Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : It’s a Wrap!

That’s another Oracle OpenWorld (OOW) done, so it’s time to reflect on the event.

I think the most surprising thing for me was how much I enjoyed the User Experience (UX) and Internet of Things (IoT) stuff. I did the UX Strategy Day and the “Oracle Applications User Experience Cloud Exchange” afternoon and they were really fun and interesting. The IoT session took me back to my childhood, playing with wires and breadboards.


For years the AppsLab folks have kind-of dragged me along into the future. Often I don’t get what all the fuss is about at first, then two years later it’s part of my everyday life. 🙂

The tech side of OOW16 was a little disappointing for me. I’m a tech guy and repackaging existing tech into a new cloud service isn’t really exciting to me. That’s not a criticism of the cloud services themselves, but a reflection of my interests. Even the release of Oracle Database 12cR2 was not that thrilling, because it’s not available for download yet, so I can’t get my hands dirty with it. In fact I was feeling really flat about 12.2 until I spoke to Chris Saxon and Connor McDonald, who managed to re-ignite the spark, leaving me eagerly anticipating the download. Let’s hope it comes soon!

Oracle continue to push their cloud agenda and as I’ve mentioned several times over the last few years, this is good for us on-premise users too. As a cloud provider Oracle have effectively become a customer of their own technology stack. Having felt the pain of what that can mean at times, the products are changing. There are a bunch of features added into their technology stack over the last few years that directly affect their ability to run efficiently in the cloud. There is a greater emphasis on reduced resource usage and better consolidation, which IMHO is good news for us too. I don’t know what the future will bring, but for the moment I feel the cloud is having a positive effect on Oracle products, which is good for me as a consumer.

One thing I’m conscious of is how few presentations I go to and how that might be perceived by those who’ve never visited OOW before. Presentations are the least valuable thing at OOW from my perspective. You will often get more value out of a 10 minute conversation at the demo grounds than you will watching a 45 minute marketing presentation. What’s more, you’ll make contact with the people that matter. The networking side of conferences is the number one priority for me as it gives me more access to information. Of course, I see a lot of presentations at conferences through the year and I have the ACE Director briefing before the conference starts, so my situation is a little different to the average attendee, but I would still advise networking over presentations.

I put out quite a few posts during this trip.

Big thanks go out to the Oracle ACE Program who made this visit to Oracle OpenWorld 2016 possible for me. What with the UX Strategy Day, ACE Director Briefing and OpenWorld itself, this has become a 9 day event, not counting travel on each side. I’m very grateful for the opportunity!

Let’s see what this next year brings!



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : San Francisco to Birmingham

I did my usual thing of not sleeping well before an early flight. I’m so nervous about waking up late and missing the flight I can’t sleep properly, which sets me up for a terrible day of travelling…

I was awake before my 04:45 alarm, so I had a shower and messed about on the computer until it was time to leave. I was sharing a car with Gustavo and Alex, who both had masses of luggage, having bought half of San Francisco during the trip. The drive to the airport was easy at that time in the morning and so were the airport queues. As usual, I was in the last boarding group and everyone in front of me had brought 17 pieces of oversized hand luggage and a donkey. Sigh…

The trip from San Francisco to Newark took about 5 hours, then it was a 3 hour wait before the next flight. Newark airport is a food desert. That’s not to say you can’t get food. It’s just the choice is terrible. They only seem to server horrible crap or chocolate, so guess what I ate…

The flight from Newark to Birmingham took about 6 hours. The flight itself was fine, but after we had some food I felt a little bit odd. I went to the toilet and threw my guts up in spectacular style. After that I felt great and I’ve had no more issues since. I suspect they may have fed me something that wasn’t synthesized in a lab and my body rejected it. 🙂

I landed early the next day, feeling a little delirious because of the lack of sleep. Security was the quickest I had ever experienced. I barely broke my stride. Of course, that meant I had to wait ages for my bag. Once that arrived I took a taxi home and unpacked into the washing machine, lay in the bath for a while (sorry for the image) and went to bed. The trip was over…

Six hours later I woke up, got some food, put on the next lot of washing, then went to bed again… I’ve been up since 03:00 doing some video editing as more sleep is really not on the agenda right now. 🙂

I’ll post a wrap-up post about OpenWorld 2016 in the next couple of days.



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : Thursday – Day 4

And here we are. The last day of Oracle OpenWorld 2016…

The first session I went to was a panel session called “Thinking Clearly About Database Application Architecture” with Gerald Venzl, Bryn Llewellyn, Connor McDonald, Toon Koppelaars, Cary Millsap. The session started with an introduction by Toon, explaining how the thick database architecture model is provably superior to the thin database model, especially from a performance perspective. I am definintely in this camp, so they were preaching to the converted, but IMHO some of the most interesting comments came from Gerald. To paraphrase, and I hope I didn’t distort his meaning…

  • The object model favoured by most developers (Java, C#, Javascript etc.) does not fit well with the set-based approach of relational databases, which is why they rely so heavily on persistence layers to bridge the gap. The challenge is how to make them coexist.
  • Oracle is not the only database technology being used out there. Depending on the engine, the thick database approach may be more difficult or even impossible. That may make developers less likely to adopt it.

I liked both of these comments for a variety of reasons.

  • We need to make what we do more accessible to the current crop of developers by putting it in a form they find acceptable. Making the PL/SQL APIs we produce available to non-PL/SQL developers through REST web services (see ORDS) might be one way we could do this.
  • Thick or thin doesn’t have to be a binary decision. You might choose a middle ground (chubby?). For example, you can have a transactional layer (not table APIs) with some logic in the database, that allows you to leverage the power of the engine. Oracle, SQL Server and MySQL are all capable of doing this. You can use this transactional layer as the foundation of your business logic layer, which may be in the database, if that is your choice, or in the application server depending on your needs. I have a preference, but making it a binary decision marginalises people. Some may say this halfway house is not the best solution, but I would argue a halfway is better than nothing, as well as sowing seeds for the future…

I spent the gap between this session and the next one speaking to John Clarke from the Real-World Performance Group. Clever guy!

Next up was a panel session called “Optimizing SQL for Performance and Maintainability” with me, Keith Laker, Nigel Bayliss, Chris Saxon, John Clarke and Connor McDonald. The most scary thing about being on a panel is actually trying to understand the questions. From the stage the PA echoed so much I could barely understand a word. 🙂 We got through quite a few questions and had a lot of laughs. I think it went well. 🙂

From there it was back to the hotel. I ended up standing outside chatting to a bunch of people for ages, then it was some goodbyes and back to my room. I’ve got an early start tomorrow for the trip home, so it was going to be an early night…

After a while I got a DM from Debra asking me to collect an oraclenerd towel and I was persuaded to go out to eat pizza. So not so much of an early night.

Let’s see how tomorrow goes… 🙂



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : Wednesday – Day 3

I started the day by meeting up with a bunch of people at the Dbvisit breakfast. This has become a regular event over the last few years. Followers of the blog know I like the Dbvisit folks and they tend to attract people I find fun and interesting. After food, loads of coffee and interesting conversation, it was time to head across to the conference.

I bumped into Liron and Zohar at the OTN lounge and walked over with them to watch Connor McDonald with “12 Things DBAs will love about in 12cR2”. We joined a big queue of people, which included Toon Koppelaars and Kim Berg Hansen, all waiting to get in…

Connor’s sessions are always great. It’s a pity he had to squeeze it into 45 minutes. The combination of his session and my chat with Chris Saxon yesterday have left me really looking forward to the 12cR2 on-premise release, regardless of when it gets released. 🙂

After grabbing some lunch, I headed across to watch Chris Saxon, Connor McDonald, Steven Feuerstein, Bryn Llewellyn and Michael Rosenblum in “Optimizing PL/SQL for Performance and Maintainability”. It was a panel session, I was there early and near the front, so I got picked to do microphone duties during the session. I was the person walking around passing the mic to people wanting to ask questions. 🙂


From there it was back at the OTN lounge where I chatted to a bunch of people, whilst blocking the gangway, then I headed back to the hotel.

I showed my face briefly at the Bloggers Party and found a new home for my Appreciation Event wristband. I got to have a quick chat with Sten Vesterli about his thoughts on the future of ADF, MAF and JET. I also got to have a quick catch-up with Mike Dietrich, who I see eye-to-eye with on a bunch of subjects. 🙂

From there is was back to the hotel, where I spent the next few hours on the laptop dealing with some work, community and website issues that have been building up in my absence…

Tomorrow is the last day of OpenWorld and my last day in San Francisco!



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : Tuesday – Day 2

Day 2 started a little late for me. I was up early, but I logged in to work and had to do a few things. Once I had got through that I headed down to the conference…

On the way there I bumped into Ronald Bradford and we hit the exhibition hall together. We stopped by the SolarWinds stand and noticed a “Deploy Faster” sticker. Part of the promotion for the Girls Who Code Foundation. If you see one, take a selfie with it and tweet it using the #DevelopersRule hashtag. That will get them a $10 donation!

From there I moved across to the demo grounds and made a nuisance of myself with Jeff Smith, Kris Rice and David Peake at the SQL Developer, ORDS and APEX stands…

After that I headed off to watch Dad do his Real-World Performance Group session. Unfortunately the session was full and they wouldn’t let me in. I tried both the, “Don’t you know who I am?”, and, “I just want to see my Dad speak!”, lines, but neither worked… Instead I headed back down to the demo ground to annoy more people. 🙂

I watched the start of Larry’s keynote on a big screen outside, then went down to the keynote room itself to see the second half of it. I’ve not watched a keynote live for years…

I bumped into Liron Amitzi and we spent a little time brainstorming ideas for the British Columbia Oracle User Group (BCOUG). I’ll write a separate post about that…

I met up with Chris Saxon and we discussed 12cR2 PL/SQL and SQL features. He had already done a session on it, so he gave me a quick run through. From there I headed off to watch him and Connor in “Ask Tom Live with Chris Saxon and Connor McDonald”. It was a really fun session!

A quick chat with Y.V RaviKumar and Oren Nakdimon, then I headed back to the hotel and that was Day 2 over…



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 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!