A big conference like Oracle Open World is an excellent opportunity to learn more. But with all the books, blog posts, and on-demand learning on Internet, I really did not have to go to OOW this year to keep myself busy learning. Of course, I learned a lot, but for me, the biggest reward is the inspiration and ideas for future projects, as well as meeting friends in the community including Oracle employees who take part in it.
Regarding inspiration I think that the attention given to SQL and PL/SQL is awesome. This is much more than the code itself. It is about the ability to do more and more complex analysis for each new version of the database. You can do it with minimal amount of code, code that executes very close to the data.
It is also about Application Express that is a quick and responsive web interface for your data; web pages generated in the database with the ability to manipulate and report on the data. I am a DBA that keeps telling other DBAs that if they can choose APEX for a project they should do so. Anything else will be more complex with more layers (even with Oracle REST Data Service as a proxy). It is built on technology the DBA understands and can control.
In the era of Big Data and Cloud computing I think the most fascinating stuff is data mining. It has been around for years, but thanks to an renewed focus, data mining algorithms are cool again. Oracle Advanced Analytics is more than complex algorithms. You need to explore the data, and the more you know SQL in general, and analytical functions in particular, the better you are prepared for such a project.
I’m getting the impression that beside the Oracle database, preferably running on Exadata, I need nothing more than perhaps a couple of tiny applications servers in front, and network, of course.