Saturday, 29 July 2017

Please Vote for Certus - I wish I could

Asking for your vote again, for the 2017 UKOUG Partner of the Year Awards.

Certus have been very successful in these awards, but not only do I think they deserve them, I think it tells their story. 

When Certus was born in 2012, the intent was to be a Cloud Applications partner. A new product, a new company, a new partnership and above all a new community of customers.

Their first year with UKOUG PYA gave them silver for Cloud and it was a great start but even better they got Gold for training. In 2013 there were hardly any Cloud customers and a lot of the work they did was training for and on behalf of Oracle. In fact when I joined in 2014 the first thing I did was deliver partner UX training for the partner enablement group.

The following year they won gold in both categories as their reputation grew and customers started to share their Certus stories. I remember hearing Lavendon talk at a UKOUG event before I joined.

The PYA portfolio grew and in 2015 there were a couple of new categories, we entered the emerging technology category to showcase what we had done with #PaaS4SaaS and won silver, again Certus stepped up early and deserved this. By then we were doing less training and our silver award reflected this. Another new category was SME PYA, most Oracle Cloud customers had been SME, and the shared stories from JT Group at UKOUG, Oracle UK and Open World events helped us to win this.

Last year it was almost an embarrassment of riches, England Rugby, ONS and Save the Children all talking about how Certus had delivered for them. It was great to win our third straight Cloud PYA award. #PaaS4SaaS gave us another Gold, and a third in the new category of digital transformation, helped by the very public ONS advocacy.

So now as we ask for your votes in 2017 is it just the same stories? No, this year we have delivered projects in HM Treasury, MHRA, Home office as well as starting a second phase at ONS. We are not simply public sector we have also delivered the Financials phase of England Rugby this year and one of our current other customers DHL will be sharing their story at Open World

Quite a surprise this year was to be given an Oracle UK Partner Award for HCM Cloud. A surprise because in the past Oracle awards were often linked to sales and Certus haven't traditionally been a reseller. But as Oracle have realised Cloud is about successful implementations and happy customers, we were really proud to be recognised this way.

It has been an incredibly busy but fun year in Certus, numbers are up again and there are so many people having fun with so many different clients and projects. They work hard, and it would be amazing if again, you would vote for Certus and the team that deserve these awards so much.

The awards this year are slightly different. Cloud is divided into the pillars and we have been shortlisted for both HCM & ERP. In the last 12 months we have had 3 of our own customers go live with combined HCM & ERP, ONS, HMT & England Rugby. We have assisted with several other projects and delivered more HCM implementations. These are the two awards that mean the most to us. We work with Oracle through development and testing, this year R12 beta testing was big investment for us, and then we deliver the results of that investment to our customers.

Training is a funny one, we don't deliver direct training outside of projects today, but we do deliver training to customer support teams, in many cases so they can continue the rollout of their phased implementations themselves. This knowledge sharing approach was key to ONS as they shared in this Oracle Scene article and what DHL will be talking about at Oracle Open World. The transformation from on premise to Cloud is something support teams worry will lose them their jobs. We believe it gives them more opportunities. 

The transformation is not just the system but the organisation something Save the Children were rewarded for in the Oracle Rubie awards this year. Our founder and CEO Mark Sweeny also wrote about this transformation in Government 

And the #PaaS4SaaS machine marches on, as we start to adopt the low code Application Builder Cloud Service I helped to launch at OOW last year, and through initiatives like the Digital Mission we ran jointly with Oracle for central government last month which again I hope to share more details with at OOW and UKOUG.

Working for Certus is fun, I love it, and the people here deserve your vote.

Someone asked me if Certus do so well in the UKOUG Partner Awards because I am on the board. I have to say the reverse is probably true. I have nothing to do with selecting the nominations, in fact as a partner I am allowed nothing to do with the process at all. My boss asks me if we are being shortlisted and I'm not convinced he believes me when I say I don't know. Voting is then overseen scrupulously again by no partner volunteers. 

Only customers can vote, but if you are one of our own customers, or have been impressed with the case stories we and our customers have shared, then please vote.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

KSCOPE 17 - San Antonio, Texas

KSCOPE is an event I love, and an event I go to, to learn. Membership of ODTUG is something I choose to pay personally. It covers the technology behind the Cloud applications , and whilst we don’t have access to it, I want and need to know how it works. This year KSCOPE was in San Antonia in the JW Marriott resort.

As in previous years I have signed up before the agenda is ready, and although I wasn’t presenting this year, I was asked to facilitate a discussion on the value of user groups. The agenda when launched talked about the development tech being merged with the database but in reality there was not a lot of my content.

However having booked my ticket and knowing how much fun it would be I still went. I didn’t need to have worried; it was excellent.

Danny Bryant 
At the beginning of June, Danny Bryant and Opal Alapat, the conference organisers asked me to get involved in a little game they were playing. On the first evening they were organising a geek meet, and the idea was 4 community leads would prepare a very short but very technical presentation in their area and then they would draw lots to see which one they had to present. Danny and Opal wanted to throw in a curved ball and add a fifth; me. So whilst I didn’t present a PaaS4SaaS presentation I did write one. Keeping it a secret was the hard bit.

One of the things I love about Kscope is the community service day, held the day before the conference, where they try hard to give back to the place where it is held. This year was Haven for Hope, a campus for the homeless. Please read about it it is an amazing facility, the largest of its kind in the US. Almost 70 ODTUGers take part and my group painted the railings at the security hut. It was hot and humid but we did have shade. I was very impressed that the colour we painted was a great match to my nail polish. I was painting in a group with MariaColgan and we laughed all day.

The conference kicked off proper on the Sunday and by then I had been asked to facilitate another session, this time on re-examining project management for IT projects, so I spent part of the day preparing that.

In the evening was the geek game night and the secret was killing me. The 4 geeks were Edward Roske - EPM, Bjorn Rost - Database, Stuart Bryson -Business Analytics and Scott Spendolini -APEX. The first guy up Bjorn had my deck. He was really good, but by then Edward Roske had introduced a shot of bourbon between each of the 5 slides . I hope someone taped the event, as it was really funny. Once they had my deck, they were convinced Stuart had written it. By the time it came to reveal myself, there had been a lot of drinking, and I was worried for about 30 seconds I would be expected to drink, when Danny offered to do my turns. I didn’t score very well, I think they got upset when I said OBIEE was like Discoverer.

Monday the main sessions started and I signed up to be ambassador for the sessions I really wanted to see. Over the three days I attended a number of Essbase and ePBCS newbie sessions, which have given me the insight I need for Financial customers. Essbase is baked into the application and  more and more customers are buying ePBCS.I spoke to a lot of the partners in this area to understand how they approach these offerings.

I attended one session in ePBcS, from the Children's Colorado Hospital Foundation. I selected this one becase I have a friend who I sponsor for the Courage Classic Bike race in Denver which is their most important fund raiser of the year.

The project management session was really well attended for a last minute addition to the agenda. The panel was made up of Ron Moore, TopDown Consulting, Jessica Cordova, ArcEPM, Kent Graziano, Snowflake Computing and Rhonda Brigham, Starbucks.Whilst the discussion was good, the outcome was good project management hasn’t changed. The tasks may be different, but planning and communication are still the most important. I loved the discussion about meetings / emails; what is enough without being too much?

Alex sporting his ears
One of the sessions I was ambassador for was Alex Nuijten on 12c for Developers. Alex went on to win the best Database presentation. well one Alex and I am sure not letting people out of the room until they completed their feedback sheets had nothing to do with you winning.Or perhaps it was his Mickey Mouse ears? The ears were to advertise that the next KSCOPE18 will be in Orlando.

I was also ambassador for Shay Shmeltzer the PM for #PaaS4SaaS ABCS. Yet again more functionality has been added and this time I learnt more about using the native phone features for mobile apps, something I will be trying out straight away. This was the only ABCS session but well attended and made me think even more about the culling of the middleware track.

The panel on the Importance of User Groups was made up of Natalie Delamar - President ODTUG,  Mike Reily - secretary and Past President, Danny Bryant - Conference Chair and Jennifer Nicholson - OTN ACE Program. The discussion was around connecting, sharing stories, learning from oracle and volunteering, gain confidence, improve ability, personal and professional success. There is no limit to what people have achieved.

KSCOPE also has a 5km race, which Maria and I decided to walk. Maria had a session to deliver at 8.30am so we tried to start early, but it was a properly timed race and they wouldn't let us, so we had to walk a slightly different route and covered only 3 km, but did see the main race set off. We later found out they had a 2.5km route and official walk; wish it had been advertised. Still we got to see the dawn, a few deer and a rabbit, but not the threatened skunk which I was not sorry about. Jaz Ribeiro from the UK won the ladies race at her first ever KSCOPE, well done Jaz.

Jennifer Nicholson from OTN along with Lori Lorusso looked after us ACEs, with a dinner; a great chance to catch up with all our friends in the program. There were a few new ACEs and promotions, most notably for me Danny Bryant got ACE Director which was announced in the plenary session and Alan Arentsen made ACE. Well done to all.

KSCOPE always throws a good party but this was their 20th birthday so they went right out. I love the fact you get to dress up but this year there were 4 different themes and it was hard to choose. There was a beach theme were we were encouraged to bring out the white clothes from the Miami Beach Party a few years back and I was tempted but there was also a masquerade ball theme and any excuse for a long dress. So I combined the mauve wig from the beach party with my party frock and mask. Most people one who I was, but I did catch Darlene (Tim Tow's wife) out. Loved it. However I am getting old and was home at a reasonable time.

My WIT table
KSCOPE celebrate Women in IT with a lunch discussion and i was proud to be a facilitator. This year they had 'Dear Alice' questions for each table to discus. On my table I had 2 gentleman which was refreshing and our question was 'I am one of two architects on a project, with 6 developers, all men. Whenever they have a question they ask my male peer. He often refers them to me, when I am the best to answer but how do I get them to come to me first?' The discussion was about confidence, empathy and encouragement, and ways for her to demonstrate her ability and openness. There was quite a debate about cultures, geographical, age and religious, but everyone agreed it is possible. KSCOPE also launched a WIT magazine, to share stories and encourage.

The Alamo - San Antonio

Once the conference was over, I had a chance to do some whistlestop tourism and joined Alex Nuijten, Alan Arentsen and Roel Hartman for a trip downtown. Alan impressed me with his UKOUG Tech16 bag.

The two main attractions of San Antonio are The Alamo and The River Walk. It was far too hot and I simply overheated, but thanks to lots of water and rests I survived; just. Most people complain they sweat too much in the heat, but I simply don't which means I overheat, that combined with not being the fittest of old ladies means I really should know better. 

But it was a great afternoon, topped off with cooling down in the infinity pool back at the resort. A special thanks to Marc Sewtz for this amazing photo.

Then all too soon it was time to go home. I met up with Alan at the airport for a last lunch and a chance opportunity to say goodbye to Natalie and Danny. My first flight was to Chicago and had been rescheduled for an hour later which left me with 84 minutes to make my London flight in another terminal. Previous experiences of Chicago have not been good for me or my luggage, however British Airways who partner with American, had a shuttle bus from their domestic terminal to the international, and even better we didn't go landslide so there was no security to go through. Amazing, thank you, well done. The only sad thing was they had JUST stopped serving bacon butties in the lounge at Heathrow but it wasn't the end of the world, and I was home by 3pm.

Natalie said in the 'Value of User Groups' session that KSCOPE was a conference to be an experience' and it was. Excellent as always. Thank you.

Friday, 14 April 2017

UKOUG at Collaborate 2017

I didn't attend Collaborate as UKOUG but I am always representing them.

As I said in my main Collab blog, I met up with up with James Jeynes the UKOUG Executive Director at the airport. 

We have a stand at Collaborate, which James manned on his own. Kerry, the UKOUG head of sales was meant to also attend but unfortunately she has to cancel as she was unwell. Without Kerry, James had very few give aways on the stand, and was very busy but he did a great job, talking to many exhibitors and delegates about UKOUG.

We had a number of meetings whilst we were there:

We meet with the DOAG directors attending, there is an EMEA Presidents' meeting in June and so it was a great chance to catch up and talk about what is important to us.

James also got to meet Jeremy Whyte Senior Director, Global User Group Management at Oracle when we met with him as a courtesy.

Along with two of the UKOUG JD Edwards' committee who were also attending Collaborate we met with the Lyle Ekdahl and his team to discuss how we could deliver the best experience for our JDE Members at conference this year.

I also attended a session with Cliff Godwin for partners that talked about E Business Suite. I don't implement EBS any more but went along as a user group leader to understand what is and more importantly unpick the myths around EBS. 

I truly believe that user groups should be officially recognised as partners, it would mean we would get local briefings on all things Oracle, in a simple way.

Finally we met up with Quest, to understand their new initiative OC²  , for those customers who have moved to SaaS cloud. We talked about how we can work together and deliver for UKOUG cloud members as well. 

What I got from Collaborate was a long list of things to follow up, and James clocked up many 1,000s of steps and was immersed in the world of Oracle User Groups.

The three user groups that make up Collaborate, IOUG, OAUG and Quest all made us feel very welcome. Thank you for your hospitality.

Collaborate 2017 - Las Vegas

Less than 10 hours after I got home from Croatia, I was back at the George Best Belfast City (yes that is the real name); for my flight to London and then onto Las Vegas. I met up with James Jeynes the UKOUG Executive Director at the airport, but I'm going to put UKOUG at Collaborate as a separate blog.

I arrived on the Saturday evening with the conference starting Sunday lunchtime, just time for me to attend the House of Blues Gospel Brunch, one of my little traditions. 

I love the spiritual part of this event, but do know it is still a show, however worship is a personal thing and I enjoyed it.

Then time for registration which should have been easy, I had my QR code so I had my badge quickly printed and couldn't believe it, they had Belfast as being in Wales!!

Apparently their system didn't have N Ireland as an option. They suggested England, but luckily there was a United Kingdom. So 20 minutes later I had a new, Ok, badge.

My first session was Sunday afternoon, 'Extending Your Back-End Cloud Apps to Deliver Your Front-Office Needs:' a talk about using PaaS to extend the SaaS applications. 

Sunday evening I had dinner with Jennifer from the ACE program. 

Then on the Monday I presented 'Extending Cloud HCM with PaaS' with my colleague Christian. I told Christian he could come to Collaborate if he helped with the demo, which he did. Christian is a Taleo expert, and I had him demo HCM Cloud and ABCS. 

I also extended the presentation to include a mobile app using the MAX which is now embedded into ABCS, based on what I learnt the previous week at the PaaSForum.

The more I look at this the more excited I get, and I have written an article on it for the next Oracle Scene. We will be showing this to all our customers, it is a really simple way to extend their systems especially in self service HCM to include all those excel spreadsheets, manual lists and surveys that you have for your employees.

Monday evening was the ACE Dinner and it was in an Irish Pub!! I love these evenings, getting together with all the ACEs and Jennifer had a number of promotions to announce. Congratulations to you all. 

Tuesday my boss Tim Warner gave his presentation on 'The Cloud Implementation Project - Phase 0' - this is a great talk, which looks at all the things you should do, before starting your Cloud Subscription, to maximise your ROI and ensure your project gets off to a great start.

Wednesday I had my final session, where I gave the England Rugby case study we did at Oracle Open World. I got to wear the rugby shirt again. It wasn't a very large audience but the room was at the far end of a secret corridor, some sort of Hogwarts' magic location. Well done to anyone who actually found it.

I did attend the Women in IT panel session, but was really disappointed, it was just a moan-fest, nothing inspiring at all. I understand the WIT lunch was very different, but unfortunately by the time I got my speakers' registration that had been booked out.

The keynote for the event was Oracle's Cloud Strategy from Stephen Daheb SVP Cloud. I have to say it was the best positioning of what is happening I have seen. He also talked about options, and each customer's journey, not 'the journey'. It was well told and each option was backed up by a very short customer video. What I really liked is they were simple use cases, not the enormous, transformation of the biggest companies, that don't resonate with most people. This was good.

I didn't stay long at the party Wednesday night. I tried to get into the 'Bohemian' theme, but I was tired and after saying hallo to everyone. I called it a day and left.

Thursday I had another tradition, my annual pilgrimage to the 'In and out burger', quite a hike across the freeway, but nice to finally get some fresh air although it was quite hot. 

Then time to get back on a plane, or two, to finally get home.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

PaaS Forum - Split, Croatia

I have talked about PaaS4SaaS for a couple of years now, and the push from Oracle is even more now that most of their development tools are now available in the Cloud. So much so that Jurgen Kress' FMW Forum' was this year renamed as the PaaSForum The forum is open to all partners who are members of his community.

To me this event is like the ACE Directors' briefings before Oracle Open World, albeit that they are not happening this year, which I think is a mistake. Lasts year I said there were not enough SaaS partners. It was slightly better this year but mainly big systems integrators who have both a SaaS and a Development practice.Those who were not there are simply missing out.

The strategy of holding these events in resorts or high tourist areas in the off season, works really well, at the best cost to partners and Oracle, however this year the locations Split in Croatia was very difficult to get to currently. I had to fly Belfast- London - Zagreb - Split and on the way home just to vary it a little I flew Split - Munich - london - Belfast. And yet from next week there are direct flights from Belfast, which is good I might even be tempted to go again.

I flew out a day early and took the opportunity to dive. When I booked the hotel I saw they had a dive centre so i reached out to see if I could. A it is out of season and so it was a shore dive rather than a boat dive but it was great. It wasn't overly warm and I am glad I decided to ring a warmer wet suit than what they suggested but the water was crystal clear. I did a small wreck dive in a reasonable current. On a boat dive that doesn't matter they simply follow the current and pick you up, on a shore dive you have to fight it or else you don't get back to where you started. 

The second dive was gentler around a
small reef. This time of year the sea life was amazing several pregnant species like an electric eel, and a stargazer and many juveniles like nudebrachs, a day old electric eel and amazing fish. Making the effort to see or even better dive in the wonderful places i get to visit, is important to me and this ticked all the boxes,

The first afternoon kicks off with a community event where people with a story to tell in this arena do so, and at the end of that day Jurgen gives out his community awards. I was pleased to see eProseed our dev partners win another award, this time for SoA Cloud Service Contribution.

The second and third days are the briefings from all the product managers. This is the important bit for me, where are Oracle and what are they doing in this area. Enrich SaaS with PaaS, or my PaaS4SaaS world was a major theme this year, with a lot more use cases emerging.

Sten Vesterli, never shy at saying what he thinks, summed up the content in his blog. I agree Oracle have pushed out many products, but they are bringing them back into suites, and adjusting pricing to meet the markets they are aiming for. So I found it all promising. Don't get me wrong it is still confusing both from an architectural perspective, which products to use when and the costing, but it is getting there. And on their current factsheet it states their mission as 'Empowering and Accelerating the Modern Business'.

Especially important to me is the Application Builder Cloud Service or ABCS, the low code cloud which works really well with SaaS. I still have constraints, but mainly on the SaaS side, but as I keep saying continuous development means we don't have to wait too long for the approved enhancements. It really inspired me, and I'm currently trying to write an article about a specific use case in HR.

Day 4 & 5 were hands on labs. I only attended an ABCS one Thursday morning where I learnt about all the latest features, so much that I have increased the content in my demo for Collaborate on Las Vegas. The inclusion of Mobile Application Express or MAX in ABCS is amazing, Extending SaaS with ABCS depends on APIs which are still light within HCM and even more so in ERP but again small steps in the right direction. At Certus we have been testing release 12 of SaaS (don't be confused) and new modules have lots of APIs which is very encouraging.

Shay Shmeltzer the product manager held a citizen developer hands on lab, followed by Angelo Santagata who showed how you could extend ABCS with Javacode. Even more impressive.

A couple of meetings with PMs to understand their offerings more, some of which were with Lonneke from eProseed to ensure we have the same ideas.

Apart from a resort idiosyncrasy of turning off coffee machines outside of official coffee breaks, did they not know this was an IT event?, it was a great week, well done again Jurgen, and to Bandit.

And then just 9 hours after I got home it was time to leave for Vegas and Collaborate,

I have lots to follow up with after this Forum, share with my own organisation and hopefully another Oracle Scene Article.

OUG Ireland 17

Last year Ireland tried a two day event and the general sense of opinion was that although individual things needed to be improved, it was a good thing. So this year the committee worked hard to create a compelling two day agenda.

The event kicked off with a welcome from me, and introduction to Brendan Tierney, our new Member Advocate, and James Jeynes our new Executive Director who was over for the day. Then John Caulfield who is also on the committee gave a great, 'What is Oracle up to, and how does that translate to the Irish Market', exactly what the brief asked for.

John stood in for the country leader John Donnelly who couldn't be there, but I was touched by his tweet the night before.

The technical streams take care of themselves, this is a popular event for speakers in Europe and the committee have too many good papers to select from. Maria Colgan was the keynote speaker for the technical streams. Maria as i will have said on previous years is the local girl - done good. Maria started in Oracle Ireland and moved to HQ many years ago where she has been in Database Product Management,, Queen of the Optimiser and more recently the latest member of the 'Ask Tom' team. She was joined by another member Chris Saxon who gave everyone the lowdown on the 12c Release 2 Database. 

A highlight of the Business Analytics for me was Edward Rowske, he like Oren Nakdimon was using this event as the start of a holiday, both had their partners with them and bothe were independently travelling north of the border to visit places like the Giant's Causeway, my home turf. Combining pleasure with conferences is something I personally always try to do, so I was pleased to see others with the same aspirations.

In my area the apps world, it is harder. As I have said we are at an point where content for today's EBS is hard, and yet there are still many organisations who have invested so much in this and are going nowhere fast. So we put together a one day stream for EBS and the second day we did just a morning for Cloud Apps. We gave the afternoon to the APEX guys who would fill the development stream on their own. And again one of my frequent comments, What is it that the do in The Netherlands that makes them so good at development?

We kicked off the Applications stream with a discussion. Mairead Dooley-Ffrench From Oracle and Tony Cassidy from Vertices, both from the committee, along with myself talked about where we see the Apps market today. It worked well with a very full room and plenty of conversation. Even if organisations are not ready for the next stage in their evolution the people supporting then are more than interested. The day ended with a mishap with the internet, causing the premature end to one session which was really sad, but otherwise technology held up. 

Sarah Green from the Office For National Statistics, one of our customers at Certus spoke about their complete migration from EBS to cloud, both HCM & ERP. I love this presentation as it says everything about how we work. I shared this story as an interview with Sarah in the current edition of Oracle Scene. As always with this story, the audience have lots of questions which Sarah answers so well.

I then spoke about PaaS4SaaS and Sarah and her colleague Kevin who runs their support function, asked that I come and show them it in more detail, This is the best time to start looking at extending your apps, once you have been live for a few months and you can see the value of removing some of the still manual heavy processes in your organisation.

In the evening after the social drinks, we have the now traditional ACE Dinner in the Rustic Stone. Service was mind glowingly slow but the food and the company made up for it.

Another new idea for this event was a vendor showcase. We decided to have the exhibition on the first day only, but with an opportunity on day two for sponsors to address all delegates just before lunch. This was a new idea and worked well, Sometimes people avoid sponsors and actually when they share with you what they actually have achieved for customers they are actually very interesting. Something we will refine but defiantly repeat.

The event finished with a technical Q&A. I had to leave when it was meant to finish as Dublin had a bus strike and i needed to get home to Belfast. Who expected the last session to overrun by 30 minutes on a Friday? Not the doubters who said two days was too long!

And if you were there or missed out, the next OUG Ireland Meetup arranged by Brendan is 11th May.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Cloud, Twelve and the Oracle Office of Confusion

At the end of January I explained why I am forced to use the 'F' word again. The confusion between Cloud Apps or Cloud on Apps is growing. I recently heard about a senior person who thought EBS on Cloud was Fusion!

Currently I am validating Release 12 before it is available for standard upgrades next month. If I say that in my office everyone knows what I mean. Release 12 of the SaaS, Cloud or Fusion Applications.

But I also listened to a webcast on Friday evening with Oracle Development which was about a new Cloud service bundle for mid-size customers  with bundles for fusion-based CX, ERP and HCM, that introduces multi tenancy for the first time. This is huge news for Oracle as it drives the price down even more as customers can share an application but unlike other vendors they are not sharing any data or even the database utilising the private database containers introduced in Release 12 - of the database.

And in the spirit of confusion, I nearly missed the webcast because the US have adopted daylights savings already and our clocks don't change until the end of March!

Fusion Middleware, not to be confused with Fusion apps is also at release 12 and can you guess what version E Business Suite customers are on?

So please don't just say Release 12, or Cloud, stop, think and articulate carefully and then ensure the person you are talking to has the same understanding as you.

Don't worry it will get better and then it will be as clear as mud.