Oct 27, 2015 ยท 4 minutes

Life on Oracle OpenWorld 2015 began on a Sunday night with some power rock walk-up music. And then California’s richest man told a joke about how amazing his sailboats are.

“Ok, I’m... I’m on. By the way we are selling those boats in the lobby, and – uh – they’re great. If you wanna teach your kids how to sail, this is the boat you wanna get, to start with, it’s,” pause for comedic effect, “really great.”

Larry Ellison, majority owner of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, decisively gestured with a slide clicker.

“Ok.” Looks at the screen behind him, a flash of confusion rippling across his swagger. Shaking it off: “There it is,” then, incongruously, “that’s not the slide exactly that I was looking for.” Powers through:  “Ok. We are in the middle, and I really do mean in the middle, of a generational shift in computing…”

And we’re off. Ellison quickly enumerated his current competitors – Amazon, Salesforce, Google and Microsoft – and shat squarely on his vanquished foes. Both IBM and SAP, he said, are “nowhere in the cloud.”

Oracle is in “all three layers of the cloud.” Salesforce is only in two, according to Ellison’s slides.

“Our two biggest competitors over the last two decades have been IBM and SAP, and we no longer pay any attention to either of them,” Ellison said, with the sort of scrunched-up smile one supposes that the Art of War recommends for such statements.

At last reporting, cloud services revenue accounted for only 7 percent of Oracle’s total, though a bright spot amid some troubling trends. “The cloud” was the unrelenting theme of OpenWorld’s opening oratory and marketing, combined with assurances that support for traditional on-premise, client server products won’t immediately vaporize.

With Ellison’s benediction, the techBloods officially laid claim to San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center, and laid durable blood-red turfing over Howard St. between 4th and 3rd for good measure.

Not to be outdone, techCrips leader Marc Benioff – who just last month ordered that very intersection to be clad in his own blue marketing – chose the morning of the first day of Oracle OpenWorld to break ground on his new children’s hospital in Oakland, alongside the Mayor and the Governor. Also, he Tweeted a chart depicting Salesforce’s (or, as Larry Ellison refers to it, “Salesforce dot com’s”) market lead over Oracle in the CRM universe.

Shortly after Benioff set down his ceremonial shovel, and after Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd set the land record for most uses of the word ‘cloud’ in a keynote, I found myself at the front of the press registration line.

“I’m sorry, it looks like your registration request was denied on August 24th,” said an apologetic young man in a black Oracle polo.

I’d attempted to register sometime in the summer and forgotten about it, but recently I’d been getting some emails.

“Oh, those get sent out to everyone who registered,” he said. “It looks like your registration request was denied by the lead person on the team, though. So there’s not much I can do, you’d have to talk to them about it.”

Denied by the lead person! Sounds serious! “What is the lead person’s name?” I asked.

“Well I don’t work for Oracle, I’m a third party contractor, and I can’t tell you the name of any Oracle employees,” he replied. “I can ask for a confirmation though.”

The confirmation came.

“They said it looks like your publication hasn’t written much about Oracle,” the blameless boother said.

I staggered off to extract some surreptitious message from the Oracle that had spurned me, along its fringes and among its suited men and hull of a world-class catamaran and suited men and very few woman.

Speaking of which... Marc Benioff, himself a man, benignly pointed out on Twitter the gender imbalance among Oracle’s keynote speakers, striking a bold note for tokenism.

Take that Larry. Whose cloud is bigger now?

Like the Egyptian revolution and the death of baby Hitler at the hands of time-travellers, this is in part a Twitter story. After I shuffled ignonimously away from Press Registration, my editors Tweeted the news that I had been denied access to the OpenWorld of Oracle. My deliverance came just moments later.

When I returned to registration, I was told everything had been taken care of, “on the back end.” Praise the cloud!