OOW: Is It Worth It?

This is a little later than most Oracle OpenWorld 2012 write-ups as this year I extended what has become my annual trip to San Francisco and spent another 2 weeks in the US.

The vast majority of the “Oracle geeks” I know in the UK have never been to OpenWorld and therefore from time to time, generally as the event is approaching, I get asked: Is it worth it?

If you want the one word answer: Yes. If you want the justification then please read on…

I feel the most important point for those in the UK, regardless of how into the technology you are, is: It’s in San Francisco!

This might sound like I think the other aspects of attending are not as important, but that is not what I’m attempting to convey. The point is that if you are a hardcore Oracle geek then what better location than San Francisco to learn more about the software you spend so much of your life working/playing with. At the other end of the scale, if you’re not really interested in the technical detail of the software, but need to be aware of what is going on with one of the major players in the IT world then what better location to do so than San Francisco… OK, I’ve not travelled very widely in the US, but of the places I’ve visited San Francisco is definitely holding the top spot. I just really like the vibe of the city and don’t recall meeting anyone that doesn’t enjoy the location element of OpenWorld.

OK, so the next justification for those that need more incentive: It’s a great networking opportunity. It must be the highest concentration of Oracle geeks any point in the year. The people who wrote the Oracle related books you really like will probably be there and they’ll possibly be presenting. The people who write the blogs you read, and eagerly await, will probably be there and are possibly presenting at OpenWorld or one of the other events that are on at the same time in nearby locations (more on which below).

The Bloggers’ Meetup is a must for those that blog themselves or those who follow many blogs and want to meet the people that write them. Thanks to Pythian and OTN for putting this event on.

The finally point: It is a fantastic environment to learn more about Oracle and associated technologies.

There is so much going on… I remember planning my first OpenWorld and picking something to attend for literally every slot in the schedule. I was keen to make the most of the conference and despite reading and hearing the advice of others to not try to do too much, I did. There are often two or more sessions in the same slot that I want to attend and what made this even more frustrating in my first year were the “marketing trap” sessions. The ones that sound great, but as I recall saying at the time, “I don’t come here to listen to someone give me an overview of functionality or recite the data sheets.” I want the “war stories”, internals and undocumented stuff. I understand that attendees vary in both their existing knowledge and what they came to OpenWorld to gain, so I can understand why these sessions exist, but bear the following in mind:

  1. Use the Schedule planner to select your sessions in advance and do your research on the presenters
  2. People’s view of what constitues a “Deep Dive” varies
  3. Look for sessions from people’s who you know you like listening to from previous presentation or who write blogs you enjoy
  4. Do the best you can to ensure the level of prior knowledge or level of detail in the presentation is appropriate to you
  5. Accept the fact that you’re not going to be able to attend every session you would like to be at due to scheduling conflicts
  6. The User Group Sunday technical sessions are a must, so make sure you arrive in time



Other Parts of OpenWorld

There are parts of OpenWorld that I haven’t really found time for, but would probably be of great value to some. There’s the 2 large halls of exibitions with a fairly diverse range of exhitors. If you’re considering a vendor, or already use one, then these could present you with a good opportunity to speak directly with employees of that company. Within the same halls, and some other locations, you’ll find the Oracle Demo Grounds. I’ve never actually attended a demo session, but if you want to know more about a particular Oracle product or features then this is going to be a good place to do so. It will give you a chance to speak with the Oracle employees that are directly involved in the product/feature you are interested in.

You get access to both of the above with a $125 (2012) “Discover” pass, which is a huge saving over the full conference pass.


The “Side Events” for 2012 – That really does not do them justice!

Enkitec Sessions @ Jillian’s – Enkitec has focused heavily on Exadata expertise and therefore if you want to know about Exadata then listening to the likes of Andy Colvin, Kerry Osbourne, Tanel Poder and Tim Fox is a very good idea. The atmosphere was very informal with a focus on live demos and hacking sessions. Beer was provided as was finger food. One point worth noting is that the staff at Jillian’s were telling people that they were closed, so you needed to explicitly state that you were there to visit Enkitec. Don’t let this put you off. Once inside it was a very friendly place.

illumos and ZFS Days – This might not be for everyone as it focuses on system administration rather than Oracle Database server, but some of the presenters at the event are likely to be names you have come across over the years, particularly if you have a Solaris background. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I would have liked here, but I believe everything was recorded, so I hope to catch up over the coming weeks. Check out the following links if you want to see the available videos illumos Day and ZFS Day.

Oaktable World – I was lucky enough to find out about Oracle Closed World for my 2nd trip to OpenWorld. This is definitely a place to visit if you want to get into the technical details. It was very disappointing that “Closed World” did not happen at OpenWorld 2011, but these things take time and money to arrange. Thankfully it was back with a vengence this year thanks to the hard work of Kyle Hailey (who looked to be very busy making sure everything went smoothly) and sponsorship from Delphix and Pythian. The event was renamed to OakTable World this year and the line up can be found here. Most of the sessions were recorded. At the moment only a selection are available on the site and Tanel’s is available here. Hopefully more will be edited and made available in due course.


Closing Note

If you do attend Oracle OpenWorld next year then Twitter is definitely your friend. It is a great way of finding out what is going, where the people you know are and what the news coming out of the sessions you couldn’t attend is.

Hope to see you there! @martinpaulnash

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