Oracle OpenWorld Was Full of Surprises

By Tony Kontzer

This year’s Oracle OpenWorld conference (Sept. 22–26) had as many twists and turns as any race of the America’s Cup sailing regatta that unfolded in nearby San Francisco Bay.

Then again, the two events were inextricably tied, as Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was the main backer of Oracle Team USA, which closed out a historic comeback in the final race on Wednesday.

OpenWorld was full of surprises. A Microsoft executive, Brad Anderson, delivered a keynote for the first time, and Ellison had one of his lieutenants, Executive Vice President Thomas Kurian, deliver his anticipated Tuesday afternoon keynote so he could attend race 18 of the America’s Cup.

But the show did deliver as promised on one front: Oracle unveiled new cloud services that give the company one of the cloud’s most complete stacks of solutions. Among the new cloud products announced were:

  • a platform-as-a-service cloud that offers database, Java and mobile app development services;
  • an infrastructure-as-a-service cloud that features pay-as-you go access to compute and storage resources, similar to Amazon’s EC2 and S3 services;
  • a cloud marketplace in which customers will be able to address a variety of business needs by downloading apps built by Oracle partners; and
  • new cloud apps for business intelligence and billing and revenue management.

Oracle also announced enhancements to its customer experience and ERP cloud services.

Kurian wasn’t shy in declaring where Oracle now stands in the cloud market: “We’re the only cloud that gives you the number-one database, the number-one middleware and the broadest suite of services.”

He also said the Oracle cloud provides customers with another advantage by running its services on the same software as Oracle’s on-premise applications. “You get portability to move workloads back and forth without any risk, and it’s easy to use and fully managed for you by Oracle,” Kurian said.

But back to the twists and turns. It’s probably a safe bet that very few in attendance expected a keynote from Brad Anderson, a corporate vice president at Microsoft, who was on hand to provide a progress report on the cloud computing partnership the companies unexpectedly sprung on the market in June. He announced that Microsoft now supports Oracle Database, WebLogic Server and Java workloads running in Microsoft’s Azure cloud on either Windows or Linux.

And then there was the matter of Ellison not showing up for his keynote, a decision that wasn’t made known to attendees until 45 minutes after the keynote was to have begun. Many of the stunned audience members quickly exited the keynote session.

Still, the smart money is on Ellison’s reputation taking only a temporary hit. As Marshall Lager, a CRM and social media consultant from New York, suggested in a tweet posted shortly after Ellison’s no-show, Larry was just being Larry.

“Be honest,” Lager wrote, “one of the reasons we love @larryellison is because he does things like this.”