Three and a half years ago I wrote the paper You Probably Don't Need RAC ("YPDNR I"), and that got a few people out of their comfortable chairs.
Most of the official responses from Oracle to 'YPDNR I' have been highly emotional (i.e. negative) despite the fact that I ended the paper with the words “Now prove me wrong”, and offered to correct any mistakes in my paper immediately.
I think there are two reasons for the negative reactions despite lack of any technical arguments against my paper so far.
1. RAC is something Oracle is (justly) technically proud of, and since it’s a unique technical feature it is also a unique selling feature.
2. I used the word NOT in the title.
In marketing terms, using a negative word when talking about your own product is just not done. You always put a positive spin on it:
* Forty-two Reasons for Choosing RAC
* Using RAC in Critical Environments for Better High Availability and Lower Costs
If I had used one of these (or similar) titles, yet had kept the original content, I don’t think anybody would have reacted.
In fact, I’m certain nobody had objected if I had not used NOT in the title, because I’ve seen several colleagues do exactly that: Put up a positive-sounding title of a presentation or paper, and then proceed to document that in fact most people don’t need RAC.
Why would you deliberately choose a positive-sounding title for a presentation about why people probably don’t need a certain thing? I can think of two reasons:
1. So The Big Vendor doesn’t get mad at you.
2. The paper will get more easily accepted by the paper-selection committees of the various user groups (see my previous post about prostitution).
The first reason is widespread: People are afraid of “Making The Big Vendor mad”. Well, companies don’t get mad. People inside companies get mad (or at least react as if they do).
They get mad instead of getting factual because of lack of, well, facts, but that just makes them madder. Feeling powerless is not good.
The second reason (getting papers selected) is a real problem, and certainly not just in the Oracle world. Many user groups these days suck up to The Big Vendor, imposing a ‘self-restraint’ or, to put it in plain English, self-censorship that would make Yahoo and Google (and their Chinese friends) proud.
People keep telling me it is simply because of the money involved. Perhaps. I doubt it, but let's consider it.
If you make fun of Carlsberg’s 'Probably the Best Beer in The World' campaign, you effectively question a multi-billion Kroner marketing investment. If you question RAC, you potentially hurt the Oracle sales force’s forecast for up-selling RAC and other Enterprise Edition (extra-cost) options.
On the other hand, very very few people are actually driven by money.
I say that as someone who studied Economics for a few years, is a liberal at heart, and all that.
All serious research I've seen in the last ten years or more point to the fact that people are driven by other things than financial rewards. Which is just part of the reason why micro-economic theory (the theories, often with very heavy math involved, about actions and interactions of the individual agents in the economy) can't explain anything after all these years, except when they partner up with sociologists and other socialists :-) .
Most of our community is not driven by money. A few individuals are, but you know they are, and it's just an illness they were born with or forced to adopt because of some slip in their childhood.
We shouldn't generalise based on a few exceptions.
But we all want acknowledgement and friends - to beloong to a group, etc. The threat from someone (be that a marketing guy from The Big Vendor) of losing friends or connections or membership of a group can make a lot of people blink.
Just remember: As soon as you blink in situations like that, there's no going back. You have moved a step or two down the ladder. The only thing that might save you is the fact that The Big Vendor will do his annual re-org no matter what and so perhaps move the Pressure Guy somewhere else and replace him with someone who doesn't know you blinked :-) .
I knew these ritualised, annual re-orgs were good for something!