Attending Oracle Open World 2010

It has been several years since I left Oracle and I have not attended the OOW during these years. In the past, I have been to all OOW’s during my ten years, both as a speaker and as an attendee. This was fun to see the growth of OOW – forty-one thousand people at this week’s show. It looked like OOW has taken over the city of San Francisco at least around Moscone center (from Folsom between 3rd and 4th. street all the way up to Market).

Some things never change. Larry shouting “next slide” at the end of each slide. Larry going into excessive technical detail such as cache coherency, Infiniband inter-process high-speed communication, putting many in the audience yawn and go to sleep, who would later say it was a  great pitch.  Listening to Sunday night’s intro pitch by Larry, I realized how much Oracle has changed since my days. Larry’s teaser to me during my interview was, “you belong to a real software company, what are you doing at a hardware company like IBM?”.  After listening to Larry, Mark Hurd, and John Fowler’s presentations, I was thinking – Oracle is becoming a hardware company as well.

It’s like “back to the future”. Vertical integration was the theme of the 1980s. IBM, Digital, etc. sold the entire stack – from hardware, OS, middleware, to applications. Then came the “democratization” of each layer where customers could pick and choose. That gave rise to many “services” companies who had to glue all the pieces for the client. Now we are back to the vertical stack again. Like the seasons and like in fashion, this is also cyclic.

No wonder then when I saw vendors in the exhibit hall like  Novel, Intel, EMC, Fujitsu, and even a big booth by IBM. Actually I felt the software folks from the database group were like a minority. I listened to a pitch by an Intel executive which was pretty boring. The Fujitsu CEO spoke about their strides in hardware before John Fowler (head of Sun server stuff) talked about the new machines and new version of Solaris. Larry had talked about Exalogic, and compared that to what Amazon is trying to do with EC2. No surprise there, as we have been talking about PaaS (Platform as a Service) or IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) as  key components of cloud provisioning. Oracle having bought Sun, has to play that game, just like IBM does.

Having JavaOne combined with OOW, the attendance has grown significantly. But it was fun running into many old friends and colleagues. Oracle after 65 acquisitions (some big ones like Peoplesoft, Siebel, BEA, and Sun), is a different company. Having Mark Hurd as the new co-president, it felt like a new “systems” company providing both hardware and software. Even the slogan said – Hardware and Software, engineered to work together.

No one comes close to beating Oracle in putting on a show.

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