3 Key Take Aways from Oracle OpenWorld 2007

After three days at Oracle's OpenWorld in San Francisco, (I've been at the show since Monday, Nov. 12) here are my key take aways: 1. "Virtual" and "open" are the key concepts for how the resources and riches of the IT world are being divided and re-divided and have passed

After three days at Oracle's OpenWorld in San Francisco, (I've been at the show since Monday, Nov. 12) here are my key take aways:

1. "Virtual" and "open" are the key concepts for how the resources and riches of the IT world are being divided and re-divided and have passed from "emerging technology" to business model for the opening decade of the 21st century. In an announcement that embodied both concepts in practice, Oracle VM, based on the Xen hypervisor, was announced during the opening keynote of OpenWorld. Now that IT software and hardware vendors including Oracle feel that they can make money on virtual services and open software--mainly by charging for support and getting the development at very low cost--I now declare that the concepts of virtual and open are fully mainstream. To anybody who was waiting for the "next Google;" it has come and gone. Watch the "Genesis Effect" as wide-scale implementation of the virtualization and open-source projects spread to the four corners of the earth.

2. Speaking of our planet, while much ado was made of green technology at OpenWorld (and practically every other gathering of three or more people), Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz was the most honest person at the conference (when it comes to being green). During his Wednesday keynote, Schwartz said that the "eco" in "eco-friendly" stands for "economic" not "environment." Oh, and he announced, along with Michael Dell, that Solaris will now be offered on Dell servers. The so-called greening of IT is really a response to the fact that an externality--namely electricity--has risen in price (in particular in the United States, it's been a bigger concern for decades in nearly every other industrial country) enough to warrant the attention of the bean counters.

The nearly simultaneous rise in the amount of computing (including the number of cores per processor, the number of processors in a server, RAM, disks and the accompanying cooling needed to keep this equipment functional) and the cost of electricity has unleashed a veritable fire ant panic. The intersection of Moore's Law and horse-in-a-barn-on-fire executive attention means money-money-money for IT vendors.

3. Oracle has taken big steps in streamlining the implementation and maintenance of Database 11g, as I noted in my review. What I assumed to be self-evident but will make explicit here is that Database 11g is an industrial database engine. After sitting through several performance and benchmarking sessions led by Andrew Holdsworth, senior director of real-world performance server technologies, it's clear that the most important thing for DBAs is a clear understanding of the data they are stewarding and to what purpose that data is to be used. There are no automatic parameter settings to specify these characteristics in Database 11g.

I will say that in at least one session with about 125 attendees, when asked how many people were considering a migration from Database 9i to 10g about a quarter of the audience raised a hand. Maybe the next question should have been how many were considering a leap from 9i to 11g.

Holdsworth called out storage costs in his talk on trends in database performance. Sun's Schwartz highlighted the ZFS (Zettabyte File System) as a possible answer (not to Holdsworth directly, I should add.) ZFS, according to Schwartz, enables expensive, proprietary storage to be replaced with cheap, commodity hardware. And that brings me full circle on virtual and open. Abstracting hardware storage is just the tip of the virtual open world.

The fact that this all went down at Oracle's OpenWorld, where Oracle was only mentioned in passing in most keynotes, is something I'm still digesting.