November 14, 2007

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Four - Ellison Keynote

The mood lighting has been set to red: Oracle must be up next.

Billy Joel just introduced Larry Ellison. The Piano Man (Billy, not Larry) will be the featured performer at tonight's customer appreciation party (along with Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Nicks, and Mick Fleetwood). Billy Joel is having a concert in Dallas (where I live on weekends) in early December: I think I'll go to his concert tonight and save money on tickets.

Larry started off with a few slides on Oracle's new release of Linux (Oracle Enterprise Linux). They basically took Red Hat Linux and "fixed bugs" to maintain 100% compatibility between Red Hat Oracle Linux. Supposedly, an application running on Red Hat will run unchanged on Oracle Linux. They have also released Oracle VM on Oracle Linux. The neat thing about the VM is that it runs both Linux and Windows in both 32-bit and 64-bit. Oracle Linux and Oracle VM are both open source and free. How do they make money? The answer's easy: volume. In all seriousness, they charge for support if you want. Support seems cheap (<$1K for 4 CPUs per year), so I think that Oracle Linux and VM are very good alternatives to what Red Hat is offering.

While Larry didn't say this during his presentation, the best news about Oracle Linux is that they're adding support for Essbase on Oracle Linux 64-bit. This is a direct running on Linux and not inside the VM. Since many have wondered if Oracle will continue to release Essbase on Linux (due to the dearth of customers running it), this is a sign that Oracle is committed to Linux Essbase. I've always liked Linux as an operating system, so I'm pleased to hear that Essbase will continue to be supported in future releases.

The next part of the presentation was on Fusion Applications. I'm still confused as to if Fusion actually exists or if it's vaporware. Yes, I know that much of Hyperion ended up in the Fusion middleware portion of Oracle, but that doesn't mean that I could call up Mr. Oracle Sales Rep and say "could you please send me over a dozen Fusions, please? Yes, of course I want baker's dozen."

Ah, Larry just answered my question: "the first of the 3 Fusion Applications will be released in the first half of 2008." I guess that means they're not real yet. The first three applications will be under the banner of sales force automation (SFA) that will theoretically sell more by going beyond a sales forecast to include better analytics: data mining of customer databases (what customers are buying which products, what do those customers have in common, what prospective clients fit that profile, etc.) and greater business intelligence for sales people. The SFA application will integrate with existing SFA systems (like Siebel or and ERPS (Oracle, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards, SAP, etc.). SFA has three components/applications: Sales Prospector, Sales References, and Sales Tools. There was a British demo of them fully inside of Mozilla Firefox. I can't begin to describe the demo, but I'm sure that screen shots will be on the Oracle website in short order.

Larry took questions at the end of the keynote (kind of brave, actually). I'm impressed that Larry Ellison can understand all the There was one question that made me laugh where someone said "which company are you planning to buy next?" Larry's answer: "e-mail me and I'll tell you, but then you have to split the profit with me." Another one I liked: "when you're finished buying everyone in the applications space, who will be your competition?" The answer was "SAP, darn it." I'm paraphrasing, of course, but you get the general gist of the questions.

On that note, I've been a bit negative on the stage presence and entertainment value of the presenters here at Oracle OpenWorld. Larry Ellison is a cut above: he actually holds an audience's attention fairly well. When he tells a joke, it seems off the cuff. Even if the off the cuff jokes were written ahead of time, he pulls them off in a manner that makes it seem like he just thought of them, so kudos to his acting abilities (if not his sense of humor). I actually giggled (on the inside) a couple of times during his Q&A session.

I'm going to wander the exhibit hall (actually, two exhibit halls in Moscone West and Moscone South).

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Four - Dell Keynote

I'm sitting in the Michael Dell and Larry Ellison keynote from 12:45-2:30. I'll blog the Ellison part separately since it will probably be more relevant to regular readers.

Mr. Dell (who, in a strange twist of cosmic fate, got a job as CEO of Dell) is supposed to be talking about how Dell is making its IT infrastructure simpler. There's an irony to someone presenting on reducing IT spending at an IT conference. There's also something funny - but not that funny - about blogging about Dell on a Dell laptop. I've been here 20 minutes so far and I haven't heard much about simplification. I did get to watch a good opening Dell commercial. They showed it with the lights off. Speaking of lighting, they change the background lighting in the room depending on the main company presenting the keynote: Oracle had red mood lighting and Dell has a deep blue.

He's giving a message at the moment about "finding your hidden data center." To summarize this whole portion of the presentation, use virtualization (VMs or Virtual Machines) to put more servers on a single server. Dell (the man, not the company) then revealed a new convertible tablet laptop that Dell is releasing in the next couple of months. The new tablet from Dell (the company, not the man) has a neat feature that enables it to tell where multiple fingers are touching the screen at once. I was really impressed at the demonstration of how this new technology could be used to do finger painting. Well, I was really impressed until I realized that my iPod Touch already has multi-touch sensing technology (it uses it to zoom in and out on web pages).

Next, Dell's demo guy (the demo guy belongs to both the man and the company, so far as I can tell) showed some new software for managing technology. I'm finding the banter between Dell man and Dell demo guy to be worse than the banter between Oscar presenters. I've heard more believable dialogue between 2nd graders playing cowboys and Native Americans (modern 2nd graders are more enlightened). Dell (either the company or the man, it's irrelevant at this point) is also releasing some sort of flat screen with a built-in Blue Ray DVD player that also appears to house a computer inside. Dell will apparently be officially announcing this product in a week or so.

I actually perked up for a moment just now at a comparison of "On-Demand Desktop Streaming" vs. thick client vs. thin client. ODDS (I just invented an acronym) is a thin client-like (no install necessary) technology that can handle high-bandwidth video. They showed an example of watching a Dell commercial through the ODDS vs. thick client vs. thin client. The thin client updated once or twice per second. Aside from a sizing difference, ODDS and thick client seemed indistinguishable.

The blue lighting is lulling me into a coma.

It was just announced that Dell will be carbon neutral by 2008. I think that's the company not the man (though Mr. Dell may already be carbon neutral for all I know). I don't know why I find the concept of carbon-based life forms trying to be carbon neutral to be funny.

At the end of the Dell part of the keynote, they gave the audience an opportunity to text their thoughts on "the greatest benefit to Integrated IT." They put most of them up on the overhead screen. My personal favorite benefit of Integrated IT: "Everything crashes at once." I texted "Integrated IT = Chick Magnet" but I think it got censored.

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - Closing the Day

Just a quick update before bed. I ate early dinner in garlic heaven at The Stinking Rose. The ambience was combination old Italy (bottles of vino hanging from the ceiling) and garlic (they apparently have the world's largest garlic braid running around the room). Appetizers were garlic hummus cocktail, garlic Swiss chard fontina fondue, and garlic bread. For an entrée, I had neon ravioli with garlic basil sauce. I really wanted to try their "garlic soaking in a hot tub" but it had anchovies and I don't eat fishies. For dessert, they offered garlic ice cream, but I wimped out and got the non-garlic ice cream sundae. I spent the dinner discussing politics and television (Pushing Daisies? Love it! This season of Heroes and Prison Break? Not so much!). We discussed very little of the conference except to say that we all miss Solutions. I know I've been beating this dead horse point, but we're all in agreement on two points: Oracle puts on a very well organized show, and their Hyperion program is almost all marketing.

We finished dinner around 8, so I taxied over to Myth for late dinner. I got there really early and scoped the place. In my interRel polo and Oracle geek jacket, I felt very underdressed. I did enjoy people watching (I think I saw the cast of "The L Word: San Francisco" at the bar) while waiting for the rest of the crowd to arrive at 9. The décor was upscale and the food was mostly Californian with a little French thrown in to get the price of the entrees up. I ordered a vegetarian risotto. Discussion at dinner was mostly around Hyperion/Oracle and past conferences. One of the people at dinner remembered me from "Eddie and the Consultants: A System 9 Musical" so we went through the whole history of its evolution from a twinkle in my eye to a cast of thousands (oh, wait: it was a cost of thousands not a cast of thousands).

I never made it to the partner reception. Tomorrow I have keynotes to attend, but the Hyperion program is officially over. Most everyone that was here just for Hyperion is flying back today. I'm staying for a few more days to absorb the full OpenWorld experience. I may not be blogging as actively unless I encounter something particularly relevant (or snarky).

November 13, 2007

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - Dell/Deloitte

I'm currently sitting in a presentation on how Deloitte is helping Dell implement Hyperion. We have several consultants working at Dell, so I went by to support our fellow team members. I discovered shortly after it started that the presentation is on the MDM (now called DRM: Data Relationship Management) implementation underway at Dell.

It started off with a Deloitte commercial which didn't thrill me at all. We rarely compete with Deloitte (they target multi-year Hyperion implementations whereas our implementation time frames tend to be measured in weeks), though, so I'm not going to let their advertisement bother me at all either.

While I love the folks at Dell (they provide our servers and they're a paying client too, woo-hoo!), I will say that this was a pretty narcoleptic presentation. John O'Rourke started it off with a harmless joke (can't even recall what it was) and the laughs stopped there. My saving grace was that it ended after only 40 minutes. I did learn some things about Dell, but nothing about Hyperion.

I'm having dinner #1 at 6:15 with one of interRel's Atlanta clients at The Stinking Rose. Their motto is "we season our garlic with food" and it has a lot of vegetarian options. What more could a garlic-loving vegetarian hope for?!? I'm then having dinner #2 (stop laughing) at 9:00 with one of our New York clients at Myth which appears to be a food fusion of France and California. I couldn't find much of anything on their menu that's vegetarian, so I'm glad I will have already eaten dinner before my dinner. I was originally supposed to go to a BI/EPM Partner Reception at 6:30, but I'm going to go ahead and skip it. I'm recepted out.

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - Future of Essbase

Lunch was pretty darned good. The restaurant was Asian fusion. I had sweet potato naan (naan is basically Indian pita bread but fluffier) and panir cheese naan. We also got some appetizers for the table to share. The portobello satays with chutney were delicious.

I had a good talk with my prospective client (a university out of New York). They're having problems with their current Hyperion consulting firms. Standard story: over budget, way behind schedule (they're on year two of their Hyperion Planning implementation), and apparently, poorly designed. It doesn't sound like they're using any type of budgeting best practices, and from a technology standpoint, it's about as unoptimal as you can get. We're going to do a 2-3 week assessment out there to help them optimize what they currently have and determine how best to get them to the finish line of phase 1 of their project.

After lunch, I met with another consulting company that we might be interested in acquiring. They focus on a specific aspect of Hyperion consulting which is just starting to take off. While we could build up our own knowledge, it may be simpler just to acquire the knowledge.

I just sat through a presentation on the future of Essbase that was the first presentation at which I've learned anything helpful. Al Marciante was the primary presenter. Al and I go way back (we're both from DFW). He joined our "Solutions Road Trip to the South" event back in August to present on the Hyperion products beyond 9.3.1. This presentation is targeted just to the Essbase products. Al started with the standard disclaimer: we don't actually have to deliver anything we're talking about. In other words, if we can't get it working by the ship date, let's all pretend we never mentioned it.

There are four major aspects to which they want to target the future of Essbase: End User Experience, Powerful Analytics, Rich Data Types, and Deployment Flexibility.

End User Experience. They're going to expand one of the OBIEE components called Answers+ to go against Essbase. Essbase Visual Explorer will be able to define data mining models. I'm particularly excited about this one, because defining data mining models right now requires an administrator with degrees in statistical analysis, artificial intelligence, and MDX. It's apparently going to be a graphical interface to setting up mining scenarios.

The final addition to the end user experience is what they're calling "Personalized Office Analytics." This will dramatically improve the functionality of SmartView (so I'll finally have a reason to stop using the Essbase add-in:). SmartView will now have a designer for building reports/dashboards. The example they showed had 3 grids on the same Excel spreadsheet and they were all linked to a single point of view. OBIEE will now be a source for SmartView. The neatest feature is "filtered database views." This will allow a user to, for instance, take a 12-dimensional model and make it seem like it's a 4-dimensional model.

Powerful Analytics. A lot of this functionality is related to attribute dimensions. Some of the neater features include attributes that change over time, the use of attributes as filters (instead of just for aggregation like, show me all the products that are red), and attributes that support one to many relationships. The last one probably needs an example. Say you have a dimension called Customer and an attribute dimension called Salesperson. Large customers for example, may have multiple salespersons. Currently, Essbase would make you assign a single salesperson to a customer. In the future, you could assign the customer member to multiple attributes.

Expanding Data Types. Essbase in 9.5 and later will be able to handle non-numeric data. This is really cool. For instance, you could have a cube that houses addresses for customers. Now behind the scenes, the text/dates are being translated to numbers and then they are replaced with the text/dates at retrieval time. In other words, they're being implemented similarly to Hyperion Planning Smartlists, but at the database level. I can think of hundreds of cases where our customers could have benefitted from this over the years.

Deployment Flexibility. Cubes will now be supported where 100% of the data is being pulled real-time from a relational repository and only the outline is stored in Essbase. Essbase will be a source for OBIEE which doesn't excite me much, but I bet it excites a lot of OBIEE admins. Partitioning is being totally revamped, and one of the benefits of this is that ASO can now be the target of a replicated or transparent partition. There will be full life cycle management (robust functionality to move from development to QA to production and so on) of Essbase applications down to the object level. Exposed through Shared Services, there will even be audit reporting when things move from environment to environment.

Essbase Studio. There was also a demonstration of Essbase Studio, a new graphical modeling environment for building multiple Essbase cubes. It seems to combine EAS and EIS. It's very, from what I can tell, IT centric. Compared to EAS which can be easily explained to an end user, Essbase Studio requires an IT background. It uses words like schema and context a lot. They did say that Essbase Studio would be replacing EAS, so I'm a little worried about those end user admin types.

While the purpose of Essbase Studio seems to be to support companies that want to share dimensions, calc scripts, load rules, and so on between multiple Essbase outlines, it does add some neat drill through capability. While you could always drill from a data cell to relational detail (or a URL), drill-through has been expanded to allow drilling on members as well. For instance, you could click on a member called "Cola" and it would drill back to an on-line product catalog and show you a web page about the product name. Drill-through is now enabled to other types of data including FDM.

Oracle refused to give the timeframe for all this functionality other than "sometime in 2008," but based on the demo, it seems to be not far from beta. If I was a guessing man, I'd say that all of the functionality above is going to come out in Essbase 9.5 sometime in quarter one.

So overall, how was the presentation? Al's part was fairly entertaining. The demo guy seemed like he was a decent human being, but I think he made Essbase Studio seem far more complicated than it was. All in all, though, I'm excited about the future of Essbase. It's comforting to see that Oracle is putting significant R&D into future releases of Essbase.

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - Tips and Tricks for Essbase

I had an opportunity to talk briefly with Steve Liebermensch from Oracle before his presentation on "Tips and Tricks for Hyperion Essbase - System 9." I hadn't seen him since Hyperion Top Gun back in January when Steve, Carol Crider, and I sat in the back of a 64-bit Essbase optimization presentation arguing over the presenter's tips.

Since Steve had an hour to go until his presentation, I struck up a conversation on how most of the Essbase tips that people recommend today have been around since Leah Wheelan's ASFG (Arbor Field Services Group) created them 10+ years ago. The only time the tips change is when new features (dynamic calcs, for instance) get introduced and they don't so much change as get added to the existing tips.

My pet peeve in particular was the recommendation that block size in Essbase databases should be 100 KB or so. This recommendation has been in the Database Administrator's Guide for at least 7 years. He commented that he actually lets the dimensionality needs drive the block size these days and is okay with blocks (in 32-bit) getting up to 250 KB. I had the exact opposite stance that the optimal block size is 1-8 KB to take better advantage of parallel calculation and the dynamic calculation of the tops of sparse dimensions. Considering how far apart we were on the block size topic, I think the only outcome of our discussion is that we conclusively proved that Essbase optimization is an art and not a science.

I also brought up proper ordering of dense dimensions. He said to order them in whatever way is necessary to support order of calculations of dynamic members. I agreed with the exception that Time should be the first dense dimension with RLE (Run Length Encoding) compression turned on.

Steve's presenting in the same room that I did yesterday. It holds around 150, but I expect that unlike my presentation, his will be standing room only. There are so few technical presentations on Hyperion here that people are diving at the opportunity for content like "Tips and Tricks for Essbase." He may get some walkouts, though, because a close reading of his abstract shows that he primarily plans on talking about Essbase Aggregate Storage Option, and people may leave if they thought they were going to get Essbase Block Storage tips.

I have lunch scheduled with a prospective client out of the Northeast at E&O Trading Company which apparently is some sort of South Asian restaurant. I'm always up for trying something one time. I'll blog more after lunch.

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - Thomas Kurian Keynote

I admit that I was a bit late for Thomas Kurian's keynote on Oracle Fusion Middleware this morning. When I walked into the keynote in progress, I was pleasantly surprised to find him talking about Essbase. For the most part, the Hyperion part of OpenWorld is kept pretty separate from the rest of Oracle's traditional products. Thomas (Tom, to his friends) talked about Hyperion products including Essbase, Planning, and HFM for 10 minutes or so. There was even a "demo" of Hyperion Smart Space, the new desktop EPM gadgets that Hyperion's been talking about for a year now. Tom (we're friends now) also mentioned the Google OneBox integration with Hyperion content.

While I didn't learn a thing that wasn't published already, it was nice to see Hyperion getting some Oracle love. Like most of the keynotes here at OpenWorld, Mr. Kurian's presentation ran a bit long and it was way too dry (which is a polite way of saying "boring"). I'm hoping that Oracle's next acquisition will be a software company providing artificial senses of humor.

Oracle OpenWorld - Day Three - HUG Leadership

I thought I'd try to break up today's blog into multiple postings. If nothing else, it gives me an excuse to hook up my laptop to the free Wi-Fi here at OpenWorld.

I had to get up at 6 this morning, because Rye Livingston (Senior Manager of Hyperion User Group Relations) decided to hold a HUG (Hyperion User Group) leadership breakfast at 7:15 AM. It was mostly a meet and greet, but I did learn a few things. The HUGs will, it seems, be allowed to remain an entity independent of one of the existing user group communities at Oracle (like OAUG, IOUG, Quest, et al). The user group leadership community at Oracle looked at the people who attend Hyperion User Group meetings and realized that they're not exactly like the other Oracle products. Hyperion users tend to have a blend of technology and application skills, so it's difficult to slot them into one of the more stratified existing user communities.

The Oracle folks asked what changes we (as user group leaders) wanted to see in the user groups with the Oracle acquisition. I lobbied for a sharing of best practices across the HUGs as well as a shared database of presenters and presentations. I've presented at 6 or 7 HUGs across the country, and the content that each region delivers varies dramatically. It would be nice for one region to be able to leverage the presentations that another region is delivering.

They're targeting the new HUG structure to be in place by May/June of 2008. I think that the HUGs are likely to improve in quality and attendance under the new leadership. I genuinely liked all the people I met and I really liked some of their improvement suggestions. You definitely get the impression that these people have done this before. I think they've learned from the disaster that occurred when they tried to integrate the JDEdwards user groups into the overall structure. Then again, I could be wrong and any sense of vibrancy that the HUGs currently have could be dead in 18 months. I don't think there will be much middle ground.

I've been complaining about the lack of helpful information at OpenWorld (for Hyperion users, at least). It seems that Oracle COLLABORATE will be a lot more content focused and customer driven than OpenWorld. COLLABORATE 2008 will be held April 13-17 in Denver, Colorado. They're trying to have a Hyperion track, and I wish them the best. I'll try to submit a few presentations for COLLABORATE, and we'll see what happens.

November 12, 2007

OpenWorld - Day Two

I skipped the morning keynote to put the final touches on my presentation at 3:15. I arrived at the San Francisco Marriott and had a horrible time finding the location of the Hyperion presentations. They're kinda spread out over two subbasement floors (though lunch is served above the ground floor). In short, nothing is on the ground floor. I found out that there are around 1,000 people registered for the Hyperion program at OpenWorld. Considering there are only 79 Hyperion-specific presentations (of which it seems that Oracle is the primary speaker - or sole speaker - on 70 of them), that's pretty impressive.

Speaking of impressive, it's truly difficult to convey just how massive Oracle OpenWorld is especially when I'm used to Hyperion's Solutions conference. Hyperion had ~287 presentations at Solutions 2007: Oracle has over 1,600 presentations. Hyperion had 4,000+ attendees: Oracle has 43,000+ attendees. Hyperion could fill up part of a convention center: Oracle needs 3 convention centers and then 5 more hotels just to hold the breakout sessions.

Back to the Hyperion program. While I have previously railed to anyone who would listen about the minuscule quantity of Hyperion presentations, I had no idea that the quality would be so miserable. I don't want to single anyone out (on the other hand, there was lots of blame to go around) but every presentation I've attended was far more focused on marketing than conveying information. Say what you will about the professionalism of Hyperion's conferences, but at least one out of three of their presentations had information that helped me do my job better. At OpenWorld (at least in the Hyperion program), the presentations seem focused on convincing me to buy more software. While I understand that Oracle is trying to sell me more software, at least they could disguise it better. I haven't been to a presentation here yet where I've learned anything.

Speaking of selling something to Oracle Hyperion clients, the Hyperion Partner Pavilion is really pitiful. Only 9 partners bothered to pay the money to show up and Oracle rewarded them for it by giving them each a single kiosk with a single screen at the far end of all the breakout rooms on the second subbasement floor. The first time I tried to find it, I gave up and turned back, because I figured there was no way it was that far down the hall. To my fellow partners who spent the money on your two-person kiosks in the middle of nowhere, next time just burn the money: it's prettier.

All I'll say about lunch is that it came in a box and it was cold. If cold boxes of food are to your liking, OpenWorld should be your restaurant of choice. My dinner at Greens (the premiere vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco with prices to prove it) more than made up for it, though. I had vegetarian enchiladas, and they were to die for. I think the Hyperion folks and clients that I talked into going with the interRel contingent to Greens were skeptical of a meat-less restaurant, but they went, and I think they're the better for it.

Enough about food, and on to my presentation, "The Role of Hyperion Essbase - System 9 in Your BI Implementation Strategy: Customer Case Studies." I presented this mouthful of a title with Fred Richards, a senior director at Oracle. I appreciate Fred asking me to join him, because I was lamenting that this was going to be my first Hyperion conference where I didn't speak in 10+ years. Attendance was okay at around 55 people. Only two walked out during the presentation, so that's a good sign. You have to assume that 2-4 people will always walk out of your presentation because they have an appointment to go to or they thought based on the abstract that the session was going to be about something different than it was. Our two walkouts were very early on (while I was speaking, not while Fred was, for what it's worth) so I think it was the latter.

We opened with a story about Southwest Airlines' Essbase activities during September 11th, and the seminar just got happier from there! I covered the technical/theory side of the hour including a brief old-school Essbase demo ("Excel on Steroids" we used to call it) and a review of Codd's 12-18 rules for OLAP. Fred covered the real-world examples. I had fun giving the presentation, and except for the two that walked out, I think everyone enjoyed themselves. We got good reviews from everyone including the lady running the sound board who said she actually found us entertaining. When you've taught the sound girl something, you know you've succeeded.

I brought a box of "Essbase for Mere Mortals" books with me to the conference just in case anyone wanted to buy one and have me autograph it (or "deface it with my signature" as I like to say). I sold all but 8 at the end of the presentation. It's hard for me to believe that we've sold out almost all of the first print run of the book. The second print run will be under the new title "Look Smarter Than You Are with Essbase." We're #25 on the all-time bestseller list on I wonder if we lose our place when the title changes? Probably. Okay, now I'm sad.

I have tickets tonight to the screening of the new Battlestar Galactica movie "Razor" at the Century 9 San Francisco Centre. It starts at 10, so I guess I'd better figure out how to cab it over there. More to come tomorrow!

IBM Buys Cognos

I awoke this morning to the news that IBM was acquiring Cognos for around $5BB. I personally wouldn't have paid a penny over $4.4BB, but I'm finicky.

This takes the count of major independent BI/OLAP/xPM vendors down to... none. (Sorry Microstrategy, but you're not big enough to register.) Who knew that in 7 months, Hyperion, Business Objects, and Cognos would all get swallowed up?

I'm torn between who will have the harder time integrating with their new company: SAP integrating Business Objects or IBM integrating Cognos? SAP has never undertaken an acquisition of the size of B.O. and SAP also isn't exactly known for making software easier to use over time. IBM has never been an apps company: they're great at middleware and server software. If I was a betting man, I'd say that IBM will do a better job with Cognos, but they'll probably kill off all the end-user-oriented applications along the way. To anyone who bought Cognos Planning, I think that it won't be long for this world. As for any Business Objects clients, pray that SAP leaves B.O. as a stand-alone company, because if SAP starts meddling, B.O. is going to lose market share faster than Lotus 1-2-3.

November 11, 2007

OpenWorld - Day One

I arrived at OpenWorld sometime around noon. My hotel (Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf whose rooms smell vaguely of fish) is one of the official conference hotels, but the shuttle to OpenWorld takes 25-50 minutes to get there. I waited 25 minutes for the bus to arrive the first time, and it will be the last time I make that mistake. Life is too short to use INEFFICIENT public transportation.

Registration was a bear. I was told that as a speaker, I had to pick up my registration materials at Moscone South. While the speaker registration was indeed there, they sent me to Moscone West (which is a hop, skip, and a half mile walk away). The reason had something to do with how much I paid to register. I was a speaker, but I also paid (or maybe was just given out of the goodness of someone's hear) to get Oracle OpenWorld Club Gold and something called "Information Overload." I was also an alumna of various other Hyperion conferences.

Being Information Overloaded got me an iPod. I assumed it was a Shuffle or a Nano. To my shock and awe, it turned out to be an iPod Touch. I've been playing with it all day, and with one small exception (I can't create appointments on its calendar), I absolutely love it. It's my new favorite MP3 player. As an alumna, I got a jacket with the Oracle logo on it. The jacket makes me look suspiciously like a janitor, but I'm glad to have it: I moronically left for San Francisco, the arctic tundra of California beach towns, without a jacket of any kind.

The weather here is actually nice (though a bit breezy). I used my geektastic jacket to keep me warm while I earned some blisters walking the lengths of Chinatown looking for a vegetarian restaurant. I found one at 854 Washington Street called "Lucky Creation." My entire meal that I couldn't even finish cost me less than $15. It was also tasty enough to, I think, warrant the blisters.

Club Gold is interesting. In terms of swag, it earned me a solar-powered cell phone charger. It also grants access to a special lunch location and a lounge in Moscone West that provides snacks. It's kind of like a little American Airlines Admiral's Club without the airplane sounds coming from outside. The view from the 3rd floor Gold lounge patio is quite nice. The most important benefit to Club Gold is the early entrance (and reserved seating) to all keynotes. I used it to be one of the first in to the opening night keynote.

The opening keynote was 100 minutes of Oracle patting itself on the back for making it to 30 years. I actually did learn some decent Oracle trivia. I also was close enough to Larry Ellison (who talked for 45+ minutes at the onset of the festivities) to see that he's beginning to look more and more like Richard Branson. They had a band made of Oracle customers and employees (Gear Driver, I think). They were pretty good covering classic rock songs. When they tried to do one more about Oracle (something like "Oracle Rocks!" chanted 182 times) it was ear damaging. No offense guys (and one gal) in the band, but it was pretty horrible for that one song. Stick to the oldies.

The keynote was supposed to last an hour followed by an opening night "70's style" cocktail party. Since the keynote ended up lasting a lot longer than it was supposed to, I didn't even bother staying at the cocktail party long enough to drop my hotel key in the basket at the entrance. Kidding: it wasn't a key party. The food was horrible (hot dogs, chicken wings, and little/nothing vegetarian), but the booze was flowing nicely to my drinking friends. There was a 70's style version of Jeopardy. The contestants weren't that terribly bright, so the audience ended up having to shout out most of the answers. Come on, people! Everyone knows that the crew of Jaws called the shark "Bruce"! After 15 minutes of trying to find interRel clients, I retired back to my hotel to prepare for my presentation on day 2.

Louis, I dedicate this blog entry to you.