Cloud First : What does it mean to me?

cloudThe announcement that several Oracle products will be released “Cloud First” from now on has been an interesting talking point for many of us. I think I first heard this message at last years OOW, but I can’t remember if it was public, or in a meeting covered by an NDA. There have been public statements about this since then, but at OOW16 we have the first example that directly affect me!

Oracle Database 12c Release 2 is here, kind-of. If you sign up for the “Oracle Database Exadata Express Cloud Service” you will get a PDB on Oracle 12.2. So what are my thoughts on Cloud First?

Conspiracy: “Oracle are forcing us on to their cloud. Won’t someone think of the children?” Come on. Let’s be real. I speak to people all the time who have yet to get all their systems to Oracle 11g. Making them wait a bit longer for 12.2 is not going to be a big deal for most businesses.

Bugs: The Oracle database is a big and complicated product. It is inevitable that new versions will contain bugs. The most important point is how long will it take to fix them? In the past we have had the, “wait for the second release”, and more recently the, “wait for the first patch set”, mindset. I can understand the later. The release was very buggy. The release felt solid. If it is done *properly*, Cloud First will allow Oracle to patch bugs really quickly, so most users never have to encounter them **. By the time we get an on-premise release, it should be solid. Hands up how many people were going to go live with soon after release date? None of you? Yeah. I guessed that. Perhaps when we get the first on-premise release of 12.2 it will actually be production ready!

Quicker release cycle? : For many of the products, the Cloud First approach means they will be able to do a quarterly release cycle, with a yearly on-premise release. I think that’s a good thing. Will it result in the same release cycle for the database? I highly doubt that, but it would be nice if we get releases a bit quicker. A new release every 3-4 years is getting out of hand…

Evangelism: This is one that hits me hard. I’ve not been on the 12.2 beta program. I’ve not had access to the product. Now 12.2 is available I can only get hold of it via a cloud subscription and even then it is fully managed, so I can’t practice many of the DBA tasks on it.

I’m guessing most of the beta testers who have prewritten articles waiting to go live can’t actually release them until the on-premise release appears. If they do, they are not based on the production release. If they are DBA articles, they definintely can’t be released as there is no way they can test DBA stuff on the current production release and releasing articles based on a beta product is doing you a disservice and may still be breaking their NDA.

Without wanting to sound overly dramatic, this means the 12.2 release is “dead to me” until there is an on-premise release. So Oracle should panic because Tim Hall isn’t happy about something right? Of course not. I think evangelists like myself will be affected, but so what? Those articles will still get written ***. They will just arrive a few weeks/months/years later. It’s annoying for me, but it’s not going to bring Oracle down. 🙂

Conclusion : Although the Cloud First approach to product delivery is extremely annoying to me personally, and will keep the conspiracy theorists busy, I can see some really positive sides to it if it’s done correctly. Time will tell!



Updates: Based on comments.

  • ** Of course, someone has to identify the bugs, which is why I said “most users never have to encounter them”. Many companies run with un-patched systems for a long time and encounter bugs that were fixed a long time ago. In an ideal scenario, one customer finds the bug, it gets fixed and everyone is patched preemptively. 🙂
  • *** What about consultants? Until the on-premise release is available, nobody has access to the on-premise product. As a result, you are in the same position as everyone else that was not on the beta. Early adopters, like consultants, will start their early adoption from the point where the on-premise release is available. Who is going to ask you to do DBA work on the version before that? The only access a customer can have is the fully managed system, so nobody. If you *must* be working with 12.2 from day one for fear of being left behind, pay your $170 per month… Judging by the typical adoption timescales, this is not an issue for the vast majority of consultants.

Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : Monday – Day 1

I’ve been away from home for over a week and we’ve finally got to Day 1 of the conference… 🙂

After not feeling too great last night I skipped the bay swim. I headed down to the conference and my first stop was the AppsLab Internet of Things (IoT) Workshop. With some help from Mark Vilrokx, I have now joined the world of the cool and hip. During the workshop you get a little Arduino board that is wifi enabled. You connect a button and a speaker, then upload a program to the board. Once you’ve done all that you can press the button, it connects to the Oracle IoT Cloud Service and it plays a little tune. You can also control other people’s devices. Next stop, world domination…


From there I moved on to the “Oracle Applications User Experience Cloud Exchange”, hosted by the UsableApps folks. They had a whole bunch of stands, each demonstrating a different facet of user experience (UX). For example:

  • Large multi-screen visualisations.
  • Desktop and mobile UX from the current Oracle Cloud Applications and future directions of these products.
  • Current and future versions of the extensibility framework.
  • Rapid Development Kits (RDKs) for ADF, Mobile and JET, allowing you to quickly develop PaaS applications that look and function the same as the SaaS applications.
  • Office of the future.
  • Customer success stories.
  • Some were just plain fun, like using a toy guitar to control a player in a virtual world, who could throw Pokeballs. What’s not to love? 🙂

For someone from my background this is a totally different world.

I especially enjoyed speaking to Basheer Khan about the work his company (Knex) has been doing extending Oracle SaaS using Oracle PaaS. In a world of proof of concepts (POCs), it’s great to see someone successfully delivering real products on top of Oracle Cloud Services. It’s also good to see all the messages from the UX team being put into practice by him and is company. If you get a chance to speak to him about it you really should.

The combination of the IoT and UX sessions put me in a super-positive mood. Happy days! 🙂

From there it was back to my day job, so I headed off to see Andrew Holdsworth speaking about “Real-World Performance Monitoring: Can You Believe the CPU Numbers?” Turns out you can’t believe the numbers! The Real-World Performance Group, which Andrew heads up, always deliver quality sessions, based on science and real-world experience, rather than the fluff you get from some. I try and get to their sessions every year for this reason. There was also another reunion with Dad, who has started on the Marmite and teabags I brought him. 🙂

After that I headed down to the exhibition hall to say hello to the Dbvisit gang. They’ve got a new version of Dbvisit Standby coming out soon, as well as a product called Dbvisit Replicate Connector that can stream data from Oracle to Kafka, amongst other things. I’m definintely going to kick the tyres on both of these once they are released!



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : User Group Sunday

User Group Sunday started with the bridge run/walk. A group of us got a Ubers across to the visitors centre, then walked or ran across the bridge and back.

If I was really sad I would tell you it’s a great way to hatch Pokemon eggs and there are loads of Pokemon to catch along the bridge, but I’m not sad at all, so I don’t know this and I never did any of that… 🙂


On the way back I was getting out my camera to video something, slipped on a metal grate and ended up on my back. I didn’t get hurt in the fall, but it was kind-of embarrassing. I slipped about 3 more times on the journey back, but managed to stay on my feet.

I got back to the hotel, cleaned up, then it was down to the conference. The “EOUC Database ACES Share Their Favorite Database Things” session, was a 2 hour session with a large group of speakers, all doing 5 minutes on their chosen subject.

I like this lightening talk format. It means you get to touch on loads of subjects and give people lots of pointers to things to look out for. It also means the user group can get loads of speakers up on stage, rather than just 2 each year!

From there I was feeling a little wasted and walked back to the hotel with Martin Widlake, both of us doing a good impression of grumpy old men…

Once I was back at the hotel I edited the EOUC video, then my neck started to feel really stiff and I got a banging headache. By about 18:00 it became obvious I wasn’t going to make it to the Oracle ACE Dinner, so I decided I was just going to have an early night and try to sleep.

I’ve checked out some of the photos of the Oracle ACE Dinner online and it looked really cool. I’m gutted I never got to go, but I’m not sure people would appreciate me having a Machu Picchu moment there. 🙂

After a ridiculous amount of sleep I feel OK today, but my neck is still really stiff. I’m starting to think I might have tweaked it during the fall on the bridge. Let’s see how today goes.



Oracle : Tech Company or Service Company?

Oracle OpenWorld is imminent and we will see Oracle continue their push into the cloud market. Oracle have had a long history of being strong in the technology space, but conversely they have had a long history of being weak as far as customer service is concerned. The move to the cloud presents a unique problem for Oracle that I’m not sure they can even see at the moment…

I use a number of cloud services in my daily life, but let’s just focus on a simple one like email for the moment. It could be Gmail,, Yahoo Mail etc. I couldn’t tell you what the underlying tech for any of these services is. I don’t know which is technically superior, but to be honest I don’t really care. They are just services I use and they work. As long as they work and my user experience is good I have no reason to question them. If I am not having a good time with a specific product, I will move. This happened to me when I moved from Hotmail to Gmail. When came along I actually preferred it to Gmail, but not enough to be bothered to move again. 🙂 The point is, this move was based on user experience, not technical superiority…

So now we come to Oracle’s move to the cloud. Oracle now have a wider service catalog than just about any cloud provider. If you judge cloud providers by the breadth of their service catalog I think Oracle are now number 1, but do people judge a cloud provider in that way? I don’t think so. I think most customers judge by their experience of the service.

Having used Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Public Cloud for quite some time I have to say that Oracle Public Cloud lags far behind the other two in user experience. It’s not a criticism of the tech behind the scenes. It’s just the day-to-day usage of the services I’m talking about. Over the last year Oracle have added lots of new services to the Oracle Public Cloud, but there has been little-to-no focus on the user experience. Most of the issues I highlighted over a year ago are still present today.

The more time I spend using cloud services, the less I care about the tech that underpins them. This might sound a bit contradictory for a tech geek, but think about it for a minute. No matter how good the technology, you can use it badly. If I don’t get to see exactly what is under the hood and the day-to-day operations behind the scenes I am having to make a leap of faith anyway, so the only thing I can use to judge between services is the care and attention that has been put into the user experience and the customer service.

IMHO if Oracle want their public cloud offering to succeed, they need to:

  • Focus on user experience of the Oracle Public Cloud. Oracle should aim to be easier to use than any of their competitors.
  • Focus on customer service. A pissed off customer goes out of their way to look for things to complain about. A happy customer will put up with odd issues.
  • Listen to their customers. The days are gone when developers decided what they think the customers want. As a customer, the most infuriating thing that can happen to you is to feel like nobody is listening. When you ask for something, it should happen, or someone should explain why it can’t happen. When feedback drops into a bottomless pit the incentive to keep supplying feedback diminishes.

I want Oracle Public Cloud to be successful. Adding hundreds of new services is not as important as improving the ones they already have. Please, please, please listen to us Oracle!



PS. When you listen to the announcements during this next week, ask yourself how many relate to new technology, rather than new services built on existing technology… 😉

PPS. Oracle Public Cloud and Oracle Cloud Apps are not the same thing. My comments relate to Oracle Public Cloud!

Oracle ACE Director Briefing – Day 2

ace-directorToday was Day 2 of the Oracle ACE Director Briefing.

As with yesterday’s post, we had a number of speakers coming in to talk about specific areas of the Oracle stack and Oracle Cloud. Once again, I’m not going to mention any details.

There were a few areas that were super-relevant to what’s going on with me at work, so it was good to make some more contacts in those areas.

The shear volume of stuff going on at Oracle at the moment is actually quite scary. I’m sitting in the sessions wondering how I’m going to do my job, learn all the new regular Oracle stuff and learn all the new Oracle Cloud stuff as well. It’s quite daunting…

Thanks to the folks at the Oracle ACE Program for making this event happen. This last two days has been like a full-on conference, complete with multiple tracks. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. Thanks to all the speakers too. I know we sometimes give you a hard time, but we do appreciate you taking the time to come and speak to us!

I’ve got tomorrow off, then the crazy world of Oracle OpenWorld 2016 starts!



Oracle ACE Director Briefing – Day 1

ace-directorToday was Day 1 of the Oracle ACE Director Briefing.

After some food and some quick hello’s, we jumped straight into a session by Thomas Kurian, giving us a “State of the Union” type presentation, what’s coming in the next few days, weeks, years etc. This helps you focus on the things to look out for during the OOW conference, as well as get a feel for the main message of the event. I guess you all know what that will be. 🙂

After that we had a number of speakers coming in to talk about specific areas of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). I’m not going to mention the speakers or the subject matter as it might allow you to guess what some of the OOW announcements will be and I really don’t need that drama in my life. 🙂

As always, the questions from the audience were “probing” and the discussions that followed these questions were rather “passionate”. 🙂 I think one of the big things the ACE program can add to Oracle is honest feedback about what we as customers think about their products and their focus. In some cases it can be hard for Oracle to hear this, but it has to be done!

It was a good first day and I hope the speakers enjoyed it and didn’t feel we were being too hard on them. 🙂 As always, it’s great to meet up with the other ACEDs. There are more each year, but we are still quite a small group of people really.

Let’s see what day 2 brings!



PS. I managed to deliver the teabags and Marmite to my dad!

Cloud UX Strategy Day : #OAUX

I spent yesterday at the Cloud User Experience (UX) Strategy Day at Oracle HQ. I’m not really the target audience for this event as I’m not a front-end developer and at the moment I know almost nothing about Oracle Cloud Apps, but I am gradually being drawn into this area by a number of external forces.

I can’t really speak about the content of the day because of NDA and because I’m a total newbie, so I will make a fool of myself if I try to speak like I know this stuff. 🙂

I’ve been a casual observer of the stuff the UX team do for a few years and each time I see something by them I understand a little more. It’s like an onion. You have to keep peeling back the layers to see the next layer down. I’m still stuck at the outer layers, but I’m starting to know enough to know I don’t know enough…

I think it’s a pretty interesting subject, regardless of the discipline you work in. It will definitely influence your perception of what you do. If you are interested in User Experience (UX) check out the resources on the Usable Apps site.

Hopefully I will get to come back next year and I will be able to check out the next layer of the onion. 🙂



It’s the little things that really matter!

Companies keep adding features to their products. Some features are really sexy and will get a lot of press. Some features are not so sexy, but are really useful during the day-to-day grind.

I remember when Oracle added the ability to drop columns from a table. At the time I was writing loads of scripts to recreate tables in order to drop columns. Adding this feature changed my life!

You can see another example of this in MySQL 8. If you look at the new features list you will see a section called Account Management, that links to Using Roles. OMG! This is massive for me! I don’t really care about a bunch of the sexy stuff. The presence of roles is a game changer for me!


It’s interesting how sometimes it’s the little things that really matter!

Check out Giuseppe Maxia‘s post on MySQL 8.0 first impressions.



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : Newark to San Francisco

I woke up at about 05:00. After a quick check on work, I got my stuff together and headed down for the shuttle to the airport. The roads around Newark airport are terrible. Really bumpy with loads of holes. It felt like bad turbulence. 🙂

Bag drop and check-in at Newark was self service and it went OK. The security line was kind-of long, but I got lucky and was redirected to a shorter line. 🙂 Officially, Newark airport has free wifi for 30 minutes, but in reality it has no functional wifi which sucks! Ignoring the wifi issue, it’s not the worst airport I’ve been to…

The flight from Newark to San Francisco took about 5.5 hours, which wasn’t too bad. The problem was there was a 40 minute delay before we got going and about the same again waiting on the runway before we could actually get off the plane.

Doing a domestic flight makes the entrance into San Francisco so much easier. I had all the pain entering at Newark. 🙂 I got my bag and got the hotel shuttle to the Sofitel in Redwood Shores. As I got on the shuttle I met Lonneke DikmansLucas Jellema and Luc Bors. 🙂

The Sofitel in Redwood Shores will be my home for the next few days.