Monday, September 29, 2014

First Experience with Larry Ellison's Opening Keynote at Oracle OpenWorld 2014

I am attending Oracle OpenWorld for the first time this year.  Tonight I heard the opening keynotes, where the cloud was everywhere.  The big show both inside and outside Moscone North was loud and bright.  Big Data, big video screens, big stunts, and big personalities are all over this big convention.  Go big or go home.

The Intel big cheese on stage was a familiar face from another conference I attended last year.  She knows her data strategies pretty well.  It is obvious that Big Data is taking over the known universe with its shear mass, though I'm not sure what metric Intel used to tabulate the number of data iterations our civilization creates.  The Intel people sometimes referred to Oracle as if their two companies were one and the same.  The love-fest aspect of these big conventions is always cute.  

The Intel talk reinforced for me once again that data centers are a pick-and-shovel play in the rush to create value in the data sector.  I want someone on a major stage to mention the following concepts:  Cloudonomics, data supply chain, and the DIKW pyramid.  Those should be factors in assembling an enterprise IT architecture.  The coming of software defined infrastructure (SDI) and the software-defined data center (SDDC) mean humans must design some very human considerations into these new IT architectures before they push the virtualization button.

Intel thinks hybrid clouds matter based on the combination of data centers built out for public clouds and the expectations for workload traffic in private clouds.  I've been watching the hybrid cloud evolution since 2011 and some data sets simply belong in private clouds for security reasons.  Public cloud providers have fallen down on their promises of security and this month's numerous high-profile data breaches are the data sector's indictment.

Intel's enthusiasm for new modalities in data transfer and virtualization gave me an insight.  Data centers that add virtualization into their cloud services should see higher ROIs as their costs come down.  Cloudonomics metrics should prove my theory.  The enhanced ROI relationship should also hold for the addition of remote resources and non-volatile memory.  

Larry Ellison pushed the cloud every time he mentioned Oracle's market position and new products.  He also pushed security as the fulfillment of his company's ethos.  It's no secret that Oracle battles it out for CRM and ERP market leadership with Salesforce and a few other contenders.  Cloud security is going to be in every vendor's sales pitch thanks to a year's worth of revelations and debacles.

Larry's Coke bottle on stage looked like it had an import sticker on the side.  I have only seen those square white stickers on bottles imported from Mexico.  Die-hard Coca-Cola aficionados prefer Mexican Coke because its use of cane sugar makes the taste more palatable compared to US-bottled coke, which uses beet sugar.  This has nothing to do with enterprise computing but I notice all kinds of little details wherever I go.  Knowing a key leader's biography down to minute personal preferences helps illuminate their leadership style.

Oracle is entering a price war with Apple, Amazon, and Google over cloud services at the same time it is moving its entire app family into its own cloud.  The other players either already had their cloud capability before they built their app product lines or built both capabilities out simultaneously.  They could build apps with no concern for legacy integration with on-premise products that had not yet migrated to their clouds.  Oracle has the more difficult road to pave as it must preserve support for on-premise legacy products while it builds out its cloud.  The competitor with the deepest pockets always wins a price war.  Let's compare the cash positions of these four giants to see who starts off ahead.

Cash positions, from Yahoo Finance . . .
Oracle (ORCL):  $24.2B (August 31, 2014)
Apple (AAPL):  $13B (June 28, 2014)
Amazon (AMZN):  $5B  (June 30, 2014)
Google (GOOG):  $19.6B (June 30, 2014)

Please note that these figures do not necessarily include the huge amount of cash Apple has sequestered in a separate entity named Braeburn Capital.  I don't have time tonight to dig through Apple's financials to see how they distinguish their various cash management programs.  Apple's massive cash hoard probably places it in the leading position to win a cloud service price war, assuming nothing else changes.

I noticed that I was the only audience member in sight who was taking notes.  I was nowhere near the section reserved for press, analysts, and bloggers so I can't tell which among them took notes or blogged live.  A few news outlets published their stories ahead of mine, but I caught a couple of interesting quotes.  I'm pretty sure Larry said "think different" (a Steve Jobs quote from his resurrection of Apple) and "at the speed of thought" (a Bill Gates quote).  Larry obviously admires his competitors.  I admit that I admire this guy too after seeing him on stage.