OOW2K5: The numbers game
Yesterday I finally got to see Steven Feuerstein (Whom God Preserve) in action. It's 10 years since O'Reilly published the first edition of PL/SQL Programming, which made me feel very old as I bought that version. In fact I was the first kid on my block to have it. Afterwards I decided the time had come to upgrade at the Conference bookshop; I indulged the fan in me and asked Steven to autograph it. Today I court hubris by appearing at the OTN "Meet the Experts" session with Steven and Bryn Llewellyn (PL/SQL product manager). I think we ought to call it, You don't have to be bald to code PL/SQL but it helps. If you're reading this before 10:30am Tuesday 20, come along to the OTN Lounge in Moscone West.
I went to see Kent Graziano's presentation because the title seemed like a Zen paradox: Agile Methods and Data Warehousing. The Agile crowd (Scott Ambler notwithstanding) seem to have a strong antipathy towards databases of any sort so it's not surprising that Kent has had some stick from them over his interpretation of Agile practices. However I think his position is correct. As I have said elsewhere a lot of XP methods are very sensible and can deliver results. So what is wrong with refactoring the definitions to fit different sorts of projects. Agile practioners stress the importance of customer input but they only regard business people as customers. But what is wrong with saying that a BI Report programmer is a customer for an ETL process? Anyway, Kent's presentation has certainly given me some hope that it is possible to apply Agile methods even to apparently glacier-like projects such as datawarehouses.
Juan Loaiza's talk on the future of IT and databases turned out to be a discussion of Oracle's strategy for the next few years. The key messages are Total Integration, Agile Resilience and Unlimited, Unbreakable Platform. Not surprisingly the key technology is the Grid. Oracle have really pressed ahead with this: having grid-enabled the app server and the database they are now working on extending the grid to the storage layer. Fortunately for the SAN manufacturers none of the other database vendors seem to be following Oracle down the database grid road. Oracle's own E-Business suite is run on a single multi-node cluster with 288 CPUs. Of course they need all that crunch because they're running their BI and analytical programs in the same database as the OLTP applications. Now that's eating your own dogfood.
In the evening I tried to enhance my geek factor by attending the Linux Installfest. However, I'm afraid I bailed out when the kernel guys started and went in search of wine. Sorry, Todd. I resisted Laurent Schneider's urging to take the DBA Hot Seat test. This turned out to be a wise decision. I haven't really been a DBA since 8i and as most of the questions seemed to be about 10g features (especially Flashback and ASM) I would have ended up with only a promo T-Shirt, of which I have enough already.
Mind you, walking back to the hotel I could have done with a slogan T-Shirt. The sidewalks were pretty empty apart from the people sleeping on them. The slogan? "I'm not a criminal, I'm walking because I'm English".