Sunday 22 January 2012

Oracle Academy and Women in IT

Women in IT - I almost hate that phrase – not the organisation, in fact I carry my Oyster Card (London Transport) in a pink Women in Technology wallet, a gift from an event I attended on Social Media Branding. The event was excellent but WHY was it only for women?

I have worked in IT for ……….. a long time, and I don’t believe being a woman has held me back. I was asked when I first took the role of Chairman at UKOUG what did I think about being the first woman? To be honest the press release only mentioned it because we knew we would get more column inches. 
To me the reason there are less women in IT is simply because they are not encouraged to go into IT. I would love to talk to schools about my career, IT covers so much and there is something for everyone. I myself only got into IT by accident.
So I want to applaud Oracle on their Oracle Academy, a way of reaching out to schools and higher education to ensure that what is being taught is relevant, interesting and a stepping stone to a career.

The Oracle Academy program helps 1.5 million students in 95 countries gain industry-relevant skills prior to entering the workplace. The Academy offers students in all educational institutions a complete, fully-supported curriculum of learning in software, hosted technology and faculty training, with industry-recognised certification. Introduction to Computer Science Designed for high schools, technical schools, and vocational schools, this program, provided at no cost to participants, includes a highly structured curriculum to help students master entry-level Database Programming (SQL/PLSQL) and related technical and business skills.

This program is well established giving free training to educators and a program of studies for their classes, which can form part of the IT Diploma (level 3) and now for the first time it is coming to the UK.

Oracle do care about the workforce of tomorrow, I had the privilege of speaking in Latin America this year and in Chile at the University San Sebastian, Oracle funded their top IT student to take full Oracle Certified Professional exams.
So if you read my blog and are involved in IT education or know someone who is please encourage them to look into the Oracle Academy. This ‘Introduction to Computer Science' prepares teachers and lecturers to teach the Academy's database design and programming curriculum. It includes ten weeks of online training and five days of in-class training at their Edinburgh HQ, led by experienced Oracle Academy instructors at the Institute. Registration is by March 1st.

And there is actually a benefit to being a woman at IT, the queues for the toilets at events are better than for the mens'.

Let us change that.

Monday 9 January 2012

Database Decision Dilemma

Not normally my area, but I have been made aware of a Database Decision Dilemma and would welcome comments:

Oracle has a well defined Support Policy (MoS note IDs 1351163.1) and shown below is the extract for the database.

When a product moves into Extended Support you need to be on the terminal release, so for 11.1 the terminal release is

My Oracle Support Note ID 742060.1 towards the end of 2011 appeared to introduce a new policy of a 12 month grace period on databases to move to a point release. However it is referred to in the Software Error Correction Support documnet v 2.6 Oct 2009, but this may be an amendment or not enforced.

The dilemma is this Oracle policy on Patch Set Updates (PSUs). Previously these were available for any release on Premier support.

So for which was released in Sep 2011 , Oracle state that will get the “full” error correction PSUs (quarterly Patch Set Updates) only till Sep 2012. To add to this, the clock ticks from the date of the first release, in the case I am looking at, it is an AIX platform and that release of was 5 weeks after, reducing this grace period to 47 weeks. This is a very large customer with development projects with long time scales. By the time a release is stable enough to start a project on, the grace period is even less. No one wants to have a database upgrade during the development cycle.

This customer does not need the added functionality offered in 11.2 over 11.1, so feature benefits are not relevant in this debate, they simply want a stable and supported product to develop their critical systems on, and to move those applications that are in a technical refresh cycle.

So their dilemma is, if they use 11.2.02 which is the most up to date and stable platform, they must do at least one upgrade during the project which is not acceptable. The alternative is to use which is also stable and as the terminal release of 11.1 will be supported until August 2015. However, the upgrade needed then from 11.1 to 11.2 is a much more complex upgrade because in reality it is a new install to enable the new functionality (which remember they don’t need).

In this case using an old version of software gives them better mid term support. But this is only today’s issue, this grace period means that with new point releases almost every year, customers will need to upgrade every 12 months to keep within this grace period.

Why has it taken over 2 years for this to come to light or become an issue? This may be because of document management of Software Error Correction Support 2.6 (see note above)or I suspect that because people have stayed still. Many customers have only moved to 11g in the last 12 months and therefore were already in Extended Support.

I intend to take this up with Oracle Support at the IOUC meeting at the end of January but would appreciate comments or corrections from anyone.