This week's big event in technology, the annual Oracle OpenWorld conference, kicked off Sunday evening in San Francisco with keynote presentations, including the first of two this week from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
Ellison - who took the stage after showcasing a video of him and his sailing team winning the America's Cup back in February - kicked off his speech by talking about the extreme performance of his sailing team and then took the reach to talk about extreme performance in computing. (Tough transition, Larry.)
The big headline of his keynote: introduction of the Exalogic Elastic Compute Cloud, also known as a "cloud in a box." The device is a hardware-software combination that includes everything that users will need to run apps - from 30 servers and network equipment to the middleware and storage. Of course, it's designed to run hand-in-hand with the Exadata machine that Ellison introduced last year.
To understand it, though, Ellison had to kick off his keynote speech by offering his own definition of cloud computing, which included some jabs at salesforce.com
Salesforce, unlike Amazon's EC2, is not a platform, he said, but rather a couple of applications that don't allow elasticity and pay-as-you-use pricing. His pitch was that Exalogic, like Amazon, is a flexible and elastic platform, a hardware-software device that can meet the needs of any company. He went to great lengths to play up the ability to issue patches for bugs that might be found in a faster and more efficient way. He talked about standardization, easy managablity and cost savings.
What's funny is that, as Oracle talks up the cloud and the SaaS applications, it almost begs the question: If that's where things are headed, why would I need all of this hardware?
For more than an hour, Ellison talked up his definition of the cloud and really played up the Exalogic device. At the tail end, he talked briefly about Fusion apps, noting general availability early next year but that the topic will be at the core of his Wednesday keynote.
Still, was this really what the 41,000 attendees who headed into San Francisco for a weekend kickoff wanted to hear? Apparently not. After covering Oracle OpenWorld for a few years now, I can't recall a time when attendees walked out of a Larry Ellison keynote in droves the way they did this year.
The keynote was less speech as much as it was rambling infomercial for the Exalogic and Oracle's offerings - and, by the time Ellison took the stage, the crowd seemed to have had enough of that, thanks to a Hewlett Packard presentation that preceded Ellison's.
In fact, it was almost ironic that the keynotes would kick off with a presentation from HP executive Ann Livermore - even though it marked her third appearance at the conference.
As Livermore talked about what HP can do for companies to bring their data center needs and business applications into the future - highlighting key acquisitions such as services company EDS - it was hard to get past the fact that Mark Hurd, the former HP CEO who was highlighting these same talking points not so long ago, will take the stage here tomorrow as co-president of Oracle.
Still, HP stayed on message about the products and services within its portfolio, including new roles in networking, services, servers and storage. But it didn't come across as big exciting news about HP.
Instead, it felt like a big HP informercial, a chance for the company to pitch its ware - and its importance in the marketplace - for a large audience that actually came to hear Ellison had to say.
How bad was it? ABout 15 minutes into the HP presentation, the official conference twitter feed asked the restless attendees who were blasting HP on Twitter to "hang in there" as Ellison would be up soon.
The best line on the Twitter feed: "Hurd must must be in the back laughing and happy he switched companies."
- Oracle's earnings on tap as Hurd, OpenWorld take center stage
- Oracle posts strong first quarter: Hurd makes debut; Exadata the focus
- Oracle, IBM detente forged by dollars, distribution, HP