All posts by vesterli

Why Does Oracle Exist?

At an Oracle Partner event this week in Croatia, I got the latest updates on Oracle’s products. And it hit me that nobody, not even Oracle, understands why the company exists.

I looked at their website but was unable to find a mission statement or discern any coherent vision. It seems Oracle exists simply because it does.

Back in their database days, they wanted to manage all the world’s information. But in their current incarnation, their vision more cloudy than cloud.

Why on earth does an enterprise software company like Oracle dabble in chatbots? Why are they building an IFTTT clone? Why are they running “Oracle Code” events and talking about everything but Oracle software? Why are they coming from a sub-one-percent IaaS market share and announcing their intention to rule the IaaS world?

What Oracle should do is:

  • Build on their strength in SaaS. I believe they are on track to living up to Mark Hurd’s vision of being one of the two SaaS vendors  with 80% of the market (and no, SAP won’t be the other one)
  • Provide PaaS trials limited in power, but not in time. Nobody can figure out how to use Oracle PaaS offerings in meager 30-day trials
  • Concentrate on real differentiators like Application Builder Cloud Service (and stop trying to provide their version of every cloud service in the universe).

Oracle is a great software engineering company. I hope they figure out why they exist.

Oracle Stock Rises on Cloud Surprise

Stockbrokers were taken by surprise by Oracle’s Cloud revenue when Oracle announced quarterly results last week, and Oracle stock duly jumped by seven percent. It has fallen back somewhat since but is still up three percent.

ORCL

(source: Yahoo Finance)

Oracle Cloud revenue is up by 63% and now makes up 13% of Oracle’s $9.3 billion quarterly revenue. It is not clear how much of this is the “cloud credits” that is reportedly bundled into renewal and new on-premise deals. It will be interesting to see if customers find a good use for these credits and will buy more once they are used up.

As an ERP and database company, it would make the most sense for Oracle to push their strong SaaS and PaaS offerings. SaaS and PaaS currently make up 85% of Oracle cloud revenue, but they have decided to try to muscle into the already-crowded market for commodity computing services. With $195 million of IaaS revenue, it doesn’t make much sense for Oracle to try to catch up to Amazon’s $3.5 billion.

Trying to Make Oracle Cool

Oracle currently hosting a series of Oracle Code events across the world, today in New York. You’d expect an event with this name would focus on Oracle tools, but no. Oracle instead decided to throw together presentations on every buzzword they could think of. So if you attend an Oracle Code event, you can hear about Node.JS, DevOps, microservices, Agile, Docker, Spark, JSON, Chatbots, and Kafka.

This is like Sears or Macy’s sponsoring a snowboarding competition. The hip crowd might show up, but they won’t shop at the department store afterward.

Oracle has powerful, productive, mature tools like APEX and ADF, as well as new and interesting things like Oracle JET and Application Builder Cloud Service (ABCS). But they decided to spend this year’s developer outreach budget on events almost completely unrelated to Oracle technology. Not a smart move.

As an Oracle developer, don’t let this marketing misstep get you down. Oracle has great development tools, even if they don’t talk about them. And hey, today’s Oracle Code event in New York even has a session on SQL and PL/SQL by Peter Koletzke. There is hope.

 

This content originally appeared in the monthly Oracle Tool Watch newsletter. Don’t miss the next one, sign up here

Oracle PaaS Partner Community Forum 2017

In two weeks, I’m off to Croatia for the Oracle PaaS Partner Community Forum. The agenda covers a lot of the Oracle PaaS cloud services:

  • SOA Cloud Service
  • Integration Cloud Service
  • API Cloud Service
  • Java Cloud Service
  • Application Builder Cloud Service
  • Developer Cloud Service
  • Application Container Cloud Service

I’m looking forward to seeing the latest improvements to the Oracle Cloud services and hearing from my fellow ACE Directors who have actually used them.

This event is free for Oracle partners who are members of one of the EMEA Oracle partner communities. The conference runs from March 27 to March 29 with optional hands-on workshops on March 30 and 31. There might still be spaces left – check the registration page at http://tinyurl.com/paasForum2017.

If you can’t make it to Croatia, and you have a burning question about Oracle PaaS Cloud services, feel free to comment and I’ll try to have your question answered by one of the knowledgeable presenters there.

Best of Both Worlds with ADF

I’m seeing a lot of interest in developing client-side applications based on one JavaScript framework or another. Today, the leading contenders are AngularJS (the old version) and Angular2 (the new version, of course, incompatible with the old). Oracle is also entering the game with Oracle JET.

For some strange reason, developers tend to compare Javascript frameworks to full stack frameworks like ADF, forgetting that someone, somewhere, must build the REST web services that JavaScript applications are based on.

ADF to the Rescue

In most JavaScript client projects I see, the REST services are built in plain Java turned into web services with JAX-RS annotations. For an ADF developer, this is obviously a wasteful way to build services, re-inventing lots of things that already exist in ADF (declarative validations, master-detail coordination, and many other things).

Fortunately, with ADF 12.2, we can now publish our ADF view object instances as REST web services. It is well described in the manual, and there is also a blog post with video by Shay Shmeltzer showing how it’s done.

As an ADF developer today, you definitely need to be able to publish your view objects as REST services. In this way, you can build most of the functionality fast with the power of ADF faces, and the small part of the application it might make sense to build in JavaScript can use the same business logic.

 

This post originally appeared in the monthly ADF Mastery newsletter. Don’t miss the next one, sign up here.

How to Hack Your Brain Chemistry

You feel happy when your brain releases dopamine. This happens when you experience a success, reinforcing the behavior that led to the success. Unfortunately, dopamine is also released in other situations, and your brain can’t tell the difference between useful success dopamine and bad addition dopamine.

When you get angry, your brain also releases dopamine. This is being used in the outrage industry that churns out slanted reporting designed to make you angry. No matter if you are for or against Trump, your chosen media is likely to supply a never-ending diet of outrage.

To channel your energy into more productive pursuits than internet-fuelled rage, reduce your consumption of social media, and make sure your body produces a healthy amount of dopamine itself. There are all the usual things like exercising, sleeping well, etc.

In addition to all the usual good things (exercising, sleeping well, meditating), there is another thing you can do: Achieve goals. You get a dopamine boost when you achieve your goal, and the size of the goal doesn’t affect the dopamine release. Working in IT, you have many good ways of getting your dopamine kick – for example by writing tests before you write code. You also want to release software as often as possible, so look for work in an agile team that releases every few weeks.

You don’t want to be at the mercy of the outrage, entertainment, and junk food industries. Free yourself by making sure you get your dopamine from healthy activities like programming.

 

This is an excerpt from the monthly Spiritual Programmer newsletter. Don’t miss the next one, sign up here.

Why You Want to be Down With Amazon

Part of the supposedly unbreakable Amazon cloud was down, and the world didn’t end.

What did happen was that a swarm of the best operations people in the world rapidly descended on the problem, diagnosed and fixed it. You can be sure the issue had top management attention, because Amazon’s brand, reputation, and business rides on their infrastructure.

With all due respect to your infrastructure and operations team, they are unlikely to have the manpower, specialization, and training that Amazon cloud engineering has. If the same issue had hit your own in-house data center, it would have taken you much longer to find and fix it.

That’s why you want to be in the cloud. As long as you can move to another cloud.

Re-use is not Always Good

It is drummed into every aspiring developer that duplicating code is bad, and re-use is good. Seen from the organization hiring the developer, that is true. But seen from a developer under pressure to meet a deadline, it makes perfect sense to write his own code, even if the same functionality has been implemented before.

Optimal reuse

If you want to promote re-use across teams in your organization, you need to do three things:

  • Document all services with examples. For REST web services, you can use a tool like Swagger.
  • Implement the policy that old versions of services are not retired until nobody is calling them
  • Enforce a policy of calling services instead of writing them over.

 

This is an excerpt from the monthly Technology That Fits newsletter. Sign up here

Losing Hearts and Minds

Oracle has never been a developer-friendly company. Historically, they have produced brilliant technology, made it freely available, and let it be up to the developers to figure out how to use it.

That strategy is failing today, for three reasons:

  1. Oracle is no longer indispensable. Open source offerings now provide what only a large company like Oracle could manage a decade ago.
  2. Poor access to cloud services. Much software is cloud-based, and Oracle only offers short, poorly-managed trials to developers used to unlimited access on-premise.
  3. Oracle is one of the most-hated IT companies. Their business practices, including aggressive license reviews and lawsuits, means that CIOs are trying to replace their software and developers seek to avoid them.

They are starting a developer initiative with a new blog, a new website, and a series of Oracle Code events, but it seems rather half-hearted. Little has happened since the initiative was announced at OpenWorld six months ago, and Oracle has cut the funding to their technology evangelist program.

I’ve been a loyal Oracle developer for decades, but I’m afraid Oracle has lost the hearts and minds of developers. My son is finishing his B.Sc. in IT and wouldn’t dream of using Oracle tools. If you are an Oracle developer with more than 10 years until retirement, I advise you to start planning for your time after Oracle.

Inconvenient Cloud Truth

Oracle has just announced that they are discontinuing the main benefit of participating in the Oracle ACE program at the highest level: The annual briefing at Oracle HQ before the OpenWorld conference. Together with previous cuts in travel funding, this leaves the program as little more than a logo to put on your website.

Before cloud, Oracle was a big player in on-premise enterprise software. They made very good software, so it made sense to cover the cost of flying independent experts to Oracle HQ for briefings on the latest software. Having armed the experts with the latest knowledge and software, it also made sense for Oracle to pay their travel costs as they went out into the world and advocated it.

Today, Oracle is struggling to pivot towards being a cloud vendor. The independent experts are saying straight up that most of their cloud services aren’t very good yet, so Oracle is not getting any return on its investment in the ACE Directors.

I’ve been happy working with Oracle in my ten years as an Oracle ACE Director, and sincerely hope they become successful in the cloud. Once they are, it will make sense for them to restore funding for the ACE Director program. But right now, the cuts make sense.