ORLANDO, FLA -- Attendees of the International Oracle Users' Group conference here weren't quite as interested in the content of yesterday afternoon's keynote address as they were in the person chosen to deliver it.
A random sampling of attendees showed that people were somewhat taken aback by the fact that Oracle Corp. senior vice president and CIO David Thompson, a former PeopleSoft leader who has been with Oracle just two months, was put forward to deliver the speech.
Others speculated that the move was a symbolic gesture on the part of Oracle meant to show that the company is committed to serving customers of the former PeopleSoft, a business applications giant that was acquired by Oracle last year after a drawn out legal battle.
"I was surprised that they picked a PeopleSoft person to come in," said Carolyn Conner, a database administrator with Tosoro Petroleum in San Antonio, Tex. "When he said that he was very glad to be here, I thought, 'I bet you are since they laid off about three quarters of the PeopleSoft people.'"
A vow to leverage existing investments
Speaking to the crowd for about forty minutes, Thompson ran down Oracle's accomplishments over the last year, including the near completion of the next versions of Oracle Collaboration Suite and the company's flagship Oracle Database 10g.
Looking ahead, Thompson said that Oracle is committed to helping customer firms leverage their existing investments by making it easier to integrate Oracle products with in-house and third party applications. Key to this goal, Thompson said, is Oracle's new Fusion middleware.
Thompson explained that Fusion middleware solves the problem of inconsistent data definitions and makes it easier for customers to standardize across the technology stack.
"Our technology strategy focuses around Fusion middleware," Thompson said.
"Integration has become very complex and very costly. [About] 35 to 60% of your internal costs are focused around integration of different applications," he added. "Fusion middleware is a product line that allows you to leverage those existing assets while adding new ones."
Thompson also talked about some of the improvements that can be expected in the next version of Oracle Database 10g version 2, which is tentatively scheduled for release in June.
Those improvements to what he calls the "self managing database" include new business intelligence tools, faster failover and automatic tuning optimizers.
Additionally, Thompson said Oracle is rolling out new security features across its product lines and lengthening support contracts to five years.
Despite shakiness, Oracle said to be doing well
Despite the fact that Conner and others interviewed thought that the keynote address came off a bit like a commercial and offered little new information, many expect Oracle to make good on its promise to leverage existing investments.
Overall, Conner said, Oracle as a company has shown great improvements during her ten years in the database administration field.
"When I first started, there were little glitches and you would have issues, but now, if your server goes down hard, Oracle consistently will come up and it will be OK," she said. "[Thompson's] presentation wasn't that hot. But Oracle itself is doing great."