This post could easily also be titled “Alright already , we give up, we get it, you have more money than did!”. One of the striking difference to me, as someone who attended 5 JavaOnes before the Oracle buyout, is the sheer magnitude and opulence on display this year at and even more so at . It makes it clear to me that Oracle’s decision to purchase was a done deal before even had a chance to resist.

Sun never had streets closed off in downtown San Francisco, but Oracle has. Sun never erected tents stretching the length of a city block, but Oracle has. Sun never had parties that included current hit bands, but Oracle has. Sun never had America’s Cup winning yacht teams show up to sign autographs and bring the trophy along as well, but Oracle has. Sun never had cross promotion with major hit movies (like Ironman), but Oracle has. Everywhere you turn there is an example of Oracle clearly stating that they are a successful company, with a large war chest and are not afraid to spend that war chest on their partners, users and extended community. I never had an issue with JavaOne, it always felt like a reasonable related to the cost of entry. But it is clear that Oracle is playing on an entirely different level.

A major difference between the Sun run conference and the Oracle version is the obvious shift in focus from community, to vendor. Those of you who have attended JavaOne in the past will recall the vendor pavilion being in Hall D of Moscone North, a large room no doubt, but not as large as the airplane-hangar-like cavern that is the Exhibition Hall in Moscone South where the keynotes and general sessions were held. But at OpenWorld, the room usage has been reversed. The Keynotes are now in Hall D, where the vendors were for JavaOne, and the vendors occupy not only the massive space in Moscone South, but also an area in Moscone West. The main JavaOne Keynotes are being held at Moscone in Hall D, but the rest of the JavaOne general sessions are set to be held in the ballrooms at the Hilton.

The significance of this difference is subtle but important. It clearly shows what Oracle’s priority is at these conferences. This is made plainly clear when attempting to watch a Keynote in Hall D, you have large 6-foot diameter concrete columns blocking your view of the stage in multiple locations. There are no such columns in Moscone South. So Oracle’s focus on vendors is so important, they are happy to sacrifice attendee experience at the Keynotes.

Just by my own observations walking around downtown San Francisco, it seems that about 3 out of every 5 conference lanyards I saw had the “Partner” (aka Vendor) embellishment on them.

It is also clear that Java is the marginal step child that Oracle got when it bought Sun. For all of Oracle’s attempts to reassure the community that Java will be taken care of and even given the chance to flourish, their actions speak louder than their words. The conference space for JavaOne is spread across at least 3 different hotels and is a logistical joke. While the OpenWorld folks enjoy the wide open spaces of the Moscone Convention Center, the Java community is forced to scurry around like rats up and down stairs and escalators, across streets and through mind numbing twists and turns to get from one session to another. The rooms are nowhere near the size of the main rooms at Moscone, so almost any decent session is packed to the last seat, with hotel staff shoe-horning folks in like cattle at the end and barking orders about “no standing” at attendees. The AV equipment is also sub-par with the projection screens so low to the ground that unless you are sitting in front row, your head is continually bobbing and weaving to catch the bullet points on the bottom third of the screen. I also personally witnessed conference staff asking attendees to unplug their laptops from wall outlets in session rooms, because the room had only one circuit, and placing gaffer’s tape over the outlets to prevent further use.

One other interesting logistical item that Oracle could take a lesson from Sun on is the use of conference badges. Sun was always proud to leverage their own JavaCard technology in their conference badges which made scanning badges as easy as placing a scanner against a badge. Quick, accurate and efficient. Oracle bought Sun, so clearly has access to the JavaCard technology, and yet they inexplicably chose not to use it. Instead each attendee badge has a standard linear barcode on the front and in addition each badge has a QR code on the back. Depending who wants to scan your badge (to get into a session room, or a vendor for example), they need to scan a different barcode. And if they want that QR code on the back, guess what, you have to physically remove your badge from your lanyard. Scanning the front barcode is not graceful either. I witnessed many unnecessarily long lines outside of session rooms on Monday because the conference staff couldn’t get the barcode readers to read through he plastic badge-holders reliably.

Lets hope this year is a transition year while Oracle figures out the logistics of having 3 conference run in parallel all in the same downtown area. Lets also hope that Oracle shows some more love to the Java community in the future and provides a better space to have the conference in.