Category Archives: Cloud

#Oracle cutting in inspiration and new business?


Over the many years Oracle has been leading the database world, I guess they are now taking something of a wrong turn.
Let me briefly fill you in on my thoughts.

Basically I see two “minor” shifts that are significantly indicative of this:

  1. Oracle Standard Edition 2
  2. Oracle ACE Program

Okay, so you might think I am crazy, but let me try to explain.

Oracle Standard Edition 2

Sometime last year, the long expected, anticipated…, dreaded perhaps even, change to the Oracle database licensing strategy was there.

Oracle Standard Edition (SE) and Oracle Standard Edition One (SE1) licenses were addressed.
There was A LOT of debate on this, I mean, A LOT. Discussions which ran all the way back to HQ, and were driven by passionate people inside and outside of Oracle, inside and outside of the Oracle community… To no avail.

It had been very clear for quite a long time that the SE / SE1 strategy was nothing short of unsustainable inside the Oracle licensing realm. Even though, Oracle SE and SE1 enabled many projects and customers to adopt the phenomenal Oracle technology for their projects. It has some limitations, but with smart thinking and smart planning, a lot of projects could be run with Oracle SE(1). “I am such a good DBA, I can even do it with Oracle Standard Edition!”
Alas, we now have Oracle Standard Edition 2 (SE2) with a new and upgraded price of US 17k (!!) making this solution rather out of the question for many of the projects meant in the above. Please note that SE1 already was a significant investment for some of the projects I have learned to know over the years in regions as the Baltics and Africa.
Yes, of course, I know you can do all of this “In the cloud”. But with the limitation that there are hardly any CSPs (Cloud Service Providers 😉 that enable you to make use of the “cheaper” Oracle license. If you want to leverage your local cloud vendor (mind my word-choice here) it’s BYOL (Bring Your Own License) and, voila, you’re done in for anyway.

Hence, the first significant “shift” in Oracle’s span of attention for new business, creativity and growth…

Oracle ACE Program

More recently there was also a change in the Oracle ACE Program. Which has also led to much debate. But… that bit of the change I am not referring too, I am referring to the bit that does not affect me directly…

Oracle has a small number of very highly appreciated and “industry leading” community advocates called “Oracle ACE Directors”. These people not only have a deep knowledge of everything that is happening in this corner “of the industry”, but are also very passionate about sharing this knowledge. Sharing with Oracle Users, sharing with stakeholders within the Oracle organization, basically, with everyone with a hunger for knowledge around the technology.

For this, these Directors had a few privileges. When the invested their time and their energy in traveling this globe to share, Oracle would support them in some of their travel expenses. This always had the air of “wow, they are paid”. Believe me, it was bare minimal support, just a flying ticket and a hotel-bed to a previously approved conference, when they actually were accepted to do a talk. Nothing shiny, nothing business-classy…

Until now. With the changes to the system, also these modest privileges for the Directors have seized to be.

There was my second significant “shift” in Oracle’s span of attention for new business, creativity and growth…

It has me worried… I should not worry, as it does not affect my day-to-day business… yet.

Albeit we have this cool tech, with PL/SQL, with APEX, with all the features, options and what not, to create solutions that could really better the word (I also firmly believe this).

Oracle is just closing this door, and my toes were still in the doorway, so that hurts.

This was my rant, hope it helps.


#DOAG2016, definitely a crazy week.

#DOAG2016, the largest Oracle Community gathering in Europe. Taking place in Nuremberg, at the Nuremberg Convention Center NCC, one of the more impressive places to hold such a conference, towering 4 stories high, with a big central atrium!!
It is a huge effort to get all of this together!

In this blog-post I want to highlight some of the crazy things I experienced this week… And… I did try to follow my own schedule, but I wasn’t overly successful.

Young talent

One of the things that was somehow quite clear this week, is that we have a lot of young talent out there, eager to learn and share experiences. It is not just the #NextGen “movement” of DOAG, of which Carolin Hagemann made me aware, but just young people on the conference itself.

Discussing “Young PL/SQL” at the unconference session made us all aware that our part of the IT trade is no very sexy and popular with the youngsters. This all despite what was mentioned above. In universities we train SQL, but we don’t train to create real-life business applications, leveraging the power of the one language that keeps SQL close to the data it feasts on, PL/SQL. But, more on that below (Thick Database Paradigm).
To promote PL/SQL, basically two ground requirements were defined:

  1. Create a free ‘PDB as a Service’ for schools;
  2. Inspire teachers to talk about data centric computing

By finding somebody to be regionally or globally owner of this quest, it should be possible to get young professionals as familiar using PL/SQL for creating performant and business-ready applications as they were familiar using Microsoft Excel to do their accounting “back in the days”

ACE program

“There is a disturbance in the force!”

For everybody not acquainted with the Oracle ACE Program by the Oracle Technology Network… You should be!! Please read up, as it is an incredible cool initiative.

The disturbance, you ask?
Well, to retain your “status”, Oracle expects you to do “stuff” and this “stuff” is then evaluated on a yearly basis. Basically the initiative, the disturbance, is to get some transparency in “the stuff”. And, as always, everybody wants change, but few actually are good at “change”. There are rimples and things that change, but in the end; everything will be fine, unless, obviously, when it will not be fine.

Talks

I was honored to (co)host to talks at #DOAG2016:

Bad Boys of Replication – Changing everything…
With Oracle ACED and good friend Björn Rost, about an intense migration project we did some time ago. We were even offered to host our talk in Tokio, the biggest hall at DOAG!

Saving lives at sea at an industrial scale using Oracle Cloud Technology
An insightful (at least I like to think so) talk with my colleague Oliver Limberg. The talk is about the rapid development of a global portal for the maritime logistics branch.

I had a blast, and I hope you did too!

Community spirit

Oracle User Group conferences are about sharing and are about fun. Mr. Martin Widlake wrote a good post about that.

Apart from all the “more formal” things that happened, there were quite a few extracurricular activities, mostly involving an Irish Pub or a restaurant.

This all may sound quite funny and exciting, and, yes, it is alto talk with your co-workers: “Oh, hey, you are going to have fun and party all week!” Of course it is not a drag and a bore, but it has very profound function!
Whenever you run into trouble, these are the exact same people that are not only able, but probably also inclined to help you out, as you would help them out, as friends do among each other. In the end, they, you, your boss and your clients benefit. This is not to be underestimated too much.

The extra, special bit, that DOAG offers are the so called “unconference sessions”.
Not scheduled, no slides, nothing official, just getting together and discussing subjects of interest. Our “Young PL/SQL” was one of these “unconference session”, which turned out to be a great (and valuable) success!

Meeting people

Just to name a few, heroes of long and of yet to come for #DOAG2016:

Dietmar Neugebauer
Frank Dernoncourt
Joel Kallman
Johannes Ahrends
Kamil Stawiarski
Laurent Leturgez
Maja Veselica
Marcel Hofstetter
Piet de Visser
Sabine Heimsath
Stefan Kinnen
Stew Ashton
Uwe Hesse
Zoran Pavlovic
And alle the ones I forget to mention here!!

Thick Database Paradigm

Noting new in IT…

Well, no.

The Thick Database Paradigm (opposed to the “No PL/SQL Paradigm”) is nothing new. We have actually all been doing this since the eighties. Program your business rules, your constraints, everything that makes sure that your data is all that you want it to be, close to that data.
There are so many reasons that speak in favor of this approach that it is nearly overwhelming and deserves at least a book in itself. But, let me make a small attempt to highlighting a few here:

  • spare yourself network bandwidth, by not sending data all over your network to be processed
  • safeguard your data inside the (Oracle) database, so it can be protected by all that has been invented to do so
  • Transact data where it lives and combine and aggregate it there, you will be amazed by the efficiency
  • Remind yourself why you used to think “business logic in middle teer” was a good idea

If you leave possibile religious believes aside, there is no other conclusion possible then that the reinvention of “Thick Database” is the (re)discovery of 2016, right from the time when IT still made sense.

Yes, there are cases where an “Enterprise Service Bus” makes sense, but, as with every technology withing IT, it has a very specific area where it actually adds value or even makes sense. At best, a lot less than all the places where it is used currently!
Not to get carried away in this joyful blog-post, I will leave this topic at this.

The end

I hope to see you at the next Oracle User Group conference, somewhere… Please watch for the asterisk at his page for the conferences that I will attend.

Visiting User Experience Event 18|3|2014

Today I had the privilege to visit the Oracle UX team from the USA. This special event was hosted by Amis Services (@AMIS_Services) and my visit was with Michel Koolwaaij, my esteemed colleague from VIR e-Care Solutions.

The event was super-well attended by a lot of enthusiastic people, comprised of students, novel developers and experienced seniors alike. I also got to meet a whole bunch of super interesting people (again) like:

  • Ultan Ó Broin (@ultan)
  • Patrick Barel (@patch72)
  • Noel Portugal (@noelportugal)
  • Lucas Jellema (@lucasjellema)
  • Lonneke Dikmans (@lonnekedikmans)
  • Mark Vilrokx (@mvilrokx)
  • Aylin Uysal

Through this post I would like to share some of what I picked up from the presentations and demos I went to and key learning points I figured out for myself.

Demo of Oracle voice (by Mark Vilrokx)
Oracle voice is a solutions based on Siri powered by Nuance which in fact now comprises a super lightweight front-end interface for voice-controlling Oracle Fusion Apps. The actual voice recognition and lexicon integration is done on the Nuance back-end.
A personal fun thing to find out is that actually the technology is again based on the work of the Belgian speech-specialists of Lernout & Hauspie, which I got to meet over 10 years ago!

Demo of Oracle mobilitics
Basically this is a demonstration of one of my key-take-aways for today.
These days you, as a classical developer, are challenged to step back, forget “grabbing data and throwing it into a grid or master-detail” and think about how you would “interact” with the data you have in your system.
If you think about it, you would not really want to scroll through master-detail… You want to visualize your data, so it becomes something more tangible and give you an overview with the ability to drill down or zoom in.
The “Designing for Mobility & Simplicity” talk of Aylin Uysal dove deeper into this.

Presentation UX directions with HTML5 by Mark Vilrokx
For me this was somewhat of a confirmation, strangely enough. Basically HTML5 is used as a rapid application development framework for Oracle ADF applications. In effect meaning that an Oracle APEX development environment supersedes Oracle ADF in both speed and diversity of application development (J) End of sentence

Presentation Designing for simplicity by Aylin Uysal
Stressing that person to person collaboration is still super important also (and perhaps even especially) for UX design. Organize several sesison consisting of different stakeholder groups, since UI design differs by user (or stakeholder) category.
Information abundance in classical UIs is to be replaced by minimal data UI design. Having less data, better (more visually represented) strongly increases UX!

Presentation Wireframing 101 by Ultan Ó Broin
Wireframing, in this context was new to me. Create a low fidelity “sketch” of what you want, don’t prototype anything yet! Create difference wireframes of applications and application flows to prevent “Squeak and poop” behavior of management or customers when presenting UX designs in wireframe format. A wireframe is no nicely worked out app, making it difficult to judge for outsiders.
A nice example of such rapid prototyping is the way Google Glasses is developed.
A good tool for digital wireframing (but also just for that) is Balsamiq which is used by the Oracle UX team as the preferred wireframing tool.

Presentation One picture worth a thousand words by Lucas Jellema
In this presentation of more pictures that words, Lucas gave some very cool examples of how pictures are able to, indeed, transfer much more information that words. An inspiration to use when you are UX-ing.

Visit to the Chamber of Secrets
I am so sorry, I had to sign quite an NDA before being let in… Please visit your local Oracle UX-session!

So, what are the key learning points:

  • Step back, and think free-flow how you would consume information. Unthink current UI design and… step back!
  • Less is more, also in UI design. A user experience is about getting to what the NEED as quickly as possible.
  • APEX is a viable development tool, in any situation!
  • User Interface design is becoming a serious trade, a trade to take into account.
  • Watch out for those InfoTiles!

A special “Thank you” to Wieteke Gaykema from AMIS who worked like crazy and still got me in at the Chamer of Secerts, even though I was shamefully late with my NDA!

Cloud Database Offers On-premise Advantages

These are times when there are technologies abundantly available to help you make the very best of the data you gather from your business processes.

Increasing numbers of businesses choose the option to host their production database environment in one of the many cloud forms that are available these days. This example of a smart alternative discusses an additional service you could implement or request when you are dealing with cloud based databases.

In many organizations there is a BI-team responsible for the development of company specific KPIs or compose competitively strategic information based on the information that is gathered during day-to-day business. There often are key management positions that have a need for ad hoc queries to live data. In recent years the grave importance of this intelligence has been recognized as being of the greatest importance for decision support, and giving your organization the biggest competitive advantage possible.

Developing or even running these activities on live data gives the sharpest edge. Doing this on a production environment, nevertheless, is out of the question. Uninterrupted availability and maximum responsiveness for regular activities of these databases are unquestionably important. How can you combine these factors with the proposition of running your database in the cloud while staying smart?

The smart alternatives of Dbvisit enable you to do just this! By leveraging Dbvisit Replicate in a hosted environment you can create one or many local copies of live production data with specific local database settings to do precisely what you need, be it running or developing heavy BI queries or having departmental management looking at or analyzing data as it is recorded. Having (a subset of) the live data uni-directionally delivered from the cloud to your local (desktop) database creates a safe environment to analyze and enable knowledge workers to do the their job without any holds barred!