Collaborate is finally here!  In line with my speculation in earlier postings the opening keynote by Oracle President Charles Phillips was all about why Oracle bought Sun.  The content was interesting, but the delivery was somewhat disappointing.  Phillips appeared by remote video, a format that did not work well for him.  He is a dynamic and articulate personality that tends to command the stage in person.  On video he seemed flat and lifeless.  The attendees I interviewed about his appearance were all negative about it.  That was too bad, because the content provided some interesting insights. 

Future postings will get into the details of what he said after I have a chance to get more reactions to it and have the time to digest it more completely.  The essence was that Oracle sees the Sun products as an extension of the now nearly complete stack of IT products it offers.  Sun added three elements at the bottom of the stack (storage, servers, and an operating system) and helped flesh out some of the existing higher layers in the stack: database, middleware, BI and applications. 

The second theme that came out of the Phillips presentation was that Oracle is all about integration.  It has established a track record of successfully buying and elegantly integrating best of breed software products.  Oracle believes that great synergy can be created when software offerings up and down the stack can be designed to take advantage of each other’s strengths.  It sees no reason why this cannot be extended to the lower levels of the stack. 

After hearing Phillips talk I stick to my earlier belief that this occasion was used as a dress rehearsal for testing out a new set of marketing messages about the new post-sun Oracle.  If that was its purpose, it showed that the story has great potential but needs refinement and lots more punch to be compelling. 

Oracle’s top technical executive Tom Kurian did show up in person and put on a good but somewhat dry presentation.  It did not say much about Sun but did strongly reinforce the Phillips message of “integration ‘r us”.  A more complete analysis will follow in a later posting.  Reaction of the JDE people I spoke to was that it was nice but did not strike any strong chords with them. 

As promised, JDE executive Lyle Ekdahl did not disappoint in terms of making his presentation about what JDE software can now do unusual and entertaining.  In a complete departure from the usual decorum of this type of conference Ekdahl’s staff put on a humorous mini-play meant to convey what was now possible.  The acting and script was so hokey it actually had a certain charm – along the lines of William Hung singing on American Idol. 

Next week I hope to allow those who did not come to have a taste of it since I was able to capture some of it on video on my iPhone.  There actually was a point to it that did manage to get across to at least many of the attendees – that some exciting new things are either now possible or will be shortly. 

The more serious attendees who wanted to hear the usual presentations on JDE future direction got their fill an hour later.  I will also post notes on those sessions later as well.  It was all encouraging news, but nothing that differed greatly from presentations that I have reported on from earlier events. 

The best thing about Collaborate so far is that attendance is nearly double last year and that those that are here are in a much better mood.  Businesses remain cautious but are starting to undertake improvement projects and make modest investments in IT. 

Stay tuned for much more feedback both this week and after I return and have a chance to digest it all.