The same keynote block will feature an appearance from Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of cloud and enterprise engineering at Microsoft. The vendors recently announced a partnership that will in part see Oracle's database available on the Microsoft Azure cloud service. Anderson will discuss how the companies are "working together to help customers embrace cloud computing by improving flexibility and choice while also preserving first class support for mission-critical workloads," according to a description.
One also has to wonder whether Ellison's cloud keynote will feature a second guest, namely Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff. After a long-standing public rivalry, the two outspoken executives have seemingly buried the hatchet following the announcement of a pact under which Salesforce.com will commit long-term to using Oracle technologies in its cloud platform.
Benioff has already invited Ellison to Dreamforce, and returning the favor would make up for Ellison's abrupt cancellation of a Benioff appearance scheduled for an OpenWorld event in 2011.
Big data, big hype: There are few industry buzzwords more prevalent of late than "big data," and Oracle won't shy away from using it at OpenWorld. Co-President Mark Hurd's first keynote will be on big data, but the good news for attendees is that they'll get a bit more than a Hurd sales pitch.
Scheduled to join Hurd onstage will be guests from Oracle customers Thomson Reuters and NYSE Euronext, who will discuss their big data initiatives, presumably ones using Oracle technology.
Customer experience: That said, it's a little bit difficult to spot CRM (customer relationship management) on OpenWorld show materials. Instead, Oracle will spell out its strategy for "customer experience," an emerging phrase that encompasses not only software for sales automation, but also marketing, social analytics and mobility.
Hurd will also lead this keynote, and is set to be joined by customers from Tesco and LEGO.
Internet of things: OpenWorld 2013 will also serve as the launch pad for Oracle's push into the "Internet of things," or machine-to-machine communications. The breadth of Oracle's plans here is evidenced by the fact that a keynote on the topic will be delivered by Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven, who has been at Oracle for nearly 30 years and reports directly to Ellison.
Fusion Applications: Oracle's next-generation Fusion Applications may get mention in Ellison's cloud keynote, but unlike past years, don't appear to be part of the company's top announcements at the conference.
Progress on Fusion Applications may have to be gleaned from conference sessions, of which plenty are scheduled. Planned topics include general road map details; integration between Fusion Applications and products such as E-Business Suite; and how to tailor, customize and build cloud-based extensions for Fusion.
While there's no shortage of scheduled content for Fusion Applications this year, what will be telling is how well-attended the sessions are. In past years, Fusion session rooms were filled to capacity, suggesting significant early interest in the products from customers running older product lines.