I recently signed up for Oracle OpenWorld 2011 (Blogger registration) just last week. So now I am awaiting to be approved (or not as the case may be). I found out about this additional registration process last year when a friend of mine got through.The requirements are pretty basic, i.e. a blog about Oracle products and/or solutions and updates within the last month. Your application will then get sent through to Oracle Corporate Communications team for approval. My friend signed up again, so we are both hoping to get approved and attend together though with a new baby on the way he is more likely to not attend.
I've been to two OpenWorld events (both in San Francisco), and in all honesty it should be a must visit event for anyone in the industry (at least once). The full attendance fee might be a bit prohibitive for some at over $2,000 (for regular folk) but is well worth the investment, which is exactly how it should be seen. But, in case you don't have the budget for the full attendance there are a few options for attending such as the Blogger registration, or a Discover pass ($50 - $125 depending on registration date) to name a few. I'm not too keen on the Discover pass since you don't get to attend any sessions (or the parties!), but it is an entry way to the other invaluable opportunities such a networking.You can find a comparison of the different packages on the Oracle OpenWorld site here. If you do get approved, there is still of course, the travel and accommodation considerations which many book a full year in advance to avoid the rise in prices, and also availability. My first attendance was on a pass from our Oracle solution provider in 2006, with hotel and flight covered by the company. I was lucky enough to find a surprisingly good motel just 3 blocks away which is walking distance and where you want to be unless you like commuting. Last year I stayed in the Oakland area with a friend and had to commute via a mile walk, train, and then 2 blocks. Lots of good exercise but with all the walking you will do at OpenWorld, your feet will not be thanking you regardless of good shoes!
If you think selling your attendance is difficult (so you can get the company to pay for something to help you out, even if it is just for your time), think again. Oracle is very thoughtful in helping you to write a return on investment letter to your managers or whomever. You can find a link here to that helpful page. I have similar points:
- great educational opportunity to learn about Oracle products and solutions from experts, actual customers with experience, and Oracle themselves. You do need to plan your sessions based on your level of expertise and what you are trying to get out of your trip in order to get the full benefit. From my experience too many of the sessions are not appropriately labeled for the correct expertise level and their contents, so I often find myself moving from room to room within the same time period to catch something of interest based on my schedule (which is why I register for a few concurrent sessions).
- networking with peers, experts, and Oracle staff from all areas including development, support, consulting, managerial, and 'C' levels. This is a big sell since you can get really good contacts within Oracle to aid in addressing immediate or future issues such as the developers that work on GoldenGate, Enterprise Manager, ASM, or the Oracle kernel.
- contact existing and new vendors. While you do get the usual song and dance, there are really good contacts to be made as some vendors (mostly the larger companies) bring out some of their hidden internal talent to answer questions. Seeing the various offerings, especially for something you need but didn't know a company existed that offered a solution is golden.
Of course, the parties are incredible, and the overall experience overwhelming. I do think that for anyone that has ever attended the feedback is the same. You need to know what you want from the event, plan accordingly, and send enough people to get the job done. At least 3 people should be sent, as only one will simply not work unless your needs are really narrow. There is simple too much ground to cover for one person.
The event is from Oct 2 - 6 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Do yourself a favor and register now to attend. You will not regret the experience.