Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference is back in San Francisco.
Oracle’s big event is an even bigger one this year being held just after now ex-CEO Larry Ellison announced his ‘retirement’, handing over the reins to Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, the former co-presidents, who will now share the CEO title.
1) Ellison takes major speaking part
Unlike last year, when Ellison ditched his keynote in favour of sailing in the America’s Cup, he will take to the stage at least three times this week to talk about the future of the multi-billion dollar company he founded with $1,200 in 1977.
The biggest talking points of OpenWorld 2014 and some facts about this year’s conference:
2) 60,000 people will attend the 2014 conference.
That is roughly 20 times the population of Lanai, the Hawaiian island of which Ellison owns 98%. In addition there is an estimated seven million webcam viewers.
SanFran streets close for event. It’s not quite a city-wide shutdown, but that huge number of attendees has prompted the event organisers to set up five enormous video screens in an outdoor plaza for guests.
The conference has not only taken over all three main convention rooms in the Moscone Center, but it’s spread to nearby hotels, too. The predicted amount of foot traffic has compelled authorities to shut down surrounding streets, including Howard Street and Taylor Street in the busy South of Market area.
3) PaaS on the cards?
Oracle is rumoured to be coming out with some big announcements this year, including the advent of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – that whisper started by the New York Times, which claimed to hear it straight from Hurd in an interview.
In fact, Ellison announced it in his Sunday keynote, signifying Oracle building out its cloud offering, letting customers and partners build applications in its cloud environment.
This could be a sign of competition between Oracle and Microsoft heating up, with the former hoping to rival the latter’s PaaS and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) options.
However, Oracle does already have a PaaS offering, and Hurd only told the Times: "Java and the database will be offered to customers with a chance to build cloud applications."
All Ellison said was that the PaaS solution would be available this month.
4) Ellison gives first keynote in new role
Ellison delivered his first keynote on Sunday evening (we’ll add a link to the story), on the subject of the ‘Modern Cloud’, but Tuesday will see him take to the stage again to deliver a speech in his new roles of chief technology officer and chairman. So, while it looks like he’s relinquished the day-to-day running of the company to Catz and Hurd, the CTO title suggests the 70-year-old will continue to have a big say in Oracle’s cloud developments.
5) Shaky earnings
OpenWorld 2014 comes on the back of another flat quarter for Oracle, at least by Wall Street’s standards. Earnings of 62 cents per share missed Wall Street predictions of 64 cents per share, and revenue of $8.06bn compared to expectations of $8.77bn.
It’s the second year running it’s disappointed investors and analysts and provides a reference point for naysayers looking for evidence the tech giant is struggling to redefine its focus from hardware and onto cloud.
6) Database-as-a-Service (DaaS)
Yes, Ellison has reportedly said OpenWorld will see the introduction of a DaaS service for customers. It’s a move that heralds the importance of the database business for Ellison and his board, with it drawing in the majority of software revenue; Oracle clearly hoping to replicate its importance in its cloud offerings.
7) Shift from hardware
Aside from some standard product update announcements, it seems unlikely that we’ll get much focus on Oracle’s hardware business. This, of course, is because of the company’s efforts to get its cloud story out into the open.
8) Cloud at the click of a button
Ellison spoke at great length in his Sunday keynote about the ability to switch from on-premise to the software’s cloud counterpart "at the click of a button" – and switch back just as easily.
As the CTO said: "We’re the only cloud that gives you a choice. You don’t like our prices? You can run it on-prem. You have choices."
This nifty trick took four years of research from the database behemoth to achieve, but means customers could avoid the transition headaches that put many off the cloud.
Oracle’s Engineered Systems display outside the keynote area, containing its Exadata and Exalytics machines, have enough Intel Xeon processors between them to appear on a top 500 supercomputers list, according to Oracle, showing off the computing power of its integrated systems. Your on-premise options are still pretty powerful, then, it’s fair to say.
10) Security ‘number one’ priority
Ellison’s other announcement in his speech was to say that security is now Oracle’s number one focus.