Do You Want to be Safe or Agile?

I increasingly come across Scaled Agile Framework, which is normally given the reassuring acronym SAFe. This is an attempt at fitting Agile methodologies into an enterprise setting, and has been met with withering criticism from some sides.

Let’s face it: Agile does not scale. It’s a team methodology that works great on projects that can be divided into team-sized chunks, but agile is being touted as the solution to every people and process problem in IT. It isn’t.

There is a reason why IT developed enterprise architecture. It’s the same reason why armies develop regulations and nation states develop bureaucracies. The reason is that ad-hoc “let’s talk about it” methods do not work when enough people get involved. By all means be flexible and agile in small teams. But don’t run your business that way.

Security Awareness (and lack thereof)

I now know the admin password to the cash registers at my local grocery.

It’s not because I have installed network sniffers on their network, or have been installing secret cameras. No, the friendly staff freely shared the admin password with me and about twenty other people.

They weren’t planning to do this, and in the situation they probably didn’t even notice that they did it. It was a holiday, and the shop was full because many other shops were closed. And all three cash registers were down, causing an ever-growing line of impatient customers.

That’s when a staff member shouted across the shop to another: “I need to reboot. What’s the admin password?” And got the password shouted back.

Have you drilled everyone in your organization well enough that they remember proper security procedure, even when under pressure?

Amateur Night in the App Store

When I was a young programmer, we had something called testing. We really needed that, because the cost of releasing a new version was high, sometimes involving someone manually going around to individual workstations to perform setup that could not be centralized and automated.

It seems this discipline is forgotten in today’s App Stores where you can just release another update if the last one was buggy.

Case in point: The DayOne app. I’m using this for my daily journaling, and it’s a nice app. Except when they release a version that has only been tested against the latest iOS version and they flippantly admit that if you are running something earlier than 8.2, the application will crash.

Testing is a software engineering discipline and no professional tester would have released something that had not been tested against older operating system versions. If you want your IT department to be take seriously by the business, don’t roll out untested software.

Writing Doable Tasks

On a project planning board on a wall, I recently saw this task:

Check-All-InterfacesThat is something that is easy to say in a meeting, but this is not a task. It is an amorphous blob of worry that nobody is going to do anything about, but everybody will feel bad about.

A real task is something that someone can actually do. If you really need to check all the interfaces, the first task in the “interface checking” sub-project is to write a list of all interfaces. That is a task you can assign to someone.

Engineered Systems for the Rest of Us

There are 10 types of people in the world – those who understand binary numbers and those who don’t.

The group who understands binary numbers can be sub-divided into two groups:

  • Those facing the challenges of running real-time analytics against terabyte databases while handling millions of transactions per second
  • Those who don’t

The people in the first category get lot of attention from Oracle Sales and Support, and don’t need much community support from user groups etc.

However, most of us fall in the second category. We are faced with more mundane tasks and don’t have a business case for buying expensive top-of-the-line hardware. However, we can benefit from smaller engineered systems like the Oracle Database Appliance. Because these systems are cheaper, we get less attention from Oracle and depend more on community support.

It can be hard for a small user group on its own to deliver the detailed information their members need about products like Oracle Database Appliance. But if Oracle could make demo systems available online that user groups could book time on, we could leverage the power of the user groups for the benefit of the entire Oracle community.   

Consumerization of Purchasing

Last year, a total of 720,000 Android-powered wearables were sold. Last Friday, Apple sold 957,000 Apple Watches on the back of their very strong fan base. It is OK for people with disposable income to spend $349 or even $599 for an Apple Watch that will be obsolete in 18 months. But most people should not consider paying $17,000 for a gold-plated one.

We’re seeing strong consumerization in IT where it is now consumer products that drive much of the innovation. We’re unfortunately also seeing consumerization of purchasing, too. This is where organizations buy cloud services on the basis of emotional appeal, disregarding proper vendor evaluation, ending up with expensive and obsolete technology.

Everybody can see that buying a $17,000 gold-plated Apple Watch is a questionable purchasing decision. Make sure your organization is not making equivalent IT purchases.

Memento Mori

I just attended the funeral of a friend from my university days. He was about my age, and now he’s gone.

Before you go to sleep tonight, think about what you have achieved today. And tomorrow, when you wake up, spend a few minutes thinking about what you will achieve that day.

You never know how many days you have left. Make sure each of them makes a difference.



ADF 12.2.1 New Features

Oracle has just updated their ADF Statement of Direction, announcing that ADF 12.2.1 will be out in 2015. Here is what they are promising for this release:

The Next Version of Oracle ADF

Oracle is planning to deliver the next version of Oracle ADF – 12.2.1 – as part of the next release of Oracle Fusion Middleware 12.2.1 in 2015. Some of the focus areas for this version include:

  • REST and JSON Support – including enhancement to the REST data control as well as the ability to publish business logic developed with Oracle ADF Business Components through REST interfaces.
  • Responsive UI Support – further enhancements to Oracle ADF to simplify and enhance support for responsive UI design and implementation.
  • Additional Oracle ADF Faces Components – new components, as well as enhancements to existing components, that further enrich the set of JSF components provided with Oracle ADF
  • JDK 8 support – aligning with the latest version of Java to support new language capabilities

I look forward to better support for REST & JSON – it will be a nice improvement if we can publish our business components as REST web services to consume in e.g. Mobile Application Framework.

You Don’t Need Oracle’s Cloud (Yet)

I was just in Budapest for the Oracle Partner Community Forum last week. They showed us a a preview of what Oracle has been up to with their Oracle Process Cloud Service and Oracle Integration Cloud Service since OpenWorld, and it’s looking good.

Right now, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to buy into Oracle’s cloud at the Platform-as-a-Service level. After all, their only semi-available services are a database in the cloud and a WebLogic application server in the cloud. At the usual Oracle price tag, you need to be willing to pay a lot above market rate for the privilege of running your application in Oracle’s cloud.

But once the new services announced at OpenWorld (Process Cloud Service, Integration Cloud Service and Document Cloud Service) become generally available, Oracle has a much more compelling story.


Breathing: You’re Doing it Wrong

“Breathe, Joe, breathe.”

I’ve noticed some clear body language in the IT people arround me when they have to wait for something. They might be waiting for their code to compile, for the result of a code test, for a database result or a million other things. And what happens is that people impatiently tense up and start to breathe quicker and shallower. You should breathe slower instead.

There is a lot of science that shows that good breathing has myriad health benefits and a lot of people who will help you breathe better. Most people don’t breathe properly, but if you work in IT, you’ll have many opportunities to practice good breathing. Every time you wait for something, concentrate on your breath and breathe deeply.

Maybe some day we’ll all be wearing self-trackers that will gently notify us when our breathing becomes shallow and ineffective. In the meantime, use any computer-generated delay in your day as an opportunity for a good drink of oxygen. Delays are good for your health if you use them wisely.