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Floyd Teter

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Watching the current trends and future direction of Oracle's Applicationsfteterhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11221041028141787708noreply@blogger.comBlogger380125
Updated: 13 hours 36 min ago

Bringing Clarity To The Avalanche - Part II

Wed, 2014-10-08 12:35
You had to be hiding under a rock (with no cell or internet service) to miss out on the fact that Oracle was trumpeting cloud messages throughout OpenWorld.  Far too much news for one person to track. So I'd like to approach discussing this in a very different way.

Today, I'm simply putting up a link to the best Oracle press release on recent cloud announcements.  The release touts the six new platform services for Oracle Cloud.  You can find it here.  This is the "sneak peek", made especially for those of you who think I'm too slow about writing things.  Heck, I'm much faster than George RR Martin, but anything to keep ya'all happy...

UPDATE:  So the highlights for me all have to do with PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service)...30,000 devices, 400 pedabytes of storage, 19 data centers around the globe...whew.

I had the opportunity to work hands-on with the Mobile Cloud, which puts development, deployment and administration onto one user interface (yup, it's the Oracle Alta UI).  Built a mobile app in about 30 minutes.  More on that in a subsequent post.

The Integration Cloud also looks exciting.  Yes, there are other integration service providers (Boomi comes immediately to mind), but working on integration of Oracle products on an Oracle platform offers some pretty unique possibilities.

The Process Cloud looks promising, especially if we will eventually be able to extend Oracle packaged applications with custom, cloud-based business processes.

Those are my big three highlights.  How about you?

Bringing Clarity To The Avalanche Part 1 - OOW14

Tue, 2014-10-07 15:50
Since the prior post here, I've had some people ask why I compared Oracle OpenWorld this year to an avalanche.  Well, to be honest, there are two reasons.  First, it was certainly an avalanche of news. You can check all the Oracle press releases related to the conference here (warning: it's pages and pages of information).  Second, I'm tired of using the analogy of sipping or drinking from a firehose...time to try something new.

So let's talk about some User Experience highlights from the conference.  Why am I starting with UX?  Because I like it and it's my blog ;)

Alta UI

OK, let's be clear.  Alta is more of a user interface standard than a full UX, as it focuses strictly on UI rather than the entire user experience.  That being said, it's pretty cool.  It's a very clean and simplified look, and applies many lessons learned through Oracle's (separate) UX efforts.  I could blab on and on about Oracle Alta, but you can learn about it for yourself here.

Beacons

We all love gadgets.  I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at some of the "projects that aren't quite products yet" in the works at the Oracle UX Labs.  Beacons are a big part of that work.  Turns out that the work has already progress beyond mere gadgetry.  The beacons were used to help guide me from station to station within the event space - this booth is ready for you now.  The AppsLab team talks about beacons on a regular basis.  I'm much more sold now on the usefulness to beacon technology than I was before OOW.  This was one of the better applications I've seen at the intersection of Wearables and the Internet of Things.

Simplified UI

I like the concepts behind Simplified UI because well-designed UX drives user acceptance and increases productivity.  Simplified UI was originally introduced for Oracle Cloud Applications back when they were known as Fusion Applications.  But now we're seeing Simplified UI propagating out to other Oracle Applications.  We now see Simplified UI patterns applied to the E-Business Suite, JD Edwards and PeopleSoft.  Different underlying technology for each, but the same look and feel.  Very cool to see the understanding growing within Oracle development that user experience is not only important, but is a value-add product in and of itself.

Simplified UI Rapid Development Kit

Simplified UI is great for Oracle products, but what if I want to extend those products.  Or, even better, what if I want to custom-build products with the same look and feel?  Well, Oracle has made it easy for me to literally steal...in fact, they want me to steal...their secret sauce with the Simplified UI Rapid Development Kit.  Yeah, I'm cheating a bit.  This was actually released before OOW.  But most folks, especially Oracle partners, were unaware prior to the conference.  If I had a nickel for every time I saw a developer's eyes light up over this at OOW, I'd could buy my own yacht and race Larry across San Francisco Bay.  Worth checking out if you haven't already.

Student Cloud

I'll probably get hauled off to the special prison Oracle keeps for people who toy with the limits of their NDA for this, but it's too cool to keep to myself.  I had the opportunity to work hands-on with an early semi-functional prototype of the in-development Student Cloud application for managing Higher Education continuing education students.  The part that's cool:  you can see great UX design throughout the application.  Very few clicks, even fewer icons, a search-based navigation architecture, and very, very simple business processes for very specific use cases.  I can't wait to see and hear reactions when this app rolls out to the Higher Education market.

More cool stuff next post...

Clarity In The Avalanche

Mon, 2014-10-06 10:04
So I've spent the days since Oracle OpenWorld 14 decompressing...puttering in the garden, BBQing for family, running errands.  The idea was to give my mind time to process all the things I saw and heard at OOW this year.  Big year - it was like trying to take a sip from a firehose.  Developing any clarity around the avalanche of news has been tough.

If you average out all of Oracle's new product development, it comes to a rate of one new product release every working day of the year.  And I think they saved up bunches for OOW. It was difficult to keep up.

It was also difficult to physically keep up with things at OOW, as Oracle utilized the concept of product centers and spread things out over even more of downtown San Francisco this year. For example, Cloud ERP products were centered in the Westin on Market Street.  Cloud HCM was located at the Palace Hotel.  Sales Cloud took over the 2nd floor of Moscone West.  Higher Education focused around the Marriott Marquis. Anything UX, as well as many other hands-on labs, happened at the InterContinental Hotel.  And, of course, JavaOne took place at the Hilton on Union Square along with the surrounding area.  The geographical separation required even more in the way of making tough choices about where to be and when to be there.

With all that, I think I've figured out a way to organize my own take on the highlights from OOW - with a tip o' the hat to Oracle's Thomas Kurian.  Thomas sees Oracle as based around five product lines:  engineered systems, database, middleware, packaged applications, and cloud services. The more I consider this framework, the more it makes sense to me.  So my plan is to organize the news from OOW around these five product lines over the next few posts here.  We'll see if we can't find some clarity in the avalanche.

Good UX - Don't Leave Home Without It

Tue, 2014-09-30 16:56
There was a time when I asserted that User Experience would be a differentiator for Oracle in selling Fusion Applications.  Lots has changed since then, so I think it’s time to change my own thinking.  What’s changed?


  • Oracle has a cloud platform
  • Fusion Applications is now Cloud Application Services
  • We’re seeing well-designed user experiences throughout Oracle’s offerings: Simplified UI in moving into the Applications Unlimited products, and is also evident throughout Oracle’s cloud services offerings.
  • Other enterprise application software companies now see the value of a well-designed user experience.  Look at the transition at Infor.  Check ADP’s announcement from earlier today.  Even the brand-W company that cannot be named recently released software that is a straight clone of Oracle’s Simplified UI.

OpenWorld has only reinforced my opinion.  Everyone here - Oracle product teams, Oracle partners, 3rd-party product providers - everyone is talking about and offering an enhanced UX.

So, I don’t consider good user experience design as a differentiator anymore.  I now see it as a necessity.  Enterprise software applications vendors must offer well-design UI to even have a seat at the table.

But what about custom-developed applications?  Good user experience still required.  You can’t expect user adoption without it.  In fact, I see the tools that facilitate good user experience design to be value-added products in and of themselves.


Good UX.  Don’t leave home without it.

Plea For Tight Messages - OOW14

Tue, 2014-09-30 14:02
It’s so easy to lose track of time at Oracle OpenWorld.  I think I’m writing this on Tuesday, but can’t say for sure…

Lots of information being shared here:  incremental development of Simplified UI, a myriad of new cloud services announced (including a very cool Integration Cloud Service), new features for MySQL, new mobile applications for the E-Business Suite, Eloqua services for Higher Education, a visualization-oriented UI for OBIEE (and saw a very cool new visualization UI from the UX team, but I can’t talk about that yet), some interesting uses of Beacons…it’s like drinking from a firehose and darn near drowning in the attempt.  Info overload.

One of the cool things one gets to see at OOW: the rise of new third-party applications that improve and enhance Oracle products..  On Monday, I had the opportunity to sit down with the brain trust behind Xprtly!  What impressed me the most is the focus of their message - they’ve got it down to four slides (including a title).  Take a look and see if you get it.







So why do I bring this up?  Go back and read the second paragraph.  We’re all on information overload here.  The virtual noise level is incredible.  Tight, focused messages cut through the noise and get the point across.  Wish we saw more of this approach here…

The Best Question So Far

Mon, 2014-09-29 11:58
So I was in a session here at OOW14 on “User Group Sunday” when one of the attendees asked what I consider to be the best question I’ve heard in a long, long time.

If the Oracle Cloud is so wonderful, why haven’t all of Oracle customers moved to it already?

Great, great question.   Goes straight to the heart of one of Oracle’s primary messages.  The answer played out as something close to what follows:

1.  The cloud - services model is still relatively immature within the Oracle ecosystem.  Some elements of Oracle’s pricing and execution in the services model are still being worked out.  And that will take some time, mostly because human beings typically don’t change behavior at the drop of a hat…regardless of where they work.  It’s still a work in progress, so many customers are taking a “wait and see” approach while things work themselves out.

2.  Services revenue, while growing, only constitutes about five percent of Oracle’s revenue at the moment.  Cloud services are still a relatively new thing in the Oracle  world.  Not every customer is ready to be on the leading edge, especially in light of their own corporate culture.

3.  It’s tough to move customizations to the cloud.  There’s no secret sauce to make it easy.  Some heavily-customized customers have many customization to reconsider before they’ll be ready to take advantage of cloud services.  The same could be said for data - many customers have significant data clean-up efforts required to be cloud-ready.  Again, there’s no secret sauce for this.

4.  Lack of control, sometime expressed as a concern over data security.  In a public cloud in particular, a customer’s servers are no longer under their control.  Ditto for data storage.  While that makes some customers nervous, I’d suggest those concerns be balanced by two thoughts:  A) Oracle is probably better at protecting your data than you are.  Protecting data is part of their core business.  Most Oracle customers do not generate revenue or profits by protecting data; B) Citing Oracle’s Thomas Kurian:  “most customers would rather use enterprise applications than run enterprise applications.”  Moving to the new model requires customers to let go of running the applications - for most customers, the economics alone make that a good thing.


It’s a funny thing.  Cloud services offer some pretty significant benefits: relief from the maintenance associated with running enterprise applications, the capability to be more agile in development, the flexibility to quickly scale up and down as computing requirements change.  Lots of benefits available in cloud application services.  What’s holding customers back from getting those benefits for themselves comes down to two overarching theme:  1) challenges in their own mindset or corporate culture; 2) the state of their data or architecture.  That seems to be it, unless I’m missing something.  And, if I am, you can tell me in the comments.

Oracle Cloud - Keeping Your Perspective

Sat, 2014-09-27 23:54
The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”
             - Douglas Adams, The Salamander of Doubt: Hitchhiking The Galaxy One Last Time

Oracle OpenWorld kicks off tomorrow.  My thoughts are with all the folks struggling through the mess that is the U.S. transportation system right now.  That mess in Chicago has really rippled throughout the country.  Hope ya'all keep your perspective and that things work out to get everyone here without too much trouble.

Many of the messages coming from Oracle over the next few days will have to do with the Oracle Cloud.  Oracle has strategically committed to darn near everything as a service (service offerings being a subset of most cloud definitions, but pretty synonymous with "Oracle Cloud" at the moment).  With Oracle adding a new offering at the rate of one per working day (yeah, really), it's easy to get lost in it all.  It's tough to keep things in perspective.

So I've got a nifty chart I found to help ya'all keep it all straight (wish I could remember where I found it so I could give proper credit...but, alas, as you age the memory is the first thing to go).  This should be a pretty spiffy reference too help keep things in perspective during OpenWorld and even thereafter.  Here ya go...



Simple Solutions Do Not Equal Easy Builds

Sun, 2014-09-14 18:28
Am I the only one that often tries to make solutions far more difficult than needed?  My first approach to any challenge is likely the most complicated thing I could create.  For example, I was working on something with Oracle Apex last week.  Came up with what I thought was a nifty new feature and started building.  After the equivalent of several hundred lines of code, I had something that worked...just not as well as I hoped.

After sitting back and letting things percolate...with a bit of cussing and fussing...I wound up deleting everything I'd built for that nifty new feature.  Replaced it with about two minutes of work.  The replacement was probably the equivalent of 25 or 30 lines of code.  And now the feature worked exactly as I hoped.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I could complicate a ball bearing if given the opportunity to go off and running with the first ideas that pop into my head.

My point in all this...simple solutions do not equal easy builds, at least when it comes to building solutions.  It takes brain power to refine ideas and initial concepts into simple, elegant solutions.

Full Disclosure

Thu, 2014-09-11 17:16
Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing plenty of information relating to Oracle OpenWorld.  Mostly on this blog or via my Twitter account (@fteter).  As always, I try to share information in an accurate and a positive way.  I'm an Oracle fan, but I always try to balance that with accuracy and honesty.  In that spirit, it's important for me to make some disclosures about my attendance at OOW14.

I'm attending on "The King's Shilling".  Oracle generously covers travel costs for Oracle ACE Directors attending OOW and JavaOne, and I'm fortunate enough to be included in that community.  In addition, I've received a complimentary press pass to both OOW and JavaOne.  Yes, I am very appreciative - I freely admit that I'm a lucky guy in this regard.

Does Oracle's magnanimous funding of my OOW attendance buy them influence in regards to my opinions?  No.  And, so far as I can tell, Oracle has no expectations of influencing my opinions with their funding.  In fact, it's usually just the opposite - they've encouraged me to be honest in my opinions.  Frankly, I think they'd boot my big bottom out of the conference and ACE Director program if I were anything but honest in my opinions.

So I'll continue to be honest in sharing information relating to OOW14.  But, in the interests of transparency and fairness, I thought ya'all should be aware of the relationship.

Nobody Bunts With Two Strikes

Fri, 2014-09-05 13:14
Once upon a time, I coached a young women's fast pitch softball team.  Big adventure, as most of my coaching experience is with baseball, and I really enjoyed it.  One game, the opposing team's catcher was hitting with two outs and two strikes.  I shouted out to my team to stop covering the bunt - nobody bunts with two strikes (because a foul ball off a bunt attempt is strike three).  So my team's infield draw back.  Then the catcher bunts, laughing at me all as she jogs down to first base with a clean infield hit.  Yeah, I ate some serious humble pie.  And I learned to never bet on the past as an absolute limitation on possibilities for the present and future.

Today I know enterprise application developers who take the attitude that they've never had to worry about the user before, so why start now?  Hold that thought for a moment...

I've really enjoyed the unfolding story at Infor.  Their tag line is "Beautiful business software for your business processes."  Infor has baked the concept of beautiful design into their corporate culture, even so far as to invest in design firm Hook and Loop to drive design as a part of their corporate culture.  Infor actually considers design as a product and corporate differentiator.  Seems to be working for them.  $3B in annual revenue growing at a 40%+ clip is nothing to sneeze at.  And I suspect a bit of that success comes from the emphasis on User Experience design brought to Infor by CEO and Oracle alum Charles Phillips.

Oracle?  Yup.  The UX team at Oracle has proven that user experience design is a differentiating factor in the marketplace.  Simplified UI has played well with potential Fusion/Cloud customers.  So well, in fact, that the E-Business Suite is now adopting Simplified UI.  And the PeopleTools team seems to have enabled the adoption of many Simplified UI design patterns with the 8.54 release.  And that UX team continues to innovate with improved user experiences (which is much more than just UI) utilizing Fusion Middleware.

Oracle, Infor, Workday, SAP...they've all embraced the concept (admittedly, some more than others) that beautiful design sells while not-so-beautiful design is a competitive hinderance.

Now, let's consider that thought again.  "I've never had to worry about the user before, so why start now?"  Yeah, and nobody bunts with two strikes.

Thoughts? Opinions?  Find the comments.



OpenWorld - Absorb and Adapt

Thu, 2014-09-04 15:21
It's September.  Which means the marketing and sales nirvana that is Oracle OpenWorld is upon us.

OOW is a big show...one person simply cannot take it all in.  You have to "pick your spots".

In the spirit of my previous blog post, my focus at OOW this year is on absorbing and adapting.  I'm up to my eyeballs in a new market with Higher Education, and I'm still learning about those customers.  So that's my overall filter going into OOW - soaking up the information relevant to Higher Ed.  Means I'll be spend quite a bit of time at the Marriott Marquis, as that's where the Higher Ed events are taking place.  I'm specifically checking for news and messaging on:
  • Oracle's upcoming Student Cloud and Higher Education Cloud offerings - especially news on the post-award Grants Management functionality under development for Oracle's Fusion Project Portfolio Management applications suite.
  • How Simplified UI will be applied to Student Cloud
  • Oracle Business Intelligence, especially Student Information Analytics
  • The future, if any, for Informatica and Oracle BI - because so many colleges and universities use Informatica with Oracle BI today
  • The upcoming release of Campus Solutions 9.2
  • Mobile, especially in regards to the future direction of Campus Solutions Mobile and Oracle's Mobile Applications Foundation
I'll likely do some digging into some favorite areas as well, such as the EBS tech stack and new developments with Oracle ADF.  Might even do some digging into the latest info on the Oracle BPM Suite if the opportunity arises.

What I learn at OOW will probably set my direction for research, presentations, etc. for the coming year...that's the "adapt" part.

Only one presentation for me this year.  So I'll put in a plug for it right now.  I'm sitting on a panel for:

General Session: Oracle’s Future in Higher Education (GEN7628)
Tuesday, Sep. 30, 10:15-11:45 AM – Marriott Marquis – Golden Gate C3



Swing by and introduce yourself if you get a chance, especially if you're a customer or have an interest in Higher Ed.

One last thing:  I'm always interested in how others manage their time at OOW.  So find the comments and let us know what you're hoping to gain from OOW this year.

Adapt - Learn New Things

Thu, 2014-08-21 16:56
Nothing lasts forever.  Sand-piles crumble.  Companies rise and fall.  Relationships change.  Markets come and go.  It’s just the nature of things.  Adapt or die.  Personally, I like this feature of life…can’t imagine anything worse than stagnation.  There’s nothing better to me than exploring and learning new things.

As Oracle continues their push into cloud-based enterprise applications, we’re seeing some of that fundamental change play out in the partner community; with both partner companies and with the individuals who make up the partners.  This is especially true with the technology-based services partners.  Companies have merged or faded away.  Individuals, many of whom have stellar reputations within the partner and customer communities, have accepted direct employment with Oracle or moved into other technology eco-systems.

Why the big change?  Frankly, it’s because the cloud doesn’t leave much room for the traditional offerings of those technology-based services partners.  As we shift from on-premise to cloud, the need for those traditional offerings are drying up.  Traditional installations, patching, heavy custom development…all those things seem headed the way of the buggy-whip in the enterprise applications space.  It’s time to adapt.

As a guy involved in providing services and complimentary products myself, I’ve watched this change unfold over the past few years with more than a little self-interest and excitement - hey, ya gotta pay the bills, right?  As a result, I’ve identified three adaptation paths for individuals involved with services in the Oracle technology-based eco-system:

1.  Leave.  Find another market where your skills transfer well and take the leap.  This isn’t a bad option at all, especially if you’ve developed leadership and/or “soft skills”.  Believe it or not, there’s a big world outside the Oracle eco-system.

2.  Play the long tail.  The base of traditional, on-premise work will not disappear over night.  It’s shrinking, granted, but it’s a huge base even while shrinking.  I also think there will be a big uptick in small, lightweight projects with traditional footprints that will compliment large cloud-based enterprise application systems (for further information, see “Oracle Apex”).

3.  Learn new things.  Apply your background to build skills in new technologies.  If you’re an Oracle DBA or systems administrator (two skillets that are rapidly merging into one), dig into Oracle Enterprise Manager…and remember that private clouds will continue to flourish with Oracle’s larger customers.  If you’re a developer, begin building skills in middle-tier integration - connecting cloud offerings in new and creative ways is very much an in-demand skill.  Or get smart with building light-weight complimentary applications (ADF, BPM, SOA) - especially mobile (MAF).  If you’re a business analyst or functional type, get familiar with Functional Setup Manager and the Oracle Composers.  Maybe get a solid understanding of User Experience and how you can apply UX in your job.  As a solution architect, I’ve spent a great deal of time learning how the various Oracle Cloud solutions work together from data, integration, business process, and information perspectives…and if I can do it, so can you!

Obviously, my approach has been to explore and learn new things relevant to the market changes.  The opportunities I saw for myself consisted of connecting things together and adding value around the edges.  It’s been a hoot so far and I’m nowhere near done yet.  YMMV.


With Oracle OpenWorld coming up as a huge opportunity to learn new things, it seemed timely to share these thoughts now.  So there you have it.  My worm’s eye view of how the Oracle partner market (or at least the Oracle technology-based services partner market) is changing.  Maybe I nailed it.  Maybe I’m all wet.  Either way, let me know what you think.

Blame It On The Drugs

Sat, 2014-08-16 17:21
Bronchitis.  I catch it a lot.  Rotten experience.  It's like an invisible elephant is sitting on your chest.  And the drugs are mind-numbing.  Got it now.  Shivering under a blanket in 90 degree weather.  But, it'll pass.  And, in the meantime, if I write something weird...well, let's blame it on the drugs, OK?

Had a chat with a dear old friend this week.  Middle-manager for a Fortune 500 corporation.  Big Oracle customer.  Lots of excitement brewing in his neck of the woods over all the money they'll save moving to "the cloud".  I thought it would be interesting to explore this further, so we did some very rough calculations on the back of a napkin.  Over the long run, those savings went out the window.  Have to admit, I knew how the conversation would turn out.  And I didn't mean to rain on his parade. Blame it on the drugs.

Big companies don't move to the cloud for long-term savings.  They move to increase agility in the face of rapidly-changing markets.  They move in order to refocus internal resources on profit centers rather than cost centers.  They move in order to complement existing systems without causing huge operational upset.  Smaller companies also move to cloud because the financial barriers to entry are lower - less of an upfront cost to get the same tools the big enterprises are using.  But long-term dollar-for-dollar savings...yeah, those numbers don't seem to play out.

So we wrapped up the conversation on cost savings with the tried-and-true "well, they've already made the decision that it will save us money, so we're moving ahead."  So I let that slide and we moved on to his excitement in learning something new (this will be his first cloud project).  So I asked the question:  "What kind of cloud?  Private, hosted, SaaS, hybrid...what are ya'all doing?"

Crickets.  Nothing.  Silence.  Now, I didn't mean to throw the guy another curveball.  I mean, he's my friend.  Compassion has to play in here somewhere, right?  But it happened.  Silence...maybe with a little edge of frustration.  Sorry.  Blame it on the drugs.

I get a little nervous when customers announce a commitment to "going to the cloud" without really understanding the benefits they can expect or how they plan to achieve those benefits.  It's putting the cart before the horse and wondering why things don't move forward.  Just makes no sense to me.

Don't get me wrong.  I think many enterprises have much to gain from considering a cloud approach for their enterprise IT.  I just think they should understand the basic concepts and know why they're taking the leap before they jump.  Different enterprises will come to different conclusions.

But I see it more and more as time goes by...people buying into the hype without really knowing why.  Then again, maybe it's my perspective that's off?  If so, blame it on the drugs.

A Quick Trip To The Mother Ship

Sun, 2014-08-03 15:11
The title of this post notwithstanding, I was not abducted by aliens last week.  Take off your tin-foil hat, it's all cool.  I spent a few days last week a few different teams at Oracle HQ, mostly digging into the progress of some cool new work in progress.  Thought I'd share what I learned.

One caveat before I start sharing.  My agreement with Oracle prevents me from talking about specific details and delivery dates.  Personally, I don't have much of a problem with that - product development news on Oracle's products is Oracle's news to share, if and when they decide to share it. Now that we're clear about that, let's get to the good stuff.

I was fortunate enough to have a good chunk of the brain trust from the Sierra-Cedar Oracle Higher Education Practice (that's the former Io Consulting group) with me:  Steve Kish, Elizabeth Malmborg, Anastasia Metros and Ted Simpson (yes, he of HEUG fame).  It was cool to watch them consider the new things coming for the Higher Education marketplace.  Gave me a measure of how the Higher Ed marketplace will respond.

Most of day one was spent with the leadership of the Oracle Higher Education development team, reviewing their progress in building the new Oracle Student Cloud product.  They're further along in the development lifecycle than I'd expected, which was a pleasant surprise.  And one thing became very clear to me as a result of the review:  planning to throw away PeopleSoft Campus Solutions should not be a part of anyone's short-term game plan.   Oracle Student Cloud is focused on offering a solution for managing continuing education.  Expectations are that early adopters of Oracle Student Cloud will be using the product as a value-added enhancement to the Campus Solutions product.

Don't get confused here.  Oracle has both the Oracle Student Cloud and the Oracle Higher Education Cloud in their development pipeline.  But we talking about two different products here with two different sets of target customers, development life cycles and different release dates.  The latter product will have a much larger focus than the former.

So, what's the best strategy for a higher ed institution that preserves their investment and offers maximum flexibility going forward?  Get to the latest release of whatever you're currently using, whether it's an Oracle product or not.  Make sure you're up to date - it's the best platform for moving forward.  And yes, there are other elements to the strategy as well, but that's not my main purpose for writing this particular post.

Day two was spent with the Oracle User Experience team.  Great stuff as usual.  A special thanks to Oracle's Michael LaDuke for putting the day together.  And it was fun to see the understanding of UX take shape in the minds of the Sierra-Cedar leadership team, especially during a discussion around wire framing practices.  We also some soon-to-be-released incremental progress with Simplified UI.  And, finally, we saw some cool new products in the works.  On this final note, it's pretty obvious that the UX team is now focused on innovating by applying Fusion Middleware technology to mobile use cases (both tablet and phone).  Saw some pretty good stuff with the potential for adding some high value to day-to-day business processing (both in terms of automation and collecting business intelligence).

I only got two days this trip...wasn't nearly enough.  The upshot?  Lots of cool stuff on the horizon.

Stitching Matters

Fri, 2014-07-18 09:49
photo credit to Deseret News Education Travel
Stitching matters.  Stitching holds disparate components and materials together in a form something close to what we had in mind as a solution to a problem. Could be clothes.  Could be wicker baskets.  In the tech world, stitching things together typically involves integrating components or services together into a unified solution.  And it matters. A lot.
I have a few applications on my mobile platforms that rely on integrated cloud storage services for saving my work.  Now, I've tried many cloud storage services. iCloud seems to be continually on the fritz for one reason or another.  Google Drive (or whatever they're calling it today) consumes CPU resources to the point that my devices start to smoke.  Dropbox has issues with losing data during sync. Box...well, they don't seem to really care about individual users anymore as they're not targeting enterprise users. Sky Drive, Live Drive, Hummingjay - you name it, I've probably tried it.  I finally settled on Copy: reliable, significant space for free, always working.
But, there's an issue with Copy.  Yup, you guessed it, no stitching.  I have yet to find spreadsheet, word processing, or presentation applications for mobile that integrate with Copy.  So I'll probably be moving back to Dropbox and leaving Copy...and backing up everything much more often.  Because I'd rather have a solution that works well some of the time than a solution that doesn't work at all.  Stitching matters.
Stitching is a differentiating factor in enterprise applications as well...especially if we're talking about SaaS.  From my worm's eye view of the enterprise applications market, I don't see many customers buying everything from a single SaaS vendor.  It's usually a mix of on-premise and SaaS, often involving multiple vendors. But those customers want unification across the enterprise:  single sign-on, single data source, consistent look and feel, a single business process, and so on.  So one of the bigger challenges in SaaS becomes stitching.  Not just doing it, but doing it well enough to meet expectations.  Stitching matters.
So when someone asks me for advice on choosing a SaaS provider, I always suggest that (among other things) potential buyers consider the stitching.  What integration comes pre-built out of the box?  Do the APIs and integration points comply with industry standards for SOAP and/or REST and/or JMS?  Are there cloud integration services available from the SaaS provider or a partner?  What stitching is available to handle larger data loads?  Can you do those data loads yourself or does the SaaS provider insist on doing them for you?  How about services integration with mobile platforms?  If the stitching doesn't meet your specific needs, will the SaaS provider assist?  If so, at what cost?  Stitching matters.
Now down to what Oracle has in regards to stitching ('cause Oracle is what I write about here).  It seems like Oracle is doing really well with service-based integration and application co-existence as their Cloud Application Services (aka Fusion Applications) continues to evolve.  
We're seeing an expansion of APIs and pre-built integrations, especially utilizing REST.  Both inbound and outbound integration of very light and simple data loads looks good as well.  The stitching in these areas looks pretty good.
Inbound and outbound integration for large and complex data loads, on the other hand, has some room for growth.  The tools are there, but the processes involved in using those tools in Oracle's Cloud still have some evolving of their own to accomplish.  But it'll get there.  Because Oracle's leadership knows: stitching matters.