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OOW 13 - ACE Director Briefing

Sometimes I feel like I only write blog posts so that I can contradict them a couple of weeks later ;-) Yes, I know I said I wouldn't be writing any conference blog posts so that I could concentrate on technical stuff, but then as I was walking around with my stupidly bright orange Blogger/Press badge holder at Openworld, it occurred to me that perhaps it's only fair that I write a few blog posts when I'm there with that status. Nobody insists or even suggests I do, but it seems fair, particularly as I used the Blogger/Press tent a few times for charging and catching up on mails in peace and quiet. Of course with two presentations to deliver, lots of partying and Twitter as a more instant medium for moaning and bitching, I decided that I was best leaving it until I returned to the UK. Besides, post-conference blog posts are what jetlag was invented for!

Having managed to get a few more days away from the high-profile client project I'm working on, I decided to go the ACE Director Briefing at Redwood Shores on Thursday and Friday after all, which meant a Wednesday arrival at the Sofitel (a hotel with Doggie items on it's room service menu!), a few beers and some room service and then an early night. Just the first of many time-adjusted days to come with the traditional early morning Twitter (used to be blog comment!) conversations with other attendees from Europe and 5am cigarette breaks outside, typically with Dutchmen ;-)

Arriving at the Conference Centre is a strange experience as there are a few dozen people there who have become friends and yet more faces I recognise from previous years. So a buffert breakfast break before we got started is a great idea to facilitate the hellos, as well as get so many electronic gadgets out and power points connected!

I confess that when I saw the agenda for the briefing, particularly the first day, it made me miserable. There seemed to be very little of interest for me on there and I think it's fair to say that this is a familiar feeling for others whose main focus is the database. As I discussed a few times, though, not everyone in the room is focussed on the same areas as me and my mates and it is a briefing and Oracle are paying for us to be there, so I can understand that they want to choose what they talk to us about and there is always something for me over the couple of days. I invariably appreciate the efforts of the speakers to make time for it too, just wish it could be database and server stuff all day ;-)

It actually turned out not to be as bad as I initially thought and the highlight of the day was probably Thomas Kurian's session when he went over the large number of announcements that were going to be made during the following week, which included several that were very relevant to my interests. What struck me was his command over his content and ability to spend an hour delivering so many details without referring to notes or slides. It encouraged me that the database guys had a lot to look forward to!

Some of which was delivered in the first session of the second day of the briefing, when three new Product Managers from Database Technologies went over the key areas of In-Memory, Multi-tenancy and Big Data. I might have had a slight inkling about the In-Memory announcement (one effect of which is that The Optimizer Lady (Copyright Me) Has become The In-Memory Queen! (Also Copyright Me, but don't expect it to take off the same way) It was great to see such a cool new feature on the horizon. I think it's probably at a fairly early stage of development but looks very promising. Unfortunately, this session, split over three sections was one that everyone seemed to enjoy but would have liked to see all three of those subjects given their own session and drop some areas of less interest. (See my comments in the last paragraph though). However, to show how hard it is to get right, most people in the room didn't seem that interested in the session on the Fusion Apps User Experience and it's not normally my cup of tea, but I thought the future UI looked extremely wizzy for something coming out of Oracle and that the presenter Jeremy Ashley had some genuinely different things to say. At least one person in the room seemed fascinated by the presentation and I was more interested than I expected to be. Go figure.

Wim Coekaerts
is always extremely popular with a large minority of ACE Directors, talking Linux and Virtualisation. Again, he's someone who has such a command of his subject area that he can talk adhoc and honestly for an hour about what's going on in that space and for many is worth attending for the two days. I also had a great personal interest in the upcoming DBaaS/Cloud announcements, which seemed a bit more grown-up than last years ideas and were such a part of Oracle's Tuesday keynote this year. I even (and this is most unlike me) asked a question of whether Oracle Customers who are already trying to build Private DBaaS Clouds would benefit. The answer being that it's a goal of the program to offer a solution that can be implemented on the platform of your choice, including on-premise. Trust me, it's just important to me at the moment ;-)

The other great thing about the ACE D briefing on a personal level is the time I spend in the cafe in the 300 building with Oracle friends, just shooting the breeze, bitching and whining ;-) It's great that they make time in their schedule leading up to OOW, which is busy for everyone, but was particularly important this year as it gave me time for a couple of sessions with Graham Wood, discussing our upcoming co-presentation on AWR. The last of those was just before the final post-briefing drinks and food. Oh, I should point out how great the food was over the two days and just how well Vikki and Lillian and the OTN ACE people take care of us. That's not just sucking up, they really do a fine job of organising everything, including our bus that's probably the only smart way of getting so many geeks and their luggage into San Francisco.

However, the last thing I'd discussed with Graham was that I hadn't realised that instead of flicking through sample reports, he wanted me to take screen grabs and put them onto actual slides. Gulp! So the presentation that I thought I had no work to do on had suddenly become a different beast. Which meant another early night and time to get cracking on some slide work in between catching up with friends (and picking up my new business cards - more on that later), as we bounced slides backwards and forwards to each other. In the end, that tied me up until late Sunday morning, when I realised I'd done just about enough work that I could probably relax and eat some food! ;-)

Disclosure: The OTN Oracle ACE Director Program paid for my flights and accommodation and stopped me from becoming truly soaked on Saturday and chilly on several evenings with a very nice ACE Director cagoule. My conference pass was paid for by one of Oracle Blogger program, Oracle ACE Director program or being a conference speaker. All three would have qualified for that. Several companies plied me with much free food and drink, notably the folks at Pythian, but judging from my credit card statement I bought my share on several occasions. Despite all that and my appreciation towards all those people, all opinions are mine.