Monday, December 03, 2007

UKOUG2007: Make It Great

Most great cities have a quarter. Paris has its Latin quarter. Prague has the Jewish Quarter. Lankhmar has a Thieves Quarter. Birmingham has two quarters, the sparkling Jewellery Quarter and the slightly less sparkling Conference Quarter. No, really. It's a area dedicated to conferences, which means it has lots of hotel and lots of bars. No I don't know what bars have to do with conferences either ;)

Outside of the Conference Quarter Birmingham is gearing up for Christmas in a big way. The German market is doing a thriving trade in Gluhwein and Stollen. The central shopping area is thronged with people. Every structure is festooneed with lights and tinsel. And the weather is sufficiently chilly to make mulled wine and hot mince-pies seem like very good ideas.

Last night we had the UKOUG volunteers' meeting. Apparently this year is the biggest UKOUG conference yet: 2900 delegates registered, 600 speakers and 450 presentations (up from 350 last year). The conference is scaling out from the ICC and running some sessions in the Birmingham Rep theatre next door. But it's still relatively compact compared to OOW2K7 - I have already met several colleagues and ex-colleagues without trying, because there are fewer people - and obviously there is a greater preponderance of people from the UK than there was in San Francisco.

I have already attended the keynotes from Ian Smith and Tom Kyte. Ian was keen to stress the point that Oracle UK are responding to customer feedback, and in particular the responses to the UKOUG customer survey. He cited as evidence their initiatives for the JD Edwards and PeopleSoft communities, who felt bewildered by the sheer size of the Oracle range. Oracle is now "the world's leading enterprise software vendor", with the database just being one of its offerings (although it has 47% of the database market, more that #2 and #3 combined). Tom made a similar point. He skated through a list of twenty new or enhanced features out of the 400 in the 11g database release in thirty minutes. He said that when he joined Oracle in 1992 he could have covered the features of their entire product range in the same time. That's the scale of innovation in Oracle.

So the UKOUG conference is going to have to keep growing just to be able to keep up.

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