This year Oracle combined the AppsWorld and OracleWorld conferences into one big show, Oracle OpenWorld. The claims of almost 25,000 attendees seemed possible, as the keynote rooms were packed with attendees and the show floor was also well attended. A man waved a $20 bill in the air on the sidewalk in front of the Moscone center, hoping to obtain a ticket to Wednesday night's party featuring 80's band Tears for Fears.Chuck Phillips, man of the hour
Oracle president Charles Phillips gave a keynote early in the conference focused on Grid computing and Data Hubs. Data Hubs are a set of products focused on rationalizing disparate data schemas across an organization. The Data Hubs he talked about included a customer data hub, and one for products, financial consolidation, financial services accounts and a citizen data hub for government applications. The Customer Data Hub has been in the market for about a year already, the other hubs are still under development.
In a press conference after his keynote, Mr. Phillips was pressed on the hostile takeover bid that Oracle has launched against PeopleSoft. "I prefer to use the term unsolicited" he quipped. Phillips, a former Investment Bank analyst with Morgan Stanley suggested that the owners of the company (shareholders) should have the right to sell the company to whoever they please, and cited the recent majority vote by existing PeopleSoft shareholders in favor of Oracle's bid. The next step in the process will be next week, when a Delaware judge rules on the "poison pill" anti-takeover provisions which PeopleSoft has in place.Application Server 10g release 2
From the perspective of software development, the most intriguing part of the show has been Thomas Kurian's (Senior VP of Application Server development) chalk talk on the newest version of Oracle's Application Server. While the product has the a rather unassuming name of Oracle Application Server 10g Release 2, based on the account provided by Mr. Kurian, it appears to be a significant release.
During his chalk talk, Mr. Kurian ably reeled off statistics about his new release. He stated that Release 2 had been worked on for almost a year and includes 432 new features, 1820 years of engineering efforts, 79 patents, and 2.98 million hours of testing.
Kurian suggested that three major areas were the focus of this release 1) Enable development of Service Oriented Architecture business applications (SOA), 2) Reduced complexity by providing an integrated middleware platform suite, and 3) Grid computing to run on low cost commodity infrastructure.
Kurian cited the most important feature in the Java runtime is support for J2EE 1.4 compliance. He stated that this version of the Java standard enables web services to be built easily using Java, taking advantage of the JAX-* Web Services APIs enable interoperability with .NET. Kurian said that Oracle certified as 1.4 compatible for developers almost a year ago and feel comfortable with the platform. He took a swipe against BEA saying "We are ahead of BEA who I believe is not even certified at 1.4 for developers yet."
The second most important area he suggested, was the use of the app server not just as a place to run code only but as a way to integrate systems. This includes brand new release of the BPEL process manager. Also there is a release of a new product for BAM, Business Activity Monitoring. He said there were lots of new capabilities for the eBusiness suite to be integrated via new adapters and new integration for Data Hubs to connect to other systems.
He added that Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities were the third most important feature of this release, including ETL, data mining, query analysis, and OLAP. He said that Oracle had the first tool in the market that combined both OLAP and relational query analysis.
Other things Kurian suggested were important were the development productivity features of their Java development environment JDeveloper and the Application Development Framework (ADF). He cited the refactoring assistance, improved navigation and profiling in JDeveloper and said that ADF had been extended to provide support for Java Server Faces (JSF) which would enable rich and mobile clients. JDeveloper was demoed running on Mac OSX, which was interesting.
On the management and monitoring front, he cited enhancements in Identity Management including support for SAML and Liberty Alliance single sign on as well as what he called "Enterprise User Provisioning". Other runtime enhancements include topology based monitoring—administrator can visualize all physical nodes, software, app servers and apps running on an entire grid. Enterprise manager release 2 also supports policy based admin, dynamic reconfiguration and provisioning, maintenance and web services management.
He said that Application Server 10g release 2 would be available "before the end of the calendar year", which suggests sometime in the next two to three weeks.Have Spacesuit, will travel
One of the most intriguing announcemnts was the Oracle Space Sweepstakes. Contestants will be asked to show their knowledge of a variety of Java and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) topics to win the chance to fly into space aboard what appears to be Russian made launch equipment.
The space shot will be conducted by Space Adventures, a company specializing in commercial space travel and related activities. They offer a variety of programs including Zero-Gravity and flights aboard MiG fighter planes.
They have an office in Moscow, Russia and have successfully launched private tourists to the International Space Station. The winner of the Space Sweepstakes will be able to experience weightlessness and view the earth from 62 miles above the surface.
This is pretty high. Commercial airliners cruise between 30,000 and 35,000 feet, which is in the neighborhood of 6 miles. The winner of this sweepstakes will go to 62 miles (100km), or over ten times higher. The Space shuttle orbit is between 115 and 400 miles.
The following description is from the Space Adventures web site.
"In an unprecedented sensory experience, rocket motors boost you beyond the normal limits of flight to regions above 62 miles (100 kilometers) - where space begins. As you reach your maximum altitude, the rocket engines will be shut down, and you experience up to five minutes of continuous weightlessness, all the while gazing at the vast
blackness of space and the blue horizon of the earth below. To commemorate your spaceflight, we award you with official Space Adventures astronaut wings and formal mission documentation."
While the official Space Adventures astronaut wings seems like something you could score on a United flight just for being 6 years old (or you could find one in a box of Crunchberries), the five minutes of weightlessness beats the pants off the 20 to 30 seconds of weightlessness you can get on a KC135A (aka "vomit comet") or anything you might find at Great America.
The description of one of the possible launch vehicles (also from the Space Adventures site) follows:
"The Cosmopolis XXI launch system consists of a carrier aircraft, the Russian M-55X, and a manned rocket module, the C-21. The C-21 is a Russian built vehicle that leverages technology developed for the Buran ("the Russian Space Shuttle"). The Cosmpolis XXI is intended for operations out of Russia, using conventional airports and launch sites. A single solid-propellant Russian engine, propels the C-21
module to an altitude of 62 miles (100km)."
To check out the Oracle Space Sweepstakes, go to:http://space.oracle.comWrap up
The conference featured an all star cast of keynoters including Carly Fiorina from HP, Michael Dell (from Dell, obviously), Scott Mcnealy from Sun Microsystems and a slew of Oracle executives. Not too many blockbuster announcements from the partner companies. Mcnealy had a few updated statistics including 579 million Java enabled phones by the end of the year, almost one billion java smart cards and between eight and nine hundred companies are contributing to Java now. The executive keynotes were remarkably boring on the whole, without a lot of substantive announcements. The real star of the show was the 10gR2 release, which had too many new features to list here. This does appear to be a substantive release of the entire suite, and a more detailed look at the feature list is warranted for those who are curious.