Sunday, April 17, 2011

The State of the Oracle User

I have just returned from COLLABORATE 11, the Oracle user conference, and I have a lot of stories to tell. It was at THE event where the technology user group(IOUG), along with Quest and OAUG got together to share experiences with Oracle and Oracle-based technologies. I always believe if you are into Oracle technology there is no event like this one anywhere else in North America. This is where Oracle and users truly collaborate to educate the community.

The conference started in an inspirational manner, as Dan Thurmon, the author of Off Balance on Purpose spoke. He talked about how once we master something, we must challenge ourselves to change and get even better. Check out this video of Dan to see what he is about. It makes you realize that in today’s ever changing technology world.

This conference proved this to me. I even had a theme song playing in my head…. “The Times They Are A-Changin’”, in 1963 Bob Dylan seemed so insightful and this week was that very same to me. So on the week when I celebrated the same birthday as the song, I came the same realization. What is changing is how Oracle is delivering solutions. It showed that there are disruptive technologies which are ready for primetime.

I see two technologies which as Enterprise Data Architects we need to consider. First is Exadata and appliance solutions. And for me the second is Open-Source technology like MySQL. With Exadata, Oracle has brought together the best of Oracle database technology with Sun hardware to optimize data access. It’s not perfect, but it is coming and the wave is beginning. Larry Ellison just told us, that there is $2 Billion worth of Exadata orders in the pipeline. The secret sauce are the optimized disks and data retrieval. It was interesting to Ask Tom Kyte (at an IOUG lunch with Tom event), how he saw the Exadata technology is changing how we do our database deployments. He says its not quite as easy as the marketing team would like people to believe, but he did say that this machine in the right hands can achieve significant benefits. I also attended a presentation where someone basically used the Exadata very much like a traditional Oracle RAC implementation. So I begin to believe that the “Art of Exadata” will be the secret sauce. It will include people who understand architecture, database design, database deployments, SQL optimization and a little bit about hardware. Exadata’s time seems to have arrived

The other is open-source. Products like Java and MySQL are both open-source products which are now becomes part of the our corporate fabric. I am beginning to see much of the same needs we had 20 years ago when Oracle was doing the same thing for databases. The same management concerns need to be addressed to optimize the use of MySQL. Discussions on backups, optimization, replication and high-availability have become pressing concerns people need to address.

Of course the real value that I get from events like COLLABORATE 11, are the networking opportunities. I get a chance to meet and discuss interesting subjects with many people; each who add to much knowledge base. I get to know and understand how Oracle plans to move forward. One such example is Willie Hardie, the VP of Database Product Marketing and a great supporter of the IOUG, and who won the IOUG Ken Jacobs award recognizing the person at Oracle who has helped the user community in numerous ways. Here he is with IOUG President Andy Flower receiving his award:

Orlando - April 2011 025We also had a chance to network in the World of Harry Potter and here I am getting on-board for the chance to share some fun with the user group.

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And thanks to my friends at The Quest user group, who focus on PeopleSoft and JD Edwards who brought in Jim Lovell and Fred Haise from Apollo 13 frame to recount the experience from that flight, which blasted off in 1970 on my birthday, before encountering their infamous issues. Here they are today as they spoke during the event.

If you have never been to an event like this; it should be time to consider it. There is nothing like it. I made new friends and helped people who were attending for the first time feel welcome. It really is a community experience and one that Facebook or LinkedIn can not replicate. Plan to be at COLLABORATE 12 in Las Vegas, April 22, 2012, and get on the Hogwarts Express; it’s time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Baseball and BI

The Major League baseball season started last weekend and the teams that should be winning are panicking (consider an 0-5 start for the Red Sox), while others are looking at what might happen after a quick start. The length of the baseball schedule, tends to be a big equalizer and as the Summer progresses into the Fall, the cream of the crop tends to come up to the top. So although the Toronto Blue Jays have started 4-1 and look to have some real pitching this year; I am not ready to get overly excited… it’s early. After all there are 157 games left. The playoff race is months away, but yet we get excited none the less. It is baseball season.

It is also the time when one of the most analyzed sports is changing the way they do business. I think I mentioned in the past that baseball is a sport that collects more information, which is at a very granular level, compared to other sports. It provides so much data that the science of sport not longer refers only to medicine but to data as well. Data may even be more important than ever in baseball and growing in all sports. Today, when someone \wants to sign a free agent or trade for a veteran or prospect player; the first thing a team will look at is their data.  Men like Bill James and Ari Kaplan have made analytics part of the game but also part of the business. By tracking how a player reacts to situations you can now extrapolate how they will fit into your type of offense and see in advance the benefit they will give to the team. The concept of “gut-free” still exists in baseball but data is quickly replacing it as part of multi-million dollar decisions.

So as we start the season we will be able to see if Mariano Rivera can continue to deliver heat in the strike zone, or the edge of the strike zone. We will that Derek Jeter likes to hit fastballs, but hits sliders even more effectively, all of this will be tracked. We all need to find the edge. Businesses have understood the value of data, but today sports are embracing them and changing the way they  make game and player decisions….it’s all in the stats.

Play Ball! Or Run the Report!

Go Expos!

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thoughtcorp or is it The Addams Family

This week one of my favourite people and client sent out an email about the people that work at Thoughtcorp and how we look like the Adams Family…. Now being someone who is being compared to Uncle Fester, I still think it is so funny. So let me introduce you to some of the Thoughtcorp Addams family. Thanks to John H for this fantastic comparison to the famous family.
First is me, Ian Abramson, as Uncle fester.
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And next up is our Co-CEO David Bercovitch or should I say Lurch, or at least a shorter version of him.
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And then is Val Hedow, of Director of HR, or as some will now refer to as Morticia…. It’s almost uncanny.
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And of course, Gino Marckx, of Agile Practice Director, when it comes to Agile he is second to none, but amazing I think he will be known as Gomez Adams.

Finally the Dino Chronopoulos, the head of the Finance group at Thoughtcorp, seems to look a lot like Pugsley….interesting.
I love and To put a real spin on this. There are places where you have a chance to work where you can build or do great things, but you always have to remember to have some fun at work and let it loose. Thanks John for helping me understand that I now for the Addam’s Family.