A couple of people have asked me how they should plan for the upcoming Oracle OpenWorld 2011, running in San Francisco on October 2-6th. If you've never been to OpenWorld before, and perhaps you're looking to make a case to put to your boss around attending, the sheer amount of content can sometimes be overwhelming, so I've put together this guide to what you might want to take a look at, if you're an OBIEE developer.
To start with the basics, OpenWorld runs from the Sunday through to the Thursday, with Sunday being set aside for the various user groups (IOUG, ODTUG, EOUC etc) to run Sunday-afternoon symposiums usually geared around their various SIGs. I'm helping organize the ODTUG BI Sunday sessions, for example, with myself, Stewart Bryson, Jeff McQuigg, Christian Screen and Kevin McGinley doing sessions around various OBIEE 11g new features. I'm also taking part in the IOUG Sunday sessions, doing an updated version of my OBIEE 11g Architecture & Internals session. If you're interested in finding out what's running on the Sunday, go to the Content Catalog, then select Business Intelligence as the Track, and then User Group Forum (Sunday Only) as the Type, like this:
There's currently fourteen BI sessions on this day, across the various user groups, though unfortunately they don't at this time say times or rooms. If you arrive in SF on the Saturday, though, I'd recommend you come along to these sessions, get to meet the various user group BI leaders (Shyam Nath from the IOUG BIWA SIG, Faun De Henry from the OAUG BI SIG, myself and Kent Graziano from the ODTUG BI/DW SIG), and have some real-world user group sessions before you get into the OOW week proper.
OpenWorld proper then starts on Monday, and be prepared to get yourself over to the Moscone Center for some early starts, as sessions start at 8am and go through until 5 or 6pm in the evening. Again, if you use the Content Catalog and search for Business Intelligence as the Track, and then Conference Session this time as the type, you'll see at current count eighty-one BI sessions, across OBIEE, BI Apps, BI Publisher and all the major tools.
You won't see much Discoverer these days, except around upgrades, nor will you see much on older tools such as Oracle Reports, Daily Business Intelligence and so on. This is Oracle's showcase for what they want to sell, and what they want to to start planning to adopt in the next year or so, and so most sessions are focused on current tools and whatever it is that Oracle are looking to push at this point in time. That said, the quality of presentations is usually excellent, the Oracle sessions are usually top-notch (particularly ones from the PMs about the products they are working on), and over the past few years more and more non-Oracle speakers have been given session slots as well, such as the team from Rittman Mead who together, last year, gave sixteen presentations between us.
From looking at the catalog now, sessions that I'd like to attend include:
- "Accelerating Business Intelligence with Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database", Marie-Anne Neimat, Oracle
I get the impression TimesTen is going to have a lot of new features to support analytics and in-memory capabilities for OBIEE, so this will be a good opportunity to get a heads-up on what's coming
- "Become a Reporting Superstar with Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher Best Practices", Klaus Fabian & Nikolas Psomas, Oracle
Klaus and Nikolas are two members of the BIP development team and have been very helpful to us in the past, answering questions about the product and its future direction. I'm keen to see what's coming up for BIP and if anything's announced at OOW, it'll likely to be here.
- "Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation: Advanced Modeling Capabilities and Best Practices", Bob Ertl, Oracle
A bit worried here that this will be the same presentation Bob's given for the last two OOW's, but Bob's one of the best when it comes to RPD modeling and of course, he'll know what's coming up in future releases. An essential session if your interest is in RPD modeling.
- "Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation: Advanced Modeling and Analysis with Oracle Essbase", Gabby Rubin, Oracle
Essbase support in OBIEE11g is still an unfinished area, so I'll be looking out here for news on how Oracle might better handle MDX in future releases.
- "Agile BI with Oracle Exadata and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g" - Stewart Bryson, Rittman Mead
Fast becoming Stewart's "signature" presentation, this session will set out just what's possible if you combine the sheer horsepower of Exadata with the virtualized dimension model provided by OBIEE 11g.
- "Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation: Deploying from Department to Enterprise", Bob Ertl, Oracle
Upcoming releases of OBIEE are likely to have big improvements in terms of developer IDEs, storage of the RPD, team development and so on. I'm looking out here for more details on how this might play out, and perhaps get a first glimpse at the new, Fusion Development IDE-based admin tool?
- "Oracle Business Intelligence Product and Technology Roadmap", Paul Rodwick, Oracle
The "Roadmap and Strategy" session is where Oracle publically announce what's coming with OBIEE, so expect details on 18.104.22.168 and what their thoughts are for the product in the longer term. Essential session if your job involves knowing the future direction of Oracle's BI tools.
- "Oracle Business Intelligence Systems Management Best Practices and New Features" - Me!
The first of my two main conference sessions, this first one on systems-level management of OBIEE including managing weblogic, backup & recovery, WLST scripting, and monitoring the system
- "Oracle Business Intelligence/Oracle ADF Integration Using the Action Framework", Me, and Andrejus Baranovskis
A collaboration between myself and fellow ACE Director Andrejus Baranovskis, where we'll be building a "roll-your-own" Fusion app made up of ADF and BI components, and using the Action Framework to tie it all together. Essential for both OBIEE, and ADF, developers
- "Oracle Scorecard, Strategy Management, and KPIs" - Jacques Vigeant, Oracle
I still think scorecards & KPIs are the hidden secret in OBIEE, and I'm keen to hear what's coming around the corner with the 22.214.171.124/7 releases. Anyone moving up from OBIEE 10g to 11g and looking for justifications for the migration should get along to this session, this just takes OBIEE to the next level.
- "Packaged Cloud-Based BI with Oracle GoldenGate and Oracle Business Intelligence Applications", Jon Mead, Rittman Mead
If only to see what Jon comes up with, this is a hugely ambitious and very relevant look at how we can take the BI Apps into the cloud, courtesy of Golden Gate, Oracle's latest replication and lightweight-ETL tool
- "Performing a Security Audit on Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g", Venkat Janakiraman, Rittman Mead
Venkat always puts a huge effort into the R&D behind his OOW presentations, and I know he's been doing a lot of work behind the scenes with our clients on coming up with an automated way to test the security in OBIEE installations. Be ready to take lots of notes for this one.
- "Taking Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition to the Next Level of Performance", Jon McGale, Performance Architects Inc.
I have to say, I've not met Jon McGale before, but this is a topic close to my heart. It'll be interesting to see an alternative take on performance enhancement for OBIEE, particular in terms of how others use caching, configure the RPD and so on.
- "Under the Covers: Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Architecture and Infrastructure", Mike Durran & Nick Tuson, Oracle
Again, what I'm looking out for here is news on what's coming up in future releases, plus the PM's perspective on some of the features I've been working with day-to-day (WebLogic, scripting, product architecture, high-availability etc)
- "Using Oracle Business Intelligence Actions Framework to Improve Your Business Processes", Adam Bloom & Nick Tuson, Oracle
Either this will be a re-run of the standard Action Framework presentation, or we'll get to hear about what's coming up in future releases. I'll pop my head around the door, get a feel for how much I've heard it before, if there's new content I'll definitely stay.
- "What's Next for Oracle Business Intelligence Applications? A Sneak Peak into the Future" - Florian Schouten, Oracle
Probably for me, one of the most important talks of OOW. The BI Apps, in contrast to OBIEE "the platform", is a bit of a mystery in terms of what's coming up in future releases. We know the big-picture stuff (Fusion Apps will be supported first, later on ODI will be an option, that sort of thing) but I'm keen to hear a bit more detail on how we are going to transition from the fur-ball that is the current BI Apps through to something that uptakes all the "rapid application development" stuff that we're hearing is coming for OBIEE itself.
So you probably get the idea that OOW, at least for me, is mostly about getting a handle on what's coming up for the products, what new features are likely to appear in future releases, and what new products are starting to become "strategic" for Oracle. For me, OOW is essential as it's when anything "new" is announced, and so I use it to work out what training courses we should be offering in the next year, what skills our team are going to need to get to learn, what products we need or orientate our services around.
The other main attraction of OOW for me is that it generally marks the start of the conference season, in that we generally write new content for OOW and then re-use it at the various regional events over the next twelve months. Certainly for me, I tend to propose sessions that fill-out areas I've not properly explored before but for which I know there is a lot of interest, and the content I write for this event then becomes the main new material I use at the events such as the UKOUG conference, Collaborate and ODTUG KScope. So if you are particularly interested in hearing new content, this is the conference to be at, particulary in terms of product announcements from Oracle
If you're a customer, the main reason you'd go to OOW is to get a condensed set of briefings on Oracle's product direction, and on the key new products they want you to work with. For example, if you're a BI Apps customer, you should attend the roadmap sessions, and any on where they think developers should be focusing their attention in the next twelve months. Be sure also to ask lots of questions (I'm usually the guy with the English accent doing this, sat near the front jotting down the bullet points from the slides) and also try and say hello to the speakers, take down their contact details and so on, particularly if it's a PM presenting and they sound like they know the internals of the product. Also, be aware that for the "roadmap"-type sessions that Oracle run, often the slides don't make it onto the download page after the conference, so make lots of notes if you'll need to refer to them afterwards.
Apart from the content then, what else do you need to know? If you're looking to book accommodation, make sure you firstly, use the OOW booking system (available when you register, and afterwards if you log back in) as you get discounts on the hotels using this; secondly, don't leave booking your hotel until the last minute as otherwise you'll be stuck out by Fisherman's Wharf, out along the dodgy part of Market Street, or worse, out by the airport.
In terms of places to meet up and socialize (particularly if you're new to OOW), typically the bars along Howard Street (Thirsty Bear being my usual haunt), 4th Street (the ApEx guys often meet at the 4th Street Bar & Deli), and up near Geary/Mason/O'Farrell near the Hilton (Johnny Foley's is usually packed with OOW attendees). There's usually some sort of event on most nights as well, with the OTN night often on Monday or Tuesday, the big concert on the Wednesday, and regional / product-specific events on most nights.
For a lot of people, the highlight of the week are the keynotes, particularly the one from Larry on the Wednesday and the Fusion Middleware one by Thomas Kurian on the Tuesday. For the Larry keynote, as it can often go on for quite a while I tend to watch it, with a beer in hand, in the OTN Lounge in Moscone West (reading the various tweets from attendees as it goes along), but the Fusion Middleware one is particularly worth attending as it tends to be the showcase for whatever Oracle have been doing on the development side of the last twelve months. The other benefit of watching the keynotes in the OTN lounge is that you can do something else when the dreadfully-earnest-but-dreadfully-boring Infosys/HP/Other Vendor presentations take place before Larry's session, or at least catch up with email or do something to kill the time. If you do intend to go in person to the keynotes though, particularly in the case of Larry's one make sure you queue up early, and if you're a blogger, consider getting registered for blogger credentials as you'll get reserved seating near the front, with power outlets for your laptop.
Another important aspect of the event for customers in particular, is the exhibition, which usually runs in the main Moscone Center building (North?) from the Monday onwards. You'll find most of the major vendors, consultancies and so on there, and if you're looking for a partner to come and help you with an implementation, this is a good way to meet a lot of companies in a short space of time. For me, I'm not so sure on the exhibition - as an attendee, I'm not sure I want to spend what little time I have there being hit-on by salespeople, or collecting pens and bags, but if there was a particular product or vendor I wanted to speak to, it could be a good way to get this done, particulary if I was looking to justify a visit out to the event. What can be more interesting though is the Oracle Demogrounds that are usually in the same exhibition hall - often these are manned by the same PMs that you'll see presenting later in the week, and it's a good opportunity to get some hands-on time with the products and ask questions of the PMs responsible.
So, for me, it'll be an especially long OOW this year, as I arrive on the Wednesday before to attend the Oracle ACE Director 2-day briefing at HQ, then I go down to San Francisco on the Saturday to get ready for the start on Sunday. I'm also staying for an extra day to meet some of the product people on the Friday, before flying back late on Friday night. But if you're an OBIEE enthusiast, or a customer looking to get a heads-up on what's coming for the products in the next twelve months, this is the event you can't afford to miss - just make sure you do your homework (and book into the sessions, as they usually fill up fast) before you go.