I attended Oracle OpenWorld 2011 as usual this year, at which I co-presented a technical session with Kevin Jernigan on the subject of Direct NFS clonedb. Since I had a full conference pass, I was able to attend many of the keynotes at this event.
I did not get to attend the Sunday Larry keynote, although I understand that it was pretty terrible. I did attend the Wednesday Larry keynote, and can tell you this: As a long-term Larry watcher (I have attended every OOW since 1998) it was hands down the worst Larry keynote I have ever seen.
Perhaps because Larry had just lost his best friend (Steve Jobs died of cancer the day of this keynote), he was off his game. That's the only reasonable explanation I have for such a spectacular failure of such a precious and expensive opportunity.
Larry's keynote consisted largely of a 20 minute-plus long demo of Fusion Applications, which while interesting in itself, was excrutiatingly dull, and definitely would have been much better if handled by someone other than Larry.
What Larry is great at (and what was largely lacking in his keynote) is the flamboyant, extravagant, and provocative way that he baits his competitors and makes outlandish claims concerning his own products' performance. He did a bit of sniping at (SalesForce.com Chairman and CEO) Marc Benioff. Aside from that, nothing.
The other Oracle keynotes were not much better. This was an almost content-free OOW for me. The ExaData and ExaLogic stuff was more of the same from last year. The big product launch was of course Fusion Applications, but that is just software. There was no big splash on the hardware side.
The best keynotes by far were Joe Tucci and John Chambers. Both provided a lot of content, much of which was competitive to Oracle, interestingly. Cisco is certainly competing with ExaData in the server market and EMC competes with Oracle in storage, virtualization and datawarehousing software. All of this was discussed extensively during these keynotes. Joe even said the "v" word (VMware) during his keynote, and Pat further elaborated on this subject during his follow on to Joe's talk. Pat also included a long demo of vCenter which was assisted by EMC's own Chad Sakac.
Chambers talk was very compelling to me. His vision for a new platform in the post-PC age was a serious challenge to both Microsoft and Apple in their ecosystems. I am a bit skeptical that Cisco can successfully compete with those vendors in their respective spaces, though. Microsoft owns the business productivity space, and Apple has a serious stake in the home and home office space. Cisco will need to penetrate both of these in order to fulfill Chamber's vision. We'll see.
I thought OOW was about Oracle. This year, not so much. This year, the interesting stuff at OOW was from other vendors. Score one for EMC and Cisco, and score zero for Oracle this year.