoother the upgrade to Release 12 will be.