Oracle Builds OpenWorld Fanfare

Oracle OpenWorld began yesterday amid much fanfare with every hotel in San Fransisco booked out to accommodate more than 30,000 visitors to the conference.

It is the biggest show in town, a major production, but participants won't get a real taste of Hollywood until today when Oracle chairman and CEO, Larry Ellison takes centre stage and presents the keynote address.

There is a real buzz of expectation as Ellison will undoubtedly take the almighty vendor sales pitch to feverish heights.

The message is "Oracle is the future".

"Microsoft is the desktop age, we are the Internet age," the company's vice president Gary Bloom pointed out in his opening remarks.

And to support his observations, plenty of case studies were on hand in the press room showing how Siemens had replaced its Microsoft NT file servers with the Oracle system. There were also tales of organisations that chose the rocky road of "best of breed point solutions" which ended in stories that would send any IT executive searching for salvation.

The conference mantra is the "single vendor solution" and "collaborative computing".

Put simply, it means go out there to partner and collaborate but make sure software is provided by Oracle.

And for some it is a life or death situation judging by the remarkably well-dressed demonstrators outside the conference carrying placards which read: "Collaborate or die -- extend enterprise" and "Give them a choice set them free".

It is a twist on the economic summit demonstrations seen recently in Melbourne and the loudly chanting protestors dressed in dark suits and carrying briefcases only added to the frenetic activity surrounding the event.

Despite the high level of interest the demonstration generated the protestors themselves were not too sure what all the hype was about, explaining: "Oh we're just actors paid to do this for the day. I'm not sure what all this is about."

So here it is -- computing in the 21st century where vendor productions manage to combine a bit of Hollywood, San Francisco and even a touch of Washington.

· Sandra Van Dijk travelled to OpenWorld as a guest of Oracle

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