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 salesforce.com) 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).