Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Plea For Tight Messages - OOW14

It’s so easy to lose track of time at Oracle OpenWorld.  I think I’m writing this on Tuesday, but can’t say for sure…

Lots of information being shared here:  incremental development of Simplified UI, a myriad of new cloud services announced (including a very cool Integration Cloud Service), new features for MySQL, new mobile applications for the E-Business Suite, Eloqua services for Higher Education, a visualization-oriented UI for OBIEE (and saw a very cool new visualization UI from the UX team, but I can’t talk about that yet), some interesting uses of Beacons…it’s like drinking from a firehose and darn near drowning in the attempt.  Info overload.

One of the cool things one gets to see at OOW: the rise of new third-party applications that improve and enhance Oracle products..  On Monday, I had the opportunity to sit down with the brain trust behind Xprtly!  What impressed me the most is the focus of their message - they’ve got it down to four slides (including a title).  Take a look and see if you get it.







So why do I bring this up?  Go back and read the second paragraph.  We’re all on information overload here.  The virtual noise level is incredible.  Tight, focused messages cut through the noise and get the point across.  Wish we saw more of this approach here…

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Best Question So Far

So I was in a session here at OOW14 on “User Group Sunday” when one of the attendees asked what I consider to be the best question I’ve heard in a long, long time.

If the Oracle Cloud is so wonderful, why haven’t all of Oracle customers moved to it already?

Great, great question.   Goes straight to the heart of one of Oracle’s primary messages.  The answer played out as something close to what follows:

1.  The cloud - services model is still relatively immature within the Oracle ecosystem.  Some elements of Oracle’s pricing and execution in the services model are still being worked out.  And that will take some time, mostly because human beings typically don’t change behavior at the drop of a hat…regardless of where they work.  It’s still a work in progress, so many customers are taking a “wait and see” approach while things work themselves out.

2.  Services revenue, while growing, only constitutes about five percent of Oracle’s revenue at the moment.  Cloud services are still a relatively new thing in the Oracle  world.  Not every customer is ready to be on the leading edge, especially in light of their own corporate culture.

3.  It’s tough to move customizations to the cloud.  There’s no secret sauce to make it easy.  Some heavily-customized customers have many customization to reconsider before they’ll be ready to take advantage of cloud services.  The same could be said for data - many customers have significant data clean-up efforts required to be cloud-ready.  Again, there’s no secret sauce for this.

4.  Lack of control, sometime expressed as a concern over data security.  In a public cloud in particular, a customer’s servers are no longer under their control.  Ditto for data storage.  While that makes some customers nervous, I’d suggest those concerns be balanced by two thoughts:  A) Oracle is probably better at protecting your data than you are.  Protecting data is part of their core business.  Most Oracle customers do not generate revenue or profits by protecting data; B) Citing Oracle’s Thomas Kurian:  “most customers would rather use enterprise applications than run enterprise applications.”  Moving to the new model requires customers to let go of running the applications - for most customers, the economics alone make that a good thing.


It’s a funny thing.  Cloud services offer some pretty significant benefits: relief from the maintenance associated with running enterprise applications, the capability to be more agile in development, the flexibility to quickly scale up and down as computing requirements change.  Lots of benefits available in cloud application services.  What’s holding customers back from getting those benefits for themselves comes down to two overarching theme:  1) challenges in their own mindset or corporate culture; 2) the state of their data or architecture.  That seems to be it, unless I’m missing something.  And, if I am, you can tell me in the comments.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oracle Cloud - Keeping Your Perspective

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”
             - Douglas Adams, The Salamander of Doubt: Hitchhiking The Galaxy One Last Time

Oracle OpenWorld kicks off tomorrow.  My thoughts are with all the folks struggling through the mess that is the U.S. transportation system right now.  That mess in Chicago has really rippled throughout the country.  Hope ya'all keep your perspective and that things work out to get everyone here without too much trouble.

Many of the messages coming from Oracle over the next few days will have to do with the Oracle Cloud.  Oracle has strategically committed to darn near everything as a service (service offerings being a subset of most cloud definitions, but pretty synonymous with "Oracle Cloud" at the moment).  With Oracle adding a new offering at the rate of one per working day (yeah, really), it's easy to get lost in it all.  It's tough to keep things in perspective.

So I've got a nifty chart I found to help ya'all keep it all straight (wish I could remember where I found it so I could give proper credit...but, alas, as you age the memory is the first thing to go).  This should be a pretty spiffy reference too help keep things in perspective during OpenWorld and even thereafter.  Here ya go...



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Simple Solutions Do Not Equal Easy Builds

Am I the only one that often tries to make solutions far more difficult than needed?  My first approach to any challenge is likely the most complicated thing I could create.  For example, I was working on something with Oracle Apex last week.  Came up with what I thought was a nifty new feature and started building.  After the equivalent of several hundred lines of code, I had something that worked...just not as well as I hoped.

After sitting back and letting things percolate...with a bit of cussing and fussing...I wound up deleting everything I'd built for that nifty new feature.  Replaced it with about two minutes of work.  The replacement was probably the equivalent of 25 or 30 lines of code.  And now the feature worked exactly as I hoped.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I could complicate a ball bearing if given the opportunity to go off and running with the first ideas that pop into my head.

My point in all this...simple solutions do not equal easy builds, at least when it comes to building solutions.  It takes brain power to refine ideas and initial concepts into simple, elegant solutions.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Full Disclosure

Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing plenty of information relating to Oracle OpenWorld.  Mostly on this blog or via my Twitter account (@fteter).  As always, I try to share information in an accurate and a positive way.  I'm an Oracle fan, but I always try to balance that with accuracy and honesty.  In that spirit, it's important for me to make some disclosures about my attendance at OOW14.

I'm attending on "The King's Shilling".  Oracle generously covers travel costs for Oracle ACE Directors attending OOW and JavaOne, and I'm fortunate enough to be included in that community.  In addition, I've received a complimentary press pass to both OOW and JavaOne.  Yes, I am very appreciative - I freely admit that I'm a lucky guy in this regard.

Does Oracle's magnanimous funding of my OOW attendance buy them influence in regards to my opinions?  No.  And, so far as I can tell, Oracle has no expectations of influencing my opinions with their funding.  In fact, it's usually just the opposite - they've encouraged me to be honest in my opinions.  Frankly, I think they'd boot my big bottom out of the conference and ACE Director program if I were anything but honest in my opinions.

So I'll continue to be honest in sharing information relating to OOW14.  But, in the interests of transparency and fairness, I thought ya'all should be aware of the relationship.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Nobody Bunts With Two Strikes

Once upon a time, I coached a young women's fast pitch softball team.  Big adventure, as most of my coaching experience is with baseball, and I really enjoyed it.  One game, the opposing team's catcher was hitting with two outs and two strikes.  I shouted out to my team to stop covering the bunt - nobody bunts with two strikes (because a foul ball off a bunt attempt is strike three).  So my team's infield draw back.  Then the catcher bunts, laughing at me all as she jogs down to first base with a clean infield hit.  Yeah, I ate some serious humble pie.  And I learned to never bet on the past as an absolute limitation on possibilities for the present and future.

Today I know enterprise application developers who take the attitude that they've never had to worry about the user before, so why start now?  Hold that thought for a moment...

I've really enjoyed the unfolding story at Infor.  Their tag line is "Beautiful business software for your business processes."  Infor has baked the concept of beautiful design into their corporate culture, even so far as to invest in design firm Hook and Loop to drive design as a part of their corporate culture.  Infor actually considers design as a product and corporate differentiator.  Seems to be working for them.  $3B in annual revenue growing at a 40%+ clip is nothing to sneeze at.  And I suspect a bit of that success comes from the emphasis on User Experience design brought to Infor by CEO and Oracle alum Charles Phillips.

Oracle?  Yup.  The UX team at Oracle has proven that user experience design is a differentiating factor in the marketplace.  Simplified UI has played well with potential Fusion/Cloud customers.  So well, in fact, that the E-Business Suite is now adopting Simplified UI.  And the PeopleTools team seems to have enabled the adoption of many Simplified UI design patterns with the 8.54 release.  And that UX team continues to innovate with improved user experiences (which is much more than just UI) utilizing Fusion Middleware.

Oracle, Infor, Workday, SAP...they've all embraced the concept (admittedly, some more than others) that beautiful design sells while not-so-beautiful design is a competitive hinderance.

Now, let's consider that thought again.  "I've never had to worry about the user before, so why start now?"  Yeah, and nobody bunts with two strikes.

Thoughts? Opinions?  Find the comments.



Thursday, September 04, 2014

OpenWorld - Absorb and Adapt

It's September.  Which means the marketing and sales nirvana that is Oracle OpenWorld is upon us.

OOW is a big show...one person simply cannot take it all in.  You have to "pick your spots".

In the spirit of my previous blog post, my focus at OOW this year is on absorbing and adapting.  I'm up to my eyeballs in a new market with Higher Education, and I'm still learning about those customers.  So that's my overall filter going into OOW - soaking up the information relevant to Higher Ed.  Means I'll be spend quite a bit of time at the Marriott Marquis, as that's where the Higher Ed events are taking place.  I'm specifically checking for news and messaging on:
  • Oracle's upcoming Student Cloud and Higher Education Cloud offerings - especially news on the post-award Grants Management functionality under development for Oracle's Fusion Project Portfolio Management applications suite.
  • How Simplified UI will be applied to Student Cloud
  • Oracle Business Intelligence, especially Student Information Analytics
  • The future, if any, for Informatica and Oracle BI - because so many colleges and universities use Informatica with Oracle BI today
  • The upcoming release of Campus Solutions 9.2
  • Mobile, especially in regards to the future direction of Campus Solutions Mobile and Oracle's Mobile Applications Foundation
I'll likely do some digging into some favorite areas as well, such as the EBS tech stack and new developments with Oracle ADF.  Might even do some digging into the latest info on the Oracle BPM Suite if the opportunity arises.

What I learn at OOW will probably set my direction for research, presentations, etc. for the coming year...that's the "adapt" part.

Only one presentation for me this year.  So I'll put in a plug for it right now.  I'm sitting on a panel for:

General Session: Oracle’s Future in Higher Education (GEN7628)
Tuesday, Sep. 30, 10:15-11:45 AM – Marriott Marquis – Golden Gate C3



Swing by and introduce yourself if you get a chance, especially if you're a customer or have an interest in Higher Ed.

One last thing:  I'm always interested in how others manage their time at OOW.  So find the comments and let us know what you're hoping to gain from OOW this year.