Whenever the industry's top execs come together to speak to the masses, expectations are high. This year's Oracle OpenWorld conference provided an insight into which vendors have intriguing grand plans, and which ones prefer to rely on marketing bluff.
Over the course of three days at OpenWorld, a number of top industry execs sprouted their thinly-disguised marketing messages to the thousands sitting before them, and no doubt many millions more listening/watching/reading from abroad.
Some of these luminaries don't often speak publicly, so my mind was boggling with the possibility of what some could say.
What technology would be unveiled that would raise delegates' eyebrows? Who would announce a partnership that might turn the industry on its head? Who would make a biting remark about a competitor?
Well, it sure wasn't AMD's Hector Ruiz. Ruiz started his keynote by building up to naming something that he said would shape the future of the processor for years to come.
The audience was in suspense. Was it a super chip? Was it a new threading technology?
No, it was "choice", said Ruiz, before elaborating on the stunning revelation that IT managers have as many as two processor vendors to choose from.
Granted, Ruiz did co-announce a new server partnership with Dell later that day, but surely AMD customers deserved better than his marketing drivel?
That brings us to our next exec: Michael Dell. Walking on stage to the cringe-inducing sing-along tune of "Dell Dell Dell Dell (repeat)", Dell proceeded to show a self-infatuated cartoon of himself cast as a white knight, saving customers from "proprietary land".
The "jokes" hardly had the audience rolling in the aisles, but let's give him a point for effort.
Opting for serious thought over lame jokes though was Sun's Jonathan Schwartz.
Like earlier presenters, Schwartz's keynote was not without persuasive sales messages, but did give some intriguing insight into grid computing and how this would change the economics of the industry.
He also elaborated on Sun's Project Blackbox, a fascinating product which can plonk a shipping container right in the middle of your IT department.
Last of all was Oracle top dog, Larry Ellison. Ellison refreshingly got straight to the point, and before too long had penguins on stage as he announced Oracle's support service for Red Hat Linux.
Oracle staff loved it. Customers loved it. And at last we had an announcement worth talking about.
Perhaps the final word though should go to one veteran OpenWorld attendee I overheard lamenting: "It's just not the same without Scott McNealy here anymore".
Steven Deare travelled to Oracle OpenWorld as a guest of Oracle.