Partners Hope Oracle President Kurian's 'Extended Time Off' Is Short-Term


Oracle partners are hoping that Thomas Kurian, the software giant's highly respected product development chief, will return to the company quickly after informing his staff he would be taking "extended time off" last week and telling them "I shall never forget you."

Partners told CRN that Kurian, 51, will be sorely missed while he's gone because of his unparalleled knowledge and talent.

"Thomas Kurian is one of the smartest people I've ever met," said Edward Roske, CEO of interRel, a large Oracle reseller based in Arlington, Texas. "I sincerely hope this leave is temporary."

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Kurian has granular knowledge of every Oracle product, Roske said, and plays an instrumental role in guiding Oracle's rapid pivot to the cloud.

"There is no way to replace Kurian's knowledge and drive for product excellence," Roske told CRN.

An Oracle spokesperson told CRN: "We expect him to return soon," but provided no specific timetable.

Industry observers wonder whether Kurian will be back by Oct. 22 when the company kicks off its OpenWorld conference, where Kurian typically delivers a major keynote unveiling new products. At last year's event, Kurian introduced in his keynote Oracle's advances in Kubernetes, serverless computing, AI, blockchain, IoT and human interfaces.

According to Business Insider, an email sent by Kurian to his team said: "By now many of you may have heard that I have decided to take extended time off from Oracle. I am writing to let you and your teams know what a privilege it has been to work with all of you these past several years."

It closes: "I am so very proud of all that we have accomplished together and so grateful for having had the opportunity to help you on that journey. I shall never forget you, and I wish each of you the very best for the future."

Oracle confirmed the authenticity of the email to CRN.

A 22-year Oracle veteran, Kurian has become one of the company's most-visible executives since founder and chairman Larry Ellison elevated him to president of product development at the start of 2015.

A few months earlier Ellison had transitioned himself from CEO to CTO, promoting co-presidents Mark Hurd and Safra Catz to share the top job and leaving a void at the president rank.

Kurian had gained Ellison's favor by thriving in a position responsible for launching Oracle Fusion Applications that challenged his predecessors.

John Wookey left Oracle as senior vice president for application development in 2007 amid speculation of delays in launching Oracle Fusion Applications—a broad suite of next-generation ERP applications that culled recently acquired technologies from PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel Systems.

Wookey was replaced by Chuck Rozwat, who assumed the position of executive vice president of product development, responsible for Oracle's entire software portfolio.

Kurian reported to Rozwat as director of Fusion Middleware before replacing him in 2009. Fusion Applications went to market in 2011.

"The biggest value Thomas Kurian brought to the table is his deep technical knowledge base and his willingness to challenge Larry [Ellison] as CTO," said Ronald Zapar, CEO of Re-Quest, a Naperville, Ill.-based Oracle partner. "One would have to believe much of the product strategy – especially the cloud strategy – is directly his doing."

It's not unheard of for Oracle executives to take lengthy breaks from the company, only to return.

Rozwat took a one-year leave of absence after Kurian replaced him as product leader, during which he studied at a Harvard graduate program. He came back to run Oracle Customer Support Services.

Steve Miranda, who reported to Kurian as senior vice president of application development, last year stepped away on a sabbatical that lasted several months, according to sources in the company.