BURLINGTON, Mass. -- Despite intense snowfall from an early nor'easter, Oracle held their yearly Oracle Day for the Boston area on Thursday, October 8, offering an opportunity for New England IT pros that couldn't make it to San Francisco for OpenWorld to network and learn more about Oracle products.
Snowstorm or no, there were very few seats left in the Boston Marriot Burlington's ballroom minutes after Charlie Garry, director and product manager of Oracle began his keynote speech, Navigating Complexity by Simplifying IT. Branded as a mini-OpenWorld, the local Oracle Day emphasized regional trends and networking. "The agendas for each regional Oracle Day are determined based on what's taking place in the region," said Gretchen Butler, senior field marketing manager at Oracle. "We put these on all over the country." This was Oracle's fifth year offering an Oracle Day in the Boston area.
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Oracle Day events are offered across the world, from Nairobi, Kenya to Bangkok, Thailand, attracting over 15,500 attendees, more than 350 speakers and 820 sessions delivered in 18 different languages throughout the months of October, November and December. In North America, they've already held events in seven cities, and events are planned for later this month and early December in thirteen additional North American cities, including Minneapolis, Minn., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Montreal.
In Burlington, the four "tracks" attendants could choose from were focused on big data and analytics; simplifying your IT; and cloud builder and new business imperatives, which focused on a variety of business applications, including social media integration. Attendees were free to move between the tracks as desired, although many attendees seemed to stick with one track. Networking was strongly encouraged and there were ample opportunities to chat with other conference goers, whether over the free continental breakfast, while sipping the signature drink of the day (the "Oracle Cloud Cooler," a berry smoothie with extra red food coloring added), between sessions, or during the designated networking lunch. There was ample time to hand out resumes, chat with potential networking contacts, or otherwise focus on Oracle career development. There was also a Solutions Pavilion, a smaller version of the Oracle Solutions Pavilion offered at OpenWorld each year, with Oracle and eight additional Oracle partner organizations displaying their hottest technologies.
The biggest advantage of the conference was the small community feel. While large conferences can be overwhelming and impersonal, Oracle Day felt small and intimate. Many attendees knew each other from previous jobs, school or simply through the tech community. In the breakout groups, questions and interaction between the speakers and audience were not only possible, but highly encouraged. The speakers did not come from the C level or Oracle's marketing department, they were just regular Oracle employees from the Boston area who were very dedicated to their work and exceptionally knowledgeable.
On the other hand, Oracle Day had a pep-rally feel to it. With the exception of one speaker from Continental Resources and one from Cloudera, the speakers were exclusively Oracle employees, making it unlikely that you would get a balanced view of the technologies discussed. The power point presentations used during the sessions seemed like marketing materials more than demonstrative aids. While many of the speakers at OpenWorld and other conferences are end users and pros that use the technologies discussed daily, this was not the case at Oracle Day.
If you're attending Oracle Day with the intent of networking with others in your field or learning which technologies are currently hot, you may find Oracle Day to be a worthwhile field trip, especially if it's impractical for you to attend OpenWorld each year. Just don't drink the Kool-Aid -- and watch the Cloud Coolers, too.