"We will invest $3 billion this year across 20,000 developers with access to 30,000 servers," said president Charles Phillips to an overflow crowd filling the Moscone Center's cavernous central meeting hall. About 40,000 people are expected to attend the conference.
Many products will continue to get feature enhancements along with built-in integration features. Oracle applications will get a standard Web service interface that will let one application talk to another, and answer calls from third-party applications. "The way to get control of all this complexity is to integrate out of the box, instead of hiring a bunch of consultants," Phillips said.
But 2008-2009 will also see an initiative to put the Oracle database and middleware available online through cloud computing. For starters, Oracle will make available its 11g database system and Fusion middleware through Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, said Phillips during his keynote to open Oracle OpenWorld, which opened today in San Francisco.
Customers will be able to either license the products in the E2C cloud or use their existing on-premises licenses to take advantage of cloud economies of scale, Phillips said. To encourage cloud computing, Oracle is making a free copy of its virtual machine software, OracleVM based on the Xen open source hypervisor, available to run the Oracle 11g and Fusion middleware under Linux.
In addition, Oracle will make Oracle Enterprise Manager, Oracle's database management console, available on the E2C.
The big product spotlight was reserved for the launch of Beehive, Oracle's new enterprise collaboration application that unites e-mail, instant messaging, joint document editing, calendar, and other social networking features. Chuck Rozwat, executive VP of product development, took the podium with Phillips to explain that Beehive, while supply its own e-mail system, is designed to work alongside Microsoft Exchange "in open co-existence." By placing collaborative activity on top of the Oracle database, employees will more easily be able to find, exchange, and work jointly on the information they need to share.
"You can take Beehive incrementally, you don't have to change all at once," he said of its ability to work with Exchange.
Oracle has adopted the slogan of "applications unlimited" to emphasize the fact that adding features is not a one-time goal but an ongoing process. It also promises "lifetime support," or ongoing technical maintenance rather than measured phase-outs of support, although the level of support decreases with age in the fine print. Oracle's own E-Business Suite release 12.1, due later this year, was given a quick preview during Phillips' keynote.
An additional Oracle initiative will be to target application sets at particular industries. It already does so in several areas, such as telecommunications and retail. It will extend that reach to the insurance industry, through its recent acquisitions of insurance application producers Skywire and AdminServer, and into the clinical trial processes of pharmaceutical and medical research.
Early in his keynote, Phillips brought Michael Phelps, eight-time Olympic gold medalist, out onto the stage to be introduced to the immense crowd. He has appeared on TV watched by millions, but one of his first remarks was, "I've never been in front of this many people before," he said, blinking in yet another limelight. Wearing blue jeans, white shirt and blue blazer, he soon seemed comfortable chatting with Phillips.
He said he had "wanted to something that no else had been able to do before," and won a long round of applause.
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