by Thomas Wailgum

The SnoozeFest That Was OpenWorld

Sep 26, 20083 mins
Enterprise Applications

Oracle’s OpenWorld event officially wrapped up on Thursday, in case you were still wondering if Larry Ellison would every say anything definitive about Fusion. (He didn’t.)

In this age of overhyped Apple iPhone launches and supersized Google-anything announcements, Oracle’s OpenWorld failed to generate the excitement, media buzz and intensity that has become standard at those companies’ new product introductions and executive meet-and-greets.

Heck, Steve Jobs could convene the Moscone Center in San Francisco for 4 p.m. today, simply walk out on stage, give a thumb’s up and create tsunamis of drooling praise and frothy media excitement. (“Did you see how cool his thumb looked?!”)

But Ellison’s odd keynote on Oracle’s new hardware and branding partnership with HP? Sorry. Boring!

Reading the blogs and media coverage of the OpenWorld event, it almost seemed like the thousands of people there writing and blogging about the executive speeches, new product announcements and partnerships were doing it simply because they had to be there, not because there was something revolutionary about to happen. ZDNet’s Sam Diaz noted that Oracle President Charles Phillips’ opening keynote lacked “anything to really get excited about,” and Phillips had just introduced Beehive, Oracle’s new collaboration product. Talk about a buzz kill.

Actually, the only big buzz, reported by a spy on the scene, was the one that Oracle sales reps ensured their customers got in the bars around the Moscone center.

It’s not altogether Ellison’s or Oracle’s fault: A database will never be mistaken for an iPod. And enterprise software can be crazy boring. (To which you might say, rather snarkily, “Yeah, but you write a blog about enterprise software!” To which I might respond, “Touche, my worthy adversary!”) And there’s also that little thing about the entire U.S. economy coming to a crash and banks failing that was grabbing some attention this week.

Alas, Ellison didn’t have Las Vegas and all its charms to offer attendees, as VMware CEO Paul Maritz did at VMworld last week. Maritz was earning a fair amount of buzz because he’s engaged in a hype war with his old employer, Microsoft. (Hey, isn’t that one of Ellison’s tactics?)

But when your biggest and most exciting announcement revolves around a data-warehousing deal with HP, and your signature and most intriguing product—Fusion, which everyone is talking about—is now not going to be available until 2010 (after years of delays), then things are getting pretty rough. (“Enough with those questions about Fusion! Did you know that Elvis Costello and Seal are playing tonight!”)

Enterprise Irregular blogger and former Gartner analyst Vinnie Mirchandani had this to say about Ellison’s closing speech: “What was fascinating was there was no mention of Fusion—or indeed any of the Beehive or ‘social’ CRM apps Oracle showcased earlier in week. No shots at Oracle’s major competitors—SAP, Microsoft or soon to be Cisco in the collaboration space. Instead he picked on Teradata and Netezza?”

Might Larry be losing his fastball?!

Ellison even tried to borrow a little of Apple’s cachet in his remarks, comparing the new servers to an iPod. Noted WSJ blogger Ben Worthen: “Oracle now has a device that is kind of like an iPod except that it is a lot bigger and a lot more expensive and not as cool.”

Better luck next year!