Oracle CEO Larry Ellison took the stage for the final keynote at Oracle OpenWorld 2009 today - an afternoon session that followed lunch and got off to a rough start when Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan (who was scheduled to speak after Ellison) came on stage first and spent 45 minutes delivering a somewhat dry presentation.
It probably didn't help that attendees were reminded that there's a big party tonight. The Who's Roger Daltrey, who will be performing tonight, made a cameo appearance at the beginning of the session to say he was looking forward to seeing everyone later in the evening.
And so, as the show comes down the home stretch and people are anxious to let their hair down a bit tonight, Ellison walked on to the stage and pretty much got right down to business by announcing that he had four things to talk about: a Linux update, information on Exadata 2, a demo of a product support system and a preview of next generation app called Fusion.
First, Linux. Oracle has been in the Linux business for a while now but Ellison said the company was surprised by the interest in Linux. He noted that the Oracle's virtual machine will run any OS, such as Windows or Solaris and, of course, Oracle Enterprise Linux. What was surprising, he said, were the results of an HP survey which asked customers running Linux under an Oracle database which Linux they were using. About 65 percent said they were using Oracle Enterprise Linux.
Then, we moved on to Exadata 2, Ellison's love child that brings together the combination of technology from Oracle and Sun and allows him to take jabs at rival IBM. This is one powerful machine, he notes, that runs 16 times faster than IBM. (Jab No. 1) But wait, he said. IBM has challenged that response, saying that it doesn't run 16 times faster but only SIX times faster.
Long pause. Cheesy grin from Ellison. Laughter and applause from audience.
"They may be right," Ellison said with a smirk on his face. Maybe Oracle is only 6 times faster. (Jab No. 2)
Then he went on to say that IBM does beat them in one area. IBM's offerings consume six times more energy than Oracle's. (Jab No. 3 and the last one I'll note) From there on, Ellison went on to look at the performance of Exadata 2 and its improvements over a previous version.
Finally, Ellison repeated the challenge he first announced earlier in the week. If anyone can find an application that doesn't run twice as fast on an Oracle-Sun machine than an IBM machine, then Oracle will pay up $10 million. And yes, IBM is eligible to take the challenge, as well.
A Special Guest Diversion
At this point, Ellison took a break and allowed California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to take the reins of the stage, where he talked up the technology initiatives in California and even managed to get a few good laughs with some jabs at himself and recent events involving his wife Maria Shriver, who was recently embarrassed when celeb gossip site showed pictures of her talking on a cell phone while driving - a no-no in California that her hubby signed into law.
I'm in a no-win situation. I have to take action to stop her. I don't create action, then the voters get upset. If I do create action, then she gets upset and I get no action.
Huge laughter and applause.
Schwarzenegger came on stage to welcome attendees to California and a conference that's all about "pumping you up." Being at Oracle OpenWorld is exciting, he said, because he loves technology, all types of technology - high-tech, bio-tech, green-tech, clean tech and so on.
Regardless, the technology that has changed the world - and will continue to change the world - begins in California. But the global community - the people from around the world who were in the audience or tuning in to a live Webcast on the Internet - are the ones who are going to use technology to save lives, change lives and enhance lives.
After some on-stage exchanges between Ellison and Schwarzenegger, Ellison takes back the mic to move on.
Back to Larry
His third point: a new product support system that is hoping to be more proactive about identifying problems - and proactively sending out patches and fixes - based on the mining of data that looks at customer hardware-software configurations, as well as service request data.
At this point in the speech, there's a demo of the product support system. But, by now, most of the attendees have been sitting in this auditorium for more than two hours and have started streaming out.
And last, but not least, Ellison spent some time talking about new Fusion applications coming down the pipeline. But first, Ellison said he recognized that companies have invested in other apps - PeopleSoft, Seibel, JD Edwards and so on - and there Oracle is committed to supporting those technologies for the long-term.
But that doesn't mean that Oracle will quit developing. His company, he said, "can afford to not only maintain the software you're running but also build the software you may want to run tomorrow." Among the apps that will be part of the Fusion suite, which is in testing now, are talent management, territory management, financial accounting and governance, risk and compliance cloud-ready applications. The apps, he said, are built on industry-standard Fusion middleware. There are no custom tools.
Ellison clearly was excited about Fusion apps and brought some folks on stage to provide a demo - but, by now, the crowd has grown pretty thin.
It's been a productive few days at Oracle OpenWorld but 45 minutes beyond the scheduled end time of this afternoon keynote, it was clear that attendees were ready to call it a day.
Also see: Previous Oracle OpenWorld coverage