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Schwarzenegger rescues Ellison keynote from jaws of banality

Your audience...give them to me, now

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OpenWorld 09 If anybody's going to do any upstaging it's Larry Ellison, as both Michael Dell and Billy Joel discovered during their respective OpenWorld turns this year and last.

Guest are welcome to make a splash at Oracle's event - but not too welcome. Usually, they serve as a warm up act or foil to Ellison and his giggly wit.

For once, though, Oracle's chief executive has let someone interrupt his OpenWorld shtick and have the audience nibble copious one-liners from their open hand.

That someone was former actor turned California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took the OpenWorld stage while Ellison was speaking and proceeded to wax warmly about technology, crack a saucy gag about his wife Maria Shriver, and make some heartfelt comments about California-based Oracle and Sun Microsystems - as the former buys the latter.

God knows this year's proceedings needed it, and we can only imagine Ellison knew that too, which is why he ceded the ground.

Schwarzenegger stepped in during round two of Ellison's IBM bashing - which he started on Sunday. This time, the bashing was larded with a crawl through the Exadata V2 feature list.

There was some new stuff, but none of the show stoppers of years past. At OpenWorld 2008, Ellison proclaimed - wrongly - that Oracle was getting into the server business with Exadata. In 2006, it was Oracle's Linux distro and support business that crippled Red Hat's stock on speculation Oracle was going after the company as revenge for snatching away JBoss.

Three years on, things are kind of so-so on some of those OpenWorld showstoppers.

The idea three years back was that Oracle's Unbreakable Linux would support Red Hat and that Red Hat customers could easily switch to Oracle - robbing Red Hat of business. Two years back, when things were not quite panning out and Red Hat was still thriving, Ellison threw in Oracle VM server virtualization to "differentiate" Oracle's Red Hat from Red Hat's Red Hat.

"If you are a Red Hat customer, it's very easy to swap from a Red Hat system to an Oracle system and from Red Hat support to Oracle support, and a number of customers have done that," Ellison said at OpenWorld 2007.

Flash forward to 2009, and there's no Ellison bullishness - just "pride" in how Unbreakable Linux and Oracle's Enterprise Linux has gone. Ellison is "very, very proud of where we are today" with 4,000 customers. "Uptake of Oracle Enterprise Linux has been better than we anticipated," he claimed

Tellingly, though, Ellison said Oracle isn't actually doing any surveys on uptake of its Linux - a curious move for a new product, especially one launched with such a splash.

Not to worry: Hewlett-Packard has. Ellison produced the "surprise" findings from an HP poll that found 65 per cent of respondents are running Oracle's database on Oracle Enterprise Linux, 37 per cent on Red Hat, and 15 per cent on SuSE.

There were no more details on the survey, like when it was conducted or who responded.

In what looks like an attempt to salvage something from the idea of the Red Hat support business, Ellison unveiled plans for a system to monitor customers software and hardware. The system will see Oracle merge its online My Oracle Support and on-site Oracle Enterprise Manager, and will provide alerts, suggest fixes, and problem-free patches for Oracle software and hardware.

The vision is to ultimately enable let customers manage their Oracle Fusion applications. According to Ellison, the system will combine dashboards to monitor service levels and if an application falls short, to drill into the user-defined metrics to find out what application server of Java Virtual Machine, for example, isn't working or is locked.

Ellison promised this management capability would be in all Oracle's Fusion applications - meaning Oracle, PeopleSoft, Siebel, and JD Edwards.

He did not say when the system would become available, but the biggest hurdle is lack of information in Oracle's possession about individual customers' systems. Without it, Oracle can't deliver things like patches that won't crash or conflict with other patches in a users' systems.

"When we have all this configuration data we are going to data mine that database," Ellison said. "We haven't got enough information to diagnose the problem...if we are allowed to collect that data we can examine it."

It was the closest to cry for help from Oracle's alpha CEO as you're likely to get.

As for Fusion, Ellison repeated the applications would be available next year. The re-architected and Oracle-Middleware-certified suite had been promised for 2008.

Bring on The Governator McGuffin. Among Schwarzenegger's diversionary and crowd-pleasing zingers:

"It's an honor to be in the company of so many brilliant, innovative and entrepreneurial individuals as I came out on stage - I feel my IQ short up 10 points!"

"I love technology, high tech, bio tech, nano tech, green tech - all of the techs, I just love it. I love it, because I know that some day in the future you will devise technology so we can have a hands-free cell phone - even though my wife doesn't believe in it yet. Can you believe she was caught last week! I promise the people, I'm going to create action and stop her. This is a no win situation. If I don't create action the voters get upset. If I do create action, and I get upset, then I get no action!"

"Congratulations Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy and their new partnership and their great, great work they are doing for the state of California - let's give them a big big hand."

"Thank-you. I'll be back!" ®

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