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Hosted at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, OpenWorld is the biggest Oracle conference of the year. The conference presents Oracle's latest technology, shares Oracle's plans for the future and provides a platform for networking. The major Oracle user groups participate and, this year, will have kiosks in the exhibit hall. Sunday is the Oracle Users Forum, a day of sessions and meetings set up by the user groups.
Patricia Dues is an associate faculty member at the University of Phoenix's School of Business -- the Apollo Group -- and the president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG). She is also an expert on Oracle OpenWorld. She's attended Oracle OpenWorld every year since the conference's inception. In this Q&A, Dues shares her thoughts on Oracle OpenWorld 2016, which takes place Sept. 18 to 22. Excerpts from the interview follow.
What plans does the OAUG have for OpenWorld 2016?
Patricia Dues: Sunday is the big user group day. We actually have 50ish, 55 Geos [Geographic User Groups] and SIGs [Special Interest Groups] meeting on Sunday. They're doing their sessions, and a lot of time at the sessions, we have Oracle presenting on what the group is involved in. And we have areas like E-Business Suite and Hyperion and the cloud -- which is going to be very, very popular this year again -- and mobile apps. We have some new SIGs that formed at Collaborate, and so they're meeting again -- actually, even new Geos ... are meeting. So, that's what's going on Sunday.
What's interesting on Sunday, too, is that Oracle has decided to have 30 minutes between the sessions. So, in between the sessions, there is quite a bit of time for networking, so we're trying to take advantage of that. OAUG has tables set up for people there to congregate and network with each other. Plus, this is where we find out if we have new members. A lot of individuals are members of the OAUG and they don't even realize it. So, we're set up to take inquiries. A lot of our membership is by company. So, we can find out on the spot if their company is a member. We get a lot of people joining OAUG at OpenWorld on user group Sunday.
In addition, on Sunday, we have the Young Professionals Forum. They're going to be meeting. We also have presentations for members. A lot of people are curious about, 'What does membership give me?' So, we have a presentation for that.
We'll be having our kiosk during the week. That's another great place to network and to find out about your membership. We have a lot of renewals and new memberships at that time...
Sunday is a great user day, but even during the week, the OAUG has been working with Oracle. We have our contacts, and what we do is, if there are panels Oracle is trying to fill, we'll help them get a speaker for their panels. We try to help out with Oracle through the week to help out with some sessions. But, the typical user day is Sunday.
What are your theories for this year's big announcement at OpenWorld?
Dues: We have no idea. I'm guessing. We're all anticipating more about the cloud. We're all anticipating more about the hybrid cloud. What we keep hearing from the customers is basically not total cloud -- that there is hybrid. People still have their on-premises applications, but they're moving more and more of the applications to the cloud. And how the two embrace and work together. Also, how do you transition? We're expecting more of the same.
What we do know is that there are some new product announcements. Hyperion, as an example, there are probably some new products with that -- some new products for mobility, maybe even with big data and security. Security has always been a major concern. My gosh, with everything we've doing lately as a result of the Democratic [National] Convention and all of that hacking, I have to believe that security is going to be an area that is going to be impressed upon with the applications.
You've been to every Oracle OpenWorld conference from the start. How has the conference grown and changed over the years?
Dues: It's settled. It's matured. I guess that's the word. When it started, it was huge. It's always been huge. But, I think it took a while to figure out how to place all of the products, because [the conference] spreads out over all the different hotels. But, I think it's finally settled in. Everyone knows Java is in one place and public sector is in another.
People are more comfortable with where things are going to be. That really helps the attendees, the people who are coming back, the alumni, know best where to stay and make their plans. They know how keynotes will be, things like that ... It's well-run and managed. I don't think it's changed too much as far as content. I think there are typically some announcements made that are great new news, but I don't think it's changed immensely.
User groups here are pretty much focused on Sunday as the user group day. I, personally, coming from OAUG as a user group board member and president, would like to see the user groups all week. I wish we could have more time to present user presentations or partner more with Oracle through the week for user presentations, but to pull this whole conference off, this format seems to work ... I don't think it's changed immensely. It's not like Oracle has changed direction. It's pretty much consistent with how it was formed years ago. It's just matured and settled in.
Patricia Duespresident, OAUG
What is the relationship between Oracle OpenWorld and Collaborate?
Dues: OpenWorld is a great way for the OAUG to develop themes for Collaborate for next year based on some of the most popular sessions. There will be follow-up sessions next year at Collaborate. At Collaborate, we try to have a theme. Last year, it was cloud, big data, security and mobility ... What Oracle is seeing throughout OpenWorld will probably be what we focus on for Collaborate. We have Oracle sitting in on sessions at OpenWorld, and that gives us an idea of who to invite to speak at Collaborate.
You mentioned the Democratic National Convention (DNC) hack earlier. Is that part of why you're thinking about security at OpenWorld, or are you speaking more generally?
Dues: I think both. There are security concerns now that have just been brought to a level of importance this year, with what's happened with the campaigns, the presidential elections. It's leaving people with more concerns about how secure systems are. I know Collaborate is very impressed with the Oracle individual who presented on security, so I'd be wanting to hear more from him at OpenWorld.
What prompted you to think of the DNC hack when looking at Oracle's plans for security?
Dues: I worked in government for 20 years. At least for me, in city government, in local government, we were concerned about security. That was always one of the questions I had when talking to Oracle about cloud and moving things off premises. But, Oracle, from the presentations I've sat in on, they address it ... I, personally, through my talking to the individuals at Oracle, am comfortable with [Oracle security].
But, I think it is just going to be this question that has to be asked. The companies need to explore it, and they need to be comfortable with how security is working in their system, security of the cloud and security of the databases, too ... What is the data, and how is it being protected? Everything I've heard working at Oracle, they're handling it well. I have no reason to think it won't be. I think it's just going to be one of those continual questions they have to be prepared for.
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