Oracle OpenWorld 2008: It’s all about being big

So here I am at Oracle OpenWorld 2008, being held through Thursday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The first thing that strikes a visitor is that, for Oracle, being bigger isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

“The person who wins in software is the person with a lot of scale,” Oracle president Charles Phillips tells a packed audience during his keynote this morning. “Being a leader is cultural for us.”

So, a honking huge lunch tent is located between Moscone North and South, taking up a couple of city blocks and shutting off access to Howard Street between Third and Fourth Streets, except on foot. A herd of elephants could go grazing through it with no difficulty whatsoever.

The exhibition hall is full, and 43,000 people, which is the equivalent of what, three brigades of troops? are streaming everywhere. There are tons of laptops at the access stations, which visitors can use. They’re ThinkPads, my personal fave. Gallons of water are being consumed from the dispensers, reams of publications are available for the visitor, and hordes of security guards are stationed at 20-foot intervals along the food tent — ah, heck, it’s a pavilion, let’s tell it as it is.

Even the voices of people steering the morning crowds are big. “I’ve got the purple tags, don’t ignore me, you gotta have the purple tags,” bellows a large man, probably an Oracle staffer, as the crowd streams past in the morning. Naturally, everyone ignores him. “The lunch is here, it’s over here,” bellows a security guard in the afternoon, as the crowd erupts out of the buildings in search of sustenance.

The city of San Francisco is happy. Not only are hotels filling up for the event, but nightclubs, bars, restaurants and other, less savory places are humming in excitement. Even the clean-up;s going to be big: City authorities tacked on a full weekend before the event and a full day after the event for setup and cleanup. Perhaps Oracle is right: Size matters.

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