Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oracle OpenWorld 2009 - HIghlights and Impressions

So, I really thought I would write my Oracle OpenWorld experience as a day-by-day, blow-by-blow kind of thing. However, as I started to craft those posts, one thought kept popping into my mind: "This is really self-indulgent, low-value garbage". So I changed my approach to more of a highlights summary…hopefully, ya'all will get more out of this angle. So, here are my highlights and impressions from OOW09:

  • The big news, at least from my perspective, is that Larry's keynote included a demonstration of Fusion Applications by Steve Miranda and Chris Leone. Not PowerPoint slides (although there were plenty of those too), but a real honest-to-goodness, live demo for public consumption. You can check out screen-shots here.
  • In addition to the demo during Larry's keynote, Oracle Corp. also informed me that my Non-Disclosure Agreement regarding Fusion Applications has been lifted. As I interpret that, that means I can share all the information I have on Fusion Applications: features, underlying technology, delivery schedule…it's all fair game (if anyone from Oracle is reading this, please consider this as one last opportunity to limit my scope before I start spilling my guts).
  • I'm also excited about the proactive support approach taken with Oracle's Next-Generation Support program…another part of Ellison's keynote. The idea of recommending fixes before problems arise is one I've personally hoped to see implemented for several years now. It's exciting for the first incremental release to see the light of day.
  • The presentation by the Oracle Applications User Experience team (Jeremy Ashley and Katie Candland) at the OAUG Fusion Council session on Sunday afternoon just blew the roof off of Moscone West. We had people taking furious notes and Twitter was on fire with positive feedback. I think folks began to get a feel for the work the User Experience team is doing and the benefits of that work to Oracle apps customers. But I'll write more about that later (remember that I still owe ya'all an article on how I spent the Thursday before OOW).
  • The other User Experience presentation I was able to attend was "How Customer Collaboration Improves The User Experience". The subject matter here was on how the Oracle Usability Advisory Board is helping to guide the design of Oracle's applications. I've recently joined the OUAB myself and look forward to getting more deeply involved in the process.
  • The Unconference is a big winner in my book. I presented four times at OOW, three in the Unconference. No PowerPoint slides for any presentation I made, by the way. The interaction from the audience in an informal setting is great - I learned as much as I shared in the Unconference. If you haven't engaged in the OOW Unconference yet, give it a try next year.
  • During my roadmap presentation in the Unconference, I shared the news that my shop is beginning to look at Open Source replacements for some Fusion Middleware components. It's not that we dislike the Fusion Middleware components (far from it, in fact) but, in a period of declining budgets, we can't afford the maintenance and support fees. We're looking for replacements strictly out of economic necessity.
  • I attended very few E-Business sessions that were really about EBS. Most were promotions for using Fusion Middleware components with EBS. That was more than a little disappointing.
  • On the other hand, Nadia Bendjedou's talk on "10 Things You Can Do Today To Prepare For Fusion Applications", was outstanding as always. The list of 10 things is up to 14 now…I learn new things every time I hear this presentation.
  • Most EBS customers were still on 11i. I suspect that the release of information about Fusion Apps will allow more customers to begin their upgrades to either R12.x or Fusion Apps.
  • One of the absolute high points of the conference for me was participating in two User Experience user feedback sessions on Wed. afternoon. I'll talk more about this in a future post, but I highly recommend engaging in one of these sessions if you ever get the chance. BTW, both sessions involved different types of search tools…I wonder if Oracle is working on search functionality? Hmmm….
  • The good news is that, at least for the foreseeable future, EBS will continue to run on an OC4J-based technology stacking. The bad news is that, if you implement the external integration with Oracle's 11g Applications Server (which is a WebLogic apps server), your database administrators, appstech staff, and systems administrators will need skills in both OC4J and WebLogic.
  • Didn't see much on Discoverer at all; only a passing mention in a few customer presentations. I think Discoverer is on life-support. By the way, it seems there are problems in running Discoverer with EBS 12.05 or earlier - those problems are allegedly fixed in 12.06, 12.1, and 12.1.1.
  • I'm not too excited about the Exadata concept in and of itself; it's just not my area of expertise, so I don't have enough knowledge to get really excited about the concept. However, when I stand close to all that sleek, shiny hardware…I want one! It's a lot like walking on a car lot and checking out a Maserati - I don't understand the technology, but it looks so good and runs so fast that I want one.
  • On the Exadata note, I really enjoy it when Larry Ellison starts to trash-talk the competition. There's nobody in the business better at it, and Larry took some real digs at IBM throughout the conference. You can read about his server duel challenge here.
  • With all the digging at IBM, I found it ironic that IBM was the sponsor for the OAUG reception on Wednesday evening.
  • The best informal flow of information at the conference took place in the Oracle Technology Network Lounge. I learned more by hanging out there and swapping info with friends than anything I picked up in most of the formal presentations.
  • Lots of information on Fusion Middleware, and especially the Applications Integration Architecture. Also tons of info on WebCenter - I think WebCenter has a lot of potential, but lacks the business use cases to really gain traction with the end users. WebCenter needs some business-related stories because, in most enterprises these days, those business end-users hold the purse strings.
  • Three admittedly self-indulgent points to raise: 1) thanks to Justin for wading through the muck and clearing my blogger's credentials; 2) thanks to Joan Levy, who learned about my crummy seating during the Wed. keynote (via Twitter) and guided me to a much better seat (and a much better attitude as well); 3) Basheer Kahn, Debra Lilley and I did a joint presentation Thursday morning on "Why We Can't Wait For Fusion Applications." I have to thank Debra for being such a good sport with all the grief I have her during that presentation - teasing Debra is one of my favorite pastimes, simply because I always get such a good reaction; playing dumb, being ornery, poking gentle fun…it all gets a rise from Debra, but in a very good-natured way. So thanks, Debra.

So, with all those highlights, I finally realized the real reason I keep coming back to OOW year after year. It hit me Tuesday night, when we had a gathering of friends in the lobby of the Hotel Nikko. Though I won't name names here, the core of this group is really a "who's who" in the field of Oracle applications. This does leave open the question of how in the world I ever got involved with these folks…but I am nevertheless and feel very fortunate about it. At any rate, we were swapping information and catching up on our personal lives well into the late hours of the night. It was a special night and, sometime during that night, I realized that the camaraderie with people I respect and care deeply about is the reason I keep coming back. Can't wait for next year!


psRoy said...

Thanks for your insights. I had to pass up OOW this year but will be attending the East cosat CIRCUIT conference in a couple of weeks.

Amy said...

One of my highlights was meeting you Floyd! Thanks for your great insights :)

Misha Vaughan said...

Hey Floyd,

If you have any follow-up questions for Jeremy from the User Experience sessions, Profit is collecting up some questions and answers for broader distribution (

According to Oracle's twitter channel, it looks like you can even win a flash drive (


Debra Lilley said...

And luckily I love you too. I can't think of anyone else I woudl rather share the stage with on our first non NDA Fusion session