Being An ACE – What’s In It For THEM?

I’ve been an Oracle ACE for about 7 years now, and have never written about it. Other Oracle ACEs have written about this over the years (like this post by Tim Hall), so I didn’t feel the need to write my own post.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the Oracle ACEs from a different perspective, and this is what this post is about.

Who is THEM?

I guess that by now you wonder who I meant by “THEM” when I titled my post.  As I said, I don’t have a lot to add about being an Oracle ACE, but I didn’t see posts about hiring an Oracle ACE. In this post I’ll address the question: “What benefits Oracle ACEs give to their companies”, so by “THEM” I mean the companies.

Expectations from Oracle ACEs

Being an Oracle ACE requires work. They write blogs, articles, books (haven’t done that yet, and according to other ACEs’ stories, I’m not sure I’m going to), speak at conferences, some of them are part of the local Oracle User Group, and more and more.

These things take time and effort. Most of it is done on their own spare time, but not everything can. Some activities such as User Group management and speaking at conferences require spending time outside of the office doing stuff that is unrelated to the day to day job. Another thing to think about is funding. Oracle ACEs will sometimes need to spend money and time on activities, but their resources (and willingness to pay sometimes) are limited and they may request employer assistance. I don’t know if companies consider that or not, but it might be a cause of some conflicts between the ACE employee and the employer.

Different Types of Companies

Before I get to my thoughts about hiring an ACE I’d like to distinguish between two different companies with this regard. Some companies have an “incentive” to have Oracle ACEs, regardless of their “cost”. These companies mostly include consulting companies, professional services companies and product companies. These companies either provide consultation and services of professional people in the field or relevant products to other companies. The other companies are the ones without this “incentive”, such as software companies and companies that actually have IT and DBA teams in many different sectors: public, commercial, education, finance and more.

Companies with “Incentive”

Consulting, professional services and products companies (and mine among them) have a clear incentive for having Oracle ACEs. These companies live on reputation and the fact that people know them. So having ACEs that speak at conferences, have blogs, etc. benefits them as well.

Being part of the Oracle ACE community, I know quite a few other Oracle ACEs and most of them are working as independent consultants, are part of consulting companies or product companies.I’m not sure what is the egg here and what is the chicken. Consultants obviously want to be out there and write, speak, etc. so it makes sense that some will be ACEs. But why are so few a part of “regular” companies? Because of the circumstances? Because they don’t push it? Because the company doesn’t push it? Because the company makes it harder on them to take part in the community? That’s an interesting philosophical question.

The Other Companies

So here is the question, why should other companies have an ACE? They don’t really have  an incentive, Oracle ACEs may request to go to conferences, have some days “off” for “ACE activities” and so on. These companies care much less about their IT/DBA team public reputation (usually), so why should they invest in an ACE?

There are a few reasons that I can think of:

  • Oracle ACEs are usually very good DBAs. As I said before (here), it doesn’t mean they are necessarily better than non ACEs, but they are generally good. The fact that they are accepted (or invited) to speak at conferences and publish articles usually means that they know what they are talking about.
  • Oracle ACEs know many people, other ACEs and other people in the community in general. So when an ACE has a problem, he/she always has someone to ask and I have done so myself a few times in the past.
  • The ACE Program is managed by Oracle Corporation and there are specific people in Oracle itself that are responsible for being in touch with the ACEs. This communication goes both ways. When an ACE has a problem, a mail to the ACE Program people can connect them with someone in the development to assist. I have done this in the past as well and it was extremely helpful.
  • And last, as an important part of Oracle Community, the ACEs can participate in Betas and be involved with processes inside Oracle. Companies who wish to be innovative can definitely use their ACEs and be part of these processes.

Summary

I must say that I haven’t talked with HR people or DBA/IT managers about this topic, so I don’t know how companies see ACEs as employees. In any case, I think this topic is both important and interesting and I hope you think the same.

Feel free to leave comments or any thoughts about it.

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5 thoughts on “Being An ACE – What’s In It For THEM?

  1. Odd you should post this at this time. After years of presenting at conferences, writing papers, posting to a professional blog and assisting with a few user groups, my company has decided that a new policy of one “educational” event per year applies even to me, their one Oracle Ace. So when I got my annual invitation to get a complementary pass to Oracle OpenWorld, the answer was “no” – you’ve already been to ODTUG KScope this year. I don’t suppose I would mind so much if the company was sending someone who HADN’T been before – after all, I’ve been urging them to send more employees to these events for years.
    Do I sound bitter? Well, yes.

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    • Well John, I understand. One event a year is really not enough. Oracle ACE means something and can give a lot, but that comes with a “cost”. I hope to see you in future events.

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