Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Are Cloud Applications Ready?

When new trends hit the IT world it takes a while for them to become a reality and even longer to become mainstream. I remember when Business Intelligence became a popular term, the first few years were ‘what is Business Intelligence?’ and 'why do you need Business Intelligence? rather than how to? The when SOA was first talked about, each presentation would start off with and ‘what is SOA?’. More recently the question had been what is Big Data and I still remember the ‘what to meant by 'cloud' presentations?’ of the not too distant past.

When you attend an event like Oracle Open World it’s all about their strategy and future direction and whilst the future might start today there will always be a lag before most organisations have the desire or opportunity to take up these technologies.
In 2012 it was all about Cloud coming to Oracle, if you look at commentaries and analysts after 2013 many said that their announcements about cloud were mainly still in the future, and in 2014 there were announcements about additional new cloud components and some of those are still a way off; but Cloud Applications are here and Cloud Applications are selling and are being used by a significant community.

Yes there are challenges, there are challenges with any new technology but most of these challenges are for Oracle themselves, the cloud vendor. For customers who have Cloud Applications there are new challenges they may not have expected, not being able to run SQL against the database or touch anything below the application level, having to wait for a set patching window; all of these are things they need to get used to.

As customers experience these new challenges and talk to each other a new community of users, or rather customers of Oracle Cloud Services is emerging.

But is Oracle Cloud ready for these Applications? Absolutely, these challenges are not something to make you stay away, those who have adopted cloud have benefited from fast implementation cycles, and quick return on their investment on a scale I have never seen before and every day Oracle is adding more integrations, more features and more benefits to those customers who have taken the step. It is also opening up the Oracle Applications market to more organisations, smaller mid-market who would never have considered Oracle before.
I want to add a note that UKOUG during this year’s apps conference have a stream dedicated to these customer Cloud Applications stories and are setting up a focus group looking at the customer experience to be chaired by Julie Stringfellow of Reading Borough Council (Cloud ERP) and then UKOUG will feedback their comments to Oracle Cloud Services. UKOUG hope that this will be an ongoing channel where they can educate advise and learn on behalf of our members.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Applications Previously Known as Fusion

When Oracle first mentioned Fusion I thought it was just going to be a project name, called something different on release. Oracle announced that they were going to take the best of the functionality from each of the applications they owned, their own original E business suite, PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards, and Siebel and the 'fusion', built using modern technology and open standards, the next generation suite of applications.
The name stuck, the marketing started but a term appeared was coined - 'Fusion, Confusion', which  really annoyed me because the Fusion applications story I thought was quite straightforward.

What did confuse people at this stage was the technology I was always being asked if it was going to have Oracle forms and reports I thought they were quite clear that this would be a new technology stack on their award-winning database. In my role leading the Product Development Committee I presented to the Apps marketing team at Oracle in 2006 about how users worldwide understood the Fusion project. On e of the points we made was more than half of those surveyed were:
Unaware of middleware’s importance to applications

Not long after that (and we don't take all the credit) Oracle introduced Fusion into the Middleware stack name, calling it Oracle Fusion Middleware. I guess this made it clear there was a link between Fusion Applications and the Middleware but I’m not sure it clarified it very well.
When Fusion Applications were released late 2010 and people started looking at what was needed they were all too well aware of the technology stack. It is a very complicated with lots of components and requiring an enormous amount of hardware, it was almost a step too far for most organisations. The availability of Fusion in the Cloud has changed this, and most are happy that when deployed in the cloud they don’t have to concern themselves with the middleware.
Cloud deployment is definitely the way forward and last year Oracle decided that all applications that could be deployed in the cloud be given the name of Cloud Applications. Those applications I would have called traditional are now known as On-Premise Applications. Cloud applications includes not only Fusion but also some cloud acquisitions such as Taleo. Over a year ago I sat through a partner webcast that went through this, Start by deployment option, Product Family, Product Name, and was truly confused. This year Oracle marketing wanted us to stop using Fusion in our UKOUG marketing and when we held our Apps Transformation event most of the post event feedback from people who didn't attend was 'I didn't realise this was about Fusion'. At Collaborate the organisers stuck to Fusion as a theme for this reason.
So for a while the term has been interchangeable but not now at Oracle Open World I didn’t hear one Oracle person say Fusion in relation to applications. * a comment to this blog show some sessions did have Fusion in the title, which I guess agrees with my point until people understand the name change we have to keep saying Fusion so they know what we mean.

Interestingly if you google Fusion Applications today (19 Oct 2014, as this will change) you can find pages on Fusion Applications but if you navigate you find Cloud Applications   

Technically I believe it is still Fusion on the price list but that will change too. So whilst I will try to use the right name I am sure we will all know what I mean if I forget and say Fusion!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

My OOW14 Overview

FINALLY - I have completed my Oracle Open World round up for 2014!
Just before I left for San Francisco I blogged about my objectives for Oracle Open World, and just how busy I expected to be.

* Oracle ACE Program funds my trip to HQ & OOW


My OOW14 - Headlines

I think we can agree the main message was Cloud, but there were lots of other messages:

A good general overview is from Tim Hall blog

Hardware - engineered systems are selling and being improved all the time. R&D is working on improving performance in all components.

ZDNet blog has good coverage here

Database - last year there was a lot about 12c and many people have already adopted this. There was a lot more about In-memory and something I was really pleased to learn was that the functionality is already being used in traditional apps, something that in the past simply took too long.

Big Data - defiantly not a buzz word, something we see everywhere and Oracle recognizing that they are not the solution to everything, but adding to the solution pot by introducing Big Data SQL so that Oracle skills can be used across all kinds of data even the raw data processed by Hadoop. Here my recommendation is Mark Rittman blog

Middleware - mainly around new releases and availability of PaaS, and the Mobile Application Framework - I really recommend Lucas Jellema blog.

Traditional Apps - more functionality still being released, they apps are NOT dead. Lots of new mobile apps
CIO Today has good coverage in their blog

Cloud Applications -

At the ACE briefings I attended Thomas Kurian quoted these stats and later in this Oracle Cloud press release

20,000 companies use Oracle Cloud Applications  and 23bn transactions & more than the number of credit card transactions each day globally - amazing.

But I have to agree with Floyd Teter WHY did Oracle split their Cloud Application sessions over three separate buildings? It didn't work, and I'm still exhausted.

Return to my OOW overview


My OOW14 - ACE Director Briefings

Seat belts were fastened for 2 days of information overload and even more importantly the opportunity to ask questions of the people who make Oracle products what they are.

I find ACE directors in two camps on how they think about these days, some and I guess the split is about 50/50, moan about how little there is in their area. I am in the other camp who think the event is about expanding the knowledge of the areas we don't specialise in. If I came just to learn about Cloud Applications I would be very disappointed.

As an ACE director you have access to the Product Managers in your area, probably have the opportunity to be part of beta testing and either a Customer or Partner Advisory Board. There probably isn't anything you don't know going to be shared at this event you don't already know, unless it is an announcement to be given in a keynote and then you will get it here.
Photo courtesy of Yury
My camp, and I am very clear about this; comes to these briefings to learn about the whole Oracle stack, not perhaps in great detail but enough to understand direction, offering and the bigger picture. We are treated like the intelligent people we are and not given the marketing speak, and if something doesn't make sense to me I can clarify with a fellow director who is in that area afterwards. Likewise when someone wants to know about Cloud Applications they will ask someone like Floyd or myself.

If I had to chose between these briefings (and the UX day) or OOW itself, this would be my choice; luckily my employer sees the value in both.

The 2 day event is under NDA, or Non Disclosure and as ever
Duncan Mills was there to ensure no one stepped over the line. As an ACE Director you are expected to be active in social media, and thus it is difficult to tweet knowledge under NDA and so we end up getting quite silly with what we do say. Within the room it is very funny but for those out in the wild following us they must think we are all nuts.

As well as the usual topics covered I was particularly interested in the Mobile Applications Framework as I first heard about this at Kscope and really pleased to learn many mobile apps were being launched not only for Cloud Applications but also for traditional apps, 14 for EBS alone.

Jeremy Ashley and Jake Kuramato repeated some of what they covered the day before at the UX event around ' Shinny Things' and knowing how the demo worked I furiously tweeted so I came up on the demo of wearables, ever the gamer
Floyd Teter joined in but  I have to say I won, finally on this occasion.

Another highlight for me was
Bob Evans Chief Communications Officer who talked about the PR behind Larry and Oracle. At one point he stated he knew me from Twitter and I was both honoured and horrified; later in the week he apologised for embarrassing me, apparently I went very red, but I don't mind, he has promised to work with the ACE program on a program similar to analyst education for those who are interested. I also talked to him about why this year the ACE program was excluded from the Press / Blogger program for OOW and he will look into that too.

But by far the most important part of the event is the Thomas Kurian session. Thomas is the biggest supporter of this program, he comes along gives us a very fast but very comprehensive run down of the announcements to be made at OOW and then opens up to Q&A. Remember that NDA we are all under, he leaves nothing out and trusts us completely. A big responsibility but that is the benefit of being at Director Level of the program and why it is reviewed individually each year.

Thank you to Roland Smart who leads OTN, Victoria Lira who runs the ACE program assisted by Jennifer who has replaced Lillian who recently left to work with

Back to
My OOW14 Recap

My OOW14 - Oracle Applications User Experience Day

The now traditional OAUX training day was the Wednesday before OOW, and this year was opened up to a few select partners in addition to the user advocates of which I am one.

It was a great day with a full room at the conference centre in Redwood Shores and a lot of the UX team there to share their expertise. The day kicked off with Jeremy Ashley their VP talking about their work and setting the scene for the workshop.

They went through all the UX messages which I know are the major differentiator with Cloud (previously known as Fusion) Applications. There were breakout groups for the different families HCM, ERP, CX and Extending.

Extending is really important to me as in my new role I will be responsible for the move by Certus into PaaS. Amazing here is their Rapid Development Kit and we will certainly be using this with their help.

There was some talk about the UX of Fusion being made available to traditional apps but at this stage no program name was given, later in the week we got to know this was Alta. Press Release

In the afternoon Jake Kuramoto and Jeremy did a session on Shinny Things - wearables and other new technologies they are looking at, and my favourite quote from Jake "google glass is so last year" - this looks like fun and it is, but there is also a very serious side to this as Oracle needs to understand where this technology can be used in the enterprise. One area I am very interested in is the use of voice especially in mobile and the Oracle agreement with Nuance (Dragon software) makes this very real.

Jake's team have also created a wearable for OOW which I got to try out at their showcase event. You pre registered your interest priorities in the five areas they were showcasing and the wearable lit up the colour of the stand to visit first. Then once you waved the wristband in front of a device on the stand the colour changed to match your next priority. It was a bit of fun for this event but imagine being able to select online where in a shopping mall or even just a department store you want to visit and a wearable tell you where to go. GPS for shopping - brilliant.

The pitch back participants plus Ultan and Misha from UX team.

At the end of the day they had a pitch back competition, and I was part of it along with Gustavo Gonzalez Figueroa , Lonneke Dikmans, Floyd Teter and Sten Vesterli. We all got a prize but the overall winner for the undisclosed objective of BS bingo was the big man himself, Floyd. Always a gentleman the picture shows his humility in victory. But seriously Floyd along with the rest of us really believe in the UX work at Oracle and the value it has to the development if their applications.

The day then ended with a small reception but it wasn't the end of UX for OOW, it got a mention on several keynotes especially Larry's first one, but let them tell you their story.

I also got to help out in one of the UX sessions during OOW.

Thanks again to everyone in UX especially Misha for a great day.

Return to my OOW overview

My OOW14 - User Groups at OOW

First I have to say well done Oracle, the User Group Pavilion at Oracle Open World has found the right home, please keep it there next year.

User groups are all about community and having them next to OTN, Oracle's own community, they were easy to find, prominent and proved excellent for conversations about user groups around the world.

EOUC had held a competition to get a new logo as it really needed updating and it was great to see it on our stand:

I have for many years attended the IOUC meetings on behalf of UKOUG but this year they moved to just before OOW, and it clashed with my ACE Director commitments; so no IOUC for me and anyway UKOUG were well represented by James Haslam and Fiona Martin our Member Advocate Chair.

As I didn't attend perhaps I have no place commenting but actually I personally was disappointed with the agenda. The reason for moving it to OOW was to ensure as many groups as possible could attend, and when it was in January some groups had to choice just one visit to San Francisco. I understand that, many years ago when the IOUC was relaunched it was after OOW for the same reason but people were simply too tired, and this time they did plan it for the Thursday and Friday before.

However to me the big values of the IOUC were as I mentioned in a post several years ago:
1. Networking with other groups
Whenever you hold a usergroup meeting you will achieve this, and OOW itself with the Pavilion is a natural place for leaders to meet between sessions.

2. Sharing best practice
I understand there was plenty of sharing and I am sorry I missed the Java user group Devoxx and their session on Devoxx4kids
The Devoxx for Kids Initiative is amazing and they had a full house at their event in San Francisco and even got a mention in Larry's Java keynote

Fiona on our behalf talked about our Application Innovation Initiative where we are having SIGS and events focusing on new technologies and applications for existing applications users.

 3. Oracle Product Managers giving briefings
These didn't happen, simply because the meeting was not at Oracle HQ and most product managers were busy in their run up to OOW. What I really liked about having these in January was that you had had time to understand the messages from OOW and start conversations about them with your members.
4. Oracle Marketing sharing their plans for following year
The plans for the rest of this year were shared but January coincided with Oracle having just completed plans for the next financial year.

5. Cross user group initiatives
These had all but died off a few years back which is a real pity, the Support Group did a lot to ensure groups had a way too talk to Oracle on general matters and the work the Product Development Community did in the development of Fusion Apps is one of my personal highlights in my Oracle life.

So I would rather they moved back to January, but things die if you don't keep trying to improve them, so Oracle were right to try.

Back to My OOW14 Recap