Thursday, December 17, 2009

So What Happens Now? Oracle and Sun

So after the announcement from Oracle yesterday, I think we all are starting to see that the Oracle acquisition of Sun may finally get done. I have quickly become an expert on the issues in the European Commission’s objections to the purchase, and feel that Oracle’s new 10-step program for MySQL seems to position Oracle and MySQL in a place that will be palatable for all parties.

The key for Oracle and for the MySQL community was to allow the community to continue in the spirit of the Open Source community. I mentioned in my personal comments to the hearing that I feel that IT professionals are innovators and rebels. Based on Oracle’s MySQL direction that they stated, it looks like MySQL will continue in a traditional manner and that Oracle will give customers the option to use it and support it as they need. This should satisfy the community (at least most of it), but should really address any concerns that the EC may have had related to the acquisition.

So it looks like the customers and users that got to be part of the process may have made some difference. I truly believe that we did make a difference and I expect that in some small way helped to form the Oracle of tomorrow.

I can tell you that the upcoming Collaborate conference will include sessions related to Sun technology and that its time to get on board, because I think this deal is on its way to finally becoming a reality.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oracle Users and Customers Back Oracle at the EU

As I have been discussing over the past few days; I have been deeply involved in helping Oracle respond to objections that were made by the European Commission surrounding the loss of competition in the database market place by Oracle acquiring Sun. The experience has been one that has proven to me one important factor; computer people are passionate. Sure we may not know how to say hello to a girl, but when it comes to the software we work with on a daily basis we now how to get passionate for that.

I became involved about a week ago after receiving a call from Oracle’s CCO; Jeb Dasteel, from there the experience began. I have already talked about some of the anticipation and if you have been following on Facebook you would have seen commentary I provided during the entire experience, as much for the Oracle community as my kids who are busy studying for finals at McMaster University. Give me a break I’m a proud Dad. So how did things go?

It all began Wednesday afternoon in Brussels, Belgium with meetings at Oracle’s lawyer’s offices, which conveniently were right next to the Conrad Hotel. (BTW, nice hotel and it just so happens that the Italian President was in to speak at the EC and he was staying on my floor, we had a quick spaghetti party on 6.) So, off to the lawyers to discuss and finalize our presentation for the next day. It was determined that since the IOUG and the UKOUG (represented by Chairman Ronin Miles), were both there that we should combine statements. So for the entire afternoon we reviewed the updated materials and took it even further. I expect to have the slides posted in the next few days.

You should understand that these hearings are held in private and without the media. However, I asked the folks at Oracle if they felt this might be an issue and they did not. I can provide you information on what I said but not what I learned during the hearing as they are confidential.

So we were now ready. The power team that had been brought together to address these concerns were all top-notch. Oracle brought its President Safra Catz and the top legal minds inside and outside of Oracle (could have been 20 lawyers in the room, just on Oracle’s side). There was the leadership from Oracle EMEA with Loic le Guisquet, the person who runs the entire practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and a couple of other very senior people who really helped me directly on getting our message together, including Doug Kehring and Wayne Waters. There were economists on both sides. Not sure what economists really do, but they had a lot to say. On top of all the Oracle and legal muscle, there was Miles and me representing the great user community as well as a number of Oracle’s biggest and brightest customers.

The session room was filled to near capacity. Here is a view from my seat in the hearing room.

It included the Competition Commission and the case team working on this file. In addition to what seemed like 100 people associated with Oracle, there were people who were supporting the objection. Some of those groups included: Microsoft, SAP and MariaDB. As well there were representatives from 11 member states of the EC and one guys from US DOJ, I assume they all were here to watch this historical purchase work through the process All of these had a stake in the decision, but for different reasons. Rumours were even swirling that SAP might announce that it now runs on MySQL. I never heard if it does as they spoke on Friday and I assume they were announcing that it was certified to run on that database platform. I only attended the session on Thursday when Oracle made its primary case along with Sun. There and was a great job explaining how the MySQL product really works and why this objection may not make sense. The first was the idea that the EC’s objections may not be based on fact but in an interpretation or twisting of facts. One concern that I heard and stated at the session, was that the commission had questioned the validity of the hundreds of letters sent to the commission by customers and users and user groups. I can reiterate again, that the letter the IOUG sent was created by us without input from Oracle. They provided us a sample but our letter was done by the time we received the sample. Basically we used the address for our letter....over and over each of us pledged that we wrote these on our own without prodding. If it was like the IOUG; we began talks about objecting to the objection as soon as it was released, I expect most people were the same. Rumour even had it that this case may have garnered the most email and direct mail support of any purchase/merger ever for the EC.

The discussions were definitely heated at times. Questions and answered were almost like bombs being thrown from one group to the other. The Commission asked great questions and Oracle’s team were able to respond clearly and quite reasonably. There were many questions that included some emotional concerns, people need to remember that this is business.

As I said during my presentation to the committee, IT professional are innovators and rebels and that nothing that Oracle would do with MySQL would change competition. If someone in IT sees the opportunity to create something new or create a fork of MySQL. The chances are there and it will not be stopped. 

I just found the whole process where your accusers are also your jury an interesting concept but this how government work. I don’t know how this will turn out but I can tell you that it is far from over and I expect Oracle will fight this until a just decision is made. Considering that we expected that the deal to close in the summer, it is becoming a real issue. Decisions that need to be made cannot due to the uncertainty. People need to know what the company plans for its staff as it is integrated. This delay is costing people, companies and confidence. I hope that by being there as the President of the IOUG, a user group member, as a Thoughtcorp employee and as an Oracle customer and user, that in some way we have helped them see the light and let this deal go though.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Adventure Begins

Today is the day that I have had little time to really mentally prepare for as my trip to the European Commission. I still find it amazing that I have this opportunity to speak as part of the government process to complete this multi-billion dollar deal. Somehow I am now in the middle of it and today is the day that I finally fly to Brussels.

The entire trip to Brussels is a first for me, I have been many places and seen many great things. I find that breathing in a great city from its architecture so important when I go to places with great history and Brussels seems to have held onto its ancient roots. As for my presentation. Another first, I have spoken in front of many audiences in my day but for most of those talks it has generally alright to open with a joke. I expect that after the team gets through reviewing my content they may decide to pull the joke and go with the more serious stuff.

I am actually very exciting to present some preliminary information about the types of databases that people are running. The IOUG along with Unisphere Research we have been conducting a survey on virtualization and we have some results already that are interesting. Turns out that of the people who took the survey close to 90% run Oracle as their enterprise database and of that almost 90% of those companies also run MS SQL Server and then 44% use MySQL. The results are interesting and deeper than this but some of it will form the basis of some of are existing arguments. I together with Ronin Miles, the Chairman of the UKOUG, will present the position of the user communities and it all begins in just a couple of days.

On the lighter side I was thinking about some of the great adventures and places that I have been part of my life already. And in no particular order:

  • Discovering Israel (wow….that’s history)
  • Exploring Rome
  • Living in London for 6 months
  • Exploring the ruins of Pompeii
  • St Petersburg
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Attending the 1976 Olympic in Montreal
  • Meeting Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
  • Being at the 1994 NY Rangers Game 7 win in the conference finals
  • Nos Expos (enough said)
  • Attending 3 Stanley Cup parades
  • Being there as my home province of Quebec was considering separation; I heard one of the greatest speeches in Quebec history as Rene Levesque called on Quebecers to rally after the loss for the separatists
  • Seeing the kids grow up….that’s the greatest adventure
  • And now on to: Speaking at the EC

I am sure there are many others……it’s amazing to look back and see where we have been and how much we have already done. Of course there is still so much to go.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Another Day Closer to Brussels

Friday and another day closer to me going to Brussels to speak at the EU. In a way it seems a little surreal at this point in time.I continue to work on my presentation to get ready for next week and still have to do my day job to do and boy are things getting busy these days at Thoughtcorp as we build momentum in the Enterprise Data Group during this time of a BI explosion. Always good to be busy.

My logistics are done and I am looking forward to seeing Brussels if only for a short time. I’ve been to Belgium before. I plan to see what I can in the evenings, this is a country with long history and we are going to be in the core of Brussels close to the old city. There are a number of UN Heritage Sites in the city which I look forward to seeing during the holiday period. I always loved the way London comes alive during the holidays. I seem to always time my European trips during the Fall and Winter, not sure how it works out, but one day. A few years back I had the chance to attend the UKOUG conference in Birmingham and if I am not mistaken it rained 8 out 9 days. A perfect week in the UK in December, so hopefully it will be better next week in Brussels.

One thing that has been interesting to see the reaction of people when you let them know that you are going away next week. This must be important as I have to miss hockey next week and I don’t like to miss hockey. Being the goalie you need to be there. So I told the team last night, and this is a team where I am on the older side of the Bell curve and most of the guys are in their 20’s. When I tell the story of how I was going to speak at the EU, the reactions ranged from disbelief to amazement. I play hockey with these guys but they don’t really understand what I do in my job let alone the IOUG. I am still trying to figure out how I am going to be part of this process but one thing is that I am going to soak up the experience.

Right now my wife is planning her days while I will be sequestered at the EU. Belgium and Brussels of course is known for its chocolate. I think she plans a tour and tasting of each in the city. And Belgium has a connection to Canada via the poem that in Canada symbolizes the sacrifice of our soldiers have made for us and I can remember hearing it every Remembrance Day growing up. We even have a part of the poem on our $5 bill. Finally they tell me that I need to eat waffles, French fries and beer……so I look forward to a fun gastronomic experience.

So the wheels are in motion and the experience of a lifetime is getting closer. At least I have two hockey games between now and when I leave to keep my mind clear. The weekend pack and plan before I know it I will be looking in the souvenir shops looking to add to my travel snow globe collection.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Standing Behind Your Words

I am about to embark on an experience which I would never have imagined would have been on my path in life. Next week I will be going to the European Union’s Competition Committee to present the position of the IOUG on the pending acquisition of Sun by Oracle. As you may have already read previously in my blog; the IOUG’s leadership is of the opinion that the purchase will not affect competition in the database market. We feel that the technology community are innovators and they will respond to the needs and desires of the marketplace.

So I have been asked by Oracle, on behalf of the IOUG, to go to Brussels and be a part of their presentation to the EU. This has all evolved very quickly. I have to thank everyone at my company, Thoughtcorp, for their support during a hectic time. To me it illustrates the leadership that companies like ours can show in today’s diverse technology landscape.

So believe it or not I am flying to Brussels (Home of the EU) next Tuesday (arriving Wednesday morning) and then on to lunch and meetings…..wonder if they will be serving waffles?

This entire process is one that illustrates to me how you need to be prepared for anything when you make a statement. You need to be confident in yourself and the great team around you to make such a curveball into one of the great experiences of ones life. My segment before the commission will be around 15 minutes and basically present the position the IOUG published in our recent press release. I have to thank the Board and staff at the IOUG who all took part in building our position on the subject. I am ready to tell the EU why the IOUG made the statement that we did and why we support the deal, sometimes you need to stand up for what you feel is right and this is about as big a political stage they could find.

So here I go; I get to be part of something that for me may be a once in a lifetime experience. I am excited and anxious about how it will all come together, but I am confident in my knowledge and abilities to represent the IOUG community in a responsible manner. After all this is done, it would be nice to say that the Oracle database user community stood up and made a stand and helped to influence the direction of tomorrow’s technology landscape.

I look forward to sharing as much of my experience with you as I can; as Ian’s Excellent Adventure begins.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Responding to the EU Objection to Oracle’s purchase of Sun

The past few days have been an exciting and interesting series of events. Recently the European Competition issued objections to the purchase of Sun by Oracle. Remember that this deal has already been approved by the US Competition Commission. So what’s the hold-up?

oraclesun

It appears that the EU feels that Oracle acquiring Sun will limit competition in the database marketplace. On the surface this seems like an valid observation based on market share alone. Consider that Oracle is the #1 database in enterprise environments and that MySQL is leading in smaller database environments. So that means that Oracle will be the #1 database vendor. Does it limit competition when you dominate the marketplace? Does it stop companies like IBM, Microsoft and others to develop and innovate in their own product stacks. The IOUG Board discussed our response and it was a consensus opinion that the acquisition of Sun and MySQL will not limit competition. Considering that we are the user group who focuses solely on Oracle database and middleware technology that we were well suited to respond in a meaningful way.

We feel that the delay is causing even more damage by adding a level of uncertainty to the company’s future and will impact profits and dollars. Considering that Oracle has purchased other databases in the past illustrates how well Oracle continues to support and innovate in these various DBs. Oracle purchased RDB years ago, and more recently TimesTen, Berkeley DB and Essbase, and each have been supported and extended. Oracle purchases products that help them in being leaders in both proprietary databases as well as open ones.

For me this is really a question about innovation and not competition. As we often say…”If you build a better mousetrap…”, and it is not different in this case. MySQL was created as an inexpensive alternative to the big databases. It was built by a private group named MySQL AB who felt that a small cheap and sometimes free database would be able to grab market in the competitive database field. Somehow they did capture marketshare from companies that felt they were untouchable. To go on and become the leader in many verticals especially on the web. So where is the next MySQL and how will step up and compete and how does this purchase stop it. Competition is driven by innovation, differentiation and market needs, and the IOUG feels that the EU objection is ungrounded.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Technology in Sports

Yesterday as I often do on a Sunday morning that I am not playing golf I watched the last Formula 1 race of the season from Abu Dhabi. The race had many exciting portions and a great finish for an F1 race, but what really impresses me with F1 and Baseball for that matter is their use of technology to gain a competitive edge.

In the F1 world the prime motivation is to improve speed and grip, those two factors allow a car to go quickly while allowing the driver to keep the car on the course. In F1, you look at the car and know that these cars have gone through extensive design and testing and every component that is exposed to the air is tested for its wind dynamics and overall effect on the car. This is done right down to the mirrors that jut from every car. The science of airflow is critical to success. Every team in F1 today looks at information that is captured during the running of the cars in practice and in the race and based on the information teams make adjustments. This is light years ahead of the information that the likes of Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart or Stirling Moss had available to them. Back then it was all based on feel and driver knowledge to optimize the car, but now people like Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso spend almost as much time behind a computer screen as they do behind the windscreen. Auto racing and sports have entered the new era where information collected and reported on is king.

Baseball which is one sport that has always embraced information has recently made leaps in the pervasive use of technology. For years MLB has been collecting and as Bill James, the legendary baseball data guru, said “Our ability to generate statistics has gotten way ahead of our ability to make any sense of it.” Today baseball is using data and visualizations to help pitchers and hitter optimize their performance. A good friend of mine, Ari Kaplan, is one of those people who are helping teams make sense of it. Ari is able to provide pitch-by-pitch information, pitching and batting trends, as well as information about the strike zone called by each umpire. As you can well imagine, this information can be the difference between winning and losing and based on the teams in the playoffs, I expect that every team in this year’s playoff has used stats to get them into a more advantageous position, the days of scouts going to every game and taking notes may still be happening, but by removing emotion and moving to a data based strategy is one that has begun.

Technology and sports has become inseparable and those that take part are creating an advantage that can help a team win a world championship or world series.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The IOUG at Oracle Open World 2009 – A Retrospective

A week has passed since I was last in San Francisco and I felt that now that I was over jetlag it would be a good time to look back at how the week went from mine and the user perspective.

The week for me has always been about networking and sharing and this week was no different. Although it looked like attendance was down, it was great to see the people who could make it plus the lines tended to be shorter. Which when you want to get to the corn dog at the Big Bash it was a good thing. The other advantage is that this was one year when I did not hear about people being unable to attend sessions due to room capacities. The people really do make this event. Below is a picture of me and a couple of IOUG Board members, Michelle Malcher and Todd Sheetz, at the IOUG booth at Open World. They along with the rest of the Board really did such a great job with the IOUG led programming that I am sure it helped everyone who attended one of out sessions.

oow2009_ianatbooth

The week as with most OpenWorld was about product direction and product understanding. I think as always Oracle presented their direction clearly for what they know and can talk about. The question of the finalization of the Sun acquisition was  handing like a big lead balloon over the entire event. I expect that when the EU finally allows this deal to go through, Oracle will have a strategy that will quickly integrate both businesses and communities together. The IOUG had some meeting with some folks from the various Sun communities and I feel that we have a number of synergies that will help both groups to benefit from the additional topics that become part of technology education.

I also met with a number of senior Oracle technology and Business Intelligence executives to see how they planned to focus their products in the next year and how the IOUG can help our users get ready for this technology. The focus for 2010 includes BI and Analytics and we are focused on providing the best Oracle BI event in conjunction with COLLABORATE10 event coming in April 2010 in Las Vegas. BTW, if you want to submit an abstract for COLLABORATE10, today is you last day….so click here to submit and abstract. The focus on driving down costs was clearly stated by all of the Oracle folks. The key is that through better more effective use of shared and open technology you can drive down costs. From a DW perspective the Exadata and Database Machine seems like the flavour of the day. I realize that this is some great technology and can provide some customers with some real performance, so don’t get me wrong about this, the other DW appliance manufacturers must be concerned. The latest version of the machine from Oracle and Sun show us where this company is going and how technology will make a difference. The speed of the basic machine along with Flash Memory provides the power not only for data warehousing but now for OLTP as well. Ray Roccaforte talked about how he expected this flash memory improvement to help DWing in the future, but for now it provides OLTP with the additional power of The Database Machine. I have to admit when I first discussed this machine with the VP in charge of this, I said I was surprised that Oracle had not gone after the OLTP market with this approach and now a year later here it is.

Lots of discussion around OBIEE and ODI/OWB, since this was my focus for the week and it was great to see how people are truly exploiting this technology. Considering how late Oracle arrived into the BI and DW tool game, they are making some solid moves into this domain and their tools can really provide the performance and results that companies are looking for.

Also met with some users involved with Z/Series Linux, a group that runs Oracle on Linux on IBM mainframes. This is a small but passionate group that was looking to the IOUG to support their networking and educational goals, and I expect that we will see many of these folks in Las Vages at COLLABORATE10 as we develop a conference-within-conference for the community.

The last evening was Aerosmith, Roger Daltrey, The Wailer and 3 Dog Night. I made it to 3 of 4, only missing the Dogs. Aerosmith was its usual polished self, with Steven Tyler being award and IOUG Lifetime achievement award. Daltrey was the biggest surprise as he delivered a great set of well known and lesser known Who material. He was in fine form and he voice in its 60th year was able to keep up. The Wailers were awesome. I grew up in Montreal with the music of Bob Marley and The Wailers and I had seen them perform before, so it was great to hear the wonderfully energizing music fill the San Fran nights.

The show wrapped and by the end of it many of us were happy to return back to share the word. I expect that 2010 will be an exciting year whether you are a Oracle or Sun customer, as we learn how the next evolution for Oracle and the user communities.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oracle OpenWorld – We call today….Larryday

As every Wednesday comes at OpenWorld we know one thing. This is the day that Larry Ellison speaks to his customers and let’s them know  what Oracle has been up to lately and tells us what we should be looking at in the Oracle world. So today I decide to rename the day “Larryday”.

The keynote is the most important session of the week and you can always tell something is up as security dogs show up at the Moscone Center, you know Larry is coming.

Ellison finally took the stage after someone from Infosys, not sure what they do, but running Toastmaster classes is not one of them.

As with most seminars this week, the promotion of the Database Machine/Exadata servers and this session was not going to be that different. I have to admit that I am very excited by this technology. I come from a background of implementing Netezza servers and I would suggest that right now they must be worried about the Oracle offering. It is amazing how

The challenge went out to IBM or anyone $10 million for anyone who can out perform the latest Database Machine. Consider that IBM is challenging Oracle claim that they are 16x faster; according to Ellison IBM thinks the claim should only be 6x faster. Here is Larry calling out the universe:

image

The surprise guest was next and this year it was Arnold Schwarzenegger who showed up and was here to “Pump you up”. He also commented that his IQ had gone up by 10 points just by showing up. Those who attend this event know that when you leave the event that your Oracle IQ is 10 points higher. Arnold said he loved all technology; hi tech, bio-tech, nano-tech, he loves it all. Consider how much he was helped by technology. Whether it was his body building career (food supplements) or movies, he uses it everywhere. Here is The Arnold up on the stage today.

image Of course as with any politician he had to make his social comments about California being a green state and you have to admit they are doing more than most. His talk was funny lively and just what we needed to lighten things up and get back to the real world.

That’s it for now…..have to get ready for Aerosmith, Roger Daltry, 3 Dog Night and the Wailers. It is going to be a great night and will give you an update about how it went.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oracle 11g for Data Warehousing

Back with the latest update.[ the day has been crazy already and its not done yet.  I am finally finished my presentation “An ETL Framework using OWB”. I think it went well. It was good to see so many people who are interested in this compelling technology. The basic message I had for people is that for ETL…..keep it simple. And as for the choice of OWB; it is one that your budget will like and your developers will be able to use to produce most of the results that you need. It is a compelling ETL choice. Thanks to everyone who attended and took part in the session.

So now on the next and related session, the Oracle 11g Database for Data Warehouses with Ray Roccaforte who is one of Oracle leading data warehousing gurus. It started with a discussion of the latest version of Database Machine (Exadata), he explained how they were able to achieve a huge performance gain over the orginal version of the Exadata server. With improved everything including CPU, interconnect, memory and so much more, has provided a doubling of the performance. As well the latest compression and new storage indexes which reduces I/O to near zero., this is done by ensuring that the min and max values are within a read range, so it only read what it needs to. In addition the new columnar compression allows for more effective storage. It stores data based on a column and then compressed….very cool. No quite a column database but they seem to be getting closer.

The discussion around the features in teh database is one that I always like. So consider that OLAP and Data Mining and Analytics are built right into the database and can access data effectively and efficiently. The tighter integration in 11g with OBIEE and the database is another encouraging feature. These are areas that poeple may not be aware that they exist, so I would encourage people to take a look at this technology it could save real dollars considering the cost of other analytic software today.

So the message is that Exadata is a real option for DW deployments and they are pushing this message out to the audience today

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oracle Provides Direction

During this morning opening session, Charles Phillips and Safra Katz tried to inspire the troops about Oracle current and future offerings. It almost seems like Oracle was searching for a message….and if I am to draw one thing from today’s sesison was that Oracle has software to help you do anything. As Safra mentioned today, software in the past was like ordering a car part by part and then calling a mechanic, welder and other people to put it together for you. Of course as soon as your finished your car, a light comes on to tell you you need an upgrade. So the message was that this was not the approach Oracle was taking, its goal is to provide integrated solutions that all work together and benefit from teh features of each. they focused on how Oracle is now number 1 in middleware with the full integration of BEA and the launch of Webcenter suite 11g and how Oracle now has a very viable middleware solution that relies on open and extendable capabilities. The value is in making everything work together. Below are Charles and Safra up on stage today.

IMG00115

There were a number of product managers who presented information about Primavera, Peoplesoft, CRM and Retek. They mentioned that companies like H&M and Zara have changed the way retail is being done and Oracle’s Retek has done a great job in supporting these changes to provide retail companies with better information to run their business better and ultimately making a greater profit. They also showed that with the integration of BI, which is allowing businesses can be more efficient in products selling and can meet today’s changing retail approach.

And the announcement of the CIO of the Year and turns out to there actually 5 CIOs of the year from numerous companies all over the world. Too many to name but they seemed pleased to be getting the award.

Next up is HP’s Ann Livermore….can’t wait to see if she discusses how the Sun acquisition will impact the Oracle-HP relationship. We shall see

User Groups Kick Off Open World

Today in San Francisco begins the annual Oracle led customer event; Oracle OpenWorld. The conference is one where people can learn Oracle’s direction for technology on the near and long-term. Sunday is a very valuable day for people who attend the event. It is Sunday that is day when the user communities run sessions that are technically focused on various components of the Oracle database and middleware.

The IOUG is front and center in this activity starting the day with important topics including security, business intelligence among many others.  Of course if you are here come by the IOUG booth in Moscone West (2nd floor) and meet others with similar interests as you.

I started my Oracle Openworld experience with the security topic. The session is a panel discussions with individuals from the user community sharing real world experiences and with the people from Oracle who are responsible for delivering the security technology to us. Below is Andy Flower of LoganBrittan and Tanya Baccam of Baccam consulting that re giving great insights into the current state of security and providing tips on how to improve it.

anyday1 It is interesting that current issues that people are experriencing and little people are doing with regard to security. The IOUG survey has illustrated some many issues that people are experiencing. With a little work DBAs and SysAdmins we can do a lot. Organization need to look to encryption, audit and options like Oracle’s Data Vault.

One small question I have….When is a blogger not a blogger? The answer is when Oracle decides that a Blog is not a Blog…so my adventure starts without Blogger credentials…let’s see if I can beat the system and still get they access I need this week...that’s all for now…..and on to the rest of the week.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Come meet the IOUG at Oracle OpenWorld

We are only days away from the start of Oracle OpenWorld, the annual gathering of Oracle professionals that is held close the Oracle HQ in San Francisco. It is an event that is hectic to say the least and one where valuable information can be overwhelming you need to find some anchors and ways to get the most out of your time there.

We always say that one of the most valuable benefits that the IOUG provide is around networking and in the mass of people who attend Openworld how can you build these networks. So here is my suggestion on how to start or continue to build your network: Join and be part of the IOUG. Starting on Sunday of Openworld it will be your time to find and meet the people in the user community with similar interests to you in an environment of education and sharing. On Sunday we will be running SIG Day at Openworld. During this day our Special Interest Groups will be running education and panels to discuss real world technical issues that are of important for all of us in the Oracle technology community. This is the place to start your week off on the right foot and take part. Find the people who are already active in the community, we are always looking for new friends :). Of course the IOUG presents a number of sessions scattered during the week. So you know if it is education you want look for the user group to help you.

In addition we will have a booth in Moscone West….so I would suggest everyone comes by and makes this a great user community meeting place. Many of the IOUG Board will be “manning” the booth, so come by and make that connection to the people who have many of the same interests and questions as you. Plus you might meet someone nice to go to Aerosmith with. See you Sunday!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Oracle Technology Choices

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be part of a discussion about Portals and how Oracle technology and my company Thoughtcorp could help a potential customer solve their business needs. It was a great discussion and I think helped me understand the thought process that people go through when considering major IT decisions.

The choice of software from a company like Oracle is a difficult one, customers need to consider the cost and cost of ownership. We often get a great deal on a car to find out that the service costs are so high that the car becomes too costly to keep. So you need to consider both the short and long-term costs. In this case and with most decisions it is more than simply cost, it is about benefits. The Oracle WebCenter product that has grown from the BEA acquisition, is a solid product offering on the market. In addition the product is feature rich and Oracle has provided numerous services to ease development and make the adherence to standards much easier. It is about making your decision “future-proof”.

I realize that saying that any product is future-proof might seem naive, but the reality is that adopting a product that adheres to open source standards and provides you with solid current capabilities and anticipated features in the future, the Oracle WebCenter choice is close to this goal. 

The choice based on function and vision is where how the best decisions are made and I look forward to seeing where this discussion goes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oracle Database 11g Release 2 Is Now Available


Today is a big day in the lifecycle of the Oracle database. Today Oracle released it’s first port of the 11g R2 for Linux. With the release of this version of the database Oracle has brought us a solid release of the 11g database.

This release focuses on reducing costs and Oracle has provided and improved numerous features that will provide this support. The move is to easier management and features to optimize feature management. The new release will make ASM management easier and ASM will now support all data structure storage. The database has improved more than storage but the way that data is stored. Improved compression and partitioning. Being so data warehouse focused, I always look at those aspects. There is improvements in OLAP and Analytics. You might want to find Charlie Berger of Oracle, who would will tell you the depth of analytical capabilities in the database. I am always surprised how many people buy SAS and don’t know what is available in their Oracle database. And if you have a Linux server you can download the latest release.

The IOUG was heavily involved in the beta testing of release 2 and the feedback was really good, so the anticipation has been building for all of us to get to this release out and into the public.

I am excited about this release as it should give organizations the confidence to start wide adoption of 11g. The time has come for Oracle Database 11g and release 2 will provide the confidence and stability that is needed in today’s 24/7 world.

Check out the Oracle 11g Release 2 web page for more information. The IOUG is planning some 11g R2 webcasts and will be the talk of OpenWorld.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Single Technology Stack. Is it the Answer?

Today with the continued consolidation of technology by a small number of vendors has changed the way we see software and technology. I have been talking to various people over the past few weeks about Oracle and how it now controls the entire technology stack…..or will once (and if) the purchase of Sun is completed. The questions are always the same…..Are people concerned about Oracle controlling everything from hardware to applications? Will innovation be limited as a result? What will happen to 3rd party vendors who are on the outside looking in? How will this impact the customer experience? All of these are valid questions and are concerns we should all be thinking about.

So let me try to take on some of these questions from my perspective. The first is how concerned we should be by a single vendor controlling a technology stack. First off, I don’t think this is something new…..have you ever looked at IBM? They have been working on providing a single stack of technology and tools that can all be bought from them. Seems like it was a problem in the past, but now people are getting concerned because the company following a similar model is Oracle. Oracle can now provide customers with a support model that covers you from the operating system to your applications. This seems like a great opportunity to simplify our lives by now looking to one vendor for full support, whereas before each would blame the other until the actual cause of the issue is found. I don’t see the concept of a complete technology stack from a vendor being bad for an organization.

On the question of innovation; will innovation be limited by consolidation? Again, I don’t think so. Oracle has always been an innovative company. Consider how much the Oracle database has changed over the years; Oracle 6 and Oracle 11g are basically the same database, but it is like calling a Ford Model T and a Toyota Prius the same….after all they are both cars. The newer car and the newer databases include innovations that many can see and some that one cannot. The internals of the database continues to strengthen and Oracle has improved the product through internal improvements and by acquiring complimentary products to support the ultimate vision for the database. I don’t seeing Oracle being less of an innovator, but more so to keep their technology stack as a leading option when considering an organization’s technical direction.

Finally, how will this affect 3rd party vendors and their tools? I would be concerned for some vendors who today compete against the products in the Oracle stack. Oracle will have an advantage to be able to provide solutions with Oracle that would previously had required an additional investment with another vendor. I have seen recently a large telecommunications company that decided to convert all of their data warehouse into a pure Oracle solution. This requires the replacement of their ETL and BI tools. Are these tools better than what they are replacing? Probably not, but the benefit of having the single support structure and the leverage to focus on one technology has made this a choice that many are considering.

So should you fear the “Single-Stack”? I don’t think you should; Oracle has been able to fill in the voids in their offerings through careful acquisitions and as such provide us with solutions that we can be sure will work and a direction which will reduce the overall cost of working with Oracle. At this point, I would say that we embrace consolidation but keep a careful eye on our vendors making sure they continue to innovate and provide solutions that help organization be more successful.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Best You Can Be; Can Be the Best You Are With

I always look to Friday as a day that should be something more than work. It is a day I usually reflect and look back at how the week was good and how I could have made it better. This week I realized something about team and being a teammate. I know I have gone on in the past about team work and my hockey team, but today I realized something about work that sparked today’s blog entry.

I work for Thoughtcorp, we are a reasonably sized solutions company based in Toronto. These guys have been around a long time and at one point were a competitor of mine, so this type of business is nothing new to me. What I realized this week is that this is a team with great talent (which I already knew) but what I didn’t get this week was the energy this team had and the focus it puts into doing business. I realized that some of the old companies I worked for had lost it and I too missed the signs that it had happened. The concept of a team in those organization was lost. We lost the ability to motivate each other, we got into a rut. Those companies may not even realize they have lost the internal challenge to be great, but I see it now. It is critical for an organization to survive it needs to be its best. the motivation I found this week made me realize that work again is like hockey and golf

How do we get better at any sport? We learn from and play against people who are more skilled than us. Taking up the challenge and not shirking away from it is how we can harness the motivation to be better or at least better than our competitors. In a team environment it becomes a way of making the entire team better….if you don’t constantly challenge yourself to be as good as those around you you will never be great.

The user community is the same way in an Oracle sort of way. I look at how my career has been impacted by the user community. Would I have authored a book? Become President of the IOUG? Helped to create two companies? Created solutions that matter? Maybe but I feel that my taking the chance to take an active role in the IOUG has made it all happen in some way. It was the motivation of meeting the people in the community and learning what was possible. The people in this community are leaders and by using them as examples and mentors the value to an individual and organization it limitless. We need to use this motivation to make us better individuals. It seems so clear and easy but you need to see it and realize the value to all those around you. Then you become the motivator for others. Make it a great weekend!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The IOUG Board Update

I just returned from the annual Summer IOUG Board meeting. As the President I help to facilitate the meeting and I hope in some ways motivate us to think creatively to provide strategic direction to to a group membership of close to 25,000 total members. So what are we up to?

The meeting was one where we discussed the strategic direction of the group and how to provide the most value to our members. We focus on our individual and corporate members and how we can ensure that the dues they pay provide value. We looked at how to deliver education that can meet today’s changing technical and economic environments. So to this end we came up with ideas to provide more focused or “Boot Camp”-type training. So when we look to our offering we would focus on helping people navigate certain topics. Topics focused on the database, security, business intelligence, middleware, Fusion among others. We talk about ways that we might be able to deliver it. So whether it be by virtual channels or in person, we look at the best options.  So I expect that you will see how we focus the message and the web site and our value to ensure that you can get specific defined value from your membership.

As part of what we talked about was some survey results that we previously discussed which focused on the value that the IOUG provide to our members. One of the findings was the networking that our group provides. So are looking at ways to improve and encourage better and more effective interactions. So we look to social networking and to how we can get more people involved. Let me know some of your ideas if you have any…..

And 2009-10 IOUG season will be putting a focus on Business Intelligence as we work to educate the Oracle and BI communities about the solution stack that Oracle offers. We are working with regional partners to start BI user communities in various cities including Chicago and COLLABORATE will host a deep drive into the subject at our event in Las Vegas, April 2010. And we are looking at other events that will put more focus on the subject matter that matters so much.

Finally I just want to mention a friend who I met through this crazy world. Michael Abbey, who was my inspiration and motivation to get involved in the user group. This past weekend Michael went to Ethiopia to take on an Oracle project. What an adventure and all because of the relationships he created through the user group. Michael is a great DBA and I expect will leaving a lasting impact on his work over there. If you want to follow Michael’s Adventure check out his blog (Abbey Seein’ Ya). The entire IOUG is waiting to hear your stories.

So we are back at it now and putting our plan together and will start to get it out to you. But the is an exciting and vibrant time and we are working towards making it even better for all of us.

So soon you will start hearing about what we will be doing and how the IOUG will be evolving.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Making sure to renew your IOUG Membership

We often say that membership has its privileges and being an IOUG is one of those items. The concept of being a member of a user group is one that is appreciated by many and foreign to others. The value that we get has already been discussed (take a look at this entry), but of course we understand that the content that can be found via the IOUG is very valuable and often available only via our website. This includes whitepapers, presentations, webcasts and podcasts. The network that you can build is second to none, so are you ready to join or renew?

We often think that the low membership price for joining the IOUG is an easy amount for any individual or organization can afford, but with these times we are experiencing it is important to include your IOUG membership as an important part of your spending. The budgeting cycle for many companies is starting during the “dog-days” of summer. So it imperative to get your dollars ready for your renewal to make sure you have the dollars you need when your renewal comes up.

So like everything that is important to you, you need to plan. So remember when your budget comes up you should include make sure you budget for your membership. The cost of your membership can be saved by one tip or one contact who can save you enough time or money to be able to justify your membership for years to come.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wizards and Templates

It seems that we look at application development at something that is specific and that we are the first company that wants to build this application. The idea is that our business is so different than others that there can’t be anything out there that satisfies my business needs. Of course the truth in 2009 is different than the realities of the 90’s.

The ability to quickly create and deploy solutions is paramount today, as a result of the concept that we are not as different than we think, companies like Oracle provide out-of-the-box capabilities and quick start services and objects that can be leveraged to provide significant functionality that address many of our needs. So if you are implementing BI for your financial, telecom, or almost any other industry, Oracle provide a number of pre-packaged BI components such as financial analysis, marketing support and many others. It is from this point that an organization can ensure that they buy the basics and then build the competitive advantage pieces.

The same goes for WebCenter. Webcenter comes with a number of services that enable the deployment of Portal technology in a fast and effective manner. So if you need a portal application that supports, email, social networking, document services, discussions, wikis and more. So the question we ask today is why build. Why not customize?

The choice of Oracle technology is one that comes with a significant price tag, but the value that you can get from the products that will reduce costs and shorten implementation times. We all need to dig a little deeper and learn from the past to save money in the future.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oracle 11g Release 2 is Coming

Being part of the user group like the IOUG does have it's privileges. One of the things we get to do is take part in the Oracle database Beta program. As most people know; Oracle has been feverishly working to complete the latest release of the database (Oracle 11g Release 2). The user group was able to help Oracle test this release of the database, by suggesting customers who wanted to take part in the Beta testing. This is truly a value to the individual, their organization and Oracle. Together they work to bring a solid product to general release.

So what is most compelling about the upcoming release of the database? Of course I can't answer the specifics of that until Oracle releases the product some time in the near future, but what I can say is that this is the release of the 11g database that people should find to provide the stability and performance. The old joke goes how can you tell if someone is a Junior or Senior DBA? The answer goes that when the first version of the software arrives the Junior DBA wants to install it straight to production and the Senior DBA throws out the CD and waits for Release 2. Sadly the reality of this joke has some truth in it as organization often wait until the second release before installing the latest product. So here we are with Oracle 11g Release 2, and based on what I have seen I would suggest that as the information about this release is disseminated you should start to consider the adoption of the this release. It will increase performance, increase features and increase the return on your database investment by doing things better and smarter.

It is time to put on your Oracle Database 11g radar and start collecting the information that will help you decide if the time is right for you to enter into the 11g universe and start to using it to help your business be better and more effective

Friday, July 24, 2009

Oracle Purchases GoldenGate

Another day and another acquisition by Oracle. The latest is GoldenGate. This is a company that has created products that provide real time Data Warehousing and high availability solutions.

As with most Oracle acquisitions, this one is not that different. Oracle has purchased GoldenGate as it is one of the leaders in these various areas. It will be interesting to see how Oracle will integrate these technologies into their own stable of products. Word from the street is that GoldenGate customers are very satisfied with their products.

From a Data Warehousing side the real-time warehousing will be a nice addition and extension to the current offerings of ODI and OWB. GoldenGate leverages CDC technology and provides timely data warehouse updates.

From a high availability perspective, the acquisition will provide additional stand-by options and reduce outages. I expect to see much of this technology rolled into Oracle existing products to extend and improve them.

The IOUG is excited by this purchase and we welcome the GoldenGate user community to the Oracle fold. I expect that as we move forward we will work on integrating this community to provide them with a network of other Oracle professionals who serve their needs. It is an exciting time to be working with Oracle.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

User Group and Oracle Loyalty

Recently the IOUG and Oracle embarked on a survey that collected the value that people receive from user groups like the IOUG and Oracle. I mentioned this survey previously and I hope that many of you took the time to complete it.

So what did this survey tell us? What did it tell Oracle? It told us that generally people are very satisfied. The survey showed that 80% of people who are associated with one of the participating in a user group are Very Satisfied with this relationship. This is no surprise for people who are already members, and has now confirmed this with Oracle.

So what did you identify as the most valuable reason for being a member? I think that question is quite obvious; it is Networking. Again over 75% of respondents said that Networking was a very valuable benefit of being a member. In addition similar numbers were seen in the Education provided by the user community. This confirms what we see as being our value. The user groups are the best place to go to meet people who have similar Oracle interests. The value of in-person and virtual networking are two of the foci for the coming year for the IOUG. The only place you can get unbiased information about Oracle technology comes from the user communities and this survey has confirmed this value.

The key is providing value. People today understand that they need to do more with less. So user groups need to provide this type of cost-effective education. The IOUG is looking at working on a BI event in the coming months. We expect this will be a virtual event in the late fall and one that will be delivered at a very advantageous price point. The IOUG is listening and our program is changing to meet our member needs.

One interesting tidbit that as mention today was mentioned was that according to some folks at Oracle, it seems like User Group members log less Service Requests for support. So now how will Oracle help the user groups is the question as we already know how user groups help its members and Oracle. As some people say “Membership Has It’s Privileges”…..take some time and join in. (www.ioug.org)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Oracle User Summer

As the summer moves along, I look back and forwards to see where the IOUG has come from and where we are going.

COLLABORATE was of course the big in-person and on-line event of the technology user year and it was another great success. Considering the economy, the value that we are got from the annual event was spectacular. The new content about the database and middleware was better than ever. It is always great to see the speakers who come each year and share their experiences. So now we are on to planning next year’s event and I am more excited than ever.

Next year COLLABORATE 10 will be held in Las Vegas in April 2010 and the focus will be on Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing. We will provide a focus and a larger number of sessions

Planning for our next events this summer and fall are well underway. We are working with Oracle on various user group activities that are part of Open World. We will be putting on technical presentations on the Sunday of the event. As well as numerous sessions during the week. I know I am excited as I will be unveiling my latest presentation named “An ETL Framework for OWB”. The IOUG and our members will be there in force and we look forward to seeing everyone again.

In addition we are working on either a RAC or BI focused event. Considering the growth of these areas and the experts that are active members of the community make these subjects top of mind and 2 areas that the IOUG continues to focus on.

Finally as President I will be attending the North American User Group Presidents meeting at Oracle’s office in Atlanta. It is at these meetings where all the user groups get together to discuss the subjects that are of most interest. As you should already know the IOUG recently worked with Oracle on a survey about user group value and priorities. The results of this survey will be released at the meeting and I look forward to sharing it with you in the coming weeks.

So things are busy around the IOUG and I hope that the group is helping you solve you business challenges.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Vote for your User Group

The IOUG and Oracle have recently teamed together to survey IOUG members and non-members about the benefits of being a member of a user group.

The survey is open to everyone who is involved in the user community and I encourage everyone to vote before Thursday, July 3 (that’s this week!).

To vote you can press this link: http://www.oraclesurveys.com/se.ashx?s=251137454671BECB and have Oracle hear about the values that a user group provides.

This is an important time in being part of a community and just as important to voice your opinion so that we can build a strong user community with a strong voice within Oracle.

So have your voice heard and vote today! And thanks for taking the time.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How Lucky We Are?

 

The tales of economic recovery or economic collapse are spread on a daily basis and we are told about how much we have lost. We sadly heard of the passing of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett yesterday and we think of what we lost. I think we need to look at what we have and appreciate it for what it is and what it was.

I think of the trendsetting music and dancing that the Gloved-One brought to us. I think of the joy that Farrah contributed to my youth. They both leave an amazing legacy. I look back at each and look at how much we gained as a result of them being parts of our lives in some small way.

I also think about how lucky we are and how we need to appreciate what we have and who we are with. My life is one that I look at each week and realize how lucky I am. I work with a great team at Thoughtcorp, where we are building valuable data systems for our clients. I get to work on the IOUG and share my love and knowledge for Oracle. My life is also great and I appreciate it. I have a great family with a couple of pretty cool kids. I also get to play sports and it was then that I realize how lucky we all are and how we need to appreciate it. Last night was my first hockey game back since I hurt my back in April. So it was 2 months and I had no clue what it would be like. I always liked summer hockey; the idea of walking in to an arena in shorts appeals to me. I got the chance to see some of the guys I play with during the winter and all the joy of playing the game came back, the smell of the arena, the ice and the game. The fun of being out with my pals and playing a game I love, I was lucky I could be part of it. Today I get to really complete the week, with golf with some of my close friends. This is the game that I look forward to with the most anticipation. Today I get to compete and see if I can elevate to beat these guys. I need the win, but the chance to play and be with them is where I gain satisfaction. I appreciate what I have, I look at it as a chance to contribute to life. We should look back and say we did it and we were lucky to have the chance.

I am lucky, but my guess is that most of you are as well, and I expect that you are luckier than even you realize. Add it up.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dealing with Oracle Block Sizes

   When working on a data warehousing project that will be deployed on an Oracle platform, the discussions often turn to the Oracle database block size that should be used.

   We all know that in data warehousing environments one needs to move lots of data. This means that we are probably going to increase the size of the blocks in which Oracle will store data. The question then moves on to which one should we choose? Should we use 8KB, 16KB, 32KB or even 64KB. This is not a simple question to answer and if you ever did a search to find information on this decision; you find the information rare and often esoteric. The decision needs to be one that considers how information will be loaded and retrieved from your data warehouse.

   So when we decide we look at our data usage. We know that we will be loading millions of rows a data via a bulk loader like DataPump; we know this benefits from larger block sizes as the writes will pack more rows into each database block. We know that we are going to be doing updates during the DW process, so if are going to do any lookups then we need consider that these blocks will contain a larger number of rows, which means our reads will also retrieve more information than we really need. As for the reporting perspective; generally this will require reading larger volumes of data for analysis and aggregation. Again this benefits from larger block size by reducing the number of individual reads, which is good. Now we need to consider multi-block read counts. If we have increased the size of blocks and teh multi-block read count, means that we may move large amounts of data through our I/O channels that may cause bottlenecks, so this is another area that we need to manage and be concerned with.

Ultimately there is no right answer, other than it depends. It depends on the exact nature of your data and your data usage. This must be balanced with the server to optimize performance. The last thing we want to do is introduce new bottlenecks. Generally data warehouses will see block sizes that range from 8KB to 32KB, with multi-block read counts in the 8 to 32 range. Bottom line is test what works for you using a real world load to determine what works best for you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Random Knowledge

It seemed interesting to me this morning that people tend to know some of the most random bits of knowledge. The daily dose of Jeopardy proves this as the questions continue to be answered by both those on the shows and by myself to the amazement of my family at times. How to do come to this random memory and how can people take advantage of the gift for knowledge.

So this morning I was listening to Howard Stern’s radio show and he had a game on named the “Homeless Game”, where they ask a homeless person random questions. The person today knew the language of France, the author of Shakespeare, Seinfeld’s first name and many other answers, but missed on the number of letters in the alphabet (I guess you could think 22 is right), who is J-Lo all math questions, and numerous other humorous results. What this really showed me was that we all have a capacity for knowledge and we all know random facts and various skills. We need to harness this knowledge and use it to our advantage.

So we think of technology and the amount and variation in the types of knowledge we all need to have. We need to encourage the value of knowledge and variations in that knowledge. Considering the vast number of technologies that we use on a daily basis, we need to look to our peers and use them to provide complete solutions.

We all have random knowledge, some in math, some in history, some in music and many others in many other subjects.  So we take this, enjoy the sharing of knowledge and the surprise that we see when people just know something that we need to know and don’t. Use random knowledge for good.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Communicating Success

The fact that we work close to people on a daily basis does not necessarily mean that we are communicating on the same levels. We need to consider communications internally and externally with a project team as one of the critical factors to a successful project.

We often work as part of a project team that needs to become the well oiled machine where all are participating actively in all aspects of the project; especially communications. Projects often set up communications plans that include a number of items. These plans will include regular meetings (daily and weekly), project dashboards, project wiki’s and other documentation and methods. These methods of communication work. A project that has clear communication plans and processes are projects that have a communication foundation for doing this well.

The key to any plan that you may enact really require cooperation rather that communication. The idea is that people need to understand the value of this type of information exchange. The team must be willing to share knowledge and information. The members of the team must be ready to share success and to know when to ask for advice. So it important to provide a facility where this information exchange can occur.

Communications are not simply about telling people what is going on and what is going to happen but it should also include a component of knowledge exchange. During any development project the team members must be willing to share information about the better way to do things. The ability to share best practices at a project level can be a critical factor in a project achieving its goals. We need to make sure we are not simply informed by that we are more knowledge about the project and the methods that we should use on each and every project.

Good communications during a project will help you and your project succeed. Just remember talk about things and make things better. The only real problem or issue on any project is one that is unspoken so make sure your project team is open and involved.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Data Warehouse Team

Building the right team is a subject that I have discussed here before, but I wanted to talk about how to put the right team together and what skills are needed to build a data warehouse or business intelligence solutions.

So who is on the team?

    • Project Manager
    • Data Warehouse Architect
    • Business Analysts
    • ETL Lead Developer
    • BI Lead Developer
    • QA Analyst
    • Various other developers and analysts.

So where do we start? The key to me in any successful data warehousing project is having someone who can be the Data Warehouse Architect. This is the person who will drive the solution and ensure that the most efficient solution is implemented. This person must have the ability to understand DW/BI technology and understands how to translate business needs into a solution. This person will directly impact the project’s success so choose carefully and choose experience.

DW and BI projects need standard project management controls, as many projects are complex and have many moving parts. This person should be knowledgeable in the DW and BI arena. Just another project to manage.

The ETL and BI Leads are also critical to the ultimate success of the project. These people will create and establish the approach that will be used to deploy the system. These people are generally the most experienced technology people on the team and can provide leadership to the rest of the development team. These people may also be development leads, but generally we try to focus these roles on ensuring that development is executed as needed.

Finally you need you QA, analysts and developers who will fill the remainder of the team.

Ultimately the team will need to work well and the leads are important people who must ensure that communication occurs between various people so that everyone understands their role in the overall project and can see how it contributes to success.

So build the right team with the right people who want to build solutions that provide organizations with competitive intelligence capabilities.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Surveys

It seems like we are being overrun by surveys these days. I get calls every evening with people wanting to know what I think. I get emails everyday in my Inbox asking me to complete another survey. I understand to the people who sponsor the surveys the information is important for their planning and future direction, but at what point is too much.

The IOUG will be working on a few surveys this coming summer and I wonder how many people will respond. The information we plan to collect will be important not just to use but everyone involved in the Oracle community. We are planning to repeat our Salary Survey which provides great insight into what Oracle professionals earn. It will be interesting to see how our earning power has changed during these challenging times. In addition we are working with Oracle on providing them and us with a deeper understand that the user group provides to its members and how these members become better customers. This survey is one that many of the worldwide user community will be involved in and I expect that IOUG will once again show that they are the most satisfied Oracle customers and user community members.

So although we may be overwhelmed by the number of surveys, some of them are important. It is important sometimes to have your voice heard and often the manner in which we can easily take part is in a survey. You will always need to filter which surveys provide you with the most value, but if you can come to terms with that you can have your voice heard and make things happen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Passing the Test!

The news of the day is that my daughter Baila has passed her driving exam! A new driver is now loose on the world.

Here she is with her temporary G2 Driver’s license!

IMG00024

So now the hope is that she now know enough to keep her out of trouble. As a father I am not looking forward to having the car out with my daughter, but I know I will get use to it. I think it is now time to put a curfew on the car, since Baila is too old to have one anymore.

What does a Test Mean?

I came to work wondering something. I wondered what the value of tests are. How does the act of taking a test evaluate how well you work or how well you could implement your knowledge? I think about this as someone in my household takes the all important test to become a driver, but we can discuss it at this point. This person understands how to drive and does a good job of basic driving skills. In some ways better than many drivers on the road today. The challenge is learning to deal with the things that are out of the ordinary, like a senior citizen who was slowly crossing the road on the red light and your stuck in the intersection. And the car behind you is honking and your light is now red. I am not sure if they covered that in the driver’s manual. The test provides the basic skill evaluation, but not the value of experience.

Today we put considerable stock in a degree or certification. In the Oracle community we have the Oracle Certification Program. I think it is a great opportunity for people to get validation of the knowledge that they have acquired, much like an exam in school. The missing component is the practical aspect. I think that hands-on real experience is the logical next step. This is where you have your hands deep in your hard drive and you worry about I/O in your sleep. This is the hands-on DBA who does more than back ups and the very occasional recovery. These are the people who use the database. So what does testing mean then?

The IOUG has often discussed whether or not to offer certification to our members. We have always said that the cost versus the benefit did not justify it. Or that Oracle has OCP; so why do we need to add a competing offering. Is OCP perfect? No. Would a certification from the IOUG be meaningful? These are the constant questions we ask in the Board and at this point we will not be offering another Oracle database/middleware/BI certification program.

As I said testing is great. With a test you have proven that you learned how to “correctly” operate and manage a database….of course we are talking OCP….or is that OCD….I digress. How good is a DBA that has never worked a day, but has certification? Look at tests as a start. Look at tests like a yardstick to measure how well you have acquired the information. Then take the information and turn it into knowledge but do not depend on your testing success.

So take your tests today, but look to the future when you can take these building blocks and use them together to solve challenges that will be new to you each day. A great man named Carl Dudley, a professor in the UK, told me that children who go to grade school are taught what to learn and that those in College and University are taught how to learn.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Feedback is Invaluable

We talk a lot and we create many things but do we really want to hear what people think of what we have done? Sure, we all may not want it but we all need it. Feedback provides us with insight and the information we need to improve. Feedback when given in an honest way can help people to improve and at the end of the day that is what we should all want.

How can we use feedback to improve? At the recent conference I gave a seminar in Master Data Management (MDM). It helped to give attendees an overview of what Master Data Management is and how to use it within an organization. In addition we discussed the process of defining customers, which generally is central to most MDM implementations. I hope that those that attended my session got some value. Well as part of every session at the conference we collect Session Evaluations. These evaluations provide the user group and speakers with insight into their session and how it was received…feedback. So I looked my evaluations over and no major comments, other than 2 attendees and both said basically the same thing; they really felt that they now had a great understanding of MDM. This for me was great satisfaction and meant that I had delivered my message effectively. Another seminar that I provided many years ago was in Las Vegas. It was a ½ day seminar on Oracle Data Warehousing. It tends to be a very technical deep dive into Oracle DW technology. I just so happened to mention to the audience at the beginning that I was tired from the previous evening in Las Vegas, as I got stuck at a very successful blackjack table. I always tend to make sure that my sessions are energetic and interactive. I thought I had done this successfully in Las Vegas, but when I got back my evaluations, they mentioned how tired I seemed. I took this as a lesson to me; never tell your audience any negative stuff about how you feel. People will pick up on this, so regardless of how tired I am I never say it, and people can then start my seminars without any preconceived notions.

The user group is the same and we truly appreciate feedback. I hope that everyone who took part in the event both in-person and virtually provide us with feedback. We hear from many people during the conference and afterwards and we use this to improve our event year after year.

So take the time to speak up. Tell people the truth and help them use it to improve themselves. Feedback is invaluable to making ourselves better.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Year Continues for Oracle Users

It is sometimes interesting how you react after a big event. Just like the adrenalin that we build towards that moment that we need to deliver. So whether its a hockey final or a big golf tournament or an annual conference, the feeling afterwards is always the same, it is a let down.

So here we are as we move on from the conclusion of the COLLABORATE09 event. It was great and I think everyone who was there and everyone who attended via our virtual conference offering. And now it is time to move on.

We begin our work of running a user group and helping our users maintain their networks and education all year long. We are working with Oracle on what we should be looking at to help our community. We are working with the community to provide content via webinars and other methods. Of course if you are a member you will be getting access to all of the conference content including podcasts of all sessions. Right now you need to hve attended the conference, but soon all full members will have access, so it will be time to sign up if you are not already a member. I think that it is time to see the value of being a member as just one tip from one of the world experts in the Oracle world will pay for your membership.

So it's time to get the momentum going again. I am looking forward to a great 2009 for the IOUG.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thanks for COLLABORATE

Now that life begins to return to normal. I come to look back at the IOUG Forum at COLLABORATE09 and consider its successes. The week was one where we had the opportunity to rub elbows with the greats of the Oracle world. It is a rare chance to meet with the users experts and the Oracle experts but last week was when it happened.


Orlando was a wonderful venue to hold this event. The event attracts people from all over the world and I expect from all 50 states and 11 provinces here in North America and if you remember this past winter, coming to a place like Orlando and the sun and heat was a great relief. You just needed to remember to stay hydrated.


The conference requires so many people who put time and effort into its success. I have the opportunity to see the planning and execution of the event and it is a labour of love for everyone. The feeling of triumph at the end of the event comes from those who had the chance to attend and were able to come away with value. When you tells us you learned something or met someone and it is going to help we need we have succeeded in our annual mission of COLLABORATE. The people who work behind the scenes are so numerous but I did want to mention a few people who really make this all happen. Alexis Bauer, Jon Wolfe, Julie Ferry, James Lui, Abbey Nystedt, Peggy King, Ellie Hurley, Carol McGury, someone I must have forgot, the entire IOUG Board, the conference committee, the SIG leaders, the speakers and on and on I can go. It takes close to 200 people who volunteer time and staff that truly keep us on track to put this event together and to them I thank you. I appreciate it from the perspective of another attendee and see the value that such an event provides. This is what it is all about and it shows us the strength and resiliency of the community. And I appreciate it from a leadership perspective. These people are good and the event reflects the quality at every turn. It is a constant pleasure to work with these teams.


I can’t wait until 2010 in Las Vegas for COLLABORATE10.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

COLLABORATE 09 Day 3 (Wednesday)

Finally, it’s hump day at the IOUG Forum at COLLABORATE09 and what a week it has been already. I have been able to meet with so many great people and so have already had a chance to learn some new methods and techniques for the Oracle technology user community.

Yesterday, I had a chance to sit in on a session all about Essbase. The technology is one that Oracle acquired as part of the Hyperion purchase. The product is a solid one with a long track record. The session really showed how easy it is to use the product, but as with most analytical tools, it requires an understanding of what business problems you want to solve and how to best dimensionally represent it. I also learn a little interesting tidbit that the name Essbase comes from Extended Spreadsheet Database.

I also had a day that truly represents the power of an event like this one. I recently was asked by some of the people at my company, if we could provide some support for Oracle’s Universal Content Management product. This is a great technology and one that has a strong user community. Coincidentally the UCM Special Interest Group of the IOUG had an event last night. It was one of those golden nuggets that provide one of those reasons to attend COLLABORATE. I had the chance to meet with the user leaders in this area and discuss what we were trying to achieve and the best practices around UCM and its various components. This is the real power of the in-person experience.

This morning which has already been quite busy. I had meetings with ODTUG, the Oracle developer user group about how we can work together in the coming months to bring more knowledge to our communities. The meeting was great and really is an illustration of how independent groups can work together to the betterment of the entire user community. In addition I had the chance to meet with Dan Goldstein from Oracle Field Marketing. He is a great person who appreciates how the user communities can complement the information that Oracle provides. As we already know customers who are members of user communities tend to be happier with their Oracle investments and do more with the technology investments that they have made. Another reason people need to get involved. We talked about how the IOUG can help Oracle and how Oracle can help the user community. I expect that you will see more user group presence at a number of Oracle technology events that will be coming in the next few months.

Next up is a meeting with the Fusion Applications folks who will tell us about the upcoming direction for Oracle. It should be great.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

COLLABORATE 09 Day 2 (Tuesday)

Day 2 of COLLABORATE. The conference looks to be a great event and the folks that were able to attend are really enjoying it. We have so many great sessions here this week. I wish I could get to all of them .

I moderated BI Panel yesterday on critical success factors for BI projects. The key factors really looked at making sure that you have business sponsor involved in a project. Generally when IT drives a BI project, the benefits can be limited. As well there was discussion on making queries run fast. So if you can’t return data back fast enough people will not want to use what you build. Another point was made that people need to work incrementally and not try to boil the ocean, but to focus on a project that will provide the best return in the shortest amount of time.

Right now I am in a meeting with some of the Regional User Group leaders. These are the folks that help to get the Oracle technology message to users on a local level. The IOUG helps these groups and works as a place where we can share best practices. There are people here from the Florida, Salt Lake City, Cincinnati, Up State New York and Tina Weiss from Oracle. It’s great to hear how each group is putting together events to serve their local constituents. These folks are great volunteers and put in so much time in organizing their events, and I feel that everyone should support their local Oracle group. You can’t undervalue of these local meetings for learning and networking. It’s always amazing to me when I attend a local meeting the people that I meet, this interaction is so important.

Party last night at the event was an IOUG “Tuning” party. This was an open mike and karaoke party and was awesome. It’s really amazing to see some of the hidden talents of some of the IOUG attendees. Who would ever think that James (an Oracle DBA) could belt out some classics from Les Miserables. Of course the networking opportunities were amazing and got to meet so many great people.

On with the show......

Monday, May 4, 2009

IOUG Forum at COLLABORATE09 (Day 1)


Wow...finally. The latest and greatest Oracle user event has finally started. It is amazing to see all of the folks that are here. There is nothing that truly replaces the face to face interaction that these types of events offer.

The conference kicked off with the general session that was delivered by Charles Phillips. Of course the Presidents of each user group (me for the IOUG, Ray Payne for OAUG and Sue Shaw for Quest) were all up there introducing Charles and thanking everyone for coming. Considering the reduction in business travel these days we appreciate the folks that were able to attend.

Charles Phillips opened the event by discussing numerous items including new release of Beehive (Oracle’s collaboration tool), BI Applications, more and free extended support of Oracle products and a new eBusiness Suite release. And Charles restated Oracle’s support of the user community and its shown by their active partnership at the event. The picture above are all the user group Presidents (courtesy of Peter Smith) doing our introductions.

In addition the IOUG is offering to all those individuals who could not attend in person the chance to be part the event. We are hosting 35 sessions that run throughout the conference to people in-person here and streaming it in an interactive manner to people in the virtual world. This is the first hybrid event and on day one it has been working great.

On to a BI Panel for the BIWA SIG. Later

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The New 2009-2010 IOUG Board of Directors

Today may be Saturday, but the user group is busily working and planning our future. The IOUG Forum at COLLABORATE09 will begin in earnest tomorrow. Today the IOUG is holding one of the Board meetings that we run each year. The meetings generally cover operational issues and of course plot our strategic direction to meet the coming challenges. With the economy changing on a daily basis so we need to put in place programs that provide members the most benefits possible to help them be their best and make membership an important part of every Oracle technology professional.

One other item that we covered this morning was the election of directors for the IOUG. As part of the election process the user community elects people to be Board members and then the Board internally votes on who will fill which Board positions.

So who is the new IOUG Board of Directors for the coming year:

  • President Ian Abramson
  • EVP Andy Flower
  • VP of Finance Kent Hinckley
  • Director of Education Jon Wolfe
  • Director of RUG/SIG Todd Sheetz
  • Director of Marketing Steve Lemme
  • Director of Advocacy John Matelski
  • Director of Content Judi Dolittle
  • Director of Membership Michelle Malchar
  • Director of Social Nets Andy Flower

I look forward to seeing where we go in the coming year. The challenges continue and I expect that we at the IOUG are ready to take it on with vigour.

Monday, April 27, 2009

IOUG Forum at COLLABORATE09....One week to go!

In less than a week the IOUG Forum at COLLABORATE09 will begin. Many people have been working very hard in the background to make this amazing event come together. When you attend the event you see many of these folks. They are the conference committees, the planning committees, Board members, speakers, and many more people who volunteer their time to the user community.

These people deserve so much credit for what foes on each year. The event will be spectacular as the top speakers and knowledge-meisters come together as part of the most in-depth Oracle program of the year. This is where people come together to learn and the best teachers are part of this annual event.

The IOUG Forum will feature presentations on the topics are of most interest and concern today. It focuses on security, migration, administration, business intelligence, architecture and even some things that as the face of Oracle evolves may be of interest to you. We have recently added a couple of sessions on what Oracle Professionals need to know about MySQL.

The IOUG is there for the community and we hope that as many of you can come and join us next week. The event is second to none and the best possible use of your training dollars. The knowledge is real, the advantages are substantial. See you in a week....let the countdown begin.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Sun Rises on Oracle: Day 2

We have all now had some time to step back and look at what the acquisition of Sun by Oracle means to each of us. Everyone seems to have an opinion and I guess your expectations and judgements are based on perspective. Now I have the perspective of an Oracle user. I am someone who has seen many evolutions of the product over the past 20 years. So what makes this a good deal or a bad one and what is important to the Oracle and Sun user communities?

I see that some people think that this could be the worst purchase ever by Oracle, who has bought close to 50 companies in the past 5 years, since it takes them from a database company to a hardware company. I find this an interesting tact; I think of Oracle as an information company, the database and hardware merely enable us to solve business challenges with information. By expanding the mandate of the company, Larry Ellison has enabled Oracle to provide high performance on a platform that is provided and supported by a single organization. Has not IBM been saying that to get the best performance from DB2 you should run it on IBM hardware? This is a formula for success and it was not lost on Oracle. Oracle had already ventured into the hardware space, with the introduction of the Oracle/HP Exadata server, so the genesis of the strategy was already emerging. Sun now allows Oracle full control of their hardware and performance optimization. It provides them with a solid foundation for their middleware strategy and brings the competition into the fold with MySQL.

So you can see I think this ultimately will be a good thing for users. It simplifies things. The concept of a single support organization for the entire technology stack is very advantageous to efficient resolution of issues. Oracle can now provide the soup to nuts type of support. How many times have you had one vendor blaming another for an issue....Oracle is now accountable for the entire stack. For Oracle technology users and the user group, this is an important factor in our efficient use of the technology. If you want to see Oracle’s presentation from yesterday that announced the deal you can find it at: http://www.oracle.com/sun/sun-general-presentation.pdf.

Ultimately the members of the IOUG seem to be excited about the prospects of what this new Oracle company will be and how it will show leadership in the open source community. This is a community that can be quite fickle and Oracle needs to provide the support and guidance to enable people to have the confidence in the product line to spend their technology dollars. Oracle has some serious choices to make in the coming months and the user group looks forward to integrating the Sun community into the Oracle technology community.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oracle acquires Sun

Mondays seem to bring a lot of things. I met someone this morning dreading the start of the week as she was off to a meeting. I suggested that it was a great chance to get your week off on the right foot. It was an opportunity. Then I arrive at my desk and open my email and what do I find that Oracle has purchased Sun for $7.4 Billion. This is what makes today a great opportunity.

So today starts a new evolution in the Oracle world. For years Larry Ellison has created a company that provides almost all of the technology stack. They provided applications, middleware and database. To a certain extent they also supported hardware by providing Linux support and the launch of the Oracle/HP Database Machine. This now changes a lot of things. Firstly Oracle now like IBM can control their entire technology stack and provide single-vendor solutions from soup to nuts. How will this change the direction of the Exadata is not known, but I expect that in some form it will continue, it looks like we should expect some changes in this area.

Of course one of the biggest prizes from Oracle’s perspective must be the open source components of the company. Oracle now becomes the Java company, they have always been a market leader in the area and now will own the basic building blocks. Consider Ellison’s statement from this morning conference call announcement where he said `` Java is the foundation of Oracle’s Fusion Middleware and the single most important software we have acquired``. In addition there is MySQL, what will happen here? How will Oracle deal with this database which is a rival of its own?

This acquisition raises some interesting scenarios but at the basic level we are look at what Oracle strategy is for buying companies is are the best. Larry stated it today by saying `` One of the reasons Oracle is so successful is that we buy companies that are number one.``. We have seen it with Peoplesoft, BEA among many other where the company was the leader. It will also be great to see how Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy get along now that they have to work together everyday? These pioneers have always seemed to be allies; now that Scott works for Larry it will be fascinating to see how it works out. These guys have lots of energy and are superior thought-leaders, I expect that this combination could be a very powerful and visionary one, or it could upset the balance of power in the executive ranks. Acquisitions can be a tricky thing.

From an IOUG perspective we look forward to welcoming the Sun technology community. As this acquisition progresses the IOUG will keep everyone in the loop. It will be exciting to see how the to this purchase will change things at Oracle.

I love Mondays...you just never know what can happen.