Did you detect the change in tone at last week's Oracle OpenWorld 2013? There was little to no slamming of competitors. Company keynotes stuck to Oracle strategy, Oracle products and features and benefits for Oracle customers. Even CEO Larry Ellison stayed on message, with no poison darts thrown at big rivals. It was an uncharacteristically mellow performance.
That was the style, but what about the substance of Oracle OpenWorld 2013 (OOW'13)? On that front it was a mixed bag of highs and lows, with significant announcements and good packaging moves undermined by purposely muddled release dates and a bit of Hadoop bashing. The lowest low was a sin of omission, with licensing complexity and cost getting little, if any, attention during the event. Here, then, are five raves and rants from OOW'13).
Rave: Clear And Consistent Messaging
Oracle's top lieutenants, including executive VP Thomas Kurian, senior VP Andy Mendelsohn, executive VP Steve Miranda and others, were on-message, articulate and well informed, and they nicely balanced announcements with live demos that brought the technology to life.
Kurian detailed Oracle Cloud strategy and services, Mendelsohn detailed all things database and Miranda explained the on-premises-meets-cloud hybrid application deployment strategy.
Shortly after his hour-long keynote tour of Oracle's cloud-based (database and Java) infrastructure services and its HCM, marketing and ERP clouds, Kurian went toe-to-toe with the press for another half hour, impressively rattling off clear, concise and mostly comprehensive answers to scores of questions. He knew that facts on Oracle's customer counts by application as well as the locations of 13 global data centers backing that cloud.
[ Want more insight on Oracle OpenWorld fact vs. fiction? Read Oracle's Cloud: What's Really New? ]
Post-keynote press conferences seem to be getting rarer at OOW, which makes it harder to get all the facts behind the headlines (see pre-announce/re-announce below). But when they are available, Oracle's top-level VPs are generally reliable straight shooters.
Rant: Pre-announce/Re-announce Syndrome
Oracle has made a habit of obscuring important release milestones. The Oracle Cloud and its database and Java services were announced at OOW '12, but this year their availability was treated like new news. Oracle 12c was announced at OOW'12, but it wasn't GA until eight months later, in June.
Ellison obfuscated the release and availability of the In-Memory Option for Oracle Database he introduced in his Sunday keynote by noting the immediate availability of a new M6 SuperCluster Server designed to support that option. It wasn't until the next day (after all the stories ran) that we learned that the In-Memory Option wouldn't be available until "some time in calendar 2014." Will that be January or June? Or will we have to pretend amnesia when In-Memory is presented as entirely new news at OOW'14? We don't know, but it's apparent that the company is trying to get joint SAP customers to wait and see before committing to SAP's Hana in-memory platform.
"I always get a little suspicious of companies that have a track record of telling stories when they don't even have the product launched," SAP CEO Bill McDermott told InformationWeek after last week's Oracle In-Memory Database option. "It's another future story."
Rave: Unified Data Management Vision
Oracle, like IBM and Microsoft, has been investing in data management for decades. In fact, it has such an extensive collection of databases (Berkeley, Essbase, MySQL, NoSQL, Oracle, TimesTen) and engineered systems (Exadata, Exalytics, Exalogic, Big Data Appliance) that you could accuse it of having a jumbled portfolio.
OOW'13 saw an attempt to move toward a cleaner, more comprehensive collection of technologies managed under a single pane of glass, meaning Oracle Enterprise Manager. The new news at OOW'13 was the rationalization of multiple low-latency technologies as Oracle Fast Data. The components include Oracle Event Processing, Oracle Coherence, Oracle NoSQL, GoldenGate and Data Integrator, Oracle Business Analytics and Oracle Real-Time Decisions.
This collection spans low-latency demands from filtering and correlation to data movement and transformation to analysis and on to real-time action. It's not clear yet to what degree Oracle has unified or intends to unify the look, feel and connectivity among these products, but the idea is clearly to cover the spectrum of needs and help customers go from batch to ultra-low-latency within a single, cohesive portfolio.