Oracle OpenWorld: no big finish as Ellison skips his own keynote

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan September 24, 2013
The Oracle faithful stood in line to hear from Larry Ellison, but he was out of earshot - down on the bay watching a boat race.

Where he should have been....

It had been the running joke that had hung over Oracle OpenWorld all week: what if CEO, Larry Ellison decided not to turn up to the show?

In the end, it came true as the America's Cup - where Team Oracle was staging an astonishing comeback from behind - won Larry Ellison's attention when he shoud have been addressing 60,000 of the the Oracle faithful.

And the faithful were none too pleased with crowds pouring out of the Moscone Center in droves after standing patiently in line for hours to get in to hear the main man.

Twitter exploded with negativity while Computing's Peter Gothard captured some of the mood, quoting a particularly disgruntled customer:

""I feel like it was a total slap in the face for Larry not to be here. He's out playing with boats instead of focusing on his customers. I hope their stock price dips 40 points today. Hopefully he will too."


To be fair though, the one off nature of events down on the water was astonishingly exciting and Ellison has so much invested in the America's Cup - both financially and emotionally - that some might be inclined to cut him a pass.

America's Cup Training
...and where he was.

But equally there will be customers who travelled from all around the world to hear Larry speak and who will go away nurturing the idea that watching a very expensive boat race was deemed more important than talking to his customers.

There will be some serious account management and client relationship bridge-building being done in the bars of San Francisco tonight!

The understudy

So with Larry in absentia, it was over to Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of product development, to step into the thankless - and frankly no win - role as understudy.

That meant no wisecracks, no throwaway off-the-cuff decisions to rewrite corporate strategy on the spot, no verbal barbs flung with ice cold precision at the competition - in other words, none of what the audience had stood in line for.

Instead it was a by-the-book pitch for all the extra cloud stuff that had been announced earlier in the day - some of it by Kurian himself in a previous session.

These included:

  • The Cloud Marketplace, effectively an analog of the AppExchange.
  • Compute Cloud to enable customers to leverage elastic compute capabilities to run any workload in the cloud.
  • Object Storage Cloud to provide users with a highly-available, redundant, and secure object store for persisting large amounts of unstructured data.
  • Database Cloud to provide full control of a dedicated database instance and supports any Oracle Database application, giving users greater flexibility and choice over the level of managed services provided by Oracle.
  • Java Cloud to provide Oracle WebLogic Server clusters for deployment of Java applications and gives full administrative control over the service with automated backup, recovery, patching and high availability capabilities.
  • Business Intelligence Cloud to enable users to analyse data with visual, interactive dashboards for the Web and mobile devices.
  • Documents Cloud to provide a flexible, self-service file sharing and collaboration solution with mobile and desktop sync, robust security, and integration with on-premise and cloud applications.
  • Mobile Cloud to simplify enterprise mobile connectivity, enabling enterprises to build any application, for any device connected to any data source with enterprise-grade security.
  • Database Backup Cloud to enable businesses to backup Oracle Databases to the Oracle Cloud.
  • Billing and Revenue Management Cloud to enable enterprises with robust and highly scalable subscription billing to capture recurring revenues from new services.

So there was in fact a lot going on.

Trouble is, right now, there's only one thing anyone's talking about at OpenWorld…


I actually do feel for Ellison - a horrible dilemma with timing that could not have been worse!

That said, if I was one of the Oracle faithful and I'd come to hear Larry speak, I'd be pretty hacked off right now - and understandably so.

It's equally unfortunate that there will be only one set of headlines to come out of what should have been the flagship keynote at OpenWorld.

That's a shame because the company put a lot more meat on the bones of its cloud strategy today.

And the session preceding the absent Ellison in which Microsoft's Brad Anderson highlighted the nature of the new found alliance between the two firms had some genuinely interesting elements.

So if you left the Moscone thinking Larry loves his boats more than he loves you, well on a one-to-one basis, yes, he probably does.

But try to put that to one side  and reconsider everything else that happened today when you wake up tomorrow.

It might not right the slight you feel, but don't overlook the good stuff as well.

And if Team Oracle now wins the America's Cup, Ellison will likely earn back an awful lot of forgiveness.


Disclosure: at time of writing, Oracle is a premium partner of diginomica.