Oracle co-presidents Charles Phillips and Safra Catz are frequently used to offset CEO Larry Ellison’s flamboyance with quiet competence.  The keynote they hosted Monday morning offered none of the passion, salesmanship or zany moments that the McNealy-Ellison show provided the night before. 

Following a bland summary of the strategy Oracle has been pursuing in recent years that provided no new insights, a series of product managers were given a chance to strut and fret their five minutes upon the stage.  Each used their time to promote their offerings, usually with a brief demo done too fast to make much sense of.   The recently acquired Primavera was featured along with Hyperion.  Almost no mention was made of JDE, PeopleSoft, eBusiness Suite, Siebel CRM or other products that have been in the stable for a while.  The practice of rarely mentioning Fusion in any context continued. 

It is true that not much of universal interest is happening with traditional ERP suites.  Oracle’s application suites all continue to quietly grind along churning out occasional new releases with features that increasingly appeal to niche sub-markets.  The real action at the moment lies in adding the specialized new applications that surround the core ERP suites.  Oracle has invented the broad term “edge” applications to refer to them.  The Monday keynotes featured a few of the newest of them. 

A big surprise to me was the lack of a strong focus on Business Intelligence and the related concepts of Enterprise Performance Management and Business Performance Optimization.  Earlier in the year it appeared obvious that Oracle’s Fiscal Year 2010 (which started in June) would feature these three themes.  The out of the blue Sun acquisition combined with delays in completing what Oracle will call BI 11g when ready have pushed these topics out of the main spotlight this OpenWorld. 

Last year OpenWorld attendance peaked at 43,000.  This year tight travel budgets and the lack of compelling news has pushed attendance down into the 35,000 range.  Selfishly, I am enjoying the shorter lines and easier access to the people to whom I want to talk.  I will try to use the lack of crowding to gather even more intelligence of use to our community.