Software, Hardware, High-Speed Sailing: 20 Scenes From Oracle OpenWorld

Big Event, Big Drama: Oracle OpenWorld

Last week's Oracle OpenWorld was one of the largest IT conferences in the world, and was likely the largest vendor-focused conference. With 60,000 total attendees, including about 5,000 partner attendees both in person and online, Oracle OpenWorld was easily the best way to learn about and discuss all things Oracle from a customer and solution provider perspective.

At the same time, the conference provided no small measure of drama centered around the come-from-behind America's Cup win by Oracle Team USA, which included Oracle CEO Larry Ellison skipping a keynote to attend a race and a confrontation between an America's Cup protestor and police.

Regardless of whether you missed Oracle OpenWorld, or were there but way too busy to see everything, just turn the page to see some things you may have missed.

Not Enough Space

Oracle OpenWorld was huge this year in terms of venue. In addition to completely taking over Moscone North, South and West halls, the event also had space in multiple hotels around downtown San Francisco.

And, as shown here, Howard Street between Moscone North and Moscone South was carpeted over so that, if someone didn't know it was a road, he or she might think it was a regular plaza where attendees could eat lunch, meet and watch keynotes, such as this Monday morning one by Oracle President Mark Hurd, which was for a large part a repeat of his Sunday afternoon keynote to channel partners.

Raising Hell With Travel

Finding a hotel room with its own bathroom and more than a 1-star Yelp rating under $450 was nigh impossible three weeks before Oracle OpenWorld began. And with Howard Street between Moscone North and Moscone South, along with another road or two, closed, driving and parking were a mess.

Not to say this reporter, a veteran of constant Southern California traffic jams, felt sorry for the denizens of San Francisco. After all, this event lasted only six days.

Welcoming Oracle OpenWorld To San Francisco

Despite the traffic and other issues related to hosting one of the world's most important conferences, Ed Lee, mayor of San Francisco, took the stage before Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's keynote to thank Oracle for hosting the event in the city.

"By the way, I don't mind closing down Howard Street for you," Lee said. "What other street do you want me to close?"

Lee Praised Oracle's innovation, which he said fits with San Francisco's self-proclaimed status as the "Innovation Capital of the World."

"Today, because of that innovation, our unemployment rate is 5.3 percent," he said.

Organized Chaos: Getting In To Ellison's Keynote

This intrepid reporter, thinking to beat the crowds into Ellison's Sunday night opening keynote, got in line almost a half-hour early.

The result? A wait in line for nearly a half-hour before it started moving.

Ellison's keynotes are among the most eagerly awaited events in the IT industry. They are so popular, in fact, that he was scheduled for two of them.

He skipped the second one. Someone last year inconveniently scheduled it to happen at the same time as one of the key races of Oracle Team USA for the America's Cup sailing event.

So, looking at this crowd to sit in on his opening keynote, it is easy to understand why a large part of the audience just up and left his second keynote after it was announced he couldn't be there.

World War O?

Looking up from near the conference hall front door at the crowds still spilling down the stairs and escalators, this intrepid reporter overheard one conference attendee say to another, "This looks like a scene out of World War Z."

World War Z is the 2013 blockbuster zombie movie in which hordes of zombies overwhelm survivors. See 1:55 in this trailer to understand what that attendee meant.

Ellison Touts New In-Memory Database Technology

Ellison opened Oracle OpenWorld by helping introduce several new hardware systems highlighted by an in-memory database technology he claimed improves database query speed by 100 times with no changes to the applications.

Ellison said the new high-performance solutions fit his vision of the data center of the future, which depends on specialized machines that offer the best cost/performance ratio, increase reliability and security, and are easy to use.

"You spend less buying it," he said. "You use less floor space to hold it. You use less electricity to run it. And it's all pretested, so it's much more reliable."

Ellison said Oracle's new in-memory database technology, which is available as an option for the company's Exadata database engineered system, lets users of the Exadata database engineered system merely specify many gigabytes of memory to allocate to the database and configure the tables and partitions.

"Flip a switch, and all your applications run much faster," he said.

Distracted By America's Cup Racing

The question most often heard during Oracle OpenWorld was, "Did we win?"

And "yes" was the most often heard answer.

Oracle Team USA trailed the New Zealand team 8-1 as of Wednesday, Sept. 18, but then won eight races in a row to win the cup on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

Video screens set up around the conference venue helped distract attendees who might otherwise focus on learning about Oracle technology.

The race also distracted Ellison, who skipped his Tuesday afternoon keynote to attend it.

Optimistic? You Bet!

Oracle was optimistic Oracle Team USA would win the America's Cup. So optimistic, in fact, that it had several huge posters and banners printed and ready to go immediately after the final race was finished.

Protesting America's Cup

One woman, who declined to state her name, protested the America's Cup race as a waste of San Francisco taxpayers' money.

Because Howard Street was covered for the event, she argued with police and security personnel that she could legally stand near the center of Oracle OpenWorld to protest the event.

Her placard read, "In the midst of today's race fun, remember that San Francisco will lose multimillions as hosts! Shame on Larry Ellison."

She told CRN that the taxpayers of San Francisco were persuaded that the event would be profitable for the city. "But it cost taxpayers," she said. "Sponsorships fell through. People didn't come."

When asked about the prestige of hosting the event, she replied, "Prestige? Prestige does not pave our roads. It doesn't help the homeless."

The Enemy Within

Hewlett-Packard had a nice, large booth at the Oracle OpenWorld exhibition center.

It probably should not have been a big surprise to see HP there. Despite the lawsuits between HP and Oracle over Oracle's decision to stop development of its software for HP Unix servers, the fact remains that HP hardware is still one of the top platforms on which Oracle software is run.

Mark Hurd: Oracle All-In On Big Data

Oracle President Mark Hurd, speaking to partners on Sunday and customers on Monday, said that big data will be one of the key trends going forward.

Hurd said that the 9 billion devices connected to the Internet will grow to 50 billion by 2020. He also said the average legacy application today is about 19 years old, built pre-Internet and pre-mobile phone. "[We] built this pre-everything we do today," he said.

On the average, business customers are seeing their data grow 40 percent per year, Hurd said. And, on the average, they're spending $7,500 to $9,000 per terabyte to manage that data. For a bank with 1,000 TBs of data, that means an annual cost of $700 million to handle that management.

Hurd said there has to be a better way to manage that data. "At the core, that's what we're focused on," he said. "The efficiency message. The innovation message."

Andy Bailey: Oracle All-In On The Channel

Andy Bailey, senior vice president of strategic alliances, updated solution providers on the state of the Oracle Channel.

Oracle currently gets 40 percent of its revenue, and 80 percent of its transactions, through a network of 25,000-plus partners worldwide, including 6,000 who signed with the company in the last year, Bailey said.

Oracle also has about 5,000 special partners who have achieved over 30,000 specializations, Bailey said. The company counts among its partners over 110,000 certified implementation personnel and about 150,000 certified sales and presales personnel, he said.

The number of deals registered in the last quarter rose 130 percent compared to the prior quarter, with 75 percent of requests for deal registration approved, he said.

John Fowler: Hardware Good, Engineered Systems Best

John Fowler, executive vice president of systems at Oracle, told partners that Oracle has continued to heavily invest in hardware from Oracle's 2009 acquisition of Sun Microsystems, and that Oracle is the only company in the world able to architect complete systems from hardware to the application.

Oracle engineers complete systems, including Oracle hardware running on its own optimized hardware, to ensure customers get the best efficiency and support without the need to architect their own solutions, Fowler said.

"It is not 'marketecture,' he said. "It is completely engineered systems."

Fowler later told CRN that customers are free to not use Oracle's engineered systems, but instead use the Oracle software on other platforms, where performance may not be as fast but operations are the same. "If you don't like engineered systems, you can go to IBM," he said. "You'll still used the same tools."

Accelerating SPARC Processor Performance

In addition to updates on its engineered systems, Oracle also introduced new servers, based on the company's new SPARC M6 processor.

The new SPARC M6 12-core processor, which is similar to the SPARC M5 but has double the number of cores and costs the same, was released only six months after the release of the SPARC M5 and the SPARC T5 processor, Fowler said.

Indeed, it is actually the third processor Oracle released in 2013, which Fowler said is pretty amazing given that it can cost about $150 million to develop a new processor.

"We are deadly serious about building the world's best hardware, and the world's best engineered systems," he said.

Safra Katz: Oracle's 'Customer Zero'

Oracle president and CFO Safra Katz told solution providers that Oracle tries out everything it makes before releasing it to customers. "I'm 'customer zero,'" she said.

Katz said changes in the industry make this an exciting time to work with Oracle.

"If you are around Larry Ellison, you know he sees into the future. ... And if you are around here long enough, you see the future become reality," she said.

Oracle is unique in its approach to cloud computing in that it offers customers the ability to approach the cloud as quickly or as slowly as they want, Katz said. For instance, customers can try moving a tiny part of their infrastructure to the cloud, or try different clouds, or can go all-out, with Oracle offering the performance and scalability needed for each, she said.

"We're focused on simplifying IT as much as possible so customers can focus on their competitive advantage," she said.

New Compute, Storage, Database Services For Oracle Cloud

Oracle used OpenWorld to unveil new services for the Oracle Cloud and made them available for channel partners to offer customers on a resale or referral basis.

Thomas Kurian, Oracle executive vice president of product development, called the Oracle Cloud and its new services the "single most important project" on which Oracle is working.

Included in the new cloud services was Database Cloud, which provides users with a dedicated Oracle 11g or 12c database instance.

Oracle also introduced Java Cloud, which provides Oracle WebLogic Server clusters as a service for the deployment of Java applications.

Also new is Storage Cloud, a cloud-based storage offering, and Compute Cloud, which allows customers to package an application in a virtual machine and run it in the Oracle Cloud.

"These [services] will change the way you consume our software [and] use our software," Kurian said.

The Channel And The Oracle Cloud

Thomas LaRocca, senior vice president of North America alliances and channels at Oracle, told CRN that the Oracle Cloud will be a boon to partners.

"As I look at the market, I think we have the best go-to-channel opportunity of anyone," LaRocca said.

While less than half of Oracle's channel partners have the competencies needed to resell the Oracle Cloud, any partner can refer customers to Oracle, LaRocca said.

"They can see an opportunity, call their Oracle rep, and say, 'Here's Customer A, he has an opportunity, I can't resell it, but here they are,'" he said.

Partners will be forced by customers to get the training and competencies needed for the cloud. "If they lose [account] control, they lose money," he said. "Partners will have to place their bets, not only on the right solution, but on who to partner with. Otherwise, in six to 12 months from now, they will lose account control."

Get Ready For Stress On IT Infrastructures

Doug Fisher, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel's Software and Services Group, used his time on the Oracle OpenWorld stage to talk about the coming deluge of data and how it will put pressure on existing IT infrastructures.

Fisher said there will be an estimated 50 billion endpoints gathering data by 2020. For instance, he said General Electric puts 23 sensors on each engine to gather data. "Think how many engines are out there flying," he said. "Think about how may flights there are per day."

The IT world had a total of 5 exabytes of data stored in 2003, but 2.7 zetabytes in 2012, Fisher said. By 2015, that will jump to 8.1 zetabytes, which will put a lot of stress across the entire IT spectrum.

That stress, he said, leads to what he called the virtuous cycle of computing in which devices collect data, the data is processed, decisions are made, and more data is collected.

"The question today is, are you ready for that? ... Only 15 percent of IT is ready for that," he said. "For that 15 percent, it's a competitive advantage."

Oracle On Azure

Oracle and Microsoft have worked together to make Oracle Database, Oracle WebLogic and Java work on the Microsoft Azure enterprise-grade cloud, said Brad Anderson, Microsoft corporate vice president for cloud and enterprise.

Anderson, during his Oracle OpenWorld keynote, said Oracle workloads, when provisioned on Azure, include all the needed licenses.

Microsoft also is working with Oracle to make sure all its applications, including Oracle Linux-based applications, work on Azure, Anderson said.

"We want to make sure Linux is a high-class citizen on our infrastructure," he said.

Microsoft's partnership with Oracle is about providing customers choice, including the ability to take work done on-premise to the cloud, Anderson said.

"It's remarkable how fast you can get this to customers," he said. "It's remarkable how fast you can deliver services to your customers."

Oracle, Dell Expand Relationship

Dell CEO Michael Dell used his Oracle OpenWorld keynote to provide more information on the budding Dell-Oracle integration and expectations for further integration going forward.

Dell said his company has entered an engineering-level partnership with Oracle under which Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c is being integrated with Dell OpenManage, a systems management solution that uses inherent management capabilities in Dell servers, storage and networking devices to automate tasks and control maintenance schedules.

With the integration, customers will have a single interface to view their entire infrastructure from hardware to applications, Michael Dell said.

Dell on Wednesday also introduced Oracle Linux and Oracle VM virtualization support to the Dell Active Infrastructure.

The new Dell Active Infrastructure for Oracle solutions means that customers get access to first-call support from Dell Services and can purchase and renew Oracle Linux and Oracle VM support services directly from Dell.