Friday 14 April 2017

UKOUG at Collaborate 2017

I didn't attend Collaborate as UKOUG but I am always representing them.

As I said in my main Collab blog, I met up with up with James Jeynes the UKOUG Executive Director at the airport. 

We have a stand at Collaborate, which James manned on his own. Kerry, the UKOUG head of sales was meant to also attend but unfortunately she has to cancel as she was unwell. Without Kerry, James had very few give aways on the stand, and was very busy but he did a great job, talking to many exhibitors and delegates about UKOUG.

We had a number of meetings whilst we were there:

We meet with the DOAG directors attending, there is an EMEA Presidents' meeting in June and so it was a great chance to catch up and talk about what is important to us.

James also got to meet Jeremy Whyte Senior Director, Global User Group Management at Oracle when we met with him as a courtesy.

Along with two of the UKOUG JD Edwards' committee who were also attending Collaborate we met with the Lyle Ekdahl and his team to discuss how we could deliver the best experience for our JDE Members at conference this year.

I also attended a session with Cliff Godwin for partners that talked about E Business Suite. I don't implement EBS any more but went along as a user group leader to understand what is and more importantly unpick the myths around EBS. 

I truly believe that user groups should be officially recognised as partners, it would mean we would get local briefings on all things Oracle, in a simple way.

Finally we met up with Quest, to understand their new initiative OC²  , for those customers who have moved to SaaS cloud. We talked about how we can work together and deliver for UKOUG cloud members as well. 

What I got from Collaborate was a long list of things to follow up, and James clocked up many 1,000s of steps and was immersed in the world of Oracle User Groups.

The three user groups that make up Collaborate, IOUG, OAUG and Quest all made us feel very welcome. Thank you for your hospitality.

Collaborate 2017 - Las Vegas

Less than 10 hours after I got home from Croatia, I was back at the George Best Belfast City (yes that is the real name); for my flight to London and then onto Las Vegas. I met up with James Jeynes the UKOUG Executive Director at the airport, but I'm going to put UKOUG at Collaborate as a separate blog.

I arrived on the Saturday evening with the conference starting Sunday lunchtime, just time for me to attend the House of Blues Gospel Brunch, one of my little traditions. 

I love the spiritual part of this event, but do know it is still a show, however worship is a personal thing and I enjoyed it.

Then time for registration which should have been easy, I had my QR code so I had my badge quickly printed and couldn't believe it, they had Belfast as being in Wales!!

Apparently their system didn't have N Ireland as an option. They suggested England, but luckily there was a United Kingdom. So 20 minutes later I had a new, Ok, badge.

My first session was Sunday afternoon, 'Extending Your Back-End Cloud Apps to Deliver Your Front-Office Needs:' a talk about using PaaS to extend the SaaS applications. 

Sunday evening I had dinner with Jennifer from the ACE program. 

Then on the Monday I presented 'Extending Cloud HCM with PaaS' with my colleague Christian. I told Christian he could come to Collaborate if he helped with the demo, which he did. Christian is a Taleo expert, and I had him demo HCM Cloud and ABCS. 

I also extended the presentation to include a mobile app using the MAX which is now embedded into ABCS, based on what I learnt the previous week at the PaaSForum.

The more I look at this the more excited I get, and I have written an article on it for the next Oracle Scene. We will be showing this to all our customers, it is a really simple way to extend their systems especially in self service HCM to include all those excel spreadsheets, manual lists and surveys that you have for your employees.

Monday evening was the ACE Dinner and it was in an Irish Pub!! I love these evenings, getting together with all the ACEs and Jennifer had a number of promotions to announce. Congratulations to you all. 

Tuesday my boss Tim Warner gave his presentation on 'The Cloud Implementation Project - Phase 0' - this is a great talk, which looks at all the things you should do, before starting your Cloud Subscription, to maximise your ROI and ensure your project gets off to a great start.

Wednesday I had my final session, where I gave the England Rugby case study we did at Oracle Open World. I got to wear the rugby shirt again. It wasn't a very large audience but the room was at the far end of a secret corridor, some sort of Hogwarts' magic location. Well done to anyone who actually found it.

I did attend the Women in IT panel session, but was really disappointed, it was just a moan-fest, nothing inspiring at all. I understand the WIT lunch was very different, but unfortunately by the time I got my speakers' registration that had been booked out.

The keynote for the event was Oracle's Cloud Strategy from Stephen Daheb SVP Cloud. I have to say it was the best positioning of what is happening I have seen. He also talked about options, and each customer's journey, not 'the journey'. It was well told and each option was backed up by a very short customer video. What I really liked is they were simple use cases, not the enormous, transformation of the biggest companies, that don't resonate with most people. This was good.

I didn't stay long at the party Wednesday night. I tried to get into the 'Bohemian' theme, but I was tired and after saying hallo to everyone. I called it a day and left.

Thursday I had another tradition, my annual pilgrimage to the 'In and out burger', quite a hike across the freeway, but nice to finally get some fresh air although it was quite hot. 

Then time to get back on a plane, or two, to finally get home.

Wednesday 5 April 2017

PaaS Forum - Split, Croatia

I have talked about PaaS4SaaS for a couple of years now, and the push from Oracle is even more now that most of their development tools are now available in the Cloud. So much so that Jurgen Kress' FMW Forum' was this year renamed as the PaaSForum The forum is open to all partners who are members of his community.

To me this event is like the ACE Directors' briefings before Oracle Open World, albeit that they are not happening this year, which I think is a mistake. Lasts year I said there were not enough SaaS partners. It was slightly better this year but mainly big systems integrators who have both a SaaS and a Development practice.Those who were not there are simply missing out.

The strategy of holding these events in resorts or high tourist areas in the off season, works really well, at the best cost to partners and Oracle, however this year the locations Split in Croatia was very difficult to get to currently. I had to fly Belfast- London - Zagreb - Split and on the way home just to vary it a little I flew Split - Munich - london - Belfast. And yet from next week there are direct flights from Belfast, which is good I might even be tempted to go again.

I flew out a day early and took the opportunity to dive. When I booked the hotel I saw they had a dive centre so i reached out to see if I could. A it is out of season and so it was a shore dive rather than a boat dive but it was great. It wasn't overly warm and I am glad I decided to ring a warmer wet suit than what they suggested but the water was crystal clear. I did a small wreck dive in a reasonable current. On a boat dive that doesn't matter they simply follow the current and pick you up, on a shore dive you have to fight it or else you don't get back to where you started. 

The second dive was gentler around a
small reef. This time of year the sea life was amazing several pregnant species like an electric eel, and a stargazer and many juveniles like nudebrachs, a day old electric eel and amazing fish. Making the effort to see or even better dive in the wonderful places i get to visit, is important to me and this ticked all the boxes,

The first afternoon kicks off with a community event where people with a story to tell in this arena do so, and at the end of that day Jurgen gives out his community awards. I was pleased to see eProseed our dev partners win another award, this time for SoA Cloud Service Contribution.

The second and third days are the briefings from all the product managers. This is the important bit for me, where are Oracle and what are they doing in this area. Enrich SaaS with PaaS, or my PaaS4SaaS world was a major theme this year, with a lot more use cases emerging.

Sten Vesterli, never shy at saying what he thinks, summed up the content in his blog. I agree Oracle have pushed out many products, but they are bringing them back into suites, and adjusting pricing to meet the markets they are aiming for. So I found it all promising. Don't get me wrong it is still confusing both from an architectural perspective, which products to use when and the costing, but it is getting there. And on their current factsheet it states their mission as 'Empowering and Accelerating the Modern Business'.

Especially important to me is the Application Builder Cloud Service or ABCS, the low code cloud which works really well with SaaS. I still have constraints, but mainly on the SaaS side, but as I keep saying continuous development means we don't have to wait too long for the approved enhancements. It really inspired me, and I'm currently trying to write an article about a specific use case in HR.

Day 4 & 5 were hands on labs. I only attended an ABCS one Thursday morning where I learnt about all the latest features, so much that I have increased the content in my demo for Collaborate on Las Vegas. The inclusion of Mobile Application Express or MAX in ABCS is amazing, Extending SaaS with ABCS depends on APIs which are still light within HCM and even more so in ERP but again small steps in the right direction. At Certus we have been testing release 12 of SaaS (don't be confused) and new modules have lots of APIs which is very encouraging.

Shay Shmeltzer the product manager held a citizen developer hands on lab, followed by Angelo Santagata who showed how you could extend ABCS with Javacode. Even more impressive.

A couple of meetings with PMs to understand their offerings more, some of which were with Lonneke from eProseed to ensure we have the same ideas.

Apart from a resort idiosyncrasy of turning off coffee machines outside of official coffee breaks, did they not know this was an IT event?, it was a great week, well done again Jurgen, and to Bandit.

And then just 9 hours after I got home it was time to leave for Vegas and Collaborate,

I have lots to follow up with after this Forum, share with my own organisation and hopefully another Oracle Scene Article.

OUG Ireland 17

Last year Ireland tried a two day event and the general sense of opinion was that although individual things needed to be improved, it was a good thing. So this year the committee worked hard to create a compelling two day agenda.

The event kicked off with a welcome from me, and introduction to Brendan Tierney, our new Member Advocate, and James Jeynes our new Executive Director who was over for the day. Then John Caulfield who is also on the committee gave a great, 'What is Oracle up to, and how does that translate to the Irish Market', exactly what the brief asked for.

John stood in for the country leader John Donnelly who couldn't be there, but I was touched by his tweet the night before.

The technical streams take care of themselves, this is a popular event for speakers in Europe and the committee have too many good papers to select from. Maria Colgan was the keynote speaker for the technical streams. Maria as i will have said on previous years is the local girl - done good. Maria started in Oracle Ireland and moved to HQ many years ago where she has been in Database Product Management,, Queen of the Optimiser and more recently the latest member of the 'Ask Tom' team. She was joined by another member Chris Saxon who gave everyone the lowdown on the 12c Release 2 Database. 

A highlight of the Business Analytics for me was Edward Rowske, he like Oren Nakdimon was using this event as the start of a holiday, both had their partners with them and bothe were independently travelling north of the border to visit places like the Giant's Causeway, my home turf. Combining pleasure with conferences is something I personally always try to do, so I was pleased to see others with the same aspirations.

In my area the apps world, it is harder. As I have said we are at an point where content for today's EBS is hard, and yet there are still many organisations who have invested so much in this and are going nowhere fast. So we put together a one day stream for EBS and the second day we did just a morning for Cloud Apps. We gave the afternoon to the APEX guys who would fill the development stream on their own. And again one of my frequent comments, What is it that the do in The Netherlands that makes them so good at development?

We kicked off the Applications stream with a discussion. Mairead Dooley-Ffrench From Oracle and Tony Cassidy from Vertices, both from the committee, along with myself talked about where we see the Apps market today. It worked well with a very full room and plenty of conversation. Even if organisations are not ready for the next stage in their evolution the people supporting then are more than interested. The day ended with a mishap with the internet, causing the premature end to one session which was really sad, but otherwise technology held up. 

Sarah Green from the Office For National Statistics, one of our customers at Certus spoke about their complete migration from EBS to cloud, both HCM & ERP. I love this presentation as it says everything about how we work. I shared this story as an interview with Sarah in the current edition of Oracle Scene. As always with this story, the audience have lots of questions which Sarah answers so well.

I then spoke about PaaS4SaaS and Sarah and her colleague Kevin who runs their support function, asked that I come and show them it in more detail, This is the best time to start looking at extending your apps, once you have been live for a few months and you can see the value of removing some of the still manual heavy processes in your organisation.

In the evening after the social drinks, we have the now traditional ACE Dinner in the Rustic Stone. Service was mind glowingly slow but the food and the company made up for it.

Another new idea for this event was a vendor showcase. We decided to have the exhibition on the first day only, but with an opportunity on day two for sponsors to address all delegates just before lunch. This was a new idea and worked well, Sometimes people avoid sponsors and actually when they share with you what they actually have achieved for customers they are actually very interesting. Something we will refine but defiantly repeat.

The event finished with a technical Q&A. I had to leave when it was meant to finish as Dublin had a bus strike and i needed to get home to Belfast. Who expected the last session to overrun by 30 minutes on a Friday? Not the doubters who said two days was too long!

And if you were there or missed out, the next OUG Ireland Meetup arranged by Brendan is 11th May.