Monday, October 12, 2009

Finding Rational Markets in the OpenWorld Firehose

My first day at this year's Oracle OpenWorld has come and gone. Due to fog at San Francisco International Airport, my flight out of Ontario was delayed almost two hours, which meant that after arrival, hotel check-in, OpenWorld registration, and OpenWorld goodie pickeup (backpacks were a nice touch this year, and the alumni jacket will come in handy), I didn't get to the Oracle PartnerNetwork sessions until 3:00 pm. And, to tell the truth, I didn't stay for all of the OPN stuff, opting to head back to my hotel room to listen to Scott McNealy online before grabbing dinner at Cafe Mason (yes, I skipped Howard Street last night; plenty of time for festivities later in the week).

For me the chief takeaway from memory lane wasn't McNealy's trip down memory lane, or Larry Ellison's "we were fined by TPC for releasing results too early, so now eat the real results, IBM" speech. I was more impressed with something that I heard during the Oracle PartnerNetwork session...and it isn't even something that I can use.

After hearing several people at Oracle speak about several programs for partners, Dale Weideling brought Mark Hall to the stage. Hall is not with Oracle, but with a company called Rational Markets, and he stated that we Oracle partners were the first public audience to hear what he was about to say.

Based upon his experience with Chief Information Officers (he headed the CIO Executive Council at one point), Hall stated that their number one pain point was that the timing between buyers and vendors was all askew. When a CIO is in the market to get something, the CIO has difficulty finding something who offers what the CIO wants. But when the CIO isn't in the market for anything...that's when all the vendors show up.

Hall then looked at it from the vendor's perspective, and the vendor's desire to find an opportunity right when the purchaser is ready to go into the market.

The common way in which valuable sales opportunities are identified is via a sales funnel. If you're not familiar with the sales funnel, it is a model in which a number of potential sales leads are evaluated, and "funneled" down to one or more real purchasers who will actually buy your stuff.

Hall compared the sales funnel to a meat grinder, and noted that the whole thing is "massively inefficient."

Hall's solution, Rational Markets, is

...a breakthrough community of CIOs whose mission is to establish a new working paradigm between enterprise IT buyers and sellers.

Large amounts of specifics weren't provided during the OPN presentation, other than to note that the buyers can maintain their privacy until they choose to reveal their identity. I guess that helps to remove the pester factor so that CIOs don't have to be bugged by sales reps all day. When you think about this, it also benefits the sales reps, since you can't waste time cold-calling leads if you don't know who they are.

Whether Rational Markets will attract enough business to stand the traditional funnel model on its head remains to be seen. In my case, my products are sold to government agencies who conduct standard open procurement processes, so Rational Markets wouldn't really benefit me, it seems. Still, it's an intriguing idea and worth following.

As for the McNealy-Ellison keynote, here's part of what Oracle had to say about that:

Today, Oracle announced a new world record TPC-C benchmark result for Oracle® Database 11g running on Sun SPARC® servers with CMT technology and the Sun Solaris Operating System (1). This result proves that the Oracle-Sun combination runs faster than IBM DB2 running on IBM’s flagship Power 595(2)....

Oracle and Sun were able to set the world record using eight times less hardware than IBM used for its largest benchmark (3).

The Oracle-Sun configuration consumed four times less energy than the IBM configuration even though it ran 26 percent faster.

The Oracle-Sun benchmark demonstrated 16 times better transaction response times than the IBM benchmark(4).

Oracle Database 11g running on the Solaris™ 10 Operating System achieved a record-breaking 7.7 million tpmC at $2.34/tpmC.

Oracle is now the TPC-C world record holder in both major categories – performance(1) and price/performance(5)....

(1) 12-Node Sun SPARC Enteprise T5440 server cluster 7,717,510 tmpC, $2.34/tpmC, available 12/14/09.
(2) IBM Power 595 Server Model 9119-FHA, 6,085,166 tpmC, $2.81/tpmC, available 12/10/08 (Best IBM DB2 TPC-C result).
(3) Hardware size measured in racks of equipment as priced for the benchmarks.
(4) Based on average response time of New Order transaction in TPC-C benchmark.
(5) HP ProLiant ML350 G6 server running Oracle Database, 232,002 tpmC, $0.54USD/tpmC, available May 21, 2009.

But the Oracle press release didn't get around to recording Scott McNealy's comments during the keynote, in which he went after everybody, even zinging Ellison himself at one point by noting that Ellison could have done better marketing when talking about the future of Java.

Well, Monday promises to be a busy day, beginning with an important 8:00 meeting and ending with an important reception, with several database sessions in between. Hopefully I won't feel like I've been through a meat grinder by the time the day's over.

(Pictures: fog (license), funnel (license), meat grinder (license))
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