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Cloud, IoT and security big topics for IOUG at Oracle OpenWorld 2016

In advance of Oracle OpenWorld 2016, IOUG executive director Josh Berman talks about strategic leadership lessons, the NetSuite acquisition and the wild world of the IoT.

Oracle OpenWorld is Oracle's largest and best-attended conference. Held annually in San Francisco, OpenWorld showcases the latest developments in Oracle technology and previews Oracle's future product plans. In addition, it includes the Oracle Users Forum, a one-day event on the opening Sunday with sessions and meetings organized by various Oracle user groups.

Among them is the database-oriented Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG). Oracle OpenWorld 2016 will be the fourth OpenWorld conference that Josh Berman has attended in his role as executive director at the IOUG. In a Q&A with SearchOracle, Berman discussed the cloud, big data and other technology trends affecting IOUG members and shared his thoughts on the upcoming conference, which takes place Sept. 18-22. Excerpts from the interview follow.

What are you expecting to see at Oracle OpenWorld 2016? What will be the important topics for IOUG members?

Josh Berman: Well, all things cloud, right? Oracle is leading with it and our community is dealing with it. And that's not a good or bad statement. It is what it is. So, a lot of the content we're delivering on "user group Sunday" is about the disruption, the change and the advantages [of cloud computing]. I'm not just talking about products and services -- [the cloud] is really changing the business model.

There's greater emphasis at OpenWorld for IOUG around what we call strategic leadership -- educating our audience as decision-influencers and decision-makers in a context-based way: "This is the problem I'm dealing with; this is the roadmap I'm under." They're helping each other out as they look at the radically accelerating landscape. Are they going to stay on premises? Are they going to go hybrid? Are they going to go fully in the cloud? When? Where? What products and [technologies] are they going to use? What have their experiences been?

So, a lot of focus on leadership and cloud -- also big data and BI, and then the internet of things is really core to our community to get to know and deal with as well. Think of it as "all roads lead to the data." We care about the data: understanding the landscape, what the architecture is, how these products work and how they're ultimately protecting and defending [the data]. We see ourselves as the data stewards, so, data governance, data compliance, data security -- lots and lots of focus around making sure that's well-thought-out and architected correctly.

You mentioned an emphasis on strategic leadership. What will that look like at Oracle OpenWorld 2016?

Berman: We typically have a few sessions on Sunday, for example, where we'll have leaders in our community with a variety of different job titles -- CIOs, CMOs, managers [from] different industries -- just sharing what's on their plate, what's concerning them, big problems or little problems that would be interesting for the audience. Some of it can just be people management. You've got a lot of people where their [technology] backgrounds, their knowledge skills and their abilities are great, but there's real change [inside their organizations]. So, [the IOUG] is a change management council. Our community can provide that kind of insight.

Some of it is specifically around hot topics like IoT and what it means to them. A lot of [the speakers] will talk about security. Security, data ethics -- that's a really interesting topic. We're dealing with more and more compliance [issues] as companies are going global or outsourcing or offshoring or going to the cloud. There's a common theme there: data governance.

Where do things stand with IOUG members on big data and IoT deployments?

Berman: The internet of things remains a topic that's really unfolding in front of us. It's really still a bit of a Wild West. Creating standards and clarity around it; I think the group is really curious about that.

What do you mean by Wild West?

Berman: As technologists, the folks in the IOUG have their sleeves rolled up. They're working on supporting a platform. Big data is starting to land a little bit. There's a clear product; there's a clear architecture; there are clear options. But IoT is further upstream in terms of clarity. How does Oracle support it, what products are out there, what do they work with, what do they not work with?

Do you think Oracle OpenWorld 2016 will bring us more clarity on the subject of the IoT?

Berman: I think Oracle will talk about it more and more. I hope.

Oracle is buying cloud applications vendor NetSuite. Is the acquisition of interest to IOUG members?

Berman: [IOUG members] are interested just because there's data. With our group positioning themselves as having subject matter expertise around data governance, data compliance, data security and those kinds of things, it'll be incredibly relevant for us to get to know [NetSuite's development team]. I'm sure Oracle will walk some of those engineers over to our community to compare notes and raise awareness and maybe give some how-to oriented sessions over time. It might take six months to a year before we can all talk to each other -- the deal has to be closed. But it's a pretty big deal. It's a big acquisition with a lot of customers coming into the fold.

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