Friday, 28 October 2011

OTN Tour - Manila

My first thoughts about the Philippines was that it was going to be expensive, Beijing was cheap despite the scams but our hotel in Manila where the conference was being held was very expensive. Anyway I supose it is swings and roundabouts through the tour and still less than what San Francisco was charging during OOW.

I had a hotel car pick me up from the airport and I must admit one thing I never tire of is being meet off a flight by someone holding up a sign with my name on it. During the journey there was in car wifi so time to catch up on my mail. Good thing because this event still had a 'fluid' agenda and a few gaps we needed to fill between us because someone had let the organisers down late in the process.

The first evening just had a cheese plate in the hotel which was wonderful albeit expensive and then retired to my fantastic room. My room rate included dry cleaning and as this was halfway through my trip I simply handed over most of my suitcase to the very attentive staff. It is the first time in a hotel I have been checked in, in my room. Breakfast was also fantastic, and I would compare it to the brunch at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, perhaps not quite as much choice but far too much and even in this hotel, less cost and yes Nadia they had Fois Gras.

I had only 1 free day here and Ronald, Edward, Melissa and I took a tour around old and new Manila. The most impressive dight was the American War Memorial. So moving and so well cared for, they only employ direct descendants of those buried there. We also visited Razal Park and Intramuros or the Walled City of Manila.

The whole of the Philippines was security mad, with dogs and guards on most buildings, a bit like Belfast in the good old days.
Manila has a lot of traffic, and the most unusal form of transport the Jeepney based on old US jeeps. However they look quite precarious and we saw a vehicle fire on the way back in the dark which we think was one of these.

I had three presentations at the conference, and at the start I also got the chance to say a little bit about OTN and the ACE program. Dinah who ran the show was the Philippines User Group president but they had had to close down because of legal restrctions in the Philippines. Her company was one of the sponsors for this event. There was a good turn out and I always love it when you need extra chairs at an event!
The morning was plenary sessions and mine was the Fusion Overview, then in the afternoon we had 3 streams. It was a big room and the divisions were little more than cubicles and at first I found it very off puttng but you soon got used to it. I had a good crowd and lots of interaction for my 42 real Life Examples of Fusion Middleware and then Consolidation to the Cloud.
Thank you Dinah and friends for another great conference.
 I then had the chance to meet with Rhine from Fujitsu Philippines and see what they are upto with Oracle.
All too soon it was time to leave and I raced off to the airport with Ronald
Bradford for our overnight flight to Melbourne and onward to Auckland. Mistake, you DO NOT need 3 hours at the airport in Manila, and in fact there is nothing to do for 3 minutes, let alone 3 hours and no WIFI. In fact the only thing to do is enjoy the 5 different security checkpoints, which you must enjoy because you paid an airport users tax as proof, which includes anti hijack tax, so at least you know you are safe.

OTN Tour - Hong Kong

In 1987 I completed a project in Hong Kong when it was under British rule, so visiting Hong Kong was high on my list of places to go back to. Also this event Quest Asia was not strictly part of the OTN tour but had been added whilst just at OOW when I discovered it would fit into my itinerary. Quest is the user group for JDEdwards and PeopleSoft and I did once before take part in 2006 in Singapore. I like Quest, they understand how important it is for their users to see what is coming, what is on the oracle horizon and have played an active part in the Product Development Committee from the outset. They also seem to like me and at Collaborate this year they awarded me a 'friend of Quest'.

I arrived in Hong Kong about 6pm after a trouble free flight from Beijing on Air Philippines. Just about 3 hours so not bad. I decided to treat myself and get a taxi to the hotel as I was tired and I wanted to maximise the time I had to spend with the Quest crew, all friends that I had had no time to spend with at OOW. The Langham hotel was beautiful, very colonial and luxurious, I loved it.

The event was single stream and I presented twice. All conferences rely on vendor sponsorship and as this was a free to attend event this sponsorship is even more important, but there is a line between a good vendor presentation and a straight sales pitch, not all vendors stay the right side if that line.

My first presentation was Fusion Apps architecture including the UX demo, which seemed to go down well and I got good feedback. One gentleman from china had travelled over just to see this presentation. I was followed by Sue Shaw a fellow ACE program member who presented on her company's upgrade plans and the features of the version of JDE they were moving to. Then at the end of the day I gave my new 'Consolidation to the Cloud' presentation, still no words on the slides and again it went down really well. This departure from the normal kind of slide deck is proving to be very popular especially at the end of a long conference.
That evening I went to dinner with the Quest crew and we found a lovely restaurant where the food was great except for the garnish on the plate of chicken! Then we walked down to the harbour for the Symphony of light laser show.

The next day they were visiting Macau but I had to fly onto Manila so could not join them, despite the constant but well placed badgering from Daniel Strassberg the Quest Asia President. I travelled with them by metro to Central, walked up to the Victoria Peak tram although the view from the peak was pretty poor due to the early morning fog. Then I travelled back down to Central in a little green minibus. I then took a bus to Stanley where I stayed all those years ago, walked around Stanley Market and then back to the harbour where I caught the Star Ferry (1st class) back to Kowloon and the hotel. I went back to the airport by shuttle bus only this was more luxurious than many business class seats I have been on inflight.

It was great being back in Hong Kong even if it was just a flying visit

Monday, 24 October 2011

OTN Tour - Beijing, China

Great start to the trip to china, discovering that Air China is part of Star Alliance, so Ronald Bradford and I got a chance to use the lounge for breakfast before our flight and more importantly got a row to ourselves, as we both needed to work. The flight was about 4 hours. Luckily we were not the first to arrive in China so had been forewarned about taxi scams.

Taxi scams -I feel I could write a whole book on this, and yet as I type this on my flight out, I have newspaper telling me why taxi drivers have it so hard in china.

Having arrived at the hotel we encountered another scam, the mandatory upgrade -yes about 25% of the quoted price. Our host Shi or Marshall was at the front desk and said it was normal and OK. My 'upgraded' room was ok, but some speakers had filthy rooms and no air conditioning that worked, and several room changes later gave up and moved hotels. I however loved the pool.

I love travel and the cultures that I get to experience, and so I was pleased when Kuassi who had been a few times before, took us to the Laoshe Teahouse, for a show, which I can only describe as 'Beijing's Got Talent'. But I get ahead of myself; I met the best taxi driver of my trip at this point. There were to be 6 of us to go, so we called two taxis, then as we were getting in, someone was taken really ill so we were down to 4. We could have all got into one but felt guilty as the taxis had come out for us. Kuassi and I got into one and Murali and Francisco got into the other. I have learnt that many taxi drivers abroad drive in a way I find very disconcerting and this one was no different. His seat belts were non existent. I kept thinking we were having near misses and then would tell myself I was over reacting, until we were hit by another car. I saw the car come towards us, thought it had missed, breathed a sigh of relief, then it hit us, hard. Kuassi was sat by the side that was hit, and luckily he was ok. I put my hands out in front of me to take the force and my wrists both hurt but I was just really shook up. Enter the great taxi driver, the others were a few cars behind and their taxi driver saw the accident. He pulled over and the passengers who hadn't seen it were a bit concerned till he reappeared with us. I don't know if we gave him a tip I was still very upset, but he deserved one.

The tea house was a welcome sight and some of the acts were literally so foreign to me I found them difficult to understand, but there were also some good ones. A man who juggled and spun enormous pots was fantastic; a shadow puppet man who had created people singing was excellent (I just wish he finished his act at this point). I loved the face changing dance and the finale of the young marshal arts boys was brilliant.

The conference was two days, but Ronald and I missed the first Day to take part in Japan so next day was our day. I expected translators but Tim Hall explained that our slides has been translated and the audience would listen in English but see the slides in both; however not the case for me, it was decided as it was a business presentation most people would understand. We were also told that nowadays many people understand English much better than they speak it. Disappointingly my session was against one in Chinese and my audience was small, however I got a great question afterwards which proved he at least had understood and that made me feel great. In china I gave my 42Real life examples of Fusion Middleware with Apps presentation.

I was finished by lunchtime, and in the afternoon, Murali, Kuassi, Tim and I went off to find Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, we got a taxi from the hotel and paid the metered 17 Yuan fare. The square provokes memories if what we in west remember the square for, but other than that is simply a square but the Forbidden City was very impressive. One thing I did find funny in china, was that most translation seems to be courtesy of Google translate and with no additional checking. This great afternoon was spoilt though by trying to get home, it took over an hour to find us a taxi, and even then it was for a negotiated rate of 80Yuan, the battering for this was done on the dirt of his taxi. We had the right change having earlier discovering that you get 1Yuan change regardless of what you give them.

The next day we visited the Great Wall and this is what I was looking forward to most of all. Unfortunately the Smog, which never lifted since we got off the plan, meant visibility, was very poor, but it was a great experience, and I was very proud of myself climbing as far as we could in the time allowed. We then visited the Ming Tombs and our guide was really good telling us about the site and more importantly the legends. Again however it was another lesson in a different culture. The hotel offered a day tour for 800 Yuan each, but Kai who is native Chinese told us this sounded expensive and came back with an offer that eventually cost us 300 each. We were very pleased with the driver and guide and had the money ready to give them a tip which we were told is not expected in China, but to me she spoilt the day by asking for one when we got back to the hotel.

Then we went shopping which to me was a horrible experience, I don’t feel comfortable with hard sell or with bartering and in China they are experts at both. I am not saying they are wrong, this is China and their way of doing things but for me it was too uncomfortable. we did however venture onto the underground and although incredible packed, it was clean and efficient; Should have done that before.

My # 2 highlight was the wall, #3 was the hotel pool, no facebook and twitter was difficult, the scamming and battering I didn’t like; but my #1 highlight was being asked a question that showed my presentation was of value. Sharing is what makes this all worth while. Thank you, Marshall and your team for inviting us to Beijing.

InsightOut - Tokyo Japan

I have been to Japan before and I loved it, and this second visit did not disappoint.

I was travelling to Japan to take part in the InsightOut database symposium, but first I took the opportunity to visit Fujitsu HQ. I had the opportunity to talk through my ‘Upgrade or move to Fusion Applications’ presentation to our EBS team , and look at some Oracle / Fujitsu projects in Japan. Thank you to all my colleagues who as ever made me feel part of our global family.

At Oracle Open World I met Ryutaro Mori who is on the board of OAUG Japan and when I told him I was going to Tokyo he asked if I would meet with their board. Of course I would, it was an honour. OAUG Japan is always present on our IOUC PDC calls, and very keen to have applications information for their members. The board and their Oracle liaisons took me to a wonderful dinner on the 42nd floor of the Shiodome City centre Building (where Fujitsu is based)  and a fantastic view of the Tokyo skyline and their radio tour at night.

The conference itself wins hands sown as the best organised conference I have ever attended  It was run by Insight Technology - Hiroki-san (Mizo) and powered by the OakTable, a concept created when Mogens Nørgaard and Anjo Kolk visited Icharo Obata in Tokyo earlier this year. I had met Icharo-san when we were stranded in Denmark after the volcano last year. This conference had 3 days with 3 streams, one of which was streamed live on the internet (including mine).

Here I gave my ‘What does Fusion Applications mean to you’ presentation, which I previously gave at MOW. We each met with translators an hour before our presentation and went through what we were going to say. They were so good they spotted an error in my slides. The room was full of people interested in what I had to say, and 6 members of OAUG Japan and 2 from Oracle, paid to attend just for my session, including one from Oracle who is now to sell Oracle Applications. After the presentation we went to the office of one of the board, where we held a great Q&A session. This makes it all worthwhile; sharing my knowledge is what I love best about this role.

The hospitality of Insight was fantastic; on the first evening they took us on a walking tour of night market and Sensoji Temple, and to a great traditional meal. Apparently in Japan they continue to serve food until you tell them to stop. I don’t eat fish, which is a pity as it is the main food group here including these tiny crabs, but everyone made sure I was catered for, at this dinner, lunch during the event and the meal I went to on my last evening.

The event was for 3 days, but Ronald and I left early on the second day as we had to join the OTN tour in Beijing, having missed Thailand to take part in Tokyo. We loved the efficiency of the metro, the trains, the airport, everything ran smoothly.

Thank you InSight, Icharo-san for fitting me into your conference (I asked – rather cheeky of me), The OakTable for letting me hang out with you guys again, Mizo for the phenomenal organisation and Gerlinde for making sure I was fed. I will be back,

Thursday, 20 October 2011

An Award for Being Betwixt and Between

I used to get into a lot of trouble for saying I was not technical, but nowadays I am not sure I am particularly functional either. I am Betwixt and Between - neither one thing or the other. I have found my niche as being the bridge between the two. Helping technical people understand the business reasons and business people understand the technology. I love this role and work with the best experts on every side to help me learn their areas, and that is why I love the ACE Program so much, not only do I get access to the experts that are my peers but also Product Management within Oracle.

On the downside I get the occasional crisis of confidence and wonder about the value I add. These posts are all written in the wrong order, and an example of this is having my sessions turned down for Collaborate.

However at Open World I was honoured to receive an SOA Community Award award for helping them  understand the business implications of SOA with Applications. The award was also for getting Fujitsu to be first SOA specialized partner and 32 specializations in total. My day job as Oracle Alliance Director for Fujitsu means that this is part of my remit.

The SOA Partner Community is run by Jürgen Kress and if every discipline had a community like this, specialization would be much easier. The Community is exactly what it says a place where people learn from each other, and from the training that Jürgen arranges.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

OOW and Fusion Apps

Last year at OOW'10 I was really pleased with the soft launch of Fusion Applications. I talked about my thoughts last year and how we were working with Development to have a training program and this became the UX Fusion Applications Advocates program.

This year at OOW'11 we knew there was to be a hard launch with the Fusion Nation and it was great that this really was General Availability. I gave a quick update to say we had our vests, but what happened next? Well we all wore them all week, and some of us even bought red shoes!

The advocates program had a round table, to see how we were all getting on with the demo sessions, and what we wanted to learn next. It is amazing that this time last year this was just an idea. There are now over 15 people trained and out there sharing their knowledge with everyone. Thanks to Misha seen here standing, who made this happen. As well as the ACEs who make us this program, I also had another dozen Product Development members from the IOUC in red vests.

On the Wednesday Oracle worked to have photos taken of all the Fusion Nation, and wearing the jackets was great, a feeling of being part of something big. They had us meet up for breakfast and then line up on the main stairs.

Then we had front row seats for the actual keynote, where Larry gave an actual demo. I was quite impressed. Finally Development had there day. There were plenty of early adopter presentations at OOW but next year we should have a lot more, and more complex implementations. To me the best part of Fusion Nation was when Steve Miranda put on his vest during his keynote.

I have also worn my jacket since when presenting on the OTN Tour.

My OOW Sessions

I had 3 sessions at OOW'11:

'Your Path to Understanding Fusion Applications'
One of the first presentations of OOW'11 9am Sunday Morning

This was to be the launch of our roadmap project from the IOUC, but we had been pushed to the very last minute by Oracle and it wasn't ready, however we showed the concept to the audience and the feedback was great. Sten Vesterli was our cartographer and he showed the map as it was, and also created a website where people could register for information and give feedback.

Richard Bingham who wrote 'Managing Fusion Application' also spoke on how Oracle Support have geared up for the apps, and was proud to tell us how many SRs had been raised. That made me chuckle, he was pointing out that as the numbers of customers has ramped up, so too has the queries. Normally this would be the last thing Oracle would highlight.

'Should I upgrade or go to Fusion Applications' 

Trying to answer the question I am asked most - and based on an earlier blog. I didn't give them the answer, and in fact I stole from my friend the great Tom Kyte and simply said "It Depends". The real content was about all the things people should consider when making their assessment. This is quite an interactive session and I like those.

'Consolidation to the Cloud'

I have a lot of respect for technical presenters, they plan their presentations for months and rehearse prolifically. People like Cary Millsap and Connor McDonald put hundreds of hours into their presentations whereas mine are more about putting my thoughts into a presentation. I spend many, many hours thinking, and coming up with the simple analogies that I love, but the actual presentation is normally left very late. I often joke that I love OOW because I have the 11 hour flight to finish my presentations. This year I really needed it, my first presentation wasn't finished but this one wasn't even started. I had written an article for an Oracle UK magazine, and used the analogy of how my handbag and even my life is consolidated into my smartphone. However the flight flew by and I still hadn't started.
As ever the week before was busier than I expected and come Sunday I still hadn't started, but the presentation was due for Thursday lunchtime, and I told myself no-one would turn up anyway, so perhaps I could just take the few people that do turn up and give them a coffee somewhere. I tried to find out how many people had registered but this year it wasn't available online so I had to ring speaker services, and they told me it was over 100, so I had to do something.
I decided that I would keep to the analogy and just have photos for the presentation and hope I didn't short change them too much. When the session came along there were about 70 people, and quite a buzz. People are tired by the end of the conference but still going on adrenaline. The actual presentation went down really well, it was light hearted and people didn't have to think too much. The feedback was that it made so much sense, at first any IT project seems expensive, but you need to look at the value, and then how to get more out of it.
So OOW'11 went well, I was happy with my presentations and although very few people give feedback at OOW, I was happy with the scores.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Fujitsu Achieves Diamond Status

Time for the day job. My role as Oracle Alliance Director for UK includes ensuring that our partnership status is in place. So I was so pleased that immediately before OOW we heard our bid for Diamond Status was successful.

Fujitsu designs, builds and runs IT systems. As part of that we have an alliance with many vendors and in the UK & Ireland I look after the alliance with Oracle. When Oracle announced their Specialization Partner Program in 2009, our immediate aim was to convert our top level Certified Advantage Partner to the equivalent Platinum partner Level. Oracle granted CAP partners 12 months grace to achieve the 5 Specializations required.

Everyone in the Fujitsu UK Oracle prcatice is encouraged though the appraisal process to achieve the competency testing and where appropriate, specialist for their area. We therefore quickly adapted to the new process and achieved Platinum .

Then Oracle raised the bar further and introduced Diamond Level, for their global partners. This requires much more commitment and it is expected that there will be no more than about 10 -15 partners globally.
First we needed 20 specializations including 5 at advanced level where you need 50+ specialists. These specialists are testing externally and the level is very high, for example a DBA specialist needs to be Oracle Certified Professional. I want to use this blog to thank all of those who took exams especially those in the beta programs where the waiting was so long.

Fujitsu plays into the Oracle full stack really well, although often independent there are allainces at very level. Our strategic alliance around SPARC, through all services and our managed services offerings for applications means we worked diligently through the specializations that reflected these offerings. I have blogged before we started with the technology as we were already known for our hardware and applications portfolio.

Fujitsu did not stop once we achieved the prescribed 20 specializations, because as I said it is our culture to encourage this at individual level. In fact at a recent partner showcase I had to accept the smallest possible font on the fixed size poster as we had 26 specializations, but even better it was confirmed at OOW that we had at that time 32 specializations the highest achieved to date by any partner.

As well as specializations to achieve Diamond you need a number of approved offerings with oracle. This sounded quite simple, we provide all sorts of Oracle services, however it was a very thorough process requiring lots of sales and marketing artefacts, case studies etc, and Fujitsu has a slightly different go to market model than Oracle so there was quite a lot of work to do. I was responsible for 6 of them, and although our aim of achieving by OOW was very stressful, there were a lot of things I learnt and I look forward to working on new offerings from start to finish, rather than this retrospective exercise.

Anyway we achieved it, with the official announcement being made on the Monday of OOW although at OPN day we were listed.

Fujitsu is global and I am part of the global team, and this was a real team effort. My counterpart in the US Jere Weliever and our global administer JessikaWeis especially need lots of credit.

Just a few days before OOW, when I had already arrived in San Francisco I received the news that we had achieved it all. And on a very personal level, I had once blogged about buying flowers for my hotel room when I am away all week and when I moved into San Francisco city for OOW I had a lovely surprise, there were flowers in my room thanks to my EMEA alliance manager

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Update on Fusion Nation

I have my new vest, and actually well done to Oracle, they have women's versions as well so quite happy to wear it. Like the bag although disappointed you had to chose between standard OOW messenger bad which also looked great and this one.

I have my new red shoes, my nails are painted and I'm all set.

My first presentation the PDC ' Your Path to Understanding Fusion Applications' is on in just under two hours.

You can see I am excited but Fusion Advocates have waited a long time for this, especially those inside Oracle who have had to keep quiet for so long. 500 People, all wearing red,
Stop Us and Ask Us

My Time at OOW - What to Look Forward To

As ever I am writing this blog on the plane, which makes it too late, but never mind. What am I up to at open world this year?

First, as an ACE director I am at HQ for two days of briefings. I often talk about these days, but this is heads down, briefings from the experts, and a way of assimilating all the OOW messages in a calm environment before the event. We will be under NDA so may not talk about them yet but at least I will understand.

I have meetings at HQ with my partner manager and the SIA Community leader, a great chance to catch up be fire the madness begins.

Saturday things are a little quieter but I still haven't finished ( to be honest even started my presentations, although I know what I want to say), so it is my emergency time. In the evening I have an OakTable party to go to. A night with the worlds best DBAs, goodness knows what I will talk about.

Then Sunday OOW kicks off and I have the very first session. In total I have 3 sessions (see my last post). Oracle have mucked me around this year, which is annoying. This first presentation did not get approved till the last minute, and my other two got changed. Including moving one from Tuesday to thursday afternoon, I must really have pissed someone off. However one was moved from Sunday as a 30 minute session to Monday for an hour in a much bigger room because of advance registrations. So I guess they all equal out.

As a user group leader I have time to serve at the UG pavilion in Moscone West come along and check it out. I haw several meetings with people about how we can improve UKOUG. I also have analyst and press meetings. My Vice President and great friend Lisa is coming to OOW for the first time and has I am pleased to say bought comfortable shoes, she will need them.

The fusion Nation program will fill up any time I think I have but I am so pleased Fusion Apps are having their day and I really want to speak to those customers who are early adopters.

As Fujitsu I will pop along to our booth, met with analysts for them, meet customers from around the world, and attend our global practice day on Thursday ( just in case I feel the week has not been long enough).

There is plenty of fun as well, I have lunches and dinners planned with friends, colleagues and oracle executives; I am looking forward to Wednesday and seeing Sting. When I was 19 I lived in a bedsit in south London and listened to him playing live on Streatham Common with the police, so it may make me feel young again. And Friday morning Lisa and I are planning the Golden Gate Bridge cycle. Only this year I will try not to lose my camera!

I will come home with 100s of business cards, a very long to do list, too much information to share but lots of happy memories of another Oracle Open World.

My sessions at OOW are 'Your Path to Understanding Fusion Applications', 'Should I upgrade or go to Fusion Applications' and 'Conolidation to the Cloud'.

Try and come along, it may be the only time you get to see me. And if the title or extract doesn't appeal to you remember I have a lovely English accent.