With the support act of DreamForce last week, Oracle’s OpenWorld event is facing the healthy challenge of topping it. In terms of musical performances, Oracle does pretty good with Pearl Jam (that’s right, so much for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and MC Hammer) and a full festival across the city.

In some other areas, the competition may be tougher. And it comes from many different directions.

In terms of infrastructure, Larry Ellison is juggling the realities of the Cloud on one hand – absorbing slowly but steady on-premise data centres – and the tremendous potential of his engineered systems – with hardware and software entwined – on the other hand. A full Infrastructure-as-a-Service portfolio is due to be announced and as Ellison already suggested, it can be provided from Oracle’s own Public Cloud but also from the client’s own premises by means of a identical Private Cloud. No doubt, both would be the preferred scenario for Oracle, but the challenge will be to create the economies of scale (even without multi-tenancy) that can compete with the formidable efficiency of Amazon’s and Microsoft’s facilities. Who knows: engineered systems truly could make the difference here.

Furthermore, it is inevitable that Oracle will make some strategic moves in the area of enterprise mobility soon. Although it has mobile front-ends for many of its business and analytics solutions, it has not yet provided a unified platform that organizations can use to develop and manage mobile solutions on top of the entire Oracle stack.

Then, in the rapidly emerging arena of the of Social Customer Experience, Oracle seems well equipped to face off with the competition. This is not only due to the new Fusion CRM solution which combines a great user experience with multiple options for Cloud deployment  (you may want to check here how to kick-start its implementation). It is also due to the embedded Oracle Social Network and a very well-chosen set of acquisitions (RightNow Technologies, Vitrue, Collective Intellect and Involver), making for a rich portfolio. Combine it with the online, multi-channel power of Webcenter and you have a more than worthy opponent for Salesforce.com, which is good news for the market.

It all comes down to Oracle’s future success in dealing with its Achilles’ Heel, Karma and Holy Quest: to integrate all the different components of its software stack into a seamless, open and simplified solution suite. An even flow of applications, as industry guru Eddie Vedder would have put it.

Engineered to Integrate, may I already suggest a new, obvious tagline for next year’s conference?