We had exclusive access to the Leader's Circle Q&A session with Larry Ellison at OpenWorld 2014.

One of the highlights of our trip to this year's OpenWorld conference was the exclusive Leader's Circle access that we were afforded by Oracle. This presented a number of excellent opportunities to meet more privately with senior Oracle executives, as well as senior Business leaders from around the world. Tuesday afternoon saw Larry Ellison’s traditional second Conference keynote speech (although last year he missed it in favour of the America's Cup!), shortly after this we were fortunate enough to be in the Marriott Marquis conference hall when Larry made an impromptu appearance for a Q&A session.

Larry Ellison Q&A Leaders Circle

There were was a wide variety of questions thrown Larry's way which made the session all the more interesting.

First up, Larry was asked about the challenge of how to integrate the wide variety of different SaaS applications that the questioner's Company had acquired. Larry argued that this problem had been seen before in the IT industry in the last 50 years and was in-fact a repetitive problem, where the first software companies to market offer point solutions saw their software being snapped up. Purchasing companies then looked at the array of separate solutions they had purchased and the headache of how to integrate them together effectively begins.

Larry said "it's not realistic for me to tell you to buy all your solutions from one provider" but at the same time taking 20 applications from 20 different providers is also a bad idea. The solution is for Organisations to buy suites of applications - and of course Oracle offers suites of cloud applications across CX or ERP for example, as well as its PaaS and Integration Cloud Service offerings that act as the "glue" to link together the modern business' many SaaS solutions.

Another question of note, which was one that was also being discussed around OpenWorld more generally, was Larry's view of the role of a CIO in 2014. He contrasted the previous responsibilities which focused on things like disaster recovery (DR) planning, network considerations, virtual machine (VM) or router configurations and the general concerns of running a Data Centre, with the new world of the SaaS model, and the growth of public and hybrid cloud services where these concerns were no longer the CIO’s but the cloud service provider’s. This was freeing up the CIO to focus on the Business and its aims and enabling the CIO to provide views on how technology could assist in driving the business forward.

In contrast to the more technical questions that were being asked throughout the session, one audience member recalled being at OpenWorld in 2011 in the week that Steve Jobs had passed away - he wondered whether Larry felt Apple had stalled since then. Oracle's new CTO responded by first saying that Steve Jobs was a genius and irreplaceable, before moving on to draw a comparison between his best friend's vision of Apple building and offering complete appliances, with his own vision of Oracle delivering hardware and software engineered to work together. Contrasting Apple with the Android operating system and the myriad of manufacturers of handsets and other parts that all come together as the phone appliance, Larry drew the comparison to Oracle's approach versus that of its cloud competitors who all run their software on Oracle's platform. This was a powerful way to re-state his vision and strategy of Oracle producing hardware and software "engineered to work together".

This was a real bonus session for us this year, offering some real enlightenment which above all else cemented the view that Larry is too passionate about his Company and his technology to step away from his work just yet.

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