Tuesday 29 March 2016

Continuous Innovation – Not Just Buzz Words

Following on from the recent posting on the need to continuously learn I wanted to give an example:

In the fast changing world we live in it is important to remember that in your particular area pace may not seem that fast as you are doing it everyday, but if you look back and take stock we come a long way very quickly.

When we first started talking about PaaS4SaaS at Certus it was only Spetember 2014, and our Proof of Concept was just over a year ago. At that point there was only 2 products available and now there are 32! 

But continuous innovation is not just about new products but listening to users and making the products better.

When we did our PoC, we had a number of constraints and many have been improved on by the PaaS and SaaS products. Originally we added a url to the home page of SaaS to call out PaaS, but in release 10 of SaaS we had the ability to punch out from the simplified UI and not long after a patch gave us the ability to open an iFrame from SaaS to run the PaaS in.

The Rapid Development Toolkit has also been improved thanks to feedback, it now contains a library of components rather than a sample app.

Thursday 24 March 2016

2016 OFM Forum Valencia

The Oracle Fusion Middleware Forum Forum is the spring training for the SOA Community which I talked about in my last post

I work with Cloud Apps. At OOW 14 Oracle announced PaaS4SaaS, the ability to develop extensions using Fusion Middleware tools deployed in the Cloud. Certus identified the need to look at this and it is well covered how we did a POC with our development partner eProseed in January 2015.

Lonneke Dikmans
We won an award for that at last year's OFM Forum held in Budapest in March. This year’s forum was held this week in Valencia. I was really pleased to see that Lonneke Dikmans from eProseed won another award, for work they have done using the Rapid Design Kit we also use for PaaS.

Jurgen Kress
In just those 12 months the number of PaaS offerings has gone from just 2 to 32. I might not actually ever code (I know I won’t) but I do need to know what each of this smorgersboard offers. This is a phenomenal event run by the partner community leader Jurgen Kress. There are two days of sessions introducing the components and then 2 days of hands on workshops.

For me as well as the top level sessions the value is in talking to the product managers in attendance. They are really interested in what we are doing and it is these relationships that make us successful.

Ultan O'Broin
In the year since our POC we now have a very strong PaaS pipeline and that is a really short adoption curve for new offerings. eProceed  also presented with Ultan O'Brion from the UX team on the work they won the award for.

The ACED Team
I am particularly interested in how all this fits together. In my simple mind, one of the biggest issues around running ‘Fusion’ apps on premise was the complexity and interoperability of the FMW stack, so why will they work together any better in the cloud? I not only listened and talked to the product managers but also to those using some of them. On the 2nd afternoon several of my fellow ace directors, (those that do tech) had set up a system using as many components as possible. It was great fun, slowed down only by the wifi. It was very interactive and gave me the confidence that there are people looking at this and understanding how to do this. I can concentrate on the why.

not a bad conf centre
As ever Jurgen gave us a great event in the most fantastic event. The hotel Las Arenas is right on the coast and the conference centre is fashioned on greek architecture. The weather was quite cool the first day but was beautiful on the second. 

The deeper dives started on day two so once my meetings were over, I snuck away for some sightseeing. I am a great fan on the tourist open top buses and the one for Valencia stopped right outside the hotel. However as it was the festival of Las Falles the bus could not go into the centre but dropped us a short walk away. I wondered around the town looking at the amazing stands and statues and visiting the official Las Falles exhibition. This was fascinating. I then rejoined the bus and finished the tour. I only missed 2 sessions and was back again for the afternoon.

I was very sad to hear that later in the week several students visiting Valencia for the festival died in a coach crash.

Dinner on the first evening was in a nearby restaurant and then after the main event untrue Oracle style we went sailing. Did you know the USA Team (Oracle) won the 33rd America's Cup in Valencia. What a wonderful way to see the sunset.

Last year I stayed all 4 days having my meetings on days 3 & 4, but it was too long for me. This year I did just the first two days, but I think I should do all of days 1&2 and then arrange meetings for day 3. 

beautiful architecture
It was sad to leave Valencia it is a beautiful city and I really want to go visit again. 

Thank you Jurgen for an amazing agenda and for Certus in letting me attend.

Thankyou Intel for sponsoring 

And thank you to the unofficial sponsors the TVP Print Room, I have never seen so many pop ups etc for an event.

The Need for Continuous Learning

The thing about technology is that it is constantly changing and to be any good in this world you have to keep learning.

My skill is understanding the technology that powers Oracle’s Apps, I am not a practitioner and I am sure you have heard me say I’m not technical, but I do need to learn not just what it can do but how. The technology I need to understand is the Middleware stack.

Oracle provide lots of high level briefings for partners, mainly aimed at sales and I attend the ones I think I need and then drill down through a number of routes but mainly through
UKOUG should be top of the list but when you are an organiser you don't actually get much time to go to many the sessions.

The time to learn through these routes is something my employer recognises as a must investment, you can’t stand still in IT, and this is my treadmill.

Then the way I know I have learnt is to share that knowledge, with my colleagues and through presenting and seeing that knowledge used internally and with customers to validate it. 

UKOUG - Thank You

I love being a user group volunteer and just this week when being interviewed for an OTN and ODTUG articles I realised just how much of what I do and have achieved is thanks to being a volunteer.

UKOUG have had a volunteer drive recently and it is fantastic to see new people step up and join our wonderful volunteer pool.

I stood again for the recent elections and just want to say a big thank you to everyone who voted for me, I really am humbled to have your support. And to those who weren't successful, please stay with us, volunteer with us and I promise you will get so much from it.

2016 OUGN - The Norway Cruise

This is one of my favourite events. It has that community feel that we all strive for and I guess all being together with nowhere to hide, helps!

OUGN , Oracle User Group Norway annual conference is held on the boat ColorMagic, and she sails between Oslo and Kiel.

I landed early evening on Wednesday. I had met up with Alex Nuijten , Alan ArentsenRonald van Luttikhuizen and Alex's daughter Lara at the airport. We then all caught the very efficient train to Central Station and my hotel was just there.

I always love OUGN, this is a great community that is growing. This was my fourth visit, and that includes the last 3 years consectutively. (it is also where the Oracle family thing started). 

OUGN has a thriving apps community within them and the sessions are very interactive.

The event as ever takes place on a boat, with a speakers dinner the evening before. There were not a lot of UK speakers in fact I think it was just me and Neil Chandler at the dinner. This is my first time on tour with Neil, and it was fun.

I left promptly after the dinner to get some sleep, on the boat you can never be sure. I got into a taxi with Kuassi Mensah which is something I had not done since a fated taxi in Beijing!

The following morning I had breakfast with an amazing Portuguese friend I once worked with in Ireland, who know lives in Sweden but was visiting a customer in Oslo. Meeting people at events is expected, but Paulo was not at the event, I found out he was there as he posted something on Facebook the night before. I love Facebook, otherwise unless we walked into each other we would not have known.

Then I caught a taxi to the docks and we boarded the boat. The opening session is held in a casino but this is ideal, semi circular and tiered seating. They announced about 350 delegates but only about 60 women. 

Once the sessions start I don’t actually attend many as most are in Norweigen, however I have plenty to do, my second session is an old one and in the world of cloud things change rapidly. The presentation is on extending Cloud Apps and I did give it on this boat two years ago, but that was release 6 and we have started testing release 11 so things are very different now.

Lunch is served in the exhibition which is held on a car deck, and consists of multiple stations with food from around the world. The asian noodles were amazing.

My first presentation was on day one, I talked about moving from EBS to Cloud which is what would be the most popular option here, the room was full and we had to get more chairs but best for me, more than half were women. I did talk about how Oracle selling has changed and the single oracle salesman in the room did get the brunt of my comments, but he took it well, and we talked more over the trip.

After the sessions there is a reception in the exhibition area and then an amazing dinner. It is quite late as the restaurant has to cater for the ordinary passengers, but the food is yummy and the alcohol flowing. This year I was very well behaved (compared to last year) and went to bed after dinner which was late enough at 2330.

On day two the boat docks in Kiel for a few hours. I went ashore with Alex, Alan and Lara, I wanted a currywurst, a typical german snack and normally there are stands by the railway station but not this time. Luckily Alan found one in the shopping centre so I was very happy. Also missing this year was the traditional Gin Party from Bjorn, who living just an hour away would meet those overseas speakers at Kiel with food and Gin. He has now emigrated to Canada.

I then attended a session by Alex and Alan where Lara helped. They talked about Apex, Node.js, Websockets etc and showed how this combination could drive lego mindstorms 

I learnt quite a lot from the session and the following week when I was at the OFM Forum web sockets and node.js were mentioned many times!

My second session was also full and what I really liked was from PGS Who had earlier given a presentation on their use of on premise Fusion. I hadn’t attended as it was not in English. I do understand that for many customers Public Cloud is not the answer, and there are more offerings from Oracle as alternatives for this. Look out for more details soon. 

My favourite part of the cruise is sunset on the 2nd day, when you go on deck and sail under the Danish Great Belt Bridge. This year was cold, but no where near as cold as last year or as rough as the previous one, but it was a bit overcast. I never cease to be in awe of this sight.

We then took the opportunity to watch a variety show in the casino which was very good and then we went to the closing event in the exhibition area, and then we had another great dinner. After dinner the conference closed in the casino with a prize giving and a disco.

We arrived back in Oslo mid morning on the Saturday. I cannot get home in the time left, so I stayed another day in Oslo and had some coffee in the sunshine with some other speakers and then in the evening a meal with fellow Ace Directors Gustavo Gonzalez from Argentina, Osama Mustafa from Jordan and Sai Penumuru from India on the 34th Floor of our hotel.

Thank you OUGN and I hope to be invited again.
Thank you OTN for funding my visit.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

2016 OUG Ireland - My Home Event

Last Thursday and Friday was the annual OUG_IRE event in Dublin.

For the past few years we have had a single day of sessions followed by a second day of a masterclass; Tom Kyte, Maria Colgan etc but this year after listening to feedback from delegates who wanted more content, the event went to two days of sessions.

Suitable biscuits
We moved location to the Gresham Hotel to accommodate this change within budget and although we have to educate venues that having AV and standard wifi is not necessarily all that is needed for a tech event, there was a great vibe and everyone seemed to be having fun.

After welcoming the delegates to the event and being crowned queen of apologies, John Donnelly, regional Director Ireland, gave us the top line Oracle messages and what that means for Ireland. The creation of 450 jobs is amazing.

Joel Kallman gave a technical keynote on APEX to a very busy room.

I was heavily involved in the Apps track and didn't get to hear any of these technical talks but I did get a mention from Joel on Twitter.

Liam Nolan, an EMEA VP for Apps Strategy and more importantly a local, had a session on Cloud Apps, that was to follow a presentation by one of the UKOUG Oracle Speaker award winners Margaret Walsh on an EBS roadmap. Unfortunately Margaret was taken ill at the last minute but Liam graciously stepped in to give her presentation, which actually worked out perfectly. With the same person talking about both on premise and Cloud, EBS & Fusion, there can be no suggestion of two different messages and I think the delegates appreciated that.

There was a real buzz about the day and lots of discussions in the streams. I am really proud of the committee and the agenda they put together. And as ever thanks to the UKOUG team led by Aimee.

Liam had to leave at lunchtime to fly to Dubai so there had already been some juggling of the agenda and this left me with my two sessions back to back in the afternoon. My first presentation was on digital disruption in the Oracle economy and as whenever I give that talk it gets people thinking. the i talked about what is actually involved in moving from EBS to Cloud. The talk was ok but I do need to 'polish my slides'. However I had several requests for the slides so that suggests it hit a cord.

Tim heckling from the back
The last session on the first day was a Cloud Apps Q&A. Liam obviously couldn't as originally planned stay, but Maeraid Dooley French, John Caufield and Patrick McLaughlin from Oracle all joined me and it was a really interactive session, that we had to close down when it over ran.

I was pleased to see Tim Hall creep into the back of the Q&A and he had lots to add. After all what happens in apps affects the technical team as well. (and I can't believe I have got my blog out before him!)

The committee had put in a number of these Q&A sessions and I believe that the Database one which was late on a Friday afternoon really overran and may still be going.............

ACEs at play
On Thursday evening I hosted the ACE Dinner thanks to OTN, and we went back to the Rustic Stone, again. This could just be me being lazy, in Birmingham we have often gone back to the Thai Edge, but we need somewhere that can deal with a large party, preferably a set price menu with some choices, and not too exhortionate drinks. we also like to be able to talk to each other, so when we find somewhere that works, we stick with it.

Unfortunately I had to return to Belfast early on the Friday so missed the 2nd day but twitter tells me it was just as good. I really wanted to hear Patrick's session on Cloud Security and Grant Ronald had promised to write a mobile app, in his session, whilst wearing a suit! As I've already said at least one of the Q&As ran way over.

What I really love about this event is there is always a desire to balance Local Oracle Talent, local speakers and end user customers, with international speakers and Oracle HQ. I think the agenda delivered that well.

There was 25% increase in registrations and 50% more content. Job well done.

So a great example of listening to feedback and making it happen for users.