Oracle's software development reins in new hands

Middleware chief Thomas Kurian will take over from Charles Rozwat

Oracle's executive vice president of product development, Charles Rozwat, is taking a one-year leave of absence and his responsibilities will be assumed by Thomas Kurian, currently senior vice president of Fusion middleware.

Rozwat, who joined Oracle in 1994, manages "product strategy, development, and delivery of Oracle's software product portfolio," according to his official biography.

He is planning to pursue a master's degree in public policy at Harvard University, according to company spokeswoman Karen Tillman. Kurian will take over effective Aug. 1, Tillman said.

Rozwat, who could not immediately be reached for comment, recently bought a condominium in New York for $US1.89 million, according to a published report.

Tillman could not say whether Rozwat will definitely return to Oracle, or what his future role might be.

It's doubtful that Rozwat is leaving under any sort of cloud, according to Forrester Research analyst Ray Wang. "[He] has been a trusted individual, part of the senior executive team for a long time, and is probably serving as a mentor to Kurian during this process."

Kurian's work on Fusion Middleware is "credited with really putting together the technology pieces that allow [Oracle's] M&A strategy to be successful," Wang said. Oracle recently launched Fusion Middleware 11g with great fanfare at an event in Washington, D.C.

Kurian "is seen as a technical force" and "knows every product inside and out," he added. "Many of us predicted he would take over applications. It was just a question of when."

Another top Oracle software executive, Ed Abbo, also recently left the company, according to reports.

Meanwhile, Kurian's ascension to both the application and middleware thrones puts "even more of a 'stack' stamp on Oracle's software," 451 Group analyst China Martens said via e-mail.

One concern could be whether Oracle will push its homogenous stack "over previous, more conciliatory messages about also supporting third-party infrastructure and reaching out and hooking into third-party apps," Martens added.

Meanwhile, the latest personnel shift comes as Oracle makes final preparations to launch its long-awaited Fusion Applications.

Fusion Applications are supposed to pull together the best attributes from Oracle's various product lines into a next-generation suite, built on top of Fusion Middleware. The effort was first announced several years ago but has seen delays.

A key executive involved in the project, John Wookey, left Oracle in 2007 and recently turned up at rival SAP, where he is running the company's on-demand software strategy for large enterprises.

Kurian took over management of Fusion Applications development in January 2008.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said during a recent conference call that the initial release of Fusion Applications is "code complete," and the company will start delivering them next year.

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