Oracle OpenWorld: What to expect

Oracle's database strategy, engineered systems family, Fusion Applications, and more will be in focus at the conference

This year's Oracle OpenWorld conference is still a couple of months away, but the vendor has already provided an ample sneak peek into what's in store for attendees of the show.

The OpenWorld 2013 content catalog recently went live, and while Oracle is keeping a lid on specific news announcements slated for OpenWorld, a careful combing-through of the show's hundreds of planned sessions can produce some good guesses about what will be on offer. Here's a look.

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Database details: Oracle made a big splash midyear with the release of version 12c of its flagship database. The release's most-hyped feature is multitenancy, which allows many "pluggable" databases to reside inside a single host database, providing simplified management and upkeep.

Database 12c will be featured in a number of OpenWorld sessions aimed at developers and administrators, but the most significant database news may come from the keynote stage. On a recent earnings call, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison spilled the beans on an upcoming version of the database that incorporates in-memory computing. Further details have been scarce and indications are that Ellison's announcement took people inside Oracle itself by surprise.

Based on Ellison's description, the upcoming database release appears to be the most direct response yet to the likes of SAP's HANA in-memory database, as well as in-memory offerings in the works from Microsoft and IBM.

Oracle already has an in-memory cache called TimesTen; it's not clear whether the release Ellison mentioned will somehow incorporate it, or is something altogether new.

Overall, it wouldn't be surprising if at OpenWorld Ellison and other executives gave a fuller picture of Oracle's in-memory database plans.

Engineered systems update

For the past several years, Oracle has typically introduced a new or updated member of its "engineered appliance" family, which began with the Exadata database machine. The systems combine Sun hardware with Oracle software in packages the company says are optimized for maximum efficiency and performance.

Other product line members include the Exalogic and Exalytics appliances, which handle application server and analytics workloads, respectively.

At last year's OpenWorld, Oracle introduced Exadata version X-3, which it termed an "in-memory machine" for its use of Flash memory and RAM to store data.

But Ellison also said during the recent earnings call that the upcoming in-memory database is designed to work "exceedingly well" with Oracle's M-Series servers, which can hold up to 32TB of RAM. It wouldn't be much of a leap to conclude that at OpenWorld, Ellison will announce a new engineered system that combines the two products.

Fusion Applications, made easier
As usual, the number of sessions planned for Oracle's more mature applications product lines, such as E-Business Suite, Siebel and JD Edwards, will likely outnumber those for its next-generation Fusion Applications, which went into general availability in 2011.

Oracle has taken a soft-shoe approach to pushing Fusion Applications, urging customers to consider incremental deployments while maintaining their existing landscapes.

Most initial Fusion Applications customers have gone with the SaaS (software as a service) deployment option, rather than install applications on-premises, most likely due to the complexity involved with the latter.

However, Oracle has apparently responded to those concerns. Working with customers, Oracle Consulting "has streamlined the process for on-premises installations of Oracle Fusion Applications," according to one OpenWorld session's description. The session will discuss "lessons learned" and other tips that will help customers who prefer behind-the-firewall implementations get the job done more easily.

Pass the PaaS
Expect a ton of emphasis from Oracle on its bevy of cloud offerings, particularly for PaaS (platform as a service). Sessions are scheduled on a range of related matters, such as Oracle's Java and database cloud services; how to build a PaaS inside a private data center with Oracle's tools; and how to tailor Oracle Fusion Applications delivered from the cloud.

It's often said that a vibrant development community is key to a software vendor's continued growth. While Oracle has plenty of developers using its Java programming language and tools, convincing them to use the newer cloud-delivered products for their projects remains a work in progress, one the company will look to advance at OpenWorld.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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