Further reports from a tribe not my own that speaks a language I have to work to understand. But I do like computers, and the trade-show floors (note plural) are beyond vast and have lots of ’em on display, so there are some big-iron pix in among the tourist narrative.
The big deal today was the keynote from Thomas Kurian, which included multiple demos and on-stage visits from big-name Oracle customers.
I watched all of it, feeling like an anthropologist observing a society entirely foreign to my own. Mr. Kurian was described to me by an insider in these words: “Amazing guy. works non-stop. super sharp, won't be bluffed (on tech or business matters). No sense of humor whatsoever.” His presentation was almost entirely in the language of press releases: “Leading provider”... “best of breed”... “integration”... “business solution”... “integrated”... “unified, modern multi-channel user experience”... “from insight to action”... “robust management”... “unsurpassed performance integration”.
Since I’ve never encountered this style of speech in un-ironic conversation, I wasn’t really sure how to interpret it. The demos, mostly centered around a fictitious company with mucho problems (user experience, integration, supply-chain management, system performance, and security) had modest production values, but the message was clear: Oracle’s working really hard on making everything in its big software inventory work together.
I spend lots of time with businesspeople and, while they don’t talk like geeks, they don’t talk like press releases either. The difference seems to be that they don’t mind listening through the marketing language to pick out what’s important in the message; while a geek would just blow it all off. Communication is an extremely complex process.
After Thomas Kurian finished, Michael Dell took the stage. He has tons of charisma and a good speaking style, is fun to watch. I was baffled when, as soon as he started preaching the virtues of virtualization, the audience started filing out in hundreds (to be fair, leaving many thousands behind). Virtualization may be a little boring, but it’s important; afterward someone told me that the session had been running late and people were heading for the breakouts they wanted to catch.
Dell and his CIO gave a solid presentation, I thought. He beat the drum you hear from the big-iron companies, about how too much of the IT spend goes to maintenance-and-legacy, too little to making-things-better. Hard to disagree with that. I’ll refrain from speculating what effect the Sun acquisition might have on the Dell relationship.
I didn’t make it to many sessions because the hallway-and-lunch talk was so interesting. I met people from Pepsi and Travelers and Walgreens and United and lots of others, listened to them talk about their issues.
I met an Oracle engineer who works on ensuring that Perl and PHP and Python and Ruby hook up to the 11g database; he seems to be doing a good job, but I suspect there’ll need to be more of him, going forward.
I met any number of people who are interested in Cloud stuff. I had a REST-vs.-SOAP argument. The future of Java was kicked around. Yes, there are technologists in the crowd, if you work at finding them.
It’s going to take me some time to soak up all this input.