Sunday, 27 September 2015

UKOUG - Everything between the database and the applications

important note: This event has been cancelled, I am very disappointed but we do listen and will do its all at conference.

We listen to the user community and the feedback we’ve received about the agenda has highlighted to us that the topics being covered are too broad and that the majority of people are finding more benefit from similar topics being covered at the forthcoming Apps15 & Tech15 conferences in December. We therefore feel the decision to cancel is the right one.

I'm not technical, or rather I don't actually do technical, but I understand it and more importantly in my role, I know its business value.

IT moves quickly, and in this area of development, apps server, middleware and technology for Cloud, the rate of change has been phenomenal. We need to keep up with this change and understand what it means.

We have a fantastic event for you on 6th October in the Oracle Offices in London, this is a combined SIG, and we hope it appeals to those who are part of the Development, Apps DBA and SIGS and a wider audience from our membership.

We have had two Apps Innovation Days, one for HCM and the last one for Financials was almost too technical, so I hope our Apps Tech Innovation day hits the mark.

We are looking at what Cloud means in all our worlds, Java, Development, Mobile, and where it makes sense and what it really means.

We will have a discussion facilitated by Jason Lester, Chair of the Apps DBA SIG and kicked off with my thoughts on how the Digital Disruption we hear about affects our world, your world, your job, and any outstanding questions we will put to experts for answering at UKOUG in December.

So what should you do now? Register for this great event in October, and for our conferences in December.

OOW2015 - Back By Popular Demand - More Than Another 12 on Oracle Database 12c

Every year usergroups get a number of sessions they are responsible for on User Group Sunday, EOUC which represents around a third of Oracle's customers gets just 12 sessions.
To try and include as many amazing EMEA speakers as possible last year we had 12 short talks on 12c and it was a great success, so we are doing it again this year, and yes we will start with Jonathan Lewis again, he sets the bar high.

Bob Rhubart again gave me the opportunity to do a two minute tech tip video and I am pleased to say Oracle agreed to our request to combine the two sessions so we don't have to traipse outside halfway through and be rescanned. This also gives us another 15 minutes so we have a few extra speakers lined up as reserves and we will just keep going till we run out of time.
Session is now called More Than Another 12 on Oracle Database 12c [UGF3190]
Moscone South Room 306  time 13:30 - 15:15
This will be the BEST session of the day (except of course my kick off session at 8am), so make sure you have it in your schedule, and register for it, it will be full!
Confirmed speakers and topics are and I will update as I get the others:
Jonathan Lewis                     Less well-known enhancements of the 12c Optimizer
Julian Dontcheff                   Oracle Database 12c In-Memory Advisor
Gurcan Orhan                       Adapting DB 12C In-Memory to ODI 12c
Osama Mustafa                     How to plugin a non-CDB database to a Container Database (CDB)
Bjoern Rost                           How ASM has reached maturity in 12c
Alex Nuijten                         Security Enhancements in PL/SQL or "JSON in the database”
Brendan Tierney                   Running R in the Database using Oracle R Enterprise
Douwe Pieter van den Bos     Maximum security architecture
Christian Antognini               Real-time Monitoring of Composite Database Operations
Martin Widlake                     12C - Clustered Data aware TABLE_CACHED_BLOCKS          
Heli Helskyaho                      Design your 12c Databases using Oracle SQL Dev Data Modeler
Oded Raz                              Oracle 12c Privileges Analysis
Tim Hall
Alex Zaballa
Maria Colgan
Lucas Jemella


Sunday, 20 September 2015

Kicking Off Oracle Open World 2015 - Not to be missed

People moan about having the last session of an event, or first thing the morning after the party, I've had both many times, but this year at #OOW2015 I have the first session on the Sunday!

Forming Your Future: Upgrade/Migration to Oracle Fusion Applications/Oracle Applications Cloud [UGF3179]

Learn how Oracle Fusion Applications/Oracle Applications Cloud can influence your future plans for ERP and inform you how to prioritize and decide upgrade and migration activities. Should Oracle E-Business Suite users go to the cloud or just stay current with their Oracle E-Business Suite release? Learn what methods are available for migrating to Oracle Cloud for any organization, and how to plan a roadmap for the latest release of Oracle Applications Cloud. This session shares details of the experience. You will learn from the upgrade/migration experience and strategy, cutover plan, testing, and training.

October 25, 8:00 am - 8:45 am | Moscone South—307

Yes, it's a challenge but then every presentation is, but if you are coming to Oracle Open World to seriously explore Cloud Applications then there is no better place to start, help to understand the questions you need to answer as you go through the week.

I'm going to try and put together a list of sessions I think important for people to go see afterwards, so if you are speaking on the Road to Cloud Apps, specifically HCM or ERP, drop me a lie, comment on this blog, tweet me at debralilley and I'll add you.

If you have made the journey, also come along, there is no better person to guide someone than someone who has made their journey already.

This means I miss the OTN bridge run which is a real pity, but I can do that any time (she wishes), and speaking at OOW is a privilege which I love.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Thank you Certus for a Great Year

Last week I celebrated a year at Certus. They gave me a lovely press release to welcome me in 2014 and this is a good time to see what we, Certus have achieved.

I did this at the six month point, and the last paragraph said "Certus is the leading HCM Cloud implementer in the UK and wants to move towards that in ERP. I want to be part of that journey and after 6 months can defiantly say I made the right choice"

My first anniversary coincides with the end of Oracle's Q1, and we managed two wins, one an exciting HCM implementation for yet another big brand name and a combined ERP / HCM implementation. In fact today we held the project kick off for this project which means I get to have my hands really dirty for a while.

Part of the success is how we work with Oracle, and on Saturday we hosted some of their team at our annual corporate hospitality at the rugby. Sales isn't my main area but one of the team was unable to attend so I was eventually persuaded to take his place. 

Oh the irony, I love rugby, and was so excited to be asked, although to be honest I wanted a different result. I have lived in N Ireland so long I am a big supporter, rugby unites everyone in Ireland, North & South and has no religious divide. But England deserved their win and everyone had a wonderful day.

It is also just a few weeks since we moved up to Platinum Level as a partner. When I first talked to Certus I said I thought this was important and the whole team has stepped up with taking exams. For a small company that means almost everyone was involved, not just a few people from a large company who can be given this as a project. 

The company is also growing with 5 new starts over as many weeks as we ramp up with more customers. We also recently announced we are looking at expanding into AsiaPac.

We are also planning our Open World participation. Four of the Certus team are attending plus one of our customers. Many partners talk about their customers, ours wants to talk about it themselves and as well as presenting will also be talking to analysts and development about their experiences. More about that in a later post.

As I recently said, how lucky can one girl be? Well it isn't luck, Certus have a plan, they take measured steps to achieve what they want and if you haven't yet please vote for them in the UKOUG Partner Awards.

Oh, and I still love my job!

Monday, 24 August 2015

2015 LAOTN - Machu Picchu - OMG I Nearly killed Tim

Like I said, I love travel and to appreciate it, you have to make the most of the opportunities.

When I was considering the LAOTN tours, Tim Hall asked me if I was up for a trip to Machu Picchu. A few years back others had made the trip and I was envious, Ronald and Cindy Bradford had been and Tim's Dad, Graham Wood after another tour, so we had help with ideas.

I like to be organised so I did the research, planning and booking. That is fine if it works out, but I do tend to worry. This year I think it was so regimented I almost killed Tim.

As I said in the earlier post the tours are very tiring, and with the flights I chose to make the most of each destination, we were by the time we reached the last city Lima, pretty exhausted. We had a quiet day and I would like to think recharged the batteries.

The plan was:

  • 8 am Flight to Cusco
  • drop off big bags at hotel
  • taxi through the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo
  • train to base of Machu Picchu (Aguas Caliente) 
  • find bus ticket for trip up mountain
  • find something to eat in
  • early night
  • very early start to be first up the mountain
  • enjoy Machu Picchu
  • train to Peroy (almost Cusco)
  • few hours enjoying Cusco and dinner
  • early night
  • equally obscene early start
  • first flight to Lima
  • start our separate but equally stressed and long journeys home
Sounds simple enough, and we were up for it, but right from the outset Tim struggled. At first he was just very tired which was understandable. Then he felt nausious. But then we started to worry it was something more sinister.

Cusco,(11,000 feet) is the 9th highest commercial airport in the world so the main problem here is Altitude Sickness and the mantra is, if you feel unwell it is Altitude Sickness until proven otherwise. Everywhere there was medicine advertised and we did try to find some without success.

At the airport when we landed it was a normal chaos. The official taxi company wanted $140 to take us to our Cusco hotel, drop bags and then the hour and half to Ollantaytambo. The websites had suggested $50 for the long drive so even with having to go into and back out of Cusco it was high, but I was tired, tired of arguing with irate and practiced rip off taxi drivers and just gave in. Tim looked bad and wandering around a crowed airport trying to negotiate a better deal was simply not worth the aggro, exactly what these con artists rely on.

The hotel in Cusco was a recommendation, problem was it was down a warren of streets and the taxi couldn't get to it. I hate road journeys and this one although slow ranked high on the stress levels and it didn't help the poor wee soul, dying in the back seat. Eventually we found the hotel, had to drag the heavy suitcases up many stairs both outside and inside the building, and were on our way.

The driver stopped a few times at chemists along the way but still no luck with drugs. The drive from Cusco takes you to a lower altitude so I hoped Tim would get better. I remember the years I had visited Breckenridge (9,600 feet) in Colorado with RMOUG. Tim Gorman the local always worried about people being taken ill, and we had the advantage of a few days in the high but lower altitude of Denver (5,690 feet) to sort of acclimatise. Cusco is much higher than Breckenridge and it is where we start with no acclimation.

Ollantaytambo(9,160 feet) is a beautiful village and I did fancy a ride in a Tuk Tuk as they seemed quite sedately compared to the ones in India, however Tim just needed food and drink and I am too much of a coward to do that sort of thing on my own.

Whilst waiting for the train at the station, the announcements screen was frozen, then it came to life showing a TOAD screen and someone running SQL. We went and found the lady and yes they do use Oracle at Peru Rail but she would let us see it, and our mutual language skills did not overlap enough to discus it.However The ACE program should be proud of us meeting users wherever we go.

The train was beautiful and we had the front two seats, with the best view however it did drizzle a bit so the view was sometimes obscured. We follow the river to Machu Picchu and this ride was about 2 hours and very picturesque.

On arrival we found the bus ticket queue, or rather hut that was empty but were joined with two other tourists who had done their first climb so were able to help us, it also turned out they were in the same hotel, so they were able to solve our next problem. Once we were checked in it was still very early so we had a quick pizza in a nearby cafe and then really early nights. 

Machu Picchu is busy, they limit the number of visitors to 2,500 a day and these arrive in three ways but at just two times. Most are either trekking through the Scared Valley (3 days) or like us, coming unto the entrance from the village by bus. We all want to see the sun rise and that meant queuing from 4am. Every seen a bus queue of several hundred possibly a thousand people? We have. The rest arrive on the first train from Cusco and are day trippers about 10:30.

We did make it, and it was beautiful
So we queued for the bus, then the bus queued to get out the village, to get in the park, and we then queued for the only bathrooms, and then the entrance queue, actually stepping onto the 'official' Machu picchu about 7am. We had managed to find some Altitude drugs whilst queuing for the bus, but they didn't seem to be helping. Tim was wrecked already. We walked, slowly, the altitude really starting to kick in as each step up seemed such hard work (7,972 feet). I had been carrying tekking poles with me around Latin America but had left them in my suitcase in Cusco so had to buy a second pair, but they were worth every penny. Tim was starting to struggle but we made it to the first and most famous viewing point and I took with my Oracle bluetooth selfie stick the obligatory pictures. Some people have said they looked photoshopped but the sun was just coming up and that was how it was. There are no others of Tim so this is it.

We then slowly made it to the next vantage point and I did notice hidden in a guard's house a casivac stretcher, noted for reference if I needed help with Tim. However not long after he said he had to go look for help, or just somewhere to sleep. I did offer (half heartedly) to go with him, but he said he would be ok. I went to the main area, took more photos, enjoyed the rest of the sunrise and then guilt took over and I made my way to the entrance and the medical centre. Tim looked awful but once the medic explained it wasn't altitude sickness and that he had had anti nausea drugs and sleep would help him, I went back up the mountain for a little longer, he was in safe hands.

I had started the day, muttering prayers, 'I hope I'm OK', "I hope I'm OK', I am not fit and Tim practices yoga so I thought if either of us struggled it would be me. Then when he felt unwell I was muttering 'Thank God it isn't me', followed by "I hope this doesn't mean we have to abort the trek', then 'I hope it isn't serious' to "Let him be OK'. I am not a very good nurse, and although it wasn't Altitude Sickness, we were lucky that, enough people suffer from it for there to be a fully equipped medical centre at the entrance to the national park. 

We returned to the village once Tim felt a little better and then had a small lunch and rested till our train back was due. I had chosen a mid afternoon train to avoid the day trippers later but had made one logistical error. We were taking the longer train back to Peroy almost Cusco and that takes 3 1/2 hours, which would have been OK if it hadn't of got dark after only 2. Not much point being on a picturesque train if you can't see anything and then our carriage was full of children who didn't seem to have been affected by altitude at all.

The taxi to our hotel took a long time and did give us a tour of Cusco by night. It is a lively place and we did know they have dancing and marches in the evenings but didn't realise it would affect us in the hotel, where Tim especially just wanted sleep. My room was at the back and higher and I slept fine once the fireworks stopped about 9:30. Poor Tim had a room nearer the front and didn't sleep well at all. 

Next morning we were out again before 4am to catch our flights to Lima, and then my 4 flights home were long but evenly spaced through the next day and a half, whereas poor Tim had a nightmare flight plan. His blog is just one tale of the need for sleep.

It was expensive, each component seemed ok but added up to a lot, but I am so pleased I have visited. And thank you to the tour to give us the opportunity. I am glad Tim asked me along I wouldn't have done it on my own, I just wish he had not been taken ill, and hope my punishing travel schedule during the main OTN tour was not the only factor. He does say that overall he was pleased he did it.

I loved Machu Picchu, it was surprisingly calming despite the crowds, and really well looked after. They are looking at reducing the numbers allowed to visit to preserve it and that means it will be harder to visit in the future. I did find it peaceful and magical when I lifted my camera above the people and looked into the surrounding mountains or down into the valley we had travelled by train. If you get the opportunity, take it, you won't regret it.

Tim's blog

My photo album (hosted by Tim)

Thursday, 20 August 2015

2015 LAOTN - Summary - Was it Worth it?

I am often asked if the ACE tours are worthwhile? Are the numbers high enough? Is it good value for money?

Don’t judge them as individual events, think about what they are trying to achieve and look back at them.

I have done 4 Latin America tours and I can only say, yes they are worthwhile.
The numbers have increased over the years and the level of local participation is what I really like, more locals taking part in the running of the groups and speaking. The ACE Directors are the minority of the speakers at the events and that is great to see.

I am not sure if it is in the job description but I believe part of our role is to recognise, nurture and encourage the local talent, and when you see those who are now in the ACE program themselves; it makes me feel great.

Most user groups are technology based, and speaking about Apps is almost like being ‘second cousin’ but I don’t mind. I would rather have a small audience who are interested, but throughout Latin America I got bigger audiences than I expected, there is real interest in both my presentations that I gave in all locations. ‘Do Fusion (Cloud) Applications Really stack up?’ and ‘PaaS4SaaS’ – Brazil has just opened its own datacentre to cater for the need in Latin America.

There is a real interest in using Cloud, although for a lot of attendees it is about understanding the offering and the reality. Tim Hall talked about some of the other Cloud offerings and his findings show Oracle still has some way to go to achieve what they want in all areas of the Cloud.

Personally, I get to share knowledge, learn from the audience and fellow speakers, make new friends and catch up with old ones. I do make the effort to see where I visit and can't thank the ACE Program enough for the opportunity.

I also want to thank the user groups that select my sessions and to my employers Certus, who have always recognised the value to them in supporting me.

2015 LAOTN - Making the Most of the Travel

I have learnt the hard way that it is worth putting a little effort into the travel plans to try and fit in experiencing the places we visit. As I mentioned in the travel post this year I was the 'baddie' and I am not sure Ronald Bradford will ever forgive me, and I have to agree that at 2am looking for a taxi in Lima I hated me too.

However I don't mind early or late starts if it means we can see things, but I may have put Tim Hall off for life. 

LAOTN 2015 South Tour

We started in Uruguay, Montevideo

Then we caught a 3 hour ferry straight after the UYOUG event across the river to Buenos Aires in Argentina.

We flew from Argentina after the AROUG event arriving in Sau Paulo, Brasil in the early hours of the morning.

After the GOUG event we actually stayed a night to enjoy the hospitality and then flew out really early in the morning the next day to Santiago, Chile.

The stay in Chile was our shortest and we left the same evening as the event with CROUG flying to Lima in Peru.

Then Tim and I did a quite visit to Machu Picchu before the long trek home.

Perhaps next time I'll plan a little easier itinerary.