Wednesday, November 15, 2006

UKOUG 2006: Day Two

Having arrived at the ICC way too early I steeled myself to attend the keynotes. Ronan Miles, the Old Master, confounded my expectations by not pronouncing this conference as the biggest and best ever, as he had done every year since I started attending. In fact he seemed slightly concerned about it. He wants everybody's opinion on the four day conference (after Friday). Next year's conference is also going to be four days long so I think it is important that everybody contribute (constructive) observations and suggestions for improving the structure of the 2007 event.

Ian Smith (wearing brown shoes in town, tsk tsk) gave a very polished speech - from a teleprompt - on the future of applications. Which boils down to Fusion With Choice. Oracle Apps under the Fusion brand will be the main way ahead but Oracle will continue to maintain and enhance PeopleSoft, JDEdwards and Seibel, on DB2 and MSSQL, for the long term. Apparently JDE World A9.1 will be the first new version of that product since 1998. Guess the users must like it. There were a few words that recurred through Ian's speech. See if you can spot a pattern: integrated; consolidated; coherent; focused; sincere; passionate; standards-based. There was a digression on Web 2.0 but I'm not sure quite how that applies to ERP applications. I mean, just what Sarbanes-Oxley compliance is possible in Wikipedia or MySpace?

Exhibition Hall

The exhibition hall opened today. Hurrah! But nobody seemed to be giving away promotional T-Shirts. Alas! But Oracle University were. Hurrah! So I will be sporting an their T-Shirt tomorrow. I was right that nobody was giving away promotional socks, although I may have planted the idea in the minds of the folks on the OU stand.

After Open World the hall seems terribly small and sedate.


I chaired four sessions today. The first was Tom Kyte talking about Instrumentation 101. For the benefit of anybody who hasn't experienced the American education system, 101 means an Introductory course. Instrumentation is embedding trace and debug messages in our applications from the word go. Specifically it means having a debug message after every line of "real" code, with the ability to easily switch things on and off. Tom covered DBMS_APPLICATION_INFO, SQL Trace, DBMS_MONITOR and auditing. No mention of DBMS_OUTPUT. Strange that.

After lunch I facilitated (dread word) the Tools Round Table. It quickly became obvious that almost everybody had turned up to give Grant Ronald a hard time about the future of Forms. So we had just the one big circle rather than several separate tables. Once we had got the FOF question out of the way the conversation roamed widely over the various options for developing applications. I was interested to hear from Mike Hichwa that the Chicago Police Dept are running a system with hundreds of multi-page modules for thousands of users, all built out of ApEx. That's an enterprise level tool. We had the traditional bashing of Java developers over the question of whether business logic belongs in the database or the middle tier. But the session finished with Sten Vesterli advocating the need for communication and understanding between javaheads and database people.

The third session was Hugh Darwen on The Importance Of Column Names. This was an entertaining dissection of the third most severe mistake in SQL (after nulls and duplicate rows). It was a (revised) version of a keynote Hugh gave to the Ingres User Group a few years back, which is probably why it contained a blatent plug for Ingres as an open source database. Amongst many things he said that may strike some people as controversial was this gem:
"It is debatable whether a 'nanny state' attitude is appropriate for a computer language."

This was in the context of SELECT * being a bug. As Hugh points out, the problem really lies with the way people implement their FETCHes.

From the theoretical to the down-and-dirty technical. All the chip geeks turned out for James Morle speaking on Database System Architectures For The Commodity Age. I'm not sure I entirely understood the relevance of Julian Clancy and Chuck Norris as the avatars of commodity and non-commodity products respectively (I would have chosen Chantelle as the embodiment of commodisation) but then there were several other things which I didn't understand. One thing which I did find illuminating was this analysis:

  • Servers: commoditised
  • Operating systems: commoditised
  • Database software: on the way to commoditisation
  • App Servers: not really commodities yet.
  • Very far from being commodities.

James pointed out how neatly this aligns with Oracle's business strategy. Coherent? Focused? You bet!

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Anonymous Grant Ronald said...

Hard time?!?! pah! a bunch of pussycats ;o)

Think we could have easily gone on for a good couple of hours...seemed we finised just as things were heating up.

16 November 2006 at 02:54:00 GMT-8  

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