Oracle's massive annual OpenWorld conference isn't happening until late September, but the vendor recently unveiled details of nearly 1,800 sessions planned for the event that on balance paint a comprehensive picture of what its customers, partners and competitors can expect.
Here's a look at some of the highlights.
Oracle's 12c database may have become generally available in June 2013, but most customers haven't been ready to upgrade, preferring to let early adopters deal with any remaining kinks and give Oracle time to provide patches for stability and performance.
Some may be convinced to take the plunge thanks to a new in-memory option for 12c that is set for release this month. While Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has already spent time hyping the product, it's likely he'll do more of that at OpenWorld. Oracle users who want a deep dive into the in-memory option will get the opportunity thanks to a rash of sessions scheduled for the event.
Another key feature of 12c is multitenancy, which allows many databases to run inside a single database instance. Oracle is pitching this as a way for customers and independent software vendors to cut down on system overhead. OpenWorld will feature a number of customers who have implemented multitenancy, according to the session catalogue.
Overall, this year's event will feature an array of sessions touching upon 12c in some way, and the resulting education could help spark a broader 12c upgrade cycle.
Several years after getting into the hardware business with the purchase of Sun Microsystems, Oracle has finally managed to get the division on a path to growth.
While Oracle makes money on the hardware in its Exadata, Exalogic and Exalytics "engineered systems," the real cash comes from the many software licenses customers pack into those boxes.
Oracle has had the challenge of convincing applications customers who run their systems on commodity hardware that moving to engineered systems can provide benefits that improve both performance and their bottom line.
This year's OpenWorld schedule seems geared toward making the case from a real-world perspective, with many sessions featuring customers who have made the switch.
Plug "cloud" into the OpenWorld catalogue search bar and you'll get hundreds of results. While past events have heavily featured Oracle's bevy of cloud applications, this year's OpenWorld will likely highlight Oracle's fairly nascent IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service) offerings.
On the IaaS side, a storage service is available but compute and messaging remain in preview. For PaaS, Oracle is currently offering database, WebLogic application server and database backup services, with developer, mobile, business intelligence and documents services still in preview.
Ellison recently indicated Oracle's IaaS and PaaS will get a full-blown launch during the U.S. summer months. OpenWorld technically falls outside that window but will give Oracle a chance to lay out the full picture for customers.
Oracle has consistently pushed its next-generation Fusion Applications as something its E-Business Suite, Siebel, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards customers can move to at a time and pace of their choosing.
Expect plenty of emphasis on this "co-existence" deployment model at OpenWorld. Oracle is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to Fusion adoption. One session will feature Oracle's own internal deployment of Fusion ERP and HCM modules alongside the company's global instance of E-Business Suite 12. Attendees will hear about "Oracle's strategy in moving to an Oracle Fusion end state as well as the implementation approach it is following," according to the session abstract.
Oracle will present its vision for a unified big data management system at OpenWorld, spanning the 12c database, upcoming features for its Big Data Appliance, NoSQL Database, and what is apparently a brand-new capability Oracle is calling Big Data SQL.
More details of Big Data SQL will apparently come next week during a webcast led by Oracle database chief Andy Mendelsohn. The session is dubbed "Oracle Big Data Breakthrough: Connect All Your Data with SQL." Mendelsohn "will unveil Oracle's revolutionary new solution for seamlessly integrating Hadoop, NoSQL and Oracle Database," according to the event's Web page.
Oracle Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven is once again scheduled to speak at the MySQL keynote session during OpenWorld along with MySQL Vice President of Engineering Tomas Ulin.
Screven's presence at the keynote underscores the importance Oracle continues to place on MySQL. It also could give users an opportunity to probe him on what might change following the expiration of the commitments Oracle made to the MySQL community to appease European regulators before the acquisition of the database's previous owner, Sun Microsystems.
While some critics have argued Oracle has already broken a number of those pledges, all bets are off just a few months after OpenWorld, as Oracle only promised to continue them through the fifth anniversary of the Sun deal's closing in early 2010.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com