Scenes From Oracle OpenWorld -- The Serious And The Silly6:45 PM EST Fri. Oct. 16, 2009
An estimated 43,000 Oracle customers and partners swarmed into San Francisco last week for the Oracle OpenWorld 2009 show. Despite the lousy economy, attendance was about the same as in previous years with show-goers booking more than 81,000 hotel room nights in the city.
Along with taking over the Moscone Center, the show spilled out onto Howard Street here between the Moscone North and South facilities. An Oracle-BMW racing boat was incongruously positioned at the intersection of Howard and Fourth streets.
Judson Althoff, senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels, outlined Oracle's new Oracle PartnerNetwork Specialized program to channel partners who attended the Oracle OpenWorld OPN Forum -- the partner segment of the conference. Oracle said about 2,000 partners attended the forum, up from about 1,500 the year before.
Under the new program, channel partners will qualify for Remarketer, Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers. But perhaps more important, Gold channel partners will have the opportunity to become certified in "specializations" built around Oracle technologies.
A minimum of five specializations will be required to become a Platinum partner. While Althoff initially predicted that about 10 percent of Oracle partners would seek Platinum status, two days later he said in an interview: "Everyone is asking, 'How do we get to Platinum?'"
The channel generated $2.7 billion in worldwide sales for Oracle in fiscal 2009, Althoff said, accounting for 40 percent of all license revenue and 80 percent of all transactions.
As part of an opening keynote speech Sunday with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, Sun Microsystems chairman Scott McNealy worked hard to convince customers that Oracle will continue to develop, sell and support Sun hardware products.
But the speech also served as something of a trip down memory lane for McNealy, who presented a Top 10 list of what he considered Sun's greatest technical achievements, including SPARC, Solaris and Java.
But McNealy also presented a Top 10 list of what he considered to be questionable technologies developed "when engineers go wild." They included a bra that can double as a gas mask, Windows 7, and these USB drives built to look like sushi.
Oracle has some 3,000 products, including software from the approximately 60 companies Oracle has acquired over the last five years. So demonstrating to OpenWorld attendees how all of Oracle's software products can work together was the major theme of a keynote speech delivered by Oracle presidents Charles Phillips (pictured) and Safra Catz.
Key to the vendor's integration strategy is Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA) 2.5, a new release of the vendor's integration technology for linking Oracle applications with other Oracle software and with applications from SAP and other vendors.
These "convicts" were posted on street corners around the Moscone Center imploring attendees to "free yourselves from Oracle." They were handing out literature for Active Endpoints, developer of the ActiveVOS business process management software that competes with Oracle's SOA Suite 11g.
Dell CEO Michael Dell's keynote, "The New Reality Of IT," focused on how businesses can cut costs while increasing value, productivity and service level for customers. Most of the $1.2 trillion spent on IT today goes toward "keeping the lights on," he said, rather than on strategic business initiatives.
Dell insisted that $200 million can be taken out of that $1.2 trillion by standardizing, simplifying and automating IT through the use of such initiatives as virtualization, consolidation and application rationalization.
Another recurring theme throughout Oracle OpenWorld was the vendor's claims that its hardware servers -- both its own Exadata database server and those of its soon-to-be-owned Sun Microsystems -- outperform IBM hardware. Huge banners like this one hanging inside the Moscone Center touted Sun server performance benchmarks.
CEO Ellison is even offering a $10 million prize to anyone who can find an application that doesn't run twice as fast on a Sun server as on a comparable IBM server configuration.
Salesforce.com, which had a huge booth on the Oracle OpenWorld exhibition floor in Moscone West, was giving away two Mini Cooper cars each day. During the show, the cars -- painted sky blue with clouds and the Salesforce logo -- were also driven around the streets surrounding the Moscone.
The Abreon Group was promoting use of its change management software for IT change "adoption" in its booth with this doggy adoption motif. Note to PETA: The dogs in the cages are stuffed animals.
A hot item on the show floor was these rubber duckies that Runner Technologies was giving out to promote its Clean_Address Data Quality Suite software for cleaning up "dirty" address data.
Solution provider BestIT Corp. adopted a Star Trek theme for its booth, using a mockup of the bridge of the starship Enterprise to pitch its applications, IT infrastructure and architecture services, and hosted solutions.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, in his closing keynote, debuted Oracle's long-awaited (some say "overdue"), next-generation Fusion suite of applications. Ellison said the new applications are built on a modular Software-as-a-Service [SaaS] architecture, marking a big departure from the older technology that underlies the company's current application products.
"It is a big project and we have been working on it for a long time," Ellison said of Fusion. "It's SaaS-ready." The applications are currently undergoing testing at customer sites and are slated for general availability next year.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a surprise appearance Wednesday, giving his blessing to Oracle's planned acquisition of Sun and calling the two Bay Area companies "two of the world's great technology giants."
The governor told attendees that he was honored to be "in the company of so many brilliant innovators. I felt that as soon as I walked out on-stage my IQ shot up 10 points," he said to laughs.
After taking about 15 minutes to promote his state as a leader in information technology, he had a plea for conference attendees: "Don't go home. Stay in California and spend as much money as possible."
Wednesday night was the Oracle OpenWorld Appreciation Event (i.e.: party) held on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. Rockers Aerosmith headlined the event, which also included performances by The Who co-founder Roger Daltrey, The Wailers and Three Dog Night.
Aerosmith singer Steve Tyler led the band through such hits as "Sweet Emotion," "Dream On," "Draw The Line," "Love In An Elevator," "Last Child," "Walk This Way," "Living On The Edge," "Same Old Song And Dance," and "Rag Doll." Tyler, 61, looked surprisingly spry considering that he suffered a broken collarbone and other injuries in early August after falling from a stage in Sturgis, S.D.
Tyler even entertained the crowd with a technology joke: "What's the difference between Windows and a virus? A virus keeps getting better."
Aerosmith lead guitarist Joe Perry was in fine form.