Oracle OpenWorld keynote sets a dull tone

Soporific would be a kind way to describe Oracle Open World opening keynote. Dull as dishwater would be nearer the truth.

I can't recall a major industry conference first day keynote where within 10 minutes I was getting bored and within 30 I was out the door - at least of the main hall. Such was the degree to which Oracle OpenWorld's opening keynote captured my attention.

HP's Ann Livermore gave what must count as the dullest infomercial I have ever witnessed. Twenty minutes in and I was gone. She might as well have recorded it and the beamed it out to the audience. The event wasn't helped by the fact that the Moscone Center San Francisco WiFi can't cope with thousands of people trying to get out onto the Internet at the same time. Colleague David Dobrin who was sitting next to me had a decent signal. I couldn't connect. He kindly lent me his 3G iPad.

Fortunately, Frank Scavo had found the media room with wired ethernet connections. I headed off in that direction just in time to watch yet another infomercial before Larry Ellison, CEO Oracle took to the stage. I don't know what possessed him to spend a good 45 minutes rambling on about the technical ins and outs of the Exalogic Elastic Cloud Compute box. box. As one person put it: "If a sales guy chose this as his presentation, Larry would've fired him." It was excruciating.

We were five minutes before the scheduled end of the keynote before Ellison uttered a word about Fusion. And even then it was used as a way of taking a pop at Salesforce.ocm, Taleo, SuccessFactors and of course, Oracle's bogeyman - SAP. That pitch took another 30 minutes by which time many in the audience were heading towards the beer tent.

I later learned that the pre-conference analyst gig was pretty much content free and, despite attempts to get some word on the Google lawsuit, nothing. Making analysts and media disgruntled is not the way to set the tone of any conference.

Three things stood out for me from the keynote:

  1. Why did Ellison waste so much time talking about a box that maybe, just maybe, 5% of Oracle customers are likely to use. Banging on about the fact China railways ticketing system runs on one of these boxes and then saying that Facebook would need just two to run its 500 million user system is telling. There just ain't that many businesses in the world that would want to run a $1 million box. At least not today...or in the next year or so.
  2. I wonder how many of the cast of thousands who are not techies were left wondering if Ellison had parachuted in from Planet Zog? Such was the extent to which he talked feeds, speeds, bits and bytes.
  3. Am I the only one who sees the irony in Oracle taking potshots at competitors when San Francisco is plastered with posters showing Michael Dell (an OOW 2010 keynoter) impressing with the implied benefits of combining Oracle and

Kickoff keynotes are supposed to get the crowd excited about what's coming. The sheer dullness of Ellison's delivery does not bode well. Oh yes - if you want detail on Fusion then they'll be talking about it on Wednesday. By which time I'll be on a transatlantic back to Europe. If you can't wait, then here's Oracle's page on the topic.