Saturday 16 June 2012

Oracle Academy and UKOUG - a great team

Back in January I wrote about the Oracle Academy coming to the UK, or specifically coming to Oracle Scotland.

At the OUG Conference last week the Director responsible for this initiative Caroline Stuart gave us an update on how this initiative is working and I was very excited by it. I want to encourage people into IT careers, I think Oracle is a great discipline to work with.

I often say I am not particularly worried about the 'Women in IT' question but just last week before this update, I was speaking with Sarah Lamb founder of GirlGeekDinners about how to encourage more girls into IT initially and think this program which covers not just university by which time the inequality has already started but also colleges and especially 6th Forms, has the opportunity to help address the balance.

So the Oracle Academy in Scotland has signed up 150 instructors to qualify to teach Database Design and Programming with SQL and another 50 for Java Fundamentals. Of these 200, who have almost completed their 10 week virtual training, 98 are from the UK, the rest from the wider EMEA. Their next step is a weeks bootcamp in Scotland next month.

This is fantastic, well done Oracle I know our next generation of IT students will benefit, but I want to reach out to them from the user group, help them see how what they learn is used and the types of careers people using these skills have gone on to develop.

So working with Oracle, we will talk to these Oracle Academy delegates at the start of their bootcamp, tell them about UKOUG and invite them each to attend a day at our annual conference in Birmingham in December. We will also work out a way of them being able to bring their students at cost price to experience the world they will by then have started to learn about.

I'm also looking at how we can link up our partner members with these educators, so they can share their expectations and make sure the students who ultimately benefit from this Oracle Academy initiative get the best possible start in their careers. Perhaps in years to come they like me will be able to say 'I love my job'.

OUG Scotland - another Great Day

Last Wednesday I had the  privilege of attending the 9th Annual conference for our Scottish Community. It was held in Oracle's Linlithgow building and I must thank Oracle for allowing us again the use of this, especially as the area we used had not been out of commission for several months and had to be cleaned just for us.

The evening before there was a dinner for speakers and volunteers which I am afraid I missed as I didn't travel till the next day, but it was a lovely idea to say thankyou to all those who helped make it such a great event.

Smiles from the UKOUG Staff
The actual day for me, and for some others of the UKOUG staff was a really early start as we travelled up to Edinburgh on a disgustingly early flight, but even at 6am they were all smiles. A great welcome awaited us with bacon and sausage rolls and breakfast pastries. I have to say the catering was fantatsic all day.

Everyone was looking forward to a great day, with a great agenda when the Fire Alarm want off. So out we all went and luckily, unlike London that day the sun was shining so it wasn't too bad, and for all those of you who say the networking time is the best part about these days well we added more and everyone took up the opportunity.
Even Tom Kyte had to go out for the Fire Alarm

The Team get ready to kick off
Once the excitement of this additional 'session' passed we re-entered the building and calmly the UKOUG and the committee re-cut the plenary sessions so that we could recover as much time as possible. Peter Robson, The Council Member responsible for Scotland started and was followed by Thomas Preslie the Scotland Community Chairman. Caroline Stuart spoke for Scotland and she talked about the Oracle Academy coming to Scotland next month and I have an exciting post about that coming up. And then our keynote speaker, the ever popular Tom Kyte.

My presentation was after the afternoon coffee and I had a presenters' nightmare. I was late for my session a misunderstanding over the revised timetable. One of my audience came out to get me, I was horrified. Luckily I had already set my PC up before the break and I was ready to go, but this was a new presentation for me on the various ways to Tailor Fusion Applications. Luckily the ACE Fusion Advocates program gives us fantastic training and I was I think able to pull it off, and as ever my measure of success is the questions I get and they were good. The worse thing about starting on the back foot was not knowing when the session was due to finish.

The agenda was a full 6 tracks with excellent content. As well as Tom Kyte from the US we had other overseas speakers from France, Finland, Slovenia and Holland. We had great speakers from all over the UK but more importantly we had local speakers and local customer case studies, the committee got the balance just right and I must thank them for this. 

The day finished we a social event and I personally deposited the last 6 delegates back safely in Edinburgh, as I went to my hotel for another early start back to London the next day. However the excitement wasn't over, my hotel was also home for the night to the Olympic Torch entourage. I felt quite special, and certainly safe, there was a big police presence; but I also felt quite sorry for them , they thought they were part of the most important event in Edinburgh that day........................but we know different.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Oracle Cloud Webinar - my thoughts and a warning

Oracle put on quite a show last night, or at least the pre event hype suggested it. The Oracle marketing machine which I greatly admire went into overdrive and Larry even joined twitter. The event, a live webcast (but available for replay) was to talk about their Cloud and Support offerings.

I am not sure I learnt anything, but I did see a cool demo from the boss himself of  Vitrue one of the latest acquisitions (coming thick and fast at the moment).

Larry talked about all of the Cloud Offerings at Oracle Open World 2011, he did a great job, wove a really integrated story and did the demo himself. I was really impressed. Most wasn’t available then but that is what OOW is about, the roadmap, what are they working on, it was good. There was something for everyone, from the database to the applications, the hardware to the new and exciting social tools.

So last night I expected to hear more were available, but I think all I heard new was that Oracle are now using Fusion CRM, “we eat our own dog food and it tastes great”, and a new to Oracle buzzword of Social Relationship Management.

Read blogs (this is a good one) about what was said at the OOW11, and compare with the press release from yesterday.

So why did yesterday happen? I am sure there were reasons, kick start their new Financial Year, answer questions of their critics or just show off the new toy, but to me there was a horrible feeling of déjà vu. Their Cloud offerings sound fantastic, their Fusion Applications are fantastic, but after the enforced quiet period (6 of the 7 years Larry referred to last night), we had over a year of hype with no delivery. They were worth waiting for, but many customers looked elsewhere during that period as there was no clear availability which the competition exploited. Don’t do it again Larry, give us a timeline.

Support was what was first alluded to at the Sun Townhall in Jan 2010, so nothing new there either, but be careful, when Mark Hurd says you are paying no extra, he means than Premium Support, not the basic 22% most of us pay.

I am still uncomfortable with the American need to 'compeditor bash', I used to think it was just Larry, but the tweets last night showed yet again it is a national sport. We British are just too nice.
I doubt Larry reads my blog, but it doesn’t matter, now he has the tools to understand in real time how we feel about last nights event, it was certainly fun to be part of the twitter flow, it was very busy with one notable exception.

@LarryEllison Next Tweet Please

Friday 1 June 2012

Stretching My Own Knowledge

I love to teach, I love to share knowledge but if I am not learning myself, I don't grow. When a presentation is good and you engage with the audience you learn from them, how they achieved the same result, or issues they encountered, or sometimes someone gives you a clue, a different outlook or even the answer to a problem. Some of the best presentations I have seen have been when someone has shared openly a problem.

But, I want to learn more, I no longer actually deliver projects but advise peers and customers at all stages, so I need a much wider understanding of all things Oracle. I am honoured to present a lot so whenever possible try and attend sessions in areas that interest me, e.g. the Exa Debate at Collab.

Recently I have had a few more opportunities to stretch me. Fujitsu have some excellent thought leaders and when Oracle put on their Big Data Symposium I wanted to showcase one of them at it. In my role as Alliance Director I worked with Oracle on the event and to do that had to understand what we were saying. Shouldn't have been too difficult, Mark Wilson our expert had written an excellent White paper but it was 23 pages long, still I know a lot more now. At the Manchester event we also sponsored a drinks reception and had some good conversations, although I think Big Data is where Cloud was a few years ago, too many presentations are about what it is rather than solutions.

A few years back I was tricked into talking about the database under Fusion Apps at Miracle Open World to some of the best DBAs there are. Once I got over the panic I really enjoyed having to research and learn. This year Mark Rittman asked me if I would give a end of day keynote at the RittmanMead BISymposium on how the BI is used in Fusion Apps, I knew a little bit more here but did still need to understand more and again enjoyed the challenge. On the day the audience participation was fantastic, not only did I get to discus Fusion Apps BI with BI experts but I was also able to show them why what they are doing for their customers is Oracle's future and therefore strategic and safe.

Then just a few weeks ago I talked with Donal Forde from Oracle Ireland at the Belfast British Computer Society. I talked about how Oracle had introduced the next generation of Apps and how they did it, and Donal talked about ADF as the development platform. Not a new talk for either of us but this was a very technical audience that were not necessarily Oracle users, so it was a different approach.

Each year for OOW I submit at least one presentation on a topic I know very little about, last year it was 'Consolidation to the Cloud' and it was one of my most popular ever, although to be truthful I did have a joint speaker in mind when I submitted but in the end it was just me. This year and as a big surprise to my really technical friends I have submitted a presentation about Fujitsu's Cloud offering, not as a sales pitch but the use of OEM12c with OVM3 providing of course the challenges are overcome by then. Knowing you have committed to presenting on something really focuses the mind.

Actually that is my favourite quote"Commitment is doing the thing you said you would do, long after the mood in which you said it has gone" - Facing Up by Bear Grylls

Push yourself to learn everyday, it is rewarding and even more so when you pass that learning on to someone else.