Whether you wanted to or not, it was impossible to avoid the America’s Cup racing at OOW ’13. The races themselves were broadcast (live when possible) at the event, there was merchandise available, there were comparisons and metaphors aplenty, and there was Larry Ellison beaming from my hotel TV as I got up each morning. The expected sea of Oracle red was punctuated by the fervor of red, white, and blue….
So, let me just get this out of my system. As everyone knows by now, Mr Ellison delegated his prime Wednesday keynote to Mr Kurian, and that means that the final score from San Francisco, as best as my semantically-twisted mind could tell, was:
Oracle Open World – 60,000 : America’s Cup – Won
OK, now to business.
The event was the usual wild mix of hype and education, raucous noise and mellifluous calm, multiple announcements and a product/ecosystem breadth that’s really hard to get one's brain around. To try to pull a few pertinent insights, I was lucky enough to enlist the help of my ESG colleagues, Mark Bowker and Tony Palmer, to put together the 6 minute video embedded above.
As mentioned in the video, the in-memory database announcement was probably the biggest single news, while engineered systems continued to hold center stage overall…but, again, just when you think Oracle has missed something in the overall IT stack you find that it does that too. And because of that enormous playing field, and the fact that most users are heterogeneous to some degree, what struck me most about this year’s event was the degree to which Oracle appeared to be playing somewhat “nicer” than it has before – courting (or at least holding court with!?) a huge range of its co-opetition.
At the highest level, and away from specific products, the feeling at OOW was that of a company that is comfortable – confident yes, but also almost calm - in its endeavors. There was no dramatic strategic ‘reveal’ or new thematic phrase; there was simply, and effectively, more steady progress. Is it winning in every place it competes yet? No, of course not. But it has the time, vision, and resources to make the adjustments and wait for results to improve. Given its leadership in certain key markets, this is hardly akin to the 8 to 1 deficit faced by the US (ahem…Oracle) team in the America’s Cup…but there might just be more relevant parallels in all that determination, route-charting, and investment than I had initially realized!