Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Oracle and Docker

So, as many of you know, I've been working out different ways to host my Oracle labs and demos instances without chewing up phenomenal amounts of disk space and processing power.  Lately, I've been diving into Docker.

Docker has turned out to be pretty cool and very easy to learn.  And it's lightweight.  The idea is that you run containers - your app, your operating system, and your virtual machine - bundled together in a single container.  The big win is that containers abstract the operating kernel, so the total overhead of all the container is much, much less than the sum of the parts.

I'm still digging in, so I'll keep you posted as I progress.  But it looks pretty promising in terms of fulfilling my non-production needs.  One example...

I downloaded and installed the Oracle XE database...with APEX...from scratch in about 22 minutes earlier today.  All done with Docker (and because I run OS X, I also use boot2docker).


Game. Set. Match.  Pretty easy.  Run fast.  Low overhead.  You may want to check it out.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Good News On The EBS Front

Most people who know me professionally know about my enthusiasm for enterprise applications delivered via the SaaS model.  In terms of adoption and agility, SaaS is a winner.  But, at the same time, I also recognized that SaaS is not for everybody.  Those who customize heavily and those who want to retain a higher level of control are probably better off with on-premise enterprise applications.

So I was happy to hear about Cliff Godwin, Oracle's Sr. VP of Applications Technology over the E-Business Suite, laying out a roadmap for the future of the E-Business Suite at the Collaborate 2015 conference.  Not only did Mr. Godwin lay out plans for more incremental releases of EBS 12.2.x, he also shared the news about a future 12.3 release.  One of the primary intents of the 12.3 release will be to take further advantage of in-memory technology.

I'm an EBS fan.  Rock solid database model.  Recently improved user experience.  Delivers high operational efficiency.  So I'm happy to hear that EBS will continue to evolve.

NOTE:  I'm not at Collaborate 15...wish I was, but I'm not...so big thanks to dear friend Karen Brownfield for clueing me in on the news.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Nephophobia

They say that these are not the best of times
But they're the only times I've ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own

Now I have seen that sad surrender in my mother's eyes
I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
Its either sadness or euphoria

                          -- From Billy Joel's "Summer, Highland Falls"

In working with Oracle customers every day, I'm seeing a common thread running through many internal IT departments:  Nephophobia.  That's right, fear of clouds.  In this case, I'm talking fear of clouds from a technology perspective (I'm admittedly having a bit of fun here and mean no offense to anyone with a true fear of clouds).

The fear shows up through either resistance or an avalanche of "what if" or "what about" questioning.  I suspect that the cause of that fear is rooted in the fear of change, as in "what happens to my job"?  So this post is for all those folks in all those internal IT departments faced with moving to the cloud, whether it be SaaS, PaaS, Hybrid, or whatever.

You are spot on in recognizing that your world is changing.  All the things you've spent your time doing - patches, upgrades, general maintenance - they're all going away.  The cloud vendor will be taking over that work as part of the service to which your institution will subscribe.  But, as those tasks disappear, new opportunities arise.  Some examples:

Network administration:  because your users are interacting with off-location servers, the performance of your own internal network becomes even more critical in a move to the cloud.

Integration:  as much as the major enterprise application vendors would like you to stick with one platform, odds are you won't.  You'll probably mix two or more vendors plus some in-house applications.  Getting all these apps to talk to each other is critical.

Development:  one of the keys for enterprise application cloud vendors is that, in order to scale (and thus make money, because cloud services are a volume business), the business processes have to be pretty basic so they can be easily shared across multiple industries.  If you work with an institution that has unique transactional and/or reporting needs (I see this frequently with public sector organizations), there will be some custom development involved.  Extensions, bolt-on applications, unique reporting...all will live on to some extent, although probably not as much as you've seen in the past.

Mobile:  everyone wants mobile and the cloud provides a great platform for delivering mobile applications.  So all those things about network administration, integration and development?  They apply here as well...maybe even more so.

All this discussion notwithstanding, let's get to the root of it:  this type of change can threaten your job.  It's scary.  So what do you do?  Update your skills to stay relevant.  The key to making a living in IT over the long-term is to be continually learning new things.  If you don't make the investment on your own, you'll find yourself on the outside looking in.  So do it.  Dig into this cloud thing.  Learn the technical underpinnings.  Figure out where you and your IT department fit...how can you add value?  And feel the fear go away.

Friday, March 13, 2015

HEUG Alliance 15 - What Looks Good To Me

The Higher Education User Group's Alliance 15 software conference kicks off this Sunday, March 15, in Nashville, Tennessee.  You're going, right?

I'm flying early this weekend myself.  Just have a few conference things to do to get ready for my little role in this big Oracle user group conference.


Looks to be a great conference.  I'm personally planning to dive into five areas of focus:  


  1. increasing my depth of understanding about customers and processes in Higher Education; 
  2. learning and evangelizing about Oracle Cloud Application services within Higher Education; 
  3. joining the discussion around Oracle's PeopleSoft Campus Solutions Self Service Mobile (especially the new 5.0 release) and the Oracle Mobile Applications Framework; 
  4. learning more about the application of User Experience design patterns, guidelines and the like to the unique set of use cases presented within Higher Education; 
  5. getting updated with the latest news on Oracle's roadmaps for their various Higher Education products.

I suspect that an underlying theme about the need for higher levels of successful student engagement will encompass all five of these focus areas in one way or another.

I'll be presenting a few sessions of my own...special sessions not found in the Alliance Agenda Builder.  They're all in the Delta Island C room at the Gaylord Hotel and I can promise they'll be absolutely brilliant ;)

  1. Taleo Cloud Demo: Tuesday, March 17 12 noon-1 p.m.
  2. Financials Cloud Demo: Tuesday March 17, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
  3. HCM Cloud Demo: Wednesday, March 18, 7:45-8:45 a.m.


So, other than those sessions where I'm presenting, I looked over the catalog of sessions with my three areas of focus in mind. What follows is a list of the sessions that look good to me. I didn't include session times or locations, as you can get to those details via the Agenda Builder.  If you do look up my list, you'll see there are time conflicts involved - a sign of a good conference is that you have to make difficult choices about how to spend your time - so you won't be able to catch all of these sessions...these are just the sessions that piqued my interest.  Maybe you'll be interested too?


So that's what looks good to me at Alliance 15.  Let me know what looks good to you if you're going, and let me know how it really turned out for you after the conference...love those comments!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Nashville Cat

Nashville cats, play clean as country water
Nashville cats, play wild as mountain dew
Nashville cats, been playin' since they's babies
Nashville cats, get work before they're two

            - From the Lovin' Spoonful's Nashville Cats

I'm heading out to HEUG's Alliance this weekend.  Gonna be a Nashville Cat for a few days.  My big job is to host three workshop/demo sessions on Oracle Cloud Applications, all in Room Delta Island C at the Gaylord Hotel:

1.    Taleo Cloud Demo: Tuesday, March 17 12 noon-1 p.m.

2.     Financials Cloud Demo: Tuesday March 17, 2:00-3:00 p.m.

3.     HCM Cloud Demo: Wednesday, March 18, 7:45-8:45 a.m.

Almost everything will be "live drive", so you'll get some relief fromPowerPoint slides ;)  These are sponsored sessions (Thank you, Sierra Cedar), so you won't find them on the Alliance schedule.  Some of those special conference sessions that only get heard about by word of mouth or from some big-mouth blogger.

You want the straight scoop on Oracle's Cloud Applications, do come by so we can chat for a bit.

I'll also be in some private customers sessions, attending a few sessions, shaking hands and kissing babies.  So if you really have to miss all the workshops, track me down so we can talk.

The Best Thing

I'm spending the latter part of my week at the Utah Oracle User Group Training Days conference.  It's a nice regional conference for me to engage with...it's local to me here in Salt Lake City.  So I get to participate in the conference and still go home every night.  Pretty sweet.

But being local is not the best thing about this conference.  The best thing about this...or most user group conferences, for that matter...is the opportunity to exchange ideas with some very smart people.      When I get to listen in for a bit on conversations with the real brains in this business, I always come away with more knowledge...and often with a different point of view.  That's the really cool part.  And, yes, it's worth investing a couple of days of my time.

So far as the Utah Oracle User Group, we'll probably do another one of these this fall.  You really out to come out.  Who knows, you might learn something?  I know I always do.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Thoughts On Student Engagement

For those of us in the Higher Education portion of Oracle’s ecosystem, the big conference of the year - Alliance - is less than one week away.  But I already have a suspicion about the hot topic this year.  I’m betting on the subject of student engagement.

There was a time when student engagement was all about educational institutions reaching out to students and potential students.  But there were only a few ways to get that done:  advertising, public relations, events.  And the schools controlled the discussion.  Because it wasn’t really a discussion as much as a series of one-way broadcasts from the universities to the students.

But things have changed as new technologies have taken root in higher education. Social media, chat apps, mobile…now, not only can the students and potential students talk back to the universities, but they can also talk to each other.  So the schools no longer have control of the discussion.  While there are significant upsides to this turning of the tables, there’s also a downside…the schools, to a very great degree, are in the dark about the tastes, preferences, and habits of their students and potential students.  This is especially true in talking about “digital body language”.  What technology do those students and potential students use? What are their technology habits?  How can they be reached?  How can we learn more about what is important to them?  The real crux of successful student engagement is hidden in distracting complexities.

A real challenge in all this comes from a distraction over platforms.  There are lots of social and communication platforms out there coming and going:  Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Webchat…you get the idea.  Platforms come and go, and nobody has any idea of the next big thing.  But you can’t ignore them, because your students and potential students are already there.

Another clear shift is that the days of individual and isolated decision-making are gone.  People want to check in with the groups that are important to them and know what other people are doing before making a decision.  So we have different people, all with different needs and hot buttons, all interacting with each other in a variety of networks to influence individual decisions and choices.  So decision making is much more complex.

These complexities distract from the real point of student engagement - schools learning about and adapting to their constituencies by talking with and listening to students and potential students.

To eliminate the complexities and efficiently get to the crux of student engagement in today’s environment, schools need more analysis in order to get the planning, design, and execution of the education process matched with the needs and wants of their students and potential students.  In other words, you have to learn about digital body language without getting wrapped around the axle about platforms and social networks.  You have to be able to engage in the discussions with your students and potential students where they are, when they are there…while not getting bogged down by the platforms and networks yourself.  It’s a challenge.  I’m sure we’ll hear more at Alliance.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

I'm In Love With My Car

I'm in love with my car
Gotta feel for my automobile
Get a grip on my boy racer rollbar
Such a thrill when your radials squeal.
                    -- From Queen's I'm In Love With My Car

As is typical with Queen, citing the lyrics fail to do the song justice.  You can hear the song and watch the official video here.  C'mon back when you're done.


I learned everything I needed to know about life by listening to what is now called "Classic Rock".  So, yes, I do believe it's possible to fall in love with inanimate objects.  Especially those things with simple, yet elegant, designs.  For example, my daily driver is a 12-year-old Toyota Tundra pickup truck.  It's nothing special...no bluetooth, no OnStar, no time warp technology.  But it runs and looks like the day I took it off the showroom floor.  And it's a simple design.  I love that truck...hope we never part.

Lately, I've been reacquainting myself with an inanimate object (in this case a product) that I really love:  Taleo.  Loved Taleo well before it was assimilated by Oracle and, after recently becoming reacquainted, I've discovered that I still love it.  That love exists for one reason - simplicity:
  1. Taleo only does four things: recruit new talent, bring that new talent onboard, manage talent through performance goals, and manage your team's learning.  Four things, nothing more - simple.
  2. You won't find feature bloat from over-engineering in Taleo.  There is no attempt to address the exception to the exception to the rule.  Somebody put in great deals of thought about what to leave out of Taleo.  They got it right.
  3. The user interface is simple.  Easy to navigate.  Not ground-breaking by any means, but very intuitive.  Users like it.
  4. Taleo is only offered through the Oracle Cloud.  No hardware to buy.  Patching, upgrading, maintenance...Oracle does that.  A subscription fee, a browser and an Internet connection...that's all you need to get going.  Simple.
  5. Know what happens when you stick to simplicity for your business process scope, feature set, your UI and your underlying architecture?  You end up with an amazing user experience.  Users want to use your product.  Users love your product.
Simple really is the new cool.  I love it when I find it.  And I find it in Taleo.