In-Depth

Oracle OpenWorld 2016 Showcases Virtualization

The company wants to compete with Amazon in the cloud.

San Francisco, Calif. -- Oracle OpenWorld started out as International Oracle Users Week (IOUW) in 1982, and had 50 people in attendance. Since 1996, the conference has been called OpenWorld, and now has more than 50,000 people in attendance, making it one of the largest single-company technical conferences in existence.

A Business Focus
As anyone who's attended OpenWorld will attest, it has its own vibe that makes it unique: whereas other technical conferences, such as VMworld or Red Hat Summit, are more casual and less traditional, OpenWorld has more of a business and professional feel to it. For example, the informal dress code for OpenWorld is more along the style of slacks and dress shirts, and less of the natty t-shirts and cargo shorts you find at other conferences.

OpenWorld takes over San Francisco for a week every year. From San Jose to Oakland, hotels are booked out months in advance. Trying to find a hotel at the last minute leaves you two options: expensive or cheap. "Expensive" means more than $600/night; "cheap" means $150/night for a hotel with really (I mean really) bad reviews.

Oracle has an expansive catalog of products and services, but OpenWorld is database-centric. In past years, other Oracle products have taken a back seat to the database. This year may be different, as Oracle just dropped $9.3 billion on NetSuite, a pure cloud company that specializes in software services used to manage a business's operations and customer relations.

I'm reporting from OpenWorld for Virtualization Review on all things virtual, and I've had no problem finding enough virtualization-focused sessions to keep my calendar booked for the entire week. I'm most interested in another acquisition made by Oracle this year: Ravello. Other sessions I'll be attending deal with Oracle, OpenStack, and Oracle Linux distribution, cleverly titled "Oracle Linux."

Cloudy Keynote
Oracle has mastered the art of checking people in. For me, the process, start to finish, took fewer than five minutes. The first night welcome keynote speech was delivered by Larry Ellison and Diane Bryant. Diane is Intel's executive vice president and general manager for the datacenter group. The theme was the "Complete, Integrated Cloud."

Ellison shared his (and by proxy, Oracle's) vision for the Oracle Cloud and customer success in the cloud. Ellison is a divisive character but an outstanding speaker, and the crowd was receptive to his message of a hybrid cloud. The surprise announcement for me was Cloud@Customer.

Cloud@Customer, as Ellison explained, will entail an Exadata server, running the same hardware and software stack that Oracle is currently running in its public cloud, but on-premises. It will be managed and maintained by Oracle.

Ellison also mentioned that Oracle's major competitors are now Amazon, Azure, Workday and Salesforce. Speaking of public clouds, Oracle is going to go head-to-head with Amazon, but differentiating its cloud by having three datacenters in each geographical location, to ensure redundancy and fault tolerance.

Building a far-reaching public cloud -- one that will compete with Amazon's -- is a huge undertaking, and Ellison was short on the details and timetable for this rollout. He claimed that the Oracle public cloud costs 20 percent less than an equivalent Amazon cloud service. Ellison is a visionary and long-term planner, but I can't say for certain how many people in the audience really appreciated the vison that he laid out.

Intel Virtualization
I've never seen Bryant speak before, but I was impressed. She spent a fair amount of time talking about virtualization and the cloud, and even went a little geeky and talked about how Intel technology is enabling virtualization.

Intel's next generation of servers will allow up to 3TB RAM, and that RAM will be faster and cost 30 percent - 50 percent less, Bryant claimed. She discussed Resource Director Technology and how it will allow quality of service (QoS) to the server. On the memory front, she presented 3D XPoint and how it will enable servers and clouds to run faster and cheaper.

In all, it was a strong start. I'll have more from the conference in the coming days.

About the Author

Tom Fenton works in VMware's Education department as a Senior Course Developer. He has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 20 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 10 years focused on virtualization and storage. Before re-joining VMware, Tom was a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, were he headed their Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on Twitter @vDoppler.

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