As of January 1st 2012 I have left the Oracle Ace Program.
I will always be proud of having been part of such an impressive group, and I will surely miss being an Ace Director! Let me try to explain this apparent contradiction.
First of all, I have never been a very technically oriented guy. Nevertheless, I was very lucky to be involved in doing the first BPEL implementation in The Netherlands, back in 2005. That opened up a lot of doors (mainly because we had a lot of issues to fix and needed a lot of support :P). Having a succesful implementation and a drive to spread the vision of service orientation led to an invitation to the Ace Program by Clemens Utschig, with massive support from Jürgen Kress (thank you both!). Being a part of the Ace Community has been very rewarding for me. I have met so many good people in the program, have had very interesting discussions, certainly learned a lot, but above all: got many new friends.
Over the last 2 years I have felt more and more guilty of not living up to expectations. The course of my career changed when I started my own company (MShift) in 2009, as an independent architect. Ever since that time I have been active doing Enterprise & Business Architecture. My involvement with technology declined even further. It meant I was no longer staying abreast of all the new developments around SOA Suite etc, not doing any presentations for the community, nor participating in the forums. I was participating more on OTN ArchBeat (thanks Bob!). All in all, it feels like I am no longer adding to the community.
There's another factor involved, though. I could have stayed Ace just for the fun of it, and for being able to travel to San Francisco every year to meet my fellow Ace Directors. That in itself was tempting, but ... being an independent architect becomes harder when you are affiliated in any way with a vendor. In my case, being an Oracle Ace Director often raises eyebrows on my independency and integrity. People who know me will know that has never been (and never will be) an issue. Regardless, it is more and more often that I find it to be working against me. Commercially it is better for me to become a real independent architect.
I have been thinking about this for a long time, and when we were asked to reevaluate our own position I decided to do what I felt was right: to leave the program. So there it is, in a nutshell. I have become an Ace Alumnus.
Some last words: I would like to use the opportunity to thank Oracle, the Ace Program (especially Vikki Lira and Lillian Buziak) for all their good care, friendliness, input, support, knowledge and a lot of fun. I have no doubt the Ace Program will keep on being succesful and I will try to keep in touch as much as I can.