Oracle OpenWorld 2010 – First Day

Oracle OpenWorld 2010 started Sunday. The first day’s highlight was the keynote address by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

I attended a round table discussion of Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBI EE), featuring a few people I admire tremendously. Mark Rittman (the smartest guy I know, when it comes to OBI EE) and Jeff McQuigg (the smartest guy I don’t know when it comes to OBI EE) were on the panel, along with Jon Mead and Kevin McGinley, both of whom are also incredibly knowledgeable. Overall, it was an outstanding panel. They spoke a little about the new 11g features in OBI EE and a little about existing capabilities for OBI EE deployments.

Moving on to the keynote address – here are my reactions:

  • Judy Kim (Oracle’s Chief Marketing Officer) and Safra Catz (Oracle President) said nothing memorable. Safra presented some awards to partners and customers, but it seemed rushed and perfunctory.
  •  A series of HP presenters embarrassed themselves and their company.  Ann Livermore and Dave Donatelli were the primary speakers. Overall, their presentations were little more than advertisements for a collection of HP offerings. There was nothing compelling or interesting or innovative – nearly everyone seemed bored as they spoke. The entire HP presentation was a terrible waste of an opportunity.
  • Larry Ellison spoke, for a very, very long time. Initially, he was compelling and interesting (partially because he followed the execrable HP presenters). Unfortunately, he went on for far too long, delving far too deeply into technical details that seemed to lose the interest of even the most technical attendees.

Ellison’s key announcements:

  • Definitions of “what is cloud computing?” that align Oracle with Amazon EC2, with a slam against and their definition of “cloud.”
  • Introduction of the new Exalogic appliance, featuring 30 servers, with 2 processors of 6 cores each, resulting in 360 cores per device.
  • Lots of details about Exalogic scalability and throughput, highlighting its superiority to offerings from IBM.
  • Fusion Applications (more than 100 of them) will be generally available in Q1 2011. Oracle expects “50 to 100 customers” to use Fusion Apps in 1H 2011.

Last week I made some predictions about OOW. Let’s see how I’m doing so far:

Prediction: Ellison won’t mention Phillips at all, but he will emphasize how well Catz and Hurd will complement each other.

This is incomplete, until his address on Wednesday. So far, he did completely ignore Phillips, but mostly ignored Catz and Hurd too.

Prediction: He’ll be nice to HP, instead aiming his barbs at IBM (with some well-placed insults directed at SAP, because he just can’t resist the temptation).

Another incomplete, leaning toward a grade A. He ignored HP and aimed a few subtle criticisms at IBM and SAP.

Prediction: It’ll be all love and kisses between Oracle and HP… at least on stage.

Completely correct, from the HP perspective. Ann Livermore took time out to explicitly address the HP / Oracle partnership. In that light, she was 100% positive.

Prediction: I expect that they’ll make some significant announcement [about Exadata type hardware devices], possibly including a medium-sized acquisition.

Let’s give me a B here. Major announcement: Yes – the Exalogic device. And, on Monday morning, Hurd announced a major new Exadata release.

Regarding an acquisition, there was a big announcement on Monday morning, but not by Oracle. IBM announced an agreement to acquire Netezza for $1.7 billion.

Prediction: They’ll announce a release date for Fusion Apps, but it’ll be vague (as far as what apps will be included).

I get a B here. Larry was slightly vague about the date (GA in Q1 2011) but extremely explicit in listing the more than 100 apps that will be delivered. If the list is accurate, it’ll be a tremendously impressive release.

Prediction: They’ll also be vague about interaction with existing apps – there will be lots of platitudes about “Applications Unlimited” promising eternal support for the legacy applications coupled with more platitudes about “co-existence” and “gradual migration” and “SaaS architecture providing flexibility.”

Give me a C. Larry wasn’t vague. He was clear about interaction between Fusion Apps and the existing applications. Again, if he’s correct, the results will be impressive.

Prediction: In the end, lots of customers will leave still scratching their heads.

The jury is out here. Let’s wait until after Wednesday’s keynote to decide.

Prediction: [This one wasn’t from my blog – it was from a Tweet on Friday afternoon] slams Oracle – selling ‘false cloud’; Benioff to speak at OOW. Fireworks coming?

A+ for that one. Ellison was extremely dismissive of Salesforce in his “cloud computing” discussion. Near the end, in the Fusion Apps section, he singled out Salesforce (along with a few other vendors) as a key competitor Oracle will be targeting.

There’s a lot more to come later in the week.

For now… I’ll leave you with this thought:

Sunday was a controlled message from Oracle, although Larry refused to be controlled – he went deep into geek mode, which lost much of his audience. Still, he was much more compelling than the HP string of presenters.

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