Why AWS Summit is free but Oracle World costs $2650

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Attending Oracle World a half dozen times in the past decade, I can say it’s quite an event. All of Moscone center plus local hotels & many streets are taken over to host the event. As an author of Oracle & Open Source on O’Reilly I’ve snagged comped tickets, otherwise the conference would be far out of reach.

Amazon has their AWS Summit, which it turns out is free. What does this highlight about the very different cultures & business models of the two firms?

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1. Two iconic founders

We’re hearing about Jeff Bezos in the news constantly these days. With his purchase of Washington Post, and his huge play in cloud computing with Amazon Web Services, it’s hard to avoid him.

Meanwhile Larry Ellison recedes somewhat into the background. Last I heard he won the America’s Cup Yacht Race, but only after various cheating scandals subsided & a crash besides. But the story of Oracle has always been a wild wild ride.

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If you’re interested to learn the sordid history of Oracle corp, look no further than Mike Wilson’s The difference between god* and Larry Ellison. Hint: God doesn’t think he’s Larry Ellison.

Also: Why Oracle Won’t Kill MySQL

2. Two billion dollar companies

If you look at the two firms as I did on February 7th 2014, you’ll see their Market Cap’s are close.
ORCL at 167.26b and AMZN 165.83b. Recall though that Amazon has only been around since 1994, while Oracle’s been tormenting us since 1977!

Related: Are SQL Databases Dead?

3. Two sales-heavy conferences

Both companies have conferences. Oracle’s Open World is a week long affair bring countless success stories and case studies, but all vetted carefully to present a strong & compelling marketing message. Less technical, these sessions speak to the high level strengths of the platform and components.

Amazon’s Re:Invent conference though a smaller one-day affair, also uses a similar model. Bring a lot of marketing muscle to bear, and sell sell sell.

They are both wonderful for what they are, but often gloss over the technical details. They understate difficulties, and troubles as well as Implementation challenges and costs too. Though through all this they make great networking events.

Read: Why AirBNB Didn’t Have to Fail

4. Fat margins or Thin?

There are two sort of big models for selling software.

First there is the Oracle model, send in a high profile sales team. Wine & dine the client, sell hard. Win them over, and get ’em on Oracle. Sell them with add-ons, and software lock-in. Once that’s complete it’s too painful to leave Oracle. That’s when you squeeze. Customers may learn too little too late. For customer businesses, shareholders may begin to regret their decision to go with Oracle. Or it may be buried at the bottom of a balance sheet.

One things for sure, shareholders of Oracle surely benefit from Larry’s model. You become a multi-billion dollar industry unto yourself, and even the likes of spinoffs like Salesforce.com and competitors like Workmarket can’t slow you down much.

Amazon’s model is quite different. Here you kill your competitors by squeezing your own margins. Your company culture is about austerity as opposed to exhuberance. And you win by being first to market, and relentless price competition.

Check this: Why High Availability Is So Hard to Achieve

5. Who wins in Bezos’ world? Customers!

An Oracle Openworld package for 2013 would set you back $2650.

AWS Summit is free. That’s right, it will cost you zilch to attend. Contrast this with Oracle World, which besides also being largely a marketing conference that sells to customers, and which is in part funded by marketing budgets, it is by no means free.

Customers win big in the world Bezos is creating.

Check this: Why High Availability Is So Hard to Achieve

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