The last day of Open World was a bit like the others... I attended one more session, and had a few conversations with other techies. I saw the Stellent folks do a cook-off in the No Slide Zone. With 1500 sessions, Open World can get a little crazy... frequently there were five sessions that sounded exactly the same! Of course, they weren't the same... which is a shame. Open World would benefit from five repeats of the best session, instead of five similar sessions.
As with most conferences, I learned more through one-on-one interactions than by going to sessions.
James had an interesting jab... he hoped that I would figure out why Oracle had the word "Open" in their conference title. He he he... yeah, Oracle doesn't get as much credit as other folks -- like IBM -- when it comes to the Open Source movement. Oracle has been a member of the Eclipse foundation for quite a while, they've open-sourced pieces of their ADF framework, as well as TopLink: their Java database persistence layer. They also have a few Linux kernel developers on staff to support Oracle Enterprise Linux, as well as other pieces of the GNU/Linux project. I can't say if they do as much as IBM or Novell, but they do their fair share...
One thing that surprised me was the sheer number of applications Oracle sells. They has been acquiring so many companies so fast, many are wondering how they could get them to all work together... its a challenge even for an all-Oracle shop.
Let's say your big company owns and loves a particular Oracle Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system... Suddenly you acquire another company, who uses a different Oracle CRM system. No problem, just force the smaller company to migrate their data... This costs millions, but what choice do you have?
Now suddenly you want a partnership with a third company, which requires you to share customer data. Newer Identity Standards can ensure a secure sharing of data... but how should you do it? To make matters worse, the 3rd company owns a different CRM system. It ain't Oracle, and there's no way they're changing for you. Consolidation isn't an option, and no standard exists that would satisfy your needs...
What to do?
I feel that people may be trying to solve this problem in the wrong way... Consolidation and standards are merely tactics: the strategic goal is interoperability. This applies for CRM, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), as well as Enterprise Content Management (ECM). Of course, that begs the question: how on earth do we achieve effective interoperability? SOA, BPEL, and ESBs seem to be Oracle's current plan... but other problems need to be addressed as well.
Hopefully my fans will be pleased to hear that Andy MacMillan and I will be working hard on the details of this problem... at least in the ECM realm. McGraw Hill has accepted our book proposal about a unified approach to information management! The title is still a work-in-progress.
With a bit of luck, by this time next year I'll be a two-time author, and you'll have the answers you need about unified ECM ;-)