In the Field

A Fresh Start

Outgoing IOUG President Maria Anderson discusses leadership and change with the incoming president, David Start.

By Jeff Erickson

July/August 2017

As cloud strategies shift workloads away from company-owned data centers, technologists are left to steer their careers through an unsettling transition. As they might with any complex question, members of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) will look to their fellow members as guides, “because you can’t google this stuff,” says outgoing IOUG President Maria Anderson. “You’ll only get the real information by talking to people who’ve lived it.”

IOUG President David Start sees the cloud changing how people look at skills and job roles.

Anderson: The cloud is really shaking up the industry, and I feel this is just the beginning. How do you see it?

Start: The cloud, in my opinion, is probably the best thing that’s ever happened because it’s shaking up people. People have been so stagnant saying “I’m going to be a DBA. Let’s just look at the next version of the database.” In the past, you had time because you’d upgrade the database every three years. Now it’s weekly. It’s a faster pace. It gets people on their toes. It gets the data going. It makes everybody step back and ask where do they want to be and where are they going. You can’t just be the Oracle Database administrator with your hands on the keyboard anymore.

Anderson: It’s a huge opportunity. That’s why IOUG has been stepping up our strategic leadership program.

There’s a lot more you need to understand, and it’s not technical. The technical stuff is going to change daily and weekly with the cloud. ”
–David Start, IOUG President

Start: Right. We’re saying, “Hey, you may become an architect. You may become a manager. You may become other things. You need to think about your career. You need to think about what the world looks like when you’re architecting for the cloud.”

Anderson: It’s not about the database. It’s about the data.

Start: Exactly. That’s why I say IOUG is the best place to be, because everything is data-driven. If you look at every tech industry headline, it’s not about an application. It’s not about a server. It’s always about data—data breaches, data security, data governance, data at rest. Every article is about data, and the person who knows the most about the data is going to be a member of IOUG.

Anderson: That’s because you need information, not marketing. Your peers know what’s going on.

Start: A perfect example is all the new legal regulations in Europe about where data has to sit. These are laws with different levels of flexibility. The only way you’re going to understand them is talk to somebody who’s dealt with them. And where can you go to ask somebody, “What does this mean to me? How do I do this? Can I put my data in Ireland or does it have to be in Germany? Can I publish this data?” Nobody’s going to give you those answers in the detail you need unless they have gone through it or studied it. IOUG is where you find those folks.

Outgoing IOUG President Maria Anderson looks at IOUG as a source of opportunity, peer support, and answers.

Anderson: The great part about IOUG is that you’ll get your question answered, but you might also start a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

Start: Almost 10 years ago I met a few guys during a technical discussion at an IOUG conference. Afterwards we went out for a few drinks and ended up talking the night away. The whole rest of that year, as technical things popped up, we emailed each other. Then the next year at the IOUG conference, we got together again. Over the years, if somebody was standing alone at a conference, we’d go up and talk to them, and all of a sudden we have another person in the group. Now we’ve got 25 or 30 people in this group.

We’ve got a slack channel, and if you want to talk about what’s going on in your family or if you have a CECL [Current Expected Credit Loss] 2 initiative, you post it there. A while ago my daughter won a soccer game, and I posted it, and everybody was asking about the game. The next day somebody ran into an Oracle Data Guard issue, and within a minute or two somebody posted a suggestion for what to do. Then everybody jumped in, and they were all helping out: “Did you do this, check this, and check that?” Bam! That database was back up and running.

Anderson: As things move to the cloud, your group will have a lot to talk about.

Start: The one thing I’d say to folks is to take your hands off the keyboard. It’s no longer just about products or services. It’s solutions. It’s architectures. It’s critical thinking. It’s communication skills and problem solving. There’s a lot more you need to understand, and it’s not technical. The technical stuff is going to change daily and weekly with the cloud.

Anderson: You sound like just the guy to take the reins. I wish you the best in your time as IOUG president.

Start: Thanks, Maria. I’m a sucker for a challenge. This is an exciting time. I’m ready for it.

Next Steps



Photography by Paul S. Howell and Gary Campbell/The Verbatim Agency; Michael Olsen, Unsplash