Oracle OpenWorld 2012

by Seth Miller

I was about to board a plane to return home to Minneapolis from San Francisco but since my flight is delayed for another hour I will share some thoughts about my week. Today concludes day seven of my second attendance of Oracle OpenWorld. It was bigger and better than ever. Oracle and the sponsors spare no expense to make this the largest and best run event of its kind.

I attended last year as a guest and observer. I made few plans and held no expectations. In fact, I planned so poorly that I had to book a hotel across the San Francisco Bay in Sausalito since all of the hotels in downtown San Francisco were filled to capacity. I took the Larkspur ferry every morning which was a thrill in itself but burned precious time, which is always at a premium during OpenWorld with so much to fit in to each day during such a relatively short trip. My first OpenWorld visit reminded me of my first trip to Las Vegas in that it was such a surreal experience that my excitement level was piqued every minute of every day. By the fifth day, I was completely exhausted.

This year, however, I took a completely different approach. I purchased my conference ticket and booked my hotel nine months in advance of the conference (the day they became available) and booked my flight shortly thereafter. I set up my session schedule as soon as it was made available and filled every time slot with sessions. I decided that my focus for this conference was on my career and everything else would take lower priority.

I’m certainly not implying that I didn’t have a lot of fun while I was there, but I did opt for education and networking over games and trinkets. In fact, I never made it into any of the exhibition halls, attended only one evening event and skipped all of the keynotes (they don’t offer me much value and are recorded so I can watch them later). Some of these decisions were based on my health and I was opting for sleep instead of parties to have enough strength to get through the next day’s sessions.

My health was abysmal this year. It certainly could have been worse considering I had a gallstone attack that put me in the emergency room just a week prior. But I feel like I endured enough to complain a little. I had such a severe sore throat the first three days, starting just hours after I landed at SFO, that I visited the nearest Urgent Care clinic on Monday morning to make sure it was not strep and I wasn’t contagious. The throat pain continued through the rest of the week and developed into a full blown head cold and cough Tuesday night. I fought through it and medicated heavily during the day to take in as much of the event as possible.

The biggest glass-half-full spin I can put on my illness is that I was able to attend both of the sessions in which I was to speak. Thank goodness both of them were on Sunday afternoon (the day after I arrived) and followed one after the other and in the same room. I consider both of them to have been very successful.

The first session was a round table that the International Oracle Users Group (IOUG) asked me to participate in. The other members of the round table were April Sims, Ray Smith and Michael Abbey, all of whom I admin and have been doing this a long time. The audience was small which turned out to be a good thing. We believe the small size encouraged participation and made for a great Q & A that would have gone on for another hour given the opportunity. It was a good mix of experience and personalities for the panel as well as the audience. I really hope I am asked to participate in this type of discussion again. I didn’t know what to expect going in but it turned out to be a great experience.

The second session I was to participate in was my speech entitled, Efficient DBA: Gain Time by Reducing Command Line Keystrokes. The main theme of the presentation is that any command or process that is repeated more than once in a day should be reduced to four keystrokes or less. The presentation showcases the scripts and methods I have developed over the last few years to make Oracle DBAs more efficient by affording them more time spent on the important and less time on repeatable and redundant. I practiced my speech at least a dozen times over the month leading up to the trip, including once in front of my fellow DBAs and manager at my workplace. It went exactly as I had practiced and was well attended. I received a few questions and comments of praise but the survey results will hopefully reveal the overall result of how it was perceived.

Throughout the rest of my sessions over the course of the week, I not only took notes of the presentation and absorbed as much information as possible, but I also took note of things about the speeches that I thought would be useful for my future presentations. These notes included making comments to the audience like asking for silenced mobile devices, making sequence changes like asking for questions before concluding my presentation, style changes like personalizing with more humor and environmental changes like using a lapel microphone and moving around the stage instead of standing at the podium.

I am honored to have participated in the Sunday User Group Forum. I want to especially thank IOUG for asking me to participate in the round table and accepting my own presentation. I am already thinking about next year and taking note of things that could potentially improve my experience during OpenWorld 2013. Of course, I can’t prevent illness but I can plan for those situations. For example, if I stayed at a hotel that was closer to the conference it would be easier to rest and recover during periods of downtime. I could also make plans to have a backup speaker for any presentations I have to at least not let that time slot go to waste.

Over the next year, I will continue to network with members of the Oracle community. I have committed myself to have a much higher level of participation in community activities like blogging, participating in forums, presenting whenever possible, fulfilling my role as VP and improving my local Oracle Users Group, volunteering for and supporting IOUG, writing and publishing white papers and articles, becoming an expert in my areas of strength and getting my 11g OCP in preparation for 12c OCM certification. I believe with this experience, I will also be worthy of becoming an Oracle ACE. The next year should prove to be an exciting one. I’m looking forward to it!