The big topic of conversation has been the credit crunch, and what impact it has had on the conference. Certainly there seem to have been more cancelled sessions than in previous years. And the exhibition hall seems emptier. The striking feature is the absence of many stalwarts of previous years: no Microsoft, no Dell, no Quest, no Sun. Another feature is the complete absence from the stands of - and there is no PC way of putting this - dolly birds. It's all techies in polo shirts and marketeers in smart suits.
At least IBM still showed up. Their barista provides the only decent coffee on the site.
Actually, there is a presence from Sun: they have a stand for MySQL. I complimented the guy on his bravery. He said that 75% of Oracle users are also MySQL users, which is an interesting statistic and may even be one that he hasn't made up. He gave me a MySQL keyring, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
I went to see Mogens Norgaard do one of his idiosyncratic turns. He was as deceptively rambling and unfocused as ever, leavening his talk on goats and beer with many perceptive insights into our industry today. Mogens gives presentations like Les Dawson played piano: with consummate skill and exquisite timing. "We are all legacy now.... Look around you". Supporting his assertion that "Databases are legacy" he quoted an Oracle product manager at the ACE Directors' briefing from this year's Open World who claimed Coherence offered "zero latency" and "infinite scalability". Why are these people building middleware when clearly they should be building the spaceships that will take humanity to the stars?
I chaired Sue Harper's presentation on Visual Data Modelling using the SQL Developer Data Modeler tool. One of the doubts I had when Oracle purchased the CDW4ALL tool was regarding the business sense in buying a product only to give it away for free. Sue answered that question today: Oracle are not going to give it away. Although it's part of the SQL Developer brand it will be a licenced standalone product. Although there will be a free extension to the SQL Developer IDE which will allow developers to read OSDM models. Sue was demonstrating the EA2 release, which looks to have fixed a number of issues from the first release. In fact the whole tool looks very nice. In some ways it is a distinct improvement on Designer. The date of the production release is dependent on building a repository for the tool (currently everything is file-based). This shows that the team really is showing the same responsiveness to the product's users as they have shown with the SQL Developer IDE itself.
Words of wisdom from the bottle of Rittman-Mead beer I'm drinking as I write this: "A consultant is a man sent in after the battle to bayonet the wounded." Almost as true as this.