I just completed another great training session held by the Oracle User Experience (UX) team. I am privileged to be part of the Oracle Fusion User Experience Advocates team, so Oracle is putting a lot of effort into teaching us about Fusion UX.
One of the topics was the new Financials demo that we learned to give. So now, I can play the part of accounting manager at Vision Operations…
While the General Accounting Dashboard is nice, the really mind-blowing part of the Financials part of Fusion apps is the way it uses the ADF desktop integration features. This means that you can seamlessly download your journal into Excel on your desktop, work with the data and then upload it back into your ERP system. As I know business people, they’re gonna love this!
If you want to see what the financials part of Fusion Applications look like, feel free to send me a mail.
Oracle lists more than 200 new features in WebLogic 12c - unfortunately, I don’t get to use them.
The improvements fall in two main categories:
Management, Performance and High Availability (HA)
Java EE 6
As a developer, management and high availability is “somebody else’s problem” - I appreciate the work my app server admin does, but it doesn’t affect the code I write to meet business needs. I welcome performance improvements as much as the next guy - but I want them to be transparent and not force me to code for a specific performance feature of a specific app server.
I would really like to be able to utilize the new features in JEE6, but for the time being, this is restricted to “pure” Java programming. As an Oracle Fusion Middleware developer using various parts of the FMW stack, I will have to wait for my beloved Application Development Framework to be supported on WebLogic 12c. I hope the wait will be short!
As an Oracle Partner, you cannot escape the relentless push from Oracle to become “specialized” in one or more Oracle products.
If the purpose of this program had been to ensure that partners actually know what they’re talking about, I would have been all in favor. But unfortunately, the main purpose of the program seems to be to push Oracle partners to sell more Oracle software. The specialization requirements include demonstrating some knowledge (a good thing), but also selling a specific number of licenses each year (not necessarily a good thing).
A systems integrator like Scott/Tiger doesn’t sell very much software. Instead, we integrate and ensure that the customer is successful with the Oracle software he or she has. We’re just as much a part of the Oracle ecosystem as companies selling licenses - but Oracle’s “specialization” message effectively tells us to peddle some software or go away.
Oracle announced a number of cloud offerings at Oracle Openworld. However, as is often the case with OpenWorld announcements, we are still waiting for actual products to materialize.
The first cloud offering likely to appear as a real product is the Oracle Database Cloud Service. This is because Oracle has already been running this service for free at apex.oracle.com. The only difference I expect is that it will now have a monthly fee and the wording about not using it for production purposes will be removed.
The Oracle Java Cloud Service is still pending and we probably won’t see it until 2012.
For both of these cloud services, Oracle has apparently not worked out the pricing yet. This supports the hypothesis that Oracle felt they had to rush something with a “cloud” moniker to market at OpenWorld, but they don’t really know what their value proposition is yet. Oracle has a history of building great software products, but tends to attach “enterprise” (= very high) price tags to them, pricing them out of reach of 90% of the market. Since the technical cloud offerings should appeal to the wider market, it will be interesting to see if Oracle gets it right this time.
With social computing, cloud and mobile being the big buzzwords in IT right now, it makes sense to ask where Oracle is in relation to these hot topics. Having attended various briefings, sessions and keynotes at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld, and discussing with knowledgeable people, I’ll offer my opinion below.
First, does Oracle get social? Well, they’re paying it lip service with Larry Ellison demonstrating social features in Fusion Applications. But they don’t really understand that users already have Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ - and adding yet another social network inside your enterprise application is unlikely to take off. Oracle has hinted that Oracle Data Service might allow you integrate information from other social networks, but that’s still vaporware. And since Oracle has both a suite of proprietary social applications and an OpenSocial product, their strategy in the social space is still unclear. Grade: D
Next, does Oracle get cloud? Not completely, but they are moving in the right direction with the cloud offerings announced an OpenWorld. However, this is still vaporware, and if the thrice-announced Fusion Applications is anything to go by, it will take a while before this offering actually materializes. All we know right now is that they are moving from the usual paid-up-front perpetual licenses to monthly licensing - but that’s still a long way from the hourly billing of a real elastic cloud service. Grade: C
Finally, does Oracle get mobile? Definitely, yes. Many demos included iPads for running enterprise applications, though it is still done using a Safari web browser. But they are working on a mobile container to be installed on your mobile device, which would allow much better integration with other apps and native widgets on your mobile device. Grade: B
Well, the hardware part has been announced - more big iron from Oracle: Exalytics specialized BI box, big data appliance and yet another “plug in and forget” database appliance. Interestingly, Oracle is offering R (the open source statistics package/language) in a licensed enterprise version together with the Big Data box - clearly, they’re going after a slice of the lucrative SAS market.
On the Java and Open Source side, I believe Oracle is starting to get up to speed as champion of the Java language with JavaFX 2.0 announcements, proper support for Mac OSX and the Java EE 7 and Java SE 8 roadmaps.
This morning, I’ll be at the keynote as part of the Fusion Nation - about 500 Fusion Applications evangelists wearing characteristic red vests. If you want to know about Fusion Applications, stop one of the guys or girls wearing these vests.
Tomorrow, at 9 am, right after the big party tonight, I’ll be giving my tools overview presentation. So if you are wondering if you should stay with Oracle Forms, where APEX is a good fit or when you should use ADF, come by the Marriot Marquis Golden Gate B room to hear “Choose Your Weapon: An Overview of Oracle Development Tools”.
After two days of ACE Director briefings at Oracle HQ, I’m starting the conference today with a presentation in the very first slot: 9.00 am in Moscone West room 2000. My topic is “Starting an Enterprise Oracle ADF Project”, and it covers the material in my book (slightly abbreviated - 60 minutes can really cover the same as 400 pages).
I thought this would be a dull year at OpenWorld, but after the confidential briefings last week, I have had to change my mind. Since I’m under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (maybe the lawyers do run Oracle…), I can’t share any information right now - but do follow the blogs and announcements from Oracle this week.
Oracle is currently killing off their web sites, yanking lots of useful content off the web with little or no warning. Both the Oracle Wiki and usableapps.oracle.com died this week, and all Oracle can offer by way of explanation is vague noises about maybe something else will come later.
The death of the Oracle Wiki without a replacement further detracts from Oracle’s already not too high standing in the Enterprise 2.0 space. Oracle is proudly claiming to use their own databases and applications, but apparently don’t feel that Oracle WebCenter is up to the task of running their wiki.
Even more mysterious is that UsableApps was taken down. Given the fact that usability is the KEY selling point of Fusion Applications, it’s baffling that the site that showcased Oracle’s work in usability and giving credence to Oracle’s claims of superior usability in Fusion Apps has vanished.
This is very strange behavior for a company that used to call itself “the information company” - but maybe the lawyers that run Oracle have decided it’s safer to replace all of Oracles websites with safe harbor statements?
I’m just back from the ODTUG Kscope11 conference in Long Beach, where I presented my regular tools overview presentation, a WebCenter session, an enterprise ADF development session and an ADF tuning session as well as various panels.
One thing I noticed very clearly is that almost all the non-Oracle presenters in the Fusion Middleware track were from outside the U.S. For example, the Lunch and Learn panel on Fusion Middleware consisted of
Guido Schmutz (ACE Director, Switzerland)
Sten Vesterli (ACE Director, Denmark)
Ronald van Luttikhuizen (ACE Director, Netherlands)
Chris Muir (ACE Director, Australia)
In Scott/Tiger, we are busy with ADF development, and I know from my ACE Director friends in Europe that they are also working on ADF and SOA projects.
Is nobody in the U.S. actually using Fusion Middleware? Or are they just not talking about it?
The important discussion where to use APEX and where to use ADF tends to get bogged down in an unproductive argument about the relative merits of PL/SQL or Java. However, this is not really the most important factor that should drive your decision.
Instead, you must first determine if your application is
User interface driven
A data-driven application is one where the data structure determines the user interface. Existing Oracle Forms applications tend to fall into this category, and if you only want to do a one-to-one replacement of a Forms application, the wizard-driven, browser-based approach of APEX works well.
A user interface driven application is one that starts from a set of requirements to support a work process. This is typically the case for new application development, or where an existing Oracle Forms application is being redesigned. User interface driven applications are typically specified with detailed screen designs that are easier to implement with the flexible architecture of ADF.
If you are in Norway for the OUGN spring conference, you can hear me talk on this topic in the presentation called “APEX or ADF? From Requirements to Tool Choice”.