Anticipation was high for OpenWorld 2010 because it seemed like there was so much to hear about including the emergence of Fusion Applications, the integration of Sun, and a new generation of BI products.   After almost two days a picture is starting to emerge but it not because anyone from Oracle has concisely told us what it is trying to communicate.

It was no surprise that Oracle led with new hardware appliances – the ability to create new combinations of hardware and software were the stated reason for buying Sun.  Ellison’s decision to dive in and announce one of them before offering any context for how it fit into the big picture was a little disorienting, especially to the majority of attendees that care far more about software than IT infrastructure.

Ellison hinted at a new marketing theme with the chain of logic he used to explain what the Exalogic Elastic Cloud computer was all about.  The odd name (almost certainly concocted by Ellison himself) seems to signal an attempt by Oracle to reshape the way the industry uses the term “cloud computing”.  It will almost certainly help hasten the demise of this particularly odd bit of jargon.  I cannot see Oracle succeed in making the idea of buying and paying for software over the Internet as it is used (aka Software as a Service or SaaS) go away.

Oracle’s resident product genius Tom Kurian shed a little more light on the Oracle strategy in his keynote.  It expanded on the themes Ellison had hinted at during his opening.  As best as I can tell, Oracle has its own vision of how the IT infrastructure of the future ought to work.  Not surprisingly, it starts with a new generation of appliances that elegantly integrate hardware with lots of middleware to provide a great place to run applications.  Oracle, of course, can now supply everything needed and bundle it together.

Oracle proposes to call new age data centers filled with these appliances “private clouds” thus making it appear to be in favor of a style of computing I believe it fears and loathes.  If IT buyers can be convinced to implement Oracle private clouds then all will be well in the universe – and software will continue to be bought the way it always was.

A great irony to me is that Oracle seems to be attempting to re-invent a combination of both the mainframe and the original IBM AS/400.  The Oracle private cloud appears to be a combination of hardware and software that does everything in one elegantly and integrated bundle – the original AS/400 value proposition.  Like mainframes the hardware supporting this is (to quote Ellison) very, very, very powerful.

I plan to expand on this theme of Oracle trying to reconstruct the business model IBM used so successfully decades ago in future postings.  For now I need to dive back in and try to absorb enough information to attempt to make sense out of it all.