Predictions for Oracle OpenWorld 2010

Oracle OpenWorld is next week – the annual look-at-me showcase event.  In their own words, Oracle describes it as “the world’s largest and most important conference for Oracle technologists, business users, and partners.”

There’s a lot to anticipate, especially with the recent turnover in the President’s office at Oracle.  Charles Phillips has been stricken from the agenda and Mark Hurd inserted in his place (with Safra Catz remaining in her co-president role).

It should be an interesting show. Below are some key highlights and information I’ll be eagerly anticipating, along with some of my predictions:

  • Ellison / Hurd / Catz
    • Questions: Will Ellison address anything about how the new co-president pair will differ from the roles Phillips and Catz played? How will Mark relate to Catz?  Will they appear together?  Their keynotes are currently scheduled on separate days.
    • Prediction: Ellison won’t mention Phillips at all, but he will emphasize how well Catz and Hurd will complement each other.  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).
  • HP and Oracle
    • Questions: Ann Livermore, Executive Vice President, HP Enterprise Business, is scheduled to deliver a keynote address immediately after Ellison and Catz speak on Sunday evening.  Will last week’s war of words affect what she says?  Will she address the issue at all?  Will Ellison be confrontational about HP?
    • Prediction: It’ll be all love and kisses between Oracle and HP…at least on stage.
  • Extension of the Exadata approach
    • Questions: Exadata is Oracle’s product family of high-performance data warehouse appliances.  They’re extremely expensive, but incredibly fast.  Will Oracle announce extensions to this approach, making more of their software stack available on appliance hardware?
    • Prediction: I expect that they’ll make some significant announcement here, possibly including a medium-sized acquisition.  Maybe this is where Hurd will get his first moment in the spotlight – the announcements here are likely to be made by Hurd in his Monday morning keynote, followed by Oracle Executive VP John Fowler, who was CTO of Sun’s software organization before Oracle acquired Sun.
  • Fusion Applications
    • Questions: Ellison announced Oracle’s Project Fusion on January 17, 2005 and he discussed the next generation application suite – the Fusion Apps.  His keynote on Sunday evening will come just 2071 days after that initial announcement.  In those 5 ½ years, Oracle’s communications about Fusion Apps have been all over the map: sometimes vague and sometimes detailed; occasionally effusive and optimistic but often silent; cryptic but occasionally clear and concise.  Consistently, the vision has always been ambitious.

      There are more than 30 Fusion Apps sessions on the agenda.  Clearly, momentum is building (at least from a hype standpoint).

      Will Oracle finally commit to a release date?  Most analysts think they will.
      Will they provide clarity on how Fusion Apps will co-exist with E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Siebel, and JD Edwards?

    • Prediction: They’ll announce a release date for Fusion Apps, but it’ll be vague (as far as what apps will be included).   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.”  In the end, lots of customers will leave still scratching their heads.
  • Oracle BI 11g
    • Questions: Oracle BI, on the other hand, is real and available now.  The newest release of Oracle’s flagship business intelligence product (Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition Plus, for those who want to use the complete and proper name) was announced in July and became generally available a few weeks ago.  This new release has gotten a lot of positive press from analysts.  Will it be as good as advertised?  Will we learn whether some of the limitations of earlier versions have been corrected? Will Oracle acknowledge any flaws or shortcomings at all?

      I’ll personally be attending quite a few sessions on this new product, looking to learn its details.  I’m hoping that this turns out to be the most interesting part of the show.

    • Prediction: Yes, this will be impressive.  However, once we look under the covers, it won’t be quite as impressive as Oracle wants us to believe.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this in weeks to come.

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

Don’t expect fireworks or surprises at OpenWorld next week.

It’ll be yet another tightly choreographed, “Oracle is ready to rule the world” event.

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