Monday 26 September 2016

My OOW16 - My Thoughts and Those From The Analysts I Follow

There is always post Open World conversations about what was it all about and what does that mean to Oracle customers. Some of these conversations are formal and many more are informal, in the street around Moscone, at the airport and with everyone you meet when you get back.

On the Thursday morning I was at an Analyst breakfast and I was quite buoyant about SaaS, there were more customers than Oracle speaking on HCM and lots of examples of ERP customers. I think Cloud @ Customer will be a great option for those who want Cloud Applications but are not able to take their solution off site.

In the PaaS world, there are a lot of unknowns and a lot is still marketing but there are signs of small adoption. I am hopeful that the success we now see in SaaS will over time be mirrored in PaaS.

Ray Wang and I in a very quick selfie
Alex Gorbachev who is more the infrastructure and database side felt that Oracle taking on AWS for those who have already moved their Oracle there will be almost impossible, but that Oracle have a chance to win those who have yet to move; if they get it right.

I try and keep up with what the analysts have to say and I got to say a very quick hallo to one of my two favourites Ray Wang. 

Ray Wang was recording a video with Cube, so I got to hear his thoughts live. 

My other favourite analyst Den Howlett was there for 2 days but we missed each other. I was watching his twitter feed and reading his thoughts on the conference messages and his apps preview, I love how Den doesn't mince his words, and I was really pleased he called out the UX as a great feature in the apps.

All the blogs from Diginomica can be found here.

Other commentary I have read and found interesting are:

Ray's colleague Chris Kanaracus at Constellation wrote a great piece on customers at OOW, the ultimate measure of Oracles's success. 

Tech Target focused on the IaaS push.

Also a great write up from UKOUG President Linda Barker

The Cloud First idea, is not new to me, UKOUG sent two members to beta test 12.2 and at that time under NDA we were told this would happen. I think it gives people the opportunity to have a go at 12.2 before doing an on premise upgrade and for Oracle to sort out any issues before releases the on premise version. Tim Hall explains this much better than me.

I will be following up on the PaaS releases, especially the Low Code Project Visual Code suite, and look forward to Certus testing release 12 of HCM & ERP as there were a lot of exciting enhancements talked about I want to see.

I also want to follow up the Managed Service Provider Program with Alliance & Channels and Cloud @ Customer to see how they fit into our services at Certus.

Back to my main OOW16 page:

My OOW16 - The Off Piste Fun

Oracle Open World is busy, it is hard work, but it is also great fun. To me there is very little difference between the fun and the work, but in this post I want to concentrate on all the great things I had a chance to do.

I meet so many people at Oracle events and yet I am useless at remembering names. I am more likely to remember something silly you have done, a dress you have worn or a hairstyle than your name. I think that is why I hate people who have an avatar or no picture on their profiles. How am I meant to know who you are?

Amongst all the thousands of people I have had the privilege to meet there are those I get to call friends, and OOW is a chance to meet up and have fun.

As I said in the main OOW16 post I met with Oracle friends at HQ on my first day, and then had dinner with Misha Vaughan from the UX team. If we don't plan this time in our diaries, it simply doesn't happen.

Tim and his dad
The ACE Director briefings are such fun, these are people I have travelled with on OTN tours and such special people. There is also the chance for my Oracle Family to reunite.

I have posted separately about my OOW triathlon, but that isn't the end of the physical exercise, simply being at OOW ensures you meet your step count each day, especially when the sessions I want are spread out over several locations.

When we moved into the city I bought flowers, or rather my friend Dina did for me. Flowers in my hotel room (or home) means I am there for more than 4 nights. I am really good at taking a large water bottle and creating a vase for them.

For Larry's keynote the ACEs got together and made a video welcoming everyone to OOW. Thank you Linda our President from UKOUG for catching it on video  (you need to turn the mute off).

Alexis & I
Then we had our ACE dinner on Pier 39, where I was able to introduce Alexis to some of the middleware ACEs he has only been able to follow on their blogs. This is again an example of the community helping each other, and thanks especially to Luc Bors.

Mark Hurd & Billie Jean King
Monday I attended the Oracle Women's Leadership in the Executive Forum where the keynote was Billie Jean King. She gave us a great speech and then she was interviewed by Mark Hurd. I found the interview a little odd, it was obvious Mark had not been there for her speech as he asked a couple of questions where the answers had been covered in her talk. She handled it very well but I would not have been so polite.

I popped into Oak Table World first thing on Tuesday but only had time to taste the wonderful doughnuts.

I also had a little bit of time to visit the exhibition later and took the opportunity to have a caracture done, which actually I am not sure about at all. 

I caught up with old colleagues from Fujitsu US on their stand and other friends around the hall.

The bloggers meetup was Wednesday sponsored by Pythian and a great opportunity to watch up with other friends but all too soon that was over as Wednesday is also the appreciation party day. 

This year it was very different. Firstly it was in AT&T Park and not Treasure Island. That meant we could walk there, all the ACEs and Java Champions had reserved seating, so we walked together. The set up was great just like a game, but with all concessions free. 

I loved the concert, Gwen Stefani was great and I loved Sting. I saw my first Police concert 36 years ago when I lived in Brixton and they played a free concert on Streatham Common. The best part of the concert was Gwen singing a duet with Sting. 

Me, Alex, Jennifer & Roel
Walking home was also fun and then several of us finished the night with a cocktail in the SkyBar on the 47th floor of our hotel.

Once the conference was over I headed to North Beach with John King, Alex Nuijten and Tim Hall to visit the best pizza place in San Francisco, although that also meat we had to wait. However we then were joined by Mark Boback and ate outside. The pizza was worth waiting for.

Whilst we were waiting we found a private detective agency and think that is somewhere we could all work once our roles have been replaced by the Cloud.

Friday morning I had breakfast with the left over contingent from Holland and then did a little shopping. 

Then just as I was leaving to get my car to the airport I met Oliver Vom Deich who used to be my partner manager, and he travelled with me to the airport.

Then in the BA lounge I met Mark Rittman and had a great catchup with him. After our last flight together in June I was pleased he didn't get an upgrade.

A very busy 10 days, lots of friends caught up with but many more not. So I leave the last words to Rene who summed it up so well

Back to my main OOW16 page:

My OOW16 - User Experience

User Experience is my favourite team in Oracle. How successfully we use the applications is what we are all striving to do and how easy and intuitive they are is a big part of that success. This is the UX.

The day before the Oracle ACE Director briefings is now traditionally the Applications UX Day, where they share their roadmap and what they are up to. For me this is another not to be missed day.

The actual day had changed the format a bit, gone back to a smaller but deeper audience and I liked that. We heard from Jeremy Ashley the GVP on their direction and then we drilled into a number of projects. Tim Hall works for an organisation who are implementing Cloud Applications so he came along, and it was really interesting to get his take on the day

Misha & Jake
My only wish it that all product development worked closely with UX. Where they do the output is great.

They shared with us what they are doing mid term, this is the under NDA bit but I can tell you there are several things I am looking forward to in the Apps, and in Cloud we get this really quickly, we don't have to wait until customers chose to upgrade. 

Jake & the Smart Office
Then there is the futures, the work that Jake Kumamoto and his team do. He and Misha Vaughan who is responsible for this day, took us on a tour of what they are upto. My favourite is the smart office and how our working lives are developing.

Thanks also to the UX team for a great evening and dinner.

AT OOW itself the UX team have an expo, where invited people can come and see what they are upto. Last year Lonneke Dikmans and I demonstrated our #PaaS4SaaS PoC and this year we were back to show what we are doing with our first app for an Immunisation Program. This is what we also presented on the Sunday in the first day of OOW.

Lonneke and I at the Expo
We arrived early and had the change to see what our fellow ACE Director Basheer Khan was showing. He has a customer who has moved to cloud from EBS and there is a small but key piece of functionality not yet available. Basheer has recreated that functionality in PaaS and it looks great. I was very keen on understanding exactly how he had done it, and he talked through the challenges. I was very relieved he had found the same ones as us; but we all agreed that things are moving forward to address these challenges in the future.

I also popped along to the UX Usability Labs, where you can sign up to take part in studies. I love this team and it is always a great way to see what they are working on and be a small part of their research. This year I took part in an artificial intelligence study. 

Did you now the UX team have been coming to UKOUG for a decade? And they will be there again this year at Apps16, and make sure you sign up to take part when you register.

Back to my main OOW16 page:

My OOW16 - My 'Fun' Triathlon

As promised I kept up my tradition of a fun triathlon.

On the Saturday before Open World, many people take the opportunity to cycle the bridge, there is actually a group arranged by Bryn Llewellyn but I know I couldn't keep up with them, so I like to go off with just one or two people.

Fiona has never done the bridge by bike so we decided we would have a go. Fiona has just run her first half marathon so should have been much better than me, but she also had blisters so that probably equalled us out.

The day started quite cold but the sun soon came out to warm us up and eventually burn off the fog. But a photo without fog would not be right.

I also managed to do a little time lapse photography with my GoPro attached to bike. Not brilliant but is a record of what we did.

We started by getting a cable car to Hyde Street where we collected our bikes and then we cycled slowly along the water front, after purchasing tourist sweatshirts as we felt the cold (and then never wore them, in fact actually getting sunburn). We stopped for coffee under the bridge before cycling up through the park, over the bridge and down to Sausalito where we had a much deserved Italian lunch before getting a ferry back to San Francisco. Then we had to cycle back to Hyde Street. I guess it was about 12 miles in total although we may have pushed bikes up the hills about 3 miles.

On Sunday it was the bridge run but I am not a runner and I like several others went up early to walk the bridge. Uber has proved pretty useful over the past few years but this year Lyft were partners with OOW, and were giving new members 2 x $15 trips, so travel to and from the bridge was free. 
Monday morning I had a meeting with the head of HCM, but not before I had my 'swim in the bay' my favourite part of the triathlon. 

This was the 5th annual swim, sponsored by Oraclenerd and Portix, and OTN came along with doughnuts as well, although I had left by the time they arrived for my meeting. We were given towels to celebrate and I think this year it was quite warm , an almost balmy 16' C. Most people this year gave a real attempt at swimming.

I love this 'triathlon', time to see lots of friends and do some exercise at the same time. In fact my iPhone told me I was 200% of my daily target all week.

Back to my main OOW16 page:

My OOW16 - Paas 4 SaaS

I gave my overall thoughts about the messages and where I think Oracle are in another post, and I said important to me is where PaaS, Platform as a Service, is going. The development tools part of the Oracle offering.

There was lots of PaaS content at the ACE Director Briefings and much more at OOW itself. They talked about delivering the PaaS portfolio in suites, grouping together products that you might want to use together. I was discussing this with someone after the event and we were unclear on pricing, the idea of grouping them together makes sense but only if you can still purchase individually and at a discount for the whole group. OOW isn't specifically about pricing but we need to know.

Paas4SaaS is my area, using PaaS to extend the cloud applications. I think there are 4 scenarios where this can be considered:

  • Where a customer wants a bespoke solution to a business need, this is really a stand alone PaaS application but they may want master data from their Oracle Cloud Apps.
  • Where a customer has an end to end Oracle strategy and has gaps in their IT estate 
  • An EBS customer looking to move to Cloud who needs to do something with their portfolio of customisations
  • Extending the SaaS solution with apps that can be sold to multiple customers through the Oracle MarketPlace 
As well as the PoC Certus did with eProseed last year we are now working on an app for Immunisation programs and we talked about this at our session on the Sunday and showed our approach to visitors to the UX expo on the Monday. 

I have another article on Paas4SaaS in the latest Oracle Scene.

I have also been working with the Application Builder Cloud Service team, testing the Citizen Developer offering and the new APIs for HCM. On my first day at HQ I met with the ERP team and talked about needing APIs for ERP. I am not after financial APIs (yet) but would like the master data information like Customers and Suppliers.

In the run up to OOW, I was contacted by the ABCS product management team and asked if I would like to give a quote for them on ABCS to use in an OOW press release. I was happy to do this although I later learned it was for ABCS within a wider 'suite' called Project Visual Code that Larry Ellison announced at his keynote. The Citizen Developer description I didn't really like has been replaced by Low Code, and I am not sure I like that any better but it is more suitable. I need to spend some more time working with this and let you know more about it, but in the meantime follow Luc Bors, also from eProseed. Luc is much closer to the technical side than I am and explains it all beautifully.

Oracle are really pushing PaaS and I attended an executive partner round table at the Oracle offices in the city. I have never been there before and it felt odd seeing the employees who work in San Francisco but that were not at the conference. 

I felt the main messages from the round table were that messages are not clear for the on premise versions of the Cloud products. It is OK new features being added to Cloud first but where a customer has invested on premise they need to know the roadmaps for them. Oracle seemed clear they would deliver enhancements on premise and agreed to include on premise in their roadmaps.

I then rushed across town to make a video with Oracle about the PaaS4SaaS work we are looking at in Certus. This video will be aimed at Oracle internally as well as customers.

PaaS has a long way to go but I am confident it will give more and more value to customers.

My OOW16 - User Groups

I always feel guilty at OOW, that I don't have the time to man the EOUC (covers all uaergroups within EMEA) 
stand. In fact this year I spent more time finding it than actually talking to people on it, which is a shame, it was quite hidden away on the exhibition floor.

I did however pull together the third annual #EMEADBAs session which Tim Hall captured in a quick video. Tim didn't include me in the video, but I promise I was there. It was another success, I was disappointed with changes at the last minute from two people, it is small changed for them but I have worked for many hours over several weeks to pull it all together and despite not actually presenting myself it is still a challenge.

Screen shot from Oracle-Base
I had my own problems, I had forgotten to change the plug on my projector and had no UK convertor, luckily, AskTom's Chris Saxon leant me one and actually the nicest AV team ever put the clock on the main screen, so there was noise for speakers to see their slides and the clock at the same time. Of 22 DBAs only 2 overran the 5 minutes which shows how much preparation each speaker had put into this session.

We had a great audience and finished with 3 minutes to spare, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, so I guess we will be back again next year.

Ralf my faithful timekeeper
There was also a user group leaders' lunch on the Monday. I knew I couldn't stay as another appointment clashed but I intended to pop in, say hallo to everyone and leave, but I couldn't find it; not sure if I was at the wrong restaurant.

Thank you to EOUC who also had Lonneke Dikmans and I as a reserve user group session which when someone had to drop out in the last week meant we had our session on #PaaS4SaaS and our Immunisation Application.

I hope I managed to see most leaders through the week.

As for UKOUG Linda, Fiona and I were joined by Kerry Stuart our Head of Sales. I didn't see much of them either, although Fiona and I did cycle the bridge Saturday, before the Partner Reception we both attend. I saw Linda once on the EOUC stand and Kerry at a Partner Specialisation Appreciation event later in the week.

Linda was very busy attending feedback and executive round tables and her blog is well worth a read.

Lots of the UKOUG conferences will be the new messages from OOW, plus presentations from ACEs, overseas speakers and our own members that were first given at OOW. If you missed OOW, UKOUG 2016 will be a great way to catch up and if you did make OOW it will give you and the speakers a few weeks to consider the messages and make sense of it all. And if you are overseas take advantage of our awful exchange rate to come enjoy UKOUG.

Back to my main OOW16 page:

My OOW16 - England Rugby Presentation

The highlight of this Oracle Open World for me was definitely our customer case study with England Rugby.

This is an amazing customer to work with and as an avid Rugby (albeit Ireland) fan I enjoy every minute of working with them at Twickenham.

I submitted the abstract many months ago and when it was accepted, I started to work with their speaker, Patrick McMaster, Senior Learning & Development Partner, on the content. Patrick also helped me with their branding. When a brand like England Rugby has serious sponsorship, it is very important that they protect it and I had also come across this before when I worked on the EBS implementation at the Olympic Delivery Authority in the run up to the London Olympics.

England Rugby PR department gave me lots of help and guidance and the actual sign off process was then quite painless. 

The actual presentation, Digital Transformation in Sport was just after lunch on the Wednesday of OOW. The session was in the HCM stream at the Palace Hotel, although billed as both ERP & HCM. Now that Oracle are selling more an more dual pillars I think they need to rethink having separate locations for their content at OOW. 

The room was really nice and set out ballroom style, I would have liked a larger audience but we were against the launch of the HR Helpdesk, which is a session I too would have liked to attend.

As you can see we were all kitted out in the correct attire and the preparation paid off, we finished exactly on time and got all the points across. I am hoping we can give the presentation internally to the combined team so that they can see what we were up to.

Patrick had attended several other customer stories at OOW and although they were very interesting, he felt they were mainly company ABC implemented XYZ without any challenges and experience shared. Our presentation did share the challenges and how we overcame them and I hope it will help those who attended.

The breaks between sessions at OOW were quite long so we played a couple of videos as people entered the room. A round up of the Rugby World Cup hosted at Twickenham in 2015 as the project kicked off, and the launch video for the Rugby World 7's which are being held in San Francisco in July 2018. The second video had only been released the week before OOW so it was very timely and relevant to the mainly American audience. Did you know rugby is the fastest growing team sport in America?

Steve Fearon, VP Oracle, who is their executive sponsor attended the session to support us.

This is a presentation I am very proud off, and it will be given again at UKOUG Apps in Birmingham on 6th December so come along.

Back to my main OOW16 page:

My OOW16 - OTN

During OOW itself there were lots of things going on with OTN. Their lounge became the unofficial meeting place for ACEs.

Laura Ramsey did her video streaming from here and I took part in two. One video with Marcelle Kratochvil as part of the #OTNWIT series and the second a more general discussion with Laura.

They had their T Shirt bar, which did have a special time for ACEs to avoid the queue but I was speaking at that time, and they also had a special area creating art. I never got to do either and was actually annoyed that when the lounge advertised opening times the stands within it did not have to stay around. For instance on Thursday the lounge was open 10-2 but the art stand packed up at 12. 

Back to my main OOW16 page:

My OOW16 - Certus

Right from the moment I arrived at Oracle HQ I was on duty for Certus. I met with development and made arrangements to meet with more during OOW itself.

I was joined at OOW by Tim Warner our COO and Richard Atkins our EVP of Cloud Application. We met up at the EMEA Partner Reception on the Saturday night. I ached from my cycle ride and didn't stay too long, but did enjoy catching up with lots of people.

The highlight of our week was our presentation with England Rugby. Patrick McMaster from England Rugby was a guest on the Customer Red Carpet Program, and Richard was his host.

Certus have been beta testing HCM since the early days of SaaS, and for release 11 we included ERP as well. We had a couple of meetings during the week, and testing for release 12 starts in just a few weeks.

We met with not just development but also SaaS Strategy. Certus know working with development is a big investment but with new releases every 6 months we have to keep up and ensure our people know what they are delivering.

We also meet with Customer Success, this is a growing area within Oracle and again our strategy is to work with Oracle.

eclipse lens
Another area we work with is Partner Enablement, not only do we insist all our resources are specialised but we also are a training partner and deliver much of the training around EMEA. They have an annual reception to say thank you to partners and they gave us each a little gift of clip on lenses for smartphones, really fun.

Certus doesn't have a stand at these events. We prefer to market via sharing information, through our LinkedIn Group, Oracle Scene etc, so I was surprised when an old colleague told me they had seen me on a screen in the exhibition hall.

It turned out to be IT Central Station, a kind of 'Trip Advisor' for Software. Both Tim and I had done a video each with them at Collaborate and they had us both playing at their booth; bigger than life size.

It was a busy week, but well worth it for Certus.

My OOW16 - ACE Director Briefings

As a proud ACE Director, OTN is my sponsor at Oracle Open World.

We are asked to attend two days of briefings at HQ the week before OOW, and in fact the User Experience day, the day before the briefings is also an offshoot from the ACE program.

You can never have enough photos of Oracle HQ
The briefings are great and as I said before, the highlight for me is the Thomas Kurian session and he didn't disappoint. Yes everything is under NDA, but some of that gets lifted during OOW itself. The advantage of Thomas going first is that all other speakers know how much he has actually shared. He even talked about SaaS so I felt special. I have to explain again that whilst not being a technical practitioner it is understanding what and how the technology works and how it can help SaaS users that is my value to Certus.

The real value of the ACE briefings is to hear everything as close to reality as possible and not simply a marketing session.

The format of the briefings also changed, with breakout sessions giving more people options on what to see. It was basically split into database and middleware or perhaps I should say IaaS & PaaS, as cloud was defiantly the only thing on the agenda. I was actually impressed at the number of people who went to the sessions outside their normal area of interest.

My favourite session outside of Thomas was the very last session I attended from Jon Huang who talked about future direction for #PaaS4SaaS. Defiantly under NDA and defiantly worth keeping an eye on.

Another advantage of the ACE Director program is that we get extended Cloud trials in exchange for giving feedback. I was very surprised to be 2nd on the leader board for feedback but articles and blogs all count and I have given a couple of webcasts to Product Management.

My most recent article is in the current Oracle Scene.
It is a long time since our mascot Stanley was lost but we have a new one now, Lumpy who Bjoern Rost introduced at Kscope this year. I promised to make him a Stanley Jacket and I did. There was a small wobble when I realised the measurements I had didn't quite work but the day was saved by Stewart Bryson ho donated me his ACE Director lanyard. I was also really impressed by Bjoern's wife Connie who volunteered to help Jennifer for the week.

I was also given a present for work I have done during the year but I think it is really just to help me have fun on the road, a more portable drinks mixer. You can only just see it in the picture but the flask is engraved with the ACE Director logo.

 I can't thank OTN and the ACE Program enough for looking after us and bringing us out for OOW. Jennifer does a wonderful job for us.

Back to my main OOW16 page:

My OOW16 - Write Up

It's a wrap! Or at least I am home. Oracle Open World usually means I come home with a very long to do list.

I flew out to San Francisco the Monday before OOW and the journey was great apart from having to wait almost an hour for the shuttle bus to the hotel. After 18 hours travelling you do just want to get to the hotel. However I love the Sofitel, they do have the most comfortable mattresses ever and after the French Onion soup I had been craving since I left Heathrow, I slept wonderfully.

I don't do jet lag, but I was up at 3am, since the boss rang me for something without remembering where I was, and I hadn't switched my phone to silent. Still 'I love my job' and I soon went back to sleep.

Tuesday started slow but coffee with Maria Colgan was a great 'first up' and at this end of the week she wasn't too stressed by the OOW preparation. She told me about her new role taking over from Tom Kyte who has announced his retirement, however she is leaving the 'Ask Tom' to Connor & Chris who are doing such a good job.

Technically I had four sessions although 2 were my #EOUCDBAs.

Then immediately after Lonneke and I gave our #PaaS4SaaS session which we really enjoyed. It was rather a last minute entry and we only put it together whilst at HQ the Thursday before.

The highlight of my presentations was the England Rugby & Certus story about their journey to Cloud Applications.

But as usual I have broken the story down into a number of posts to keep your attention:

See you next year