They closed down Howard Street near the Moscone Center in San Francisco last night and it will remain closed for most of the week as Oracle brings its annual OpenWorld conference to the city. On the street the company is erecting a small village complete with some towering signs announcing all things Oracle.
It might look like vanity but as a practical matter Howard St. runs through the middle of the Moscone Center dividing it into two buildings connected by a tunnel. Under normal operating conditions the tunnel is adequate but with Oracle bringing 60,000 of its BFFs to the conference, the Moscone’s owners discovered long ago that they needed more bandwidth between their buildings, hence the village.
This does not come cheap, shutting down part of a major street in the city costs upwards of $250,000 I have heard but that’s a small price for Oracle and the restaurants and hotels pick up significant trade so it’s all good. Howard is not even the only street getting a temporary makeover. Near the Hilton on O’Farrell they’ve covered over part of one side street for a Java sub-conference too.
All of these preparations are standard fare for Oracle as well as for Salesforce which will re-do some of this in November when the Benioff company brings its annual camp meeting to town. All in all, I am wondering why Moscone and Howard St. and environs has never been awarded the moniker of the “burned over district” to borrow from the region in upstate New York that saw the rise of repeated religious revivals in the early 19th century.
Revival might be a good theme to meditate on as OpenWorld gets going. According to an article in today’s New York Times, Oracle will use the conference to go “all in” (Who edited that story?) on cloud computing. The poor Times didn’t even catch its own irony in using the famous phrase that Steve Ballmer, soon to be CEO emeritus of Microsoft, used to launch his company toward the computing heavens a good decade after Salesforce.com had already established its permanent space station way up there.
Over the last several years Oracle has used this event to position itself versus all things cloud at first denying its importance and gradually, as it developed products for the brave new world, to embrace it. Look this year for Oracle to try to own it in its own way.
That way will mean encouraging a gradual shift from on-premise computing to the cloud which will provide customers with a logical transition which any enterprise will need what with building and buying new systems and writing down the older stuff. It will also give the Ellison company a similar opportunity to transition its revenues from one and done deals to subscriptions that provide a steady trickle of revenue over time. For both it will provide the runway they need to begin to interact as vendor and subscriber rather than pusher and consumer. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a good metaphor.
I have not been briefed on any specifics of front office announcements, in part because I have been traveling a lot, so I don’t have insight into specifics that might be announced. A wild guess is that analytics and mobile solutions will be top of mind. Oracle’s in-memory database and humongous hardware for the purpose, Exadata, make this a sure bet. Social was last year so I think it will be secondary, though still very important in the scheme of things.
No matter what, I am already in San Francisco having attended a very well received Zuora user meeting, Subscribed, this week. I think there are things Oracle could learn from Zuora though it is hard to see how they could ever buy the company given its strong roots in the Salesforce platform and ecosystem. Still some big announcements are expected from the event.
Conspicuously missing is any reference to Marc Benioff and Salesforce.com. Having made news earlier in the summer that the two companies would be more cooperative in the future, and with Benioff having invited Ellison to Dreamforce, it is odd that Ellison has not reciprocated. Odder still is that Benioff had historically filled a speaking slot at OpenWorld until last year.
Ellison’s keynote kicks things off for the Oracle faithful on Sunday night opposite a football game. I will be reporting from the scene this week.