Wednesday Oct 14, 2009

Observations from the Oracle Open World 2009 Applications Keynote

It's been a busy conference, that's for sure.  On Monday I spent a fair amount of time both in keynotes and in the exhibition halls.  By the way, there are two exhibition halls; if you're like me and think that JavaOne is a large conference with "only" one enormous exhibition hall being enough to satisfy the vendors and attendees, well you haven't been to Oracle Open World.  Two exhibition halls in two different Moscone Center buildings is almost overwhelming.

Anyway.

The morning keynote session with Safra Catz and Charles Phillips was pretty straightforward; I wouldn't say the keynotes were inspiring, but they did move along smoothly and delivered their business messages crisply.  The demos all went perfectly which is also something I can't say about JavaOne in the past couple of years (man, it hurts to write that).

I've never seen Andy Mendelsohn speak in person but I did on Monday, watching his keynote about new features in the Oracle database 11g.  He did fine, the features seem interesting if you're a DB guy (which I am not, but I got the point of the features being discussed), and Andy seems like an uber-nerd.  I mean that as a compliment; I think Sun people would have an easy time adjusting to him.

The last keynote of the day was Steve Miranda's keynote about applications; to be clear, the focus was on the Oracle E-Business Suite ("E-Biz"), PeopleSoft, and Siebel CRM.  Here are the two main things I observed about that keynote's content:

  1. Miranda had a slide that mentioned PeopleSoft's latest release, and he made it extremely clear that this is the third release since PeopleSoft was acquired, and that thousands of features had been added.  The message: we are not killing off PeopleSoft, customers.  You like it?  We have continued to invest heavily in it.  I find it interesting that almost five years after the acquisition, Oracle is still emphasizing that PeopleSoft is still a viable entity; I wonder if this is still a customer concern?  In any case, it is a positive message for customers, and Miranda made sure his customers got the point.
  2. There is a component that I should learn more about, called "AIA" (Oracle Application Integration Architecture).  There was a slide that showed how Oracle's Analytics product (the former Siebel Analytics product) can be used to run decision-making analysis on data from the following applications: Siebel, PeopleSoft, E-Biz, SAP (yes, that's right: SAP), JD Edwards.  There was a component in the middle that took the data from these apps and did something to it to make it all look the same to Analytics, essentially.  That component in the middle is AIA.

Here is why I think this AIA thing is important to learn about.  Several years ago when I managed Sun's engineering relationship with Siebel, I remember a series of conversations with the Siebel Analytics business unit where they told us that their focus on Siebel Analytics was to "democratize" analytics; up to that point with everybody's analytics products, anybody in an enterprise used the CRM tool (think customer service rep at an AT&T Wireless store), but only a minority used the decision-making analytics packages. Siebel wanted to push decision-making power down the chain.  You can also think of analytics software as higher in the stack than the standard CRM / ERP software: you're taking the CRM and ERP data, looking at it, and making decisions about your enterprise based on it.

If AIA really can ingest data from SAP, then this is a smart strategy by Oracle to gain control over SAP in SAP accounts.  Suddenly, to the customer it doesn't matter so much what application is running under your analytics: the high-value activity is your decision-making activity (i.e., analytics), so who cares about whether it's SAP or E-Biz or JD Edwards that is feeding the ERP data into the analytics package?  SAP just became a lot less important.

So, I think it's important to learn more about AIA.  If it really can talk to all of these applications, it's a key component to the future integration of Oracle's application properties, and it's also an SAP take-out tool.


Monday Oct 12, 2009

Opening Keynote, Oracle Open World 2009


I attended the Sun keynote at Oracle Open World 2009, which has pretty much overtaken the Yerba Buena center surrounding San Francisco's Moscone Center.  (the photo above shows massive placards covering the Metreon's wall; also, Oracle has put a tent over a full city block's worth of street, on Howard street.  I'd love to see the Google Maps satellite view of that!)

Sunday at Open World was "Sun Day"; the focus was on the combined technologies of Sun and Oracle, matching Sun's system software and hardware with Oracle's database, middleware, and applications.  One thing I really liked about the keynote was the more competitive, in-your-face tone we took to show our advantage over the competition.

Scott began the keynote with a top ten list (dumb ideas in technology); after that, he followed up with a more serious top ten list of his favorite Sun innovations over the last 25+ years.  The list was impressive.

Scott brought James Gosling on stage for a little chat; I actually thought that was pretty flat, and I didn't really learn anything during that section of the keynote, sorry to say.  It would have been great to let James loose and have him talk about technology; I'd love to hear what he has to say about what he think Java could do with all these "bags of Java code" in Oracle's porfolio, as James called it.

James slipped in a funny comment as he left the stage, and Scott riffed on it.  As James was leaving the stage, he was talking about how he was excited to work in this combined Sun / Oracle company, saying "I've never worked for a software company."  (it took a moment for the crowd, and Scott, to get the jab at Sun)  Scott smiled and told the crowd "They won't be a software company when we're done with them."  Lots of laughter.

Here is an image taken from my phone of Scott talking about Sun innovations over the last 25+ years:



Scott handed off to Larry, who spent his time telling a story about how Oracle has been preparing for the conference with some provocative advertisements that go head-to-head with IBM.  Larry seemed pretty amused with himself; I gotta admit that all of us i the crowd were amused, too.

He delivered the goods: a nice set of slides that visually showed Sun / Oracle's benchmark results with the TPC-C database benchmark is a good deal better than IBM's result.  We're not just faster; we also use much less space and power, and we're cheaper as well.  Cool slides; I can't wait to see the final ad, which Larry said would be this week in the Wall Street Journal.

Larry talked a lot about the huge difference in power consumption between the IBM and Sun / Oracle results; Sun / Oracle have a huge advantage in power per transaction.  I liked the joke he made; he said "Sun's processors are called SPARC for a reason; it's an acronym.  IBM's processors are called POWER...now we know why."  (laughter ensued)

At one point, Scott called John Fowler on stage to talk about our systems, and to hear John announce that we have 7 world record benchmarks to announce at the show for nearly every major enterprise benchmark that matters.  It was a little weird seeing Fowler be as serious as he is; actually, he tried joking some, but the venue is just too big for anybody to do comedy other than a professional.

The main thing I took away from the keynote?  Game on, people!  This is going to be a kick-the-competition-in-the-teeth kind of world.  We are going to go straight in the face of IBM; Larry clearly signaled that, if you didn't already know.  And I think the competition is going to be a lot of fun.  High pressure for sure, but a lot of fun.

Here's a photo of us cattle leaving the opening keynote.  The place was packed.





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