Predictions for Oracle OpenWorld 2011

Oracle OpenWorld (OOW) is next week in San Francisco.  Oracle describes it as “the world’s largest and most important conference for Oracle technologists, business users, and partners.”  Each year, this event serves as a focal point for major announcements from Oracle, leading to widespread speculation about what those announcements will be.  Oracle CEO Larry Ellison consistently uses the event as a forum to trumpet new ideas, re-emphasize old ideas, and denigrate his adversaries. It should be an interesting show.

Here are some things I’ll be anticipating, along with a few predictions:

  • Exadata / Exalogic / Hardware
    • Background: Since acquiring Sun Microsystems, Oracle has been pushing aggressively into the hardware business, but there’s been criticism of the acquisition from many analysts and industry observers.  The Exadata database appliance (initially developed jointly with HP) was improved (in Version 2) by integrating Sun technology.  Last year, Oracle announced the Exalogic Elastic Cloud.  Last week, Oracle announced the Oracle Database Appliance – a medium-sized Exadata aimed at small and mid-sized businesses. 
    • Prediction: There’s been a fair amount of analyst speculation that Oracle is planning more Exa-whatever announcements at OOW.  It seems a pretty safe bet that we’ll see something new.  Meanwhile, Ellison will probably continue to explain “why Sun Microsystems was a successful acquisition.”
  • Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff
    • Background: At last year’s event, there was some mutual mocking about “cloud” offerings between Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff.  Early this month in a keynote at his company’s Dreamforce event, Benioff re-ignited that battle by mocking Exadata (again) as “the false cloud.” The disagreement is deep (and isn’t going to go away anytime soon).
    • Prediction: I don’t expect Ellison to let Benioff get the last word here.  There’ll be more theatrics (and probably some more dismissive comments about SalesForce) in Ellison’s keynote.
  • Fusion Applications
    • Background: Ellison said this about Fusion in Oracle’s Q3 earnings call last week: “We’ve been working on Fusion Apps for almost six years now, and we have about 200 customers using Fusion Apps. We’re going — before the end of this calendar year – we’re going to have general availability on Fusion.”  
    • Prediction: Ellison (and probably EVP of Product Development Thomas Kurian, in his keynote) will repeatedly emphasize the point that “Fusion is ready” (even if it isn’t).  However, I don’t expect any significant new announcements here.
  • Oracle BI 11g
    • Background: This will be my focus for the show (as it was last year).  The 11g version of Oracle’s flagship business intelligence (BI) product (Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition or OBI EE) was released about a year ago.  Accompanying releases of Oracle BI Applications have been delivered this year.  Most of the sessions I’ll attend will be focused on these offerings.
    • Prediction: I don’t expect many new announcements in this area either, although there will be many conference sessions providing real-life details about Oracle’s BI products.  Any BI focus for OpenWorld keynotes will probably be part of a larger discussion of Fusion Applications.
  • Hewlett Packard and Oracle
    • Background: Oracle hired Mark Hurd as co-president about a year ago.  That hiring (and the drama around it) began a very public battle between the two companies.  [I’ve written about this previously: here and here.]
    • Prediction: Ellison (and others) will focus on “HP as a competitor we want to destroy” and possibly attempt to portray HP as an even larger villain than SAP.
  • Customer Appreciation Event
    • Background: I’m particularly looking forward to the Appreciation Event on Wednesday night.  Featured performers: Sting, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Dave Wakeling & The English Beat. 

      [OK – I’ll admit it.  I’ve never heard of Dave Wakeling & The English Beat.  But the other two?  I’m thrilled!]

For now…I’ll leave you with this thought:
Pay attention at Oracle OpenWorld; Larry Ellison is never boring!

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