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OpenWorld 2012: What's in store

Chris Kanaracus | Oct. 1, 2012
With each year, Oracle becomes a bigger company and in turn, so does its annual OpenWorld conference, which kicks off Sunday in San Francisco.

With each year, Oracle becomes a bigger company and in turn, so does its annual OpenWorld conference, which kicks off Sunday in San Francisco.

In fact, Oracle's long run of acquisitions, spanning from applications to middleware to hardware, has resulted in so many partner and customer constituencies that it's now co-locating a number of additional shows, including MySQL Connect and JavaOne, along with the main OpenWorld program.

Here's a look at what's scheduled for the week, as well as what sort of surprises Oracle may have in store.

Database 12c: Despite its forays into business applications and hardware, at its core Oracle remains a database company, and it will announce version 12c, with the c standing for "cloud," during OpenWorld.

CEO Larry Ellison already publicly revealed this fact recently and also described some of the release's new features, which include support for multitenancy and "pluggable" databases.

But the deep-dive into 12c probably won't come until Monday, when co-president Mark Hurd and database chief Andy Mendelsohn deliver a joint keynote.

While Oracle will no doubt make sure 12c's debut is nice and splashy, as with past versions most customers probably won't upgrade until 12c release 2, preferring to feel comfortable that the bugs have been worked out.

Engineered systems news: There seems to be little doubt that Oracle will announce a next-generation version of the Exadata database machine, the first and flagship member of its family of "engineered systems" combining software with servers, networking and storage.

Ellison has a keynote slated for Sunday which seems like the probable launch pad for an Exadata announcement, as well as other new engineered systems products.

With Oracle already having analytics-related machines in the market with Exadata and the Big Data appliance, as well as an application server box called Exalogic, its next step could be systems that add a layer of pre-integrated business applications.

Hard times for hardware: Oracle has de-emphasized commodity servers in favor of the engineered systems, which can really be looked at as delivery vehicles for lots of separately licensed Oracle software that draws lucrative annual maintenance revenue year after year.

Still, top-line hardware revenues have been in decline. And although the hardware systems business "was very profitable" in fiscal 2012, "the profitability of this business as we measure it did not grow from the prior fiscal year," Oracle said in a recently filed proxy statement. As a result, systems chief John Fowler didn't get a cash bonus, according to the proxy.

Last year, Oracle announced the SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 system. This year, it may feature a sequel to that high-profile release.

The status of Fusion Applications: It took Oracle a bit longer than hoped-for to bring its next-generation Fusion Applications to market, but the suite of ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management), HCM (human capital management) and other software finally became generally available last year.


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