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Oracle shuffles out two top execs

As the end of its megamerger with PeopleSoft nears, the software maker puts new faces in place in key positions.

Dawn Kawamoto Former Staff writer, CNET News
Dawn Kawamoto covered enterprise security and financial news relating to technology for CNET News.
Dawn Kawamoto
3 min read
Oracle has replaced two top executives who oversee its applications and customer support efforts, as the software company nears the finish line in its $10.3 billion megamerger with former rival PeopleSoft.

The company last week replaced Ron Wohl, its longtime executive vice president for applications development, with John Wookey, an Oracle senior vice president who previously oversaw its finance software and customer relationship management applications, sources close to Oracle said Tuesday.

In addition, Michael Rocha, a 15-year Oracle employee and executive vice president of global support services, has been replaced by Juergen Rottler, who was hired in September to oversee Oracle's on-demand business unit.

Oracle declined to comment on Wohl and Rocha and on whether more changes are in the works in its executive vice president ranks.

For Oracle, the executive changes hit on two areas it must focus on as it integrates business applications maker PeopleSoft. The company faces the challenges of enticing PeopleSoft customers to switch over to its own business software applications and of persuading those who don't switch to stay with Oracle for applications maintenance and support.

In the next two weeks, Oracle is expected to announce organizational changes it has made to PeopleSoft, said Jim Shepherd, an analyst at AMR Research.

Shepherd said he would not be surprised to see Oracle appoint an executive vice president to handle applications from both companies as a separate business. The unit might include software development and marketing and sales, he suggested.

"Currently there is no one with top-to-bottom responsibility for the applications business, which will become a larger part of Oracle's business after the merger," Shepherd said.

Wohl, who took care of Oracle's applications development for roughly a decade, remains with the company, though it is not yet known what role he will play after the merger, sources said.

Rocha is no longer with Oracle, those sources added. As head of Oracle's global support services, he was responsible for the company's on-demand business unit before Rottler's arrival. Rottler will now be responsible for both applications support and on-demand services.

During his tenure as head of applications development, Wohl saw both high and low points, Shepherd said.

"The applications business is coming off of a good quarter for sales, and the technology, from its functionality to its architecture, is more competitive than it's ever been," Shepherd said.

Wohl, however, has had his critics, such as Ray Lane, the former Oracle president. Lane has noted in the past that while Wohl is good at focusing on development, he has been less effective in going to market.

Lane, however, thinks highly of Wookey. "John comes out of the applications world and is a guy who does the right thing. He believes you shouldn't ship a product until it's ready," he said. "People like John and support him."

Rocha has seen ups and downs too, Shepherd said.

"He's improved customer satisfaction, and Oracle has gotten better marks with customer support over the last three years. The company has also dramatically improved its profitability in its customer support area," Shepherd said.

Shepherd noted, however, that Rocha had faced some operational difficulties in executing Oracle's on-demand strategy.