16 Scenes From Oracle OpenWorld 2010

Gee, Is Oracle OpenWorld In Town?

Every year Oracle OpenWorld seems to take over a little more of San Francisco, particularly here on Howard Street by the Moscone Convention Center. But attendance was actually down a bit this year to 41,000 from around 43,000 in 2009.

For Oracle, the conference came at a critical time with the recent hiring of former HP CEO Mark Hurd as president, the addition of Sun following the $7.3 billion acquisition, and the expected debut of the long-awaited Fusion applications.

Introducing Exalogic And Fusion - Twice!

CEO Larry Ellison gave keynote speeches Sunday evening and Wednesday afternoon. And in both he introduced the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud hardware/software system for running cloud applications and Oracle Fusion applications that offer an upgrade path for the company's E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel applications.

Ellison's Wednesday speech, in fact, covered so much of the same ground that a steady stream of attendees began making their way out of the main hall long before he was finished.

Still, there were some insights. A constant theme of the conference was that Oracle's hardware and software are developed to work seamlessly together. In his Wednesday speech Ellison said he agrees with Apple CEO Steve Jobs' philosophy. "If you engineer the hardware and the software to work together, the overall user experience, the product, is better than if you just do part of the solution." Interesting role model…

Hurd For The First Time

Oracle OpenWorld marked the public debut of Mark Hurd who was appointed Oracle president just two weeks before the start of the conference.

On Sunday Hurd appeared before some 2,000 Oracle channel partners at the Oracle PartnerNetwork portion of the conference and urged them to take advantage of Oracle's Specializations program and develop services around Oracle's products.

On Monday Hurd was introduced to the entire conference and he unveiled the Exadata Database Machine X2-8, the latest member of the Exadata line of systems that combine Oracle software and Sun hardware for high-performance computing tasks. The Exadata, which Hurd described as "the most successful new product" Oracle has ever launched, has become the bellweather of Oracle's hardware-software-engineered-together direction.

Seeing Red

The cavernous main hall where the keynote speeches were held was so large that even trying to watch the giant screens at the front was a challenge for many toward the back.

In The Midst Of The Maddening Crowd

Following the main keynote speeches, it took conference attendees quite awhile to filter out of the hall and disperse throughout the Moscone Convention Center. People handing out posters and T-shirts just outside the keynotes added to the crunch.

Channel Leader

On Sunday Judson Althoff, senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels and embedded sales, announced a new "Diamond" tier addition to the Oracle PartnerNetwork channel program and a new category of "Advanced Specializations" for solution providers who become serious experts in specific Oracle products.

In an interview Althoff said about 200 Oracle partners have been certified under the Oracle PartnerNetwork Specialized program the company launched last year with another 2,000 in various stages of being certified. Altogether Oracle has about 20,000 channel partners worldwide.

Althoff also said more than 90 percent of Sun Microsystem's 2,500 partners worldwide intend to migrate from contracts under the Sun Partner Advantage program to OPN contracts. Some are undecided, he said, while a handful have no plans to make the transition.

Peace Offering

The HP-Oracle relationship took a downward spiral just before Oracle OpenWorld when HP sued Mark Hurd, arguing that his appointment as Oracle president could cause "irreparable damage" to HP because he could use trade secrets to compete with his former company.

But Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's enterprise business, took the stage Sunday night to argue that the HP-Oracle alliance remained strong. She noted that the two companies have 140,000 joint customers, 40 percent of Oracle software runs on HP hardware, and HP supports more than 1 million Oracle software users.

One day later HP and Oracle announced that they had settled the litigation.

Dream Boat

Much of the Moscone's main lobby was devoted to exhibits relating to Ellison's passion for sailing and the victory in the 33rd America's Cup competition this year by Ellison's BMW Oracle Racing 90 trimaran. (Yes, this is a model: The real sailboat and its 223-foot sail would never fit in the Moscone.)

Eyes On The Prize

And the America's Cup trophy itself was on display in the Moscone lobby, always under the watchful eyes of a pair of security guards.

Now That's Hardware!

Marvel Comics is an Oracle customer and that meant lots of Iron Man stuff around the show, from giant screens blaring scenes from "Iron Man 2" to this display of Iron Man suits used in the film, set up outside the keynote speech hall.

Man In The Middle

In a keynote speech Tuesday Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of software product development, made the argument that customers should use Oracle's hardware and software for their cloud computing projects. While it was a not-so-subtle pitch for Oracle products, the presentation offered a good look at the potential hurdles IT managers face when building a cloud computing system.

Kurian has played a key role in the success of the Oracle Fusion Middleware product line, assembled through in-house development and acquisitions such as BEA Systems. Oracle Fusion Middleware has become a big seller for the company and it forms the foundation for the next-generation Fusion Applications suite.

Slip Slidin' On Stage

Kurian's keynote speech on Oracle's plans for Java included a guest appearance by Olympian speed skater and gold medal winner Apolo Anton Ohno.

During his keynote Kurian offered Oracle OpenWorld attendees a roadmap for ongoing Java development, including new OpenJDK releases in 2011 and 2012, two new releases of the NetBeans desktop application development tools next year, and new releases of the GlassFish J2EE application server in 2011.

Kurian also said Oracle intends to maintain the open-source status of key Java technologies.

Cloud Hybrid?

Last year Salesforce.com had Mini Coopers decorated with the company's cloud logos at the Oracle show. This year the incentive was a two-year lease on a Lexus Hybrid RX SUV. It must have been a good year for Salesforce.

During his Sunday keynote Ellison engaged in some competitive trash talking by asserting that Salesforce.com is not a true cloud computing company.

Three days later, in a speech at the Novellus Theater next to the Moscone, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff took a few shots at the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud server, which Oracle is positioning as a "cloud in a box."

In Salesforce.com's view, the key attributes of the cloud are multi-tenancy, speedier performance, lower cost, and the ability to pay as you go and scale up or down as needed, Benioff said. "The cloud is about democracy," he said. "It's not about the very rich or elitist or cult of high end."

Hot Company, Hot Car

Storage system manufacturer 3Par was giving away this Tesla Roadster in an effort to attract showgoers into its booth.

3par was just acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $2.35 billion after a spirited bidding war between HP and Dell.

Gotta Have Drive!

Every year the indoor Callaway golf driving range and putting green sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services are always among the most popular booths on the show floor at Oracle OpenWorld.

No Pushover

Application Security Inc. featured Mongolian-born Sumo wrestler Byamba Ulambayar in its booth to promote its DbProtect and AppDetectivePro database security software. The company's theme was "Do you know what you're up against?" That's appropriate given that the 350-pound Ulambayar is a three-time winner of the World Sumo Championships.