Oracle Open World 2013 preview

SUMMARY:

Oracle Open world opens its doors in a few hours for a keynote delivered by CEO Larry Ellison. What can we expect? This preview offers some pointers.

OOWAs Oracle Open World 2013 gets under way, I imagine the assembled crowd will be looking forward to hearing CEO Larry Ellison say something about the Americas Cup, even if it’s only something like ‘We’re in it to win it.’ On to more substantive things. What can the projected 60,000 attendees look forward to this year?

The big talking point will likely be Oracle’s positioning of its in-memory technology. In the earnings release, Ellison said:

“Our customers don’t have to make any changes to their applications whatsoever; they simply flip on the in-memory switch, and the Oracle database immediately starts scanning data at a rate of billions or tens of billions of rows per second.”

Last week during the company’s Q1 earnings call, Mark Hurd, president Oracle added:

We’ll be introducing Oracle 12c in-memory database. We’ll be talking about it being able to deliver 100x faster application performance using our new architectural approach. We’ll talking about — we’ll be talking about existing Oracle apps that can now run in the Oracle Database functionality without change when using this in-memory capability.

The message is clear: customers running SAP don’t have to move off Oracle DB and onto HANA in order to get equivalent performance. The subtext is that a migration is un-necessary and so cost free. That’s not entirely true because customers will still have to licence the in-memory capabilities (see PDF). If they plan to run analytics as well then I can imagine Oracle sales people steering customers towards Exalytics and Exadata. Whichever way Oracle positions, it opens a door for negotiation.

Hurd also said somewhat vaguely:

…We’ll have some releases in cloud. We’ll talk about we’ll have some releases in HCM and talent management, we’ll talk about database as a service, Java as a service that will be available to our customers. So there’ll be a whole slew of product announcements there that Larry will be talking about Sunday night and will continue on through the week.

On the cloud front, we can expect Oracle to re-emphasize its ‘choice’ message where customers can decide whether to keep their applications running on premise or migrate to public or private clouds. That sounds like having the best of all worlds rather than the binary cloud/no cloud message so often heard elsewhere. It certainly provides a calming influence in a world concerned with NSA activity. Also look to hear from Microsoft, showcasing Azure and building upon past announcements.

Elsewhere, Oracle needs to show customers that the company is innovating enough to make continued investments worthwhile. That will not be easy for a crowd that, over the last few years, has seen Oracle do little more than acquire and then squeeze margins. It is all the more difficult for a company that has chosen to emphasize earnings first. But it’s not impossible.

Ray Wang, CEO Constellation Research believes Oracle has laid out a good agenda for demonstrating value among customers. He also sees a strong emphasis on social, an area where competitors have stolen the limelight:

The big tents in Union Square celebrating Oracle Social return.  Expect Group VP of Cloud Social,  Oracle’s Meg Bear to highlight how one can convert conversations to currency.  The pavillion is the edgiest of the main tents at Oracle Open World and expect Oracle to highlight where Vitrue and other Oracle CX products tie back to enabling social for humans and even in the M2M world.  This shift to purposeful collaboration as Alan Lepofsky talks abouttouches on not only Future of Work, but also Customer Experience.

Fusion will also attract attention. So far, we have seen little evidence that Fusion is gaining the kind of traction that Oracle hoped. In th past, Oracle said it preferred to keep relatively quiet while it built up a solid portfolio of referenceable customers. Part of the reason for the lack of visibility lays in the fact that Fusion is difficult to implement. Look for statements around customer numbers and progress, especially on the much liked but barely visible HCM front.

For those looking at mobile, our best guess is that Oracle will steer customers towards partners rather than showcase specific innovations. This is a good way to demonstrate real world value. Everything we’ve seen to date suggests that partner ecosystems are best positioned for mobile applications because the variety of applications is limitless. Even so, I’d love to hear about category stand outs.

What’s not known is how Oracle will tackle the burgeoning analytics discussion. In recent months, we have seen a significant uptick in interest around operational analytics with some companies taking bold strides in infusing external data into their decision making processes and reports. Wang thinks Oracle’s bringing Thompson Reuters and NYSE Euronext on stage will provide the backdrop for where the company is going. I’d prefer to see them make bold statements around machine to machine data harvesting.

Stuart Lauchlan and Kenny MacIver will be on the ground so expect plenty of coverage in the coming days. Oh yes – and the usual spoilers from competitors!!

PS – if you can’t wait for reports, then follow Ray Wang’s Twitter stream – he’s one of the most knowledgable Oracle analysts in the field.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, SAP and Oracle are premier partners

Image credits: this page Stuart Lauchlan, featured image: Ray Wang