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As some of you know, early last week I was at Progress Technology World, a techie love-in for Progress’ OpenEdge, Sonic, Actional and Apama products. Disclosure: I was there to present a customer case study of the project I’ve blogged earlier, so attendance was comped by Progress; we’ve been a Progress customer for over fifteen years, and we use Sonic’s MQ and ESB products.

This week I was in Sydney for an Oracle Fusion Middleware forum – just a one day (free) set of presentations of what Oracle has in SOA/BPM/Portal stuff. We are running (what is now) Oracle’s JDEdwards EnterpriseOne ERP on an Oracle database.

Now this isn’t going to be a blow-by-blow technical comparison, because I’m not in a position to do so: I’ve used the Sonic products, but only saw Powerpoint for the Oracle stuff. The conferences were different in nature, so not directly comparable.

But (well, there HAS to be some point to this) I detected somewhat different emphases in the two events that I think define key differences in the two companies (beyond the obvious mismatch in size):

Progress Tech World demonstrated a commitment to developers – not just that there were a pile of live demos, and most presentations in the technical stream were given by practitioners (people that I’ve actually cut code with); but that the ethos behind it was about developing great business applications (Most companies that use Progress don’t know it – they normally sell via ISVs who develop applications with the products – we are one of the few direct customers in Australia. This development emphasis is one of the reasons I think Redmonk is a great fit for Progress).

Oracle certainly has all the middleware you could ever want: Portal, messaging, appserver, ESB, BI, BPM – they’ve bought one of everything. They tick most boxes – WS*, JSR168, JSR170 etc. They had a good story in the presentations (though I detected some recidivism in answers to audience questions)… and it seemed to me that they are a selling organisation with development products … and Progress is a development organisation with some products to sell.

Don’t get me wrong – both companies want to sell, and neither model is "wrong" … but there are different cultures and organisational DNA on show – and it’s probably painfully obvious which I prefer! Blame it on familiarity, perhaps – or maybe credit the account manager who works hard on the relationship even when he knows our next discussion will probably mean less renewals for him.

Or maybe blame the arrogance of the Oracle VP who said "Sonic – they won’t even be around in a few years!" Well the clock is on … and I’ll be interested to see if that VP is still working at Oracle then.

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