September 22, 2008

OpenWorld - Monday, Sep. 22

11:53PM - Annabelle's for Customer Reception

At 5:30, I went to Annabelle's (as I did Saturday) for a joint reception honoring our clients (and StarAnalytics' and Applied OLAP's).  It was much better attended than I expected.  I was hoping for 100 and we were closer to 150.  It was a lot of fun, because some luminaries from the past days of Arbor Software attended including Jim Dorrian, Howard Dresner, Arbor's first PR person, and the person who came up with the original "outline tree" Essbase logo.  John Kopcke stopped by for a few minutes which was nice.  I got to spend a decent amount of time talking to some of our clients around the USA and Al Marciante and I bonded for a few minutes too.

After a couple of hours, Suzanne Hoffman from StarAnalytics asked me to say a few words.  I told everyone about our EPM win and then gave them some advice on which user groups to join depending on the types of people they were.  Jim Dorrian then drew some names for winners of iPod Shuffles (see: everyone's giving out iPods or Wiis).

I mingled for another hour and ate some vegetarian appetizers that they prepared for me.  They were quite tasty except for the vegetarian sushi which smelled fishy.  Literally, it smelled like fish (but supposedly didn't have any fish in them).  The service was much more responsive than it was on Saturday night.  Our server from Saturday was back and was ultra-helpful tending bar in one of the rooms we reserved.

At around 9, Eduardo and I made our way to a Hawaiian fusion restaurant named Roy's to eat with some client friends of ours.  I was worried because Hawaiian food is notoriously vegetarian hostile, but they actually have a separate menu for vegetarians.  I ordered the Hawaiian spring rolls, some Asian Hawaiian noodle dish, and for dessert, eggless strawberry shortcake.  The shortcake was to die for.  After a couple of hours of pleasant food and engaging conversation, Eduardo and I took a cab back to the Serrano Hotel.

We have to get up at 6AM to prepare for the EPM Management Excellence think tank, so I'm going to be less verbose than normal (can I hear a 'hallelujah?') and cut this entry short.  In addition to the think tank, I have a book signing, several presentations, a keynote or two, another awards ceremony, and a Hyperion reception to attend on Tuesday.  My feet and knees are already killing me, so I can't imagine how bad they'll feel afer the marathon day I have in store.

I'm off to dream land.  If you're feeling starved for more Oracle EPM content, read Glenn Schwartzberg's blog.  In his OpenWorld entry from Sunday, he referred to me as a "dry martini... an acquired taste, but quite knowledgeable."  For that excellent metaphor, I'm linking to his blog:

5:05PM - Moscone South Exhibit Hall

I spent more than an hour touring the Moscone South exhibit hall and I have exactly nothing to show for it.  Okay, I take that back: a nice company gave me two MP3 downloads.  The Moscone South seems to be for the bigger and more impressive vendor booths.  While there are still tiny cheap booths at the edges, there are some truly massive booths in Moscone South including a few 2 story booths.

The theme for this year's booths seems to be "Nintendo Wiis".  The majority of the booths either have a Wii hooked up for people to play (the most common two games are baseball and tennis) or are giving a Wii away as a prize drawing.  Some booths have a Wii AND are giving away a Wii.  No, I'm not sure if they're using the Wii first and then giving the same one away.  The second most common "prize drawing" was for various flavors of iPods (I prefer the mint).  Some booths were actually giving away money which for some wacky reason strikes me as unseemly.

I'm taking a break now to have a drink and charge my laptop battery.  My feet are killing me and I have 7 more hours to go today.  Next on the agenda is a joint Hyperion reception at Annabelle's with StarAnalytics and Applied OLAP.

3:40PM - Bicycling to save the planet (and charge my laptop)

In the waiting area leading in to the Moscone North Hall D, there are a couple of bicycles hooked up to some electrical generators.  You have to pedal the bikes to power the outlets to charge your laptop or cell phone.  They claim that 15 minutes of cycling will run a laptop for an hour.  I needed to charge my laptop for about 2 hours so I got on the bike and pedaled for about 30 seconds which charged my laptop for about 2 minutes.  While that's not two hours, I do feel like I helped the environment just a little bit.  No, there's no need to thank me.  I pedal because I care.

Oh, there's also a teaser in this lobby area for a major announcement at Larry Ellison's keynote on Wednesday.  Here's the wall image for "X" with no further explanation:

3:37PM - General Session Middleware Keynote

In the waiting area leading in to the Moscone North Hall D, there are a couple of bicycles hooked up to some electrical generators.  You have to pedal the bikes to power the outlets to charge your laptop or cell phone.  They claim that 15 minutes of cycling will run a laptop for an hour.  I needed to charge my laptop for about 2 hours so I got on the bike and pedaled for about 30 seconds which charged my laptop for about 2 minutes.  While that's not two hours, I do feel like I helped the environment just a little bit.  No, there's no need to thank me.  I pedal because I care.

Oracle OpenWorld is extremely blogger-friendly this year.  They let bloggers in for free (like they do for traditional press) and they give us great seats in the keynotes with electrical power and tables for our laptops.  I'm sitting about 20 rows back in the blogger section right now.

The first 30 minutes of the session were a marketing spiel for a company called Satyam.  They are (per the SVP from Satyam who presented) the 4th largest IT firm in India.  I think Satyam had to pay to buy the part of the keynote they just delivered.  I think they paid Oracle, but I think it would have been more appropriate for them to pay the attendees who had to sit through one of the most boring marketing pitches since... well... ever.  This is the most boring marketing pitch ever.  Wow, I think someone from Oracle should issue a press release:

"You thought watching paint dry was boring?  Come to OpenWorld 2008 to see something far worse: listening to Random SVP from Satyam talk about nothing in particular!  Random Guy recently won an award for the most boring man in the world and you don't want to miss this year's keynote as we turn out the lights to make his presentation that much more boring!"

The only thing interesting about the whole talk was his comment that Satyam is the official IT provider for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  Now I'm not positive, but I think that the World Cup has to do with soccer.  I guess that in the year 2010, soccer will need some computer servers (or maybe some wireless routers?) and Satyam is going to make sure that those servers don't crash.  What's interesting about this is that I didn't know soccer required servers.  Go figure.

Thomas Kurian, Oracle's SVP of Middleware and therefore John Kopcke's boss, is up talking now about changes in Oracle Fusion Middleware over the upcoming year.  While Thomas isn't a whole lot more dynamic of a speaker than the Satyam guy, at least Thomas is talking about something potentially relevant to Hyperion and EPM.

As of 25 minutes into Thomas Kurian's portion, there hasn't been anything interesting yet, but I still have hopes.  Several of the bloggers around me seemed to get excited when he mentioned that JDeveloper 11g would be released very soon.  JDeveloper, as you may remember from Kaleidoscope, is a Java development environment that has Hyperion objects for quickly building Hyperion/EPM applications.  It accesses a ton of other things too, but it's nice to see that it ties into Hyperion.

The reason that nothing has been interesting (to me) so far is that BEA is rolling up under the Fusion Middleware business unit, and since BEA is Oracle's newest toy, they want to show off how cool it is to the world.  Hyperion is, I guess, sooo last year.  I think I've seen more BEA slides in the last 30 minutes than I've seen in my entire life.  Needless to say, BEA WebLogic is what I'd use for an application server going forward, because Oracle seems to be embracing it as their go-forward app server solution.  They also announced some new world records for WebLogic.  

Keynote's over and I didn't hear EPM once (though I did hear BI a few times).  Sorry for no startling news.

2:25PM - Moscone West Exhibit Hall

I expected to see 3 or 4 Hyperion vendors, but I ended up seeing 15 or 20.  Some of them spent some significant money on their booths, but the traffic seemed minimal.  One of the booths that was well visited had little to do with Hyperion.  It was from a company called Fusion IO that makes solid state disk drives.  To show how older drives with drive heads tended to move around a lot (and potentially break), they took a mechanical bull and dressed it up to look like a traditional disk drive.  People then got on the drive and they turned on the bucking mechanism.  There may be few things funnier that watching computer geeks try to do something requiring coordination.  I watched 4 different guys (and yes, all the ones who tried it were guys) last less than 8 seconds each.  I then laughed uncontrollably as they went flying through the air.

A couple of competitors (Kerdock and Deloitte) came up to congratulate us on our EPM Solution award win which was very gracious.  More of our competitors avoided us like the plague, so I won't bother mentioning their company names.

On the exhibit hall floor was a video arcade.  I wanted to play air hockey, but a couple from Asia were dominating the air action.  I ended up playing two games of basketball.  I totally demolished an older Japanese lady and then I barely beat an Indian fellow in a business suit with a last minute shot at the buzzer.  After I won, he refused to acknowledge that we had bet $1,000 on the game.  Welcher.

I'm going to fight my way across the crosswalk to Moscone North.  Boy, do I love being in the middle of 43,000 all of whom seem to be going the opposite direction I want to go while still managing to take up all the seats in the room I want to sit in.

1:15PM - Kopcke's EPM Vision

I'm sitting in the John Kopcke room and getting a real sense of deja vu.  Most of the content at this session is the same as the presentation John Kopcke gave yesterday to the ODTUG and OAUG Hyperion user groups.  The only main difference is that this presentation is a bit higher level.  John knew that yesterday's presentation was geared to existing users of Hyperion and that today's would draw people who have no idea what EPM means.  As such, he has to be less product-specific and talk more about "Oracle's strategic vision for EPM."

While I always enjoy Kopcke's sessions, I'm going to sneakily exit from this room and head to the Moscone West exhibit hall to try find some Hyperion vendors.

12:17PM - General Session Keynote on Applications

I'm sitting in Moscone North (with 3,000 of my closest friends) listening to Ed Abbo, SVP of Oracle Application Development, talk about "Applications Unlimited and the Future of Applications."  He's been talking for several minutes and I haven't heard anything relevant to EPM yet, but I'm always hopeful.

The room in which the keynotes are held is really pretty (and really red, admittedly, which makes me angry for some subliminal reason).  There are about 100 yards wide of high-def screens (about 20 feet high) across the whole front of the hall.  I'm told the room holds upwards of 10,000 people although at the moment, the room looks to be less than 1/3 full (2/3 empty?).

Ed Abbo is handing off the speaking duties periodically to some other companies.  Tata Motors. Wells Fargo, and Loreal are some of the guest speakers telling customer success stories.  They taught me exactly... nothing.  Ah, well.  At least it broke up the marketing monotony.  I'm sure there will be an announcement soon or I'll be lapsing into a coma.

Hey, the Tata guy just showed some OBIEE Dashboards (hey, EPM content!) that Tata Motors uses for margin analysis.  They're remarkably - hmm, can't think of a nice word to put here - simplistic.  Each screen of the dashboard has a bar chart on the left and a line chart on the right.  That's less of a dashboard and more of a PowerPoint slide.  That might be because they dumbed down their real dashboards for the keynote session.  Either that or this is a proof of concept that needs some serious fleshing out.  A dashboard should give users access to all of the information they need to do their jobs.  I just don't see managers getting a true "heads up" view of their areas with only two major bits of information.

Now Wells Fargo is showing off their OBIEE Dashboard.  It's a lot more information packed than Tata's, but I still think it's been simplified for the audience.  It seems to be a Human Resources analysis application.  I guess if you're in the US banking industry these days, it helps to know which of your employees are happy and which are suicidal/homicidal.  Their dashboard links in with their corporate instant messaging system and their internal social networking site.  You can even click on an employee in the system and contact them through VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).  Who needs telephones when you have Oracle?  Overall, I'm remarkably impressed with the Wells Fargo application.

A lady from Loreal just appeared on stage wearing red which under the red lights and against a huge red background almost makes her disappear.  She showed an iPhone application that Loreal is creating with The Body Shop.  It keeps track of a user's personal preferences and recent purchases.  It also has some social networking aspects to it that lets a user rate & review individual purchases.

If you decide to buy something, the iPhone application shows a UPC bar code on the screen.  The consumer then holds the iPhone window with the code up at the store to a cashier who scans it and gives the customer their purchase.  It's a cute Web 2.0 application, and since it's on the iPhone (my favorite gadget of the moment), I'm sold.  Oh, what the heck does this have to do with Oracle?  I wondered myself until Loreal mentioned that their iPhone was talking to Oracle CRM and other Oracle databases behind the scenes to power their iPhone application.

Ed's now talking about the iPhone application "Oracle Business Indicators" which lets you look at OBIEE information on your iPhone.  He also talked about adding a new iPhone application to allow approvals via an iPhone (you might be asked to approve an invoice, for example).  There are also sales and forecasting iPhone apps in development.  It seems that Oracle wants to make information available no matter how a user wants to access it (Windows thick client, web browser, Google search, iPhone, Blackberry, or whatever).

It's over and people are flooding out.  On to the next event!

11:15AM - EPM Management Excellence Think Tank planning session

As I mentioned earlier, I'm one of the facilitators for a think tank that Oracle's putting together on coming up with the future of EPM.  The actual meeting is Tuesday morning, but there was a planning session today from 10-11AM.  The setting for the meeting is a gorgeous suite of rooms at the Westin St. Francis.

The area where we'll be holding our meetings is aptly named the "St. Francis Suite" and it's actually 3 large rooms, a large foyer, and restrooms.  The whole setting seems like something straight out of a turn of the century mansion: there's wood paneling, marble fireplaces, chandeliers, and high ceilings everywhere.  We're starting off in the main room and then breaking the group in half and moving to the "Study" and "Library" rooms.  I'm facilitating the "Study" group.  Eduardo Quiroz has also been recruited to be to the official photographer for the whole think tank.

11:00AM - Charles Phillips Keynote

I just got a report from Michael and Eduardo who attended the keynote (in my absence) from Charles Phillips, Oracle's president.  Mr. Phillips talked about how much the last year has been a "year of innovation" for Oracle.  Charles gave some interesteing statistics about the size of Oracle such as they have 3,000 products, 20,000 developers, 30,000 servers, and nightly run 300,000 test scripts. Charlie also added that Oracle has over 1,200 patents and over 85,000 employees worldwide.  

After Chuck finished speaking, Michael Phelps came out on stage for a quick hello.  Thankfully, he was not in speedos.  After that, there were a few other speakers none of which said anything relevant to EPM.

9:08AM - Last Night's Keynote

I talked to a couple of the ~10,000 people that went to the Oracle opening night keynote.  There was apparently no relevant Hyperion/EPM information (not that we thought there would be), but it sounds like it was really funny.  ChannelWeb blogged some of the best of Mary Matalin and James Carville's one-liners (mostly of the "zinging the other person and/or political party persuasion"):

There was also a bit of self-deprecating humor (mostly from Carville).  Here's Carville on Carville:

Gavin Newsom is the nation's handsomest mayor. ...What they said about me is, 'Carville looks like someone who was sired out of the love scene in the film Deliverance.'

9:00AM - Hotel room

I finally fell asleep around 7AM.  When I couldn't sleep, I decided to write a press release about the Titan Awards.  Oracle also has a issued a press release listing all the Titan Award winners (interRel is about 1/3 of the way down the release).

I'm skipping the Phillips keynote, and no, it's not because I'm tired.  Sleep is for wimps!  No, I'm skipping because I have to go to the Westin St. Francis to meet with some Oracle folks at 10AM.  I'm one of the facilitators at an EPM Management Excellence think tank on Tuesday morning, and we need to have a pre-planning meeting.  All of our schedules is so busy that we only have "free time" during keynote sessions.  Other than those times, at least one of us has a presentation, meeting, or some other event we can't change.

Michael and Eduardo are at the keynote right now taking good notes.  I'll post the highlights if they report any back that Oracle doesn't put out in a press release.  In the meantime, I need to hurry, get dressed, and head over to Union Square to the Westin.

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