Thursday, October 02, 2014

Infosys and Larry Ellison's Cloud Keynotes at Oracle OpenWorld 2014

I liked Larry Ellison's opening keynote enough to seek him out for his main Oracle OpenWorld 2014 keynote later in the week.  He drops mentions of Oracle's first big project for the CIA into his public talks, but there's nothing secret about Oracle's success under his leadership.  Larry stepped down as CEO just before OpenWorld and is now free to play with tech all day.

Mark Hurd replaced Larry as CEO, and introduced the Infosys guy who would be Larry's warm-up act for this keynote.  If the name Mark Hurd rings a bell, it's because he was forced out at HP after actress Jodie Fisher stirred up some controversy.  I've seen Ms. Fisher's body of work online as a soft-core star, and she's welcome to stir me up any time she likes.  She is not the least bit shy about showing off her natural gifts and displaying bold enthusiasm for her work.  There's a lesson there for tech CEOs, somewhere.

Anyway, back to the Infosys dude's opening act.  I heard a lot of boilerplate talk about culture, tech evolution, and renewal of something or other but anything specifically actionable must have been lost in translation.  I thought government officials and senior military officers excelled at spouting bland platitudes until I started studying the tech sector.  My understanding of "asset efficiencies" from finance does not match the tech use of the term in scheduling, downtime, and other stresses on hardware.  Frustration with shelfware has finally convinced enterprise vendors that they must sell their clients something they can actually use.  This is the genius behind cloud SaaS, where you only buy the capacity you need and can lease more later for surge periods.

Mister Infosys brought out several other executives from Hitachi, Diebold, and Level 3 Communications but what they said added little value.  They bored me to death with generic statements on improving efficiencies and serving customers.  None of them mentioned hard metrics on ROI, revenue growth, costs saved, legal penalties avoided, or reaction times compressed as a result of better IT use.  If any of these executives have read about Cloudonomics, I'd like to see evidence they understand its implementation.  I really wish Jodie Fisher had come out in her birthday suit instead of hearing all these tech suits.

Larry Ellison finally took the stage.  He can think on his feet, explain complicated concepts, and navigate a live database in true polyphasic style.  Comfort with thinking and acting this fast lends itself to designing software with the multitenancy needed for cloud leadership.  I learned new terms from Larry . . . schema, instance, data, and databases can now all jump into the "as-a-Service" model.

The in-memory queries in Larry's demonstration ran much faster in one format (depending on the nature of the query, whether it is transactional or analytical), so dual-format databases have value.  He unplugged an on-premise database and easily plugged it into a cloud-based container, showing how quickly an Oracle client can move to the cloud.  I still think they'll be challenged in moving some of their SaaS to the cloud but I'm willing to let them surprise me.  His whole point in demonstrating human capital management (HCM) app extensions is that they build out in SaaS to maintain a consistent aesthetic.

Larry is in his element as a programmer when he does product demos.  Future tech titans need to note the expansive style of leaders like Larry that goes way beyond engineering technical competence.  Oh BTW, Larry noted that database administrator (DBA) job tasks are now mostly automated with cloud apps.  This means tech experts now have competition in IT careers from non-tech business domain experts.

I grok his desire to make Oracle a leader in all three cloud stacks:  SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS.  I think the company's strongest offerings are in SaaS, and competing in the other two layers leaves Oracle vulnerable to Apple and Google.  SaaS players can win in someone else's ecosystem if their end-user functions are easy to use and affordable.

I got in line for this keynote early enough to get a seat closer to the analyst and blogger section, although I elected not to sit there.  I wanted to watch them in action.  Maybe half of the analysts took serious notes or typed furiously at the OpenWorld keynotes I attended.  I know these things can get boring, but important information does get out to the public this way.  I know what will hold analysts' attention during conference keynotes.  Someday when I give a keynote at a major tech conference I'll have a hot babe like Jodie Fisher come out starkers and introduce me.  That would really liven things up.  Until then, Larry Ellison gives me enough thought leadership to be productive.