OOW2K7: Simply cowbell
The bulk of Jonathan's keynote was devoted to the proposition that giving away things made good business sense. The argument is, "Developers don't buy things, they join things". Contributing lots of stuff to open source initiatives fosters communities which in turn leads to adoption and that in turn generates demand for the things which Sun sells. Certainly Microsoft has been very successful by treating developers well. I think the difference is that Microsoft still makes a lot of money out of software and operating systems; they really don't care that much about the hardware. Whereas Sun's main revenue stream comes from servers. Java and OpenSolaris and all the other giveaways have been taken up with great enthusiasm; you just need to look at the exhibition hall to understand that developers like free stuff. And of course Java in particularly has spurred the growth of the internet and generated demand for servers and network kit, but that demand is just as likely to be met by Dell or HP as Sun.
Jonathan had a surprize guest: Michael Dell. This was by way of announcing that Dell and Sun would now be partnering. To symbolise the partnership Michael Dell brought Jonathan a Dell T-Shirt. Afterwards, Jonathan confided that backstage Michael told him the T-Shirt was XL, because he was "a CEO now". Jonathan joked, "That's my hat-size not my T-Shirt size."
Larry's keynote was good, a polished performance. He did two short presentations. The first was about Unbreakable Linux and the new VM Server. These are both aimed at promoting Linux. There are now over fifteen hundred enterprises using Oracle's Linux support. The VM server is Linux but it's a new Linux, not the Red Hat code-base which underpins Unbreakable Linux. So perhaps this is the start of the much anticipated Oracle distro. The other presentation was about Fusion Apps. The first Fusion Apps will be released next year. From now on all new Apps will be Fusion - SOA, built-in BI and with SaaS as an option. But it's going to be an evolutionary process. There is no date for the complete Fusion-ization of E-Business Suite.
After that there was a demonstration of the first Fusion App: Sales Force Automation. This is a suite of products - Sales Prospector, Sales Reference and Sales Tools - which will make salespeople more productive. These products leverage social networking principles to facilitate the sharing of information, ideas and documents between sales staff. So the first tools in the new framework are aimed at helping sales people sell more: how very Oracle. The actual tools are fantastically slick. Total eye-candy. The Fusion developers have done a marvellous job with the AJAX widgets. In fact the whole thing looks so lovely I predict a sharp drop in productivity as the sales people spend all day stroking their way through their cache of PowerPoint slides.
Larry then took questions. There were several questions about Fusion Apps and a couple about licencing. Did you know Oracle's preferred licencing approach was to arrange unlimited usage deals with their customers? Me neither, they sure kept that one quiet. Somebody asked, apropos of the Sunday Night Live event, whether Larry had more fun as a start-up or now. The answer was that he much prefers his current situation. Which just isn't fair: he earns gobs of money and enjoys his job more than ever. He only lost his cool once, with a person who attempted to suggest that the profit from Microsoft sales went to the Gates Foundation. Larry cut him off. After acknowledging Bill's generosity he said, "The Gates Foundation is fully funded. If you buy a copy of Microsoft Word the money doesn't go to a person in Peru." Not unless Steve Ballmer has a holiday villa in Lima.
There were two odd things about Larry's session. The first was that Billy Joel came on as the warm-up man. Luckily he hadn't brought his piano - Larry was obviously itching to do his karaoke Uptown Girl. The second oddity was the thing which Larry didn't talk about. The database. Not a peep about the 11g release. So obviously he agrees with me about it being old news. No mention of the rumoured 10.2.0.4 either.
Before Jonathan Schwartz's keynote there was a little piece of Web Two-Point-Noughtery. The screen posed a question and people could SMS their answers. Here are a selection of the answers to the question If I could develop the next killer app it would be:
- Something to do my laundry
- Cat cams
- In the conservatory with a candlestick
- Simply cowbell
- Integrate Microsoft and Oracle well
- Sharks with frikken lasers on their heads
- Something that takes text messages and projects them on a screen
I have now heard that the 10.2.0.4 patch is coming. Apparently its schedule got bumped to clear the path for the 11g launch. Safe harbour and all that, but it may contain backports of some (minor) 11g functionality as well as bug fixes.
Oh, and if you thought my coverage of Larry's keynote was jaundiced you really ought to read The Register's report. Slammin'!