Thursday, 30 October 2014

Thank You - Certus Wins Gold - Twice

Eight weeks ago I joined Certus, my choice because I love what they do, totally committed to Cloud Applications. Strategy, Education, Implementation and Extensions. 

UKOUG President David Warburton-Broadhurst, Richard Atkins, Fiona Martin 

I blogged then I wanted people to vote for Certus for the UKOUG Partner Awards but actually I am sure they would have won regardless, they are the best, that's why I joined them.

Maria Mistretta, Richard Atkins, Me

So thank you to everyone who voted, we won Gold in both categories, Education and Fusion Applications.

As a UKOUG Director it was a fantastic event but as a winning partner even better.

OTN Nordic Tour

Probably last to blog about this :(

Last week I took part in the OTN Nordic Tour with Heli Helskyaho, Jonathan Lewis, Simon Haslam and Joze Senegacnik.

The OTN tours are arranged by local user groups and sponsored by the Oracle Technology Network by funding ACE Directors to travel to the event. The user groups involved here were Orcan (Sweden), OUGN (Norway), DOUG (Denmark) and OUGF (Finland).

Differently in this tour the organisers select the speakers each year and try to have different people, so a real honour to be included.

We started with Sweden and I met with Simon at Heathrow, great to have someone to travel with at each leg, makes it much easier, and thanks to both Heli and Jonathan who warned us it was an hour in a taxi.

We arrived at the Japanese Spa, and Heli and I started with a fish feeding frenzy and has a pedicure. I have had these before but Heli was a first timer. The spa served wine but we couldn't find food anywhere and couldn't get into the restaurant till 9pm. I was starving, but eventually we found a fruit room with herbal tea. Both Heli and Simon have mentioned the kimonos we were given to wear and when searching for a Swedish User Group Logo I saw this is not new and even found a photo of Tim Hall wearing a kimono, wish he had warned me.

The actual conference was small but very interesting and I love being able to interact with all the audience, and presenting in a kimono to an audience of kimonos was fun.

At lunchtime it was fish, which I don't eat. I asked for an alternative and was offered tofu, not my idea of fun but they explained it was 'No Meat Monday' - so whilst I loved the spa and the kimonos we got to take home I am not a fan of the food.

I'd like to say quick taxi to airport but it was long, but still we managed to get a 6 seater so all travelled together and then flew to Oslo.

OUGN Oracle ACE Director Tour 2014

The Norwegian User Group board met us at the hotel and we had a wonderful dinner, Simon tells us it was his first taste of Reindeer I have had it before and love it.

The conference was brilliant with big audiences and again I had the chance to talk to the audience and learn how they are using Oracle. I had two presentations, one on Apps Advantage, the value of Fusion Middleware with Apps, a presentation I did jointly with Oracle at OOW and then an EBS update based on what was said at OOW. This second presentation was more of a challenge as I never attended any EBS at OOW and had to revise and read up to create my slides. I also gave both presentations from my iPad, no PC.

Just as the delegates finished up and started their 'Mingling' session we were back in a taxi and off to Denmark.

I love Denmark and have spoken here many times they have an applications community in its own right. Many of the audience were from partner organisations and are looking at what Fusion means to them so we had more of a conversation and again I loved it. Craig Kall talked in the afternoon on Fusion and we tagged a lot. really makes the product come alive when you mix demo with experience. 

Our flight to Helsinki the last leg of the tour was not till 8pm and we could have stayed and had a beer or two at the conference but Mogens Nørgaard generously arranged for us to have a quick steak dinner in a local restaurant, a small relaxing event with friends. Much appreciated.

We arrived in Finland at 11pm and although the hotel was walking distance and within the airport it was still a fair old hike. I was lucky enough to get an upgrade and my room included its own sauna, but at 11:30pm and no instructions I gave it a miss.

The conference was in a beautiful building on the side of a salmon river. fantastic and although it was freeing and a light dusting of snow it was an awesome setting.

The apps audience was even smaller but I did attract those who didn't want some of the tech sessions as there was only two streams, and whilst that was a challenge again we had a great time and adapted the conversation to suit them. This is me at my best telling my story how the audience wants it. 
It was a great tour, I really enjoyed it and felt I added value. Thank you for including me.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Living The Nightmare

Last week was excellent, The OTN Nordic Tour (still need to blog), rushing back for UKOUG Partner Awards where Certus won gold for Training & Fusion, a weekend with friends at the Dive Show and finally a quick visit to see my sister, her family and my daughter.

Monday I was travelling from Gloucester to Guildford and the trains were manic, first trains off peak on the Monday of half term, what was I thinking? When the train arrived at Guildford I grabbed my two suitcases (I had been away 9 days and shopped a lot at the dive show), and got off the train. 


  • I tried to get the person on the platform to stop the train but they can't, Health & Safety.
  • I went to customer assistance and they gave me a leaflet, and simply watched me cry
  • I rang the number on the leaflet to be told it was no longer in use
  • Tried new number listened to various recorded messages and options and finally got through to lost luggage at First Great Western to be told the train was going to Gatwick so it was Southern Railways
  • Tried to tweet Southern whilst persuading customer assistance to help me
  • Got another telephone number from a slightly more helpful person
  • Listened to many many more recorded messages and finally managed to speak to Southern Trains and recorded it as lost there
  • Southern also responded to tweet and said should log with First Great Western as it depends on who finds it, guard on train, First Great Western, Cleaner at Gatwick, Southern.
  • Log it as lost with First Great Western.
  • Googled Gatwick airport station number on my phone, rang but they don't have a lost luggage department
  • Southern train tweets also suggested another service that tries to link up different systems, registered on that.
Apparently the process is, if it is found, whichever train company is involved sends it to their main lost centre, First Great Western - Bristol, Southern - Victoria, but this process can take unto 7 days!

The contents of my rucksack:

  • My laptop (last backup 7 weeks ago)
  • My iPad min
  • My Kindle
  • Various adapters / leads etc
  • A few danish krone (from Nordic trip)
  • A box of business cards
  • House & car keys
  • Notebook
  • Large plastic wallet containing receipts to be expensed for all October!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Holiday brochure for dive trips

All electrical items insured, biggest loss is the receipts. 

Work have been fantastic, and friends on Facebook brilliant, it seems this is everyone's nightmare. Work offered me a laptop but I declined as use mine for work and private and just wanted to get something quick.

When I left my last job last November I bought a cheap laptop not knowing what my long term plans were so on the way back to Belfast that night I bought myself a Mac. Should be simple I thought.

No the Nightmare continues:

It wouldn't connect to the Internet. Several hours wasted Monday evening.
Tuesday more time wasted and thank goodness I still had my iPhone, so I was getting emails, still had my calendar (well some of it), and Internet access.

Oh and by the way, I do have iCloud and find my iPad tells me it is offline :(

Eventually I went to a coffee shop to see if it was my house (and after long call with ISP). Still didn't work so it was my Mac.

I know I am stressed, my coffee in the coffee shop was too strong and I just burst into tears. 

Have to say Apple Care were brilliant, but details in online (on my phone) they gave me case number, I rang and they helped me through issue, which by the way was a known issue with iOS 10.9.4, and quick update via some back door and it works perfectly on 10.9.5

Next issue start to build Mac. As Certus uses traditional software I needed office and the guy at the airport did a good job selling me a bundle of apple care, office and cloud storage. Pity I was too upset to check what he sold me!!

When I activated the Office account, it didn't include outlook!!!!!!!! Back on the phone to Microsoft who tell me if you make a mistake through their store they will honour and help you out and give refund. But if you buy through 3rd party no such luck.

DIXONS do not answer phone at Heathrow despite receipt saying happy to help just ring.........

Ended up with Office 365, and mainly back on line. Just lost a day so far and still so much to recover.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Are Cloud Applications Ready?

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Applications Previously Known as Fusion

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 12 October 2014

My OOW14 Overview

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

* Oracle ACE Program funds my trip to HQ & OOW


My OOW14 - Headlines

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

A good general overview is from Tim Hall blog

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

ZDNet blog has good coverage here

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

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

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

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

Cloud Applications -

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

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

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

Return to my OOW overview