Well, I’ve been under a rock all morning (or at least at a client site configuring things) and just saw the announcements that Oracle bought Hyperion. (http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=%7bDD070F86-54F7-4709-A26A-12199FEB68B3%7d&siteid=yhoo&dist=yhoo) I think its a great move on their part, from what I’ve heard the buy was more for the Essbase side of the house rather than Brio. As always, I’m sure Oracle will find a way to keep Brio alive and the customers 😉 This comes as a surprise, there was talk about buying Hyperion a year or so ago, but all the recent ramblings were around Business Objects. Hopefully this is the last purchase Oracle makes in the BI space for a while, my head is about to explode with the influx of new components to learn.
After seeing Lewis C. post apologizing for not posting recently it really shamed me into thinking about the lack of updates on my own blog. Since my last set of updates its been a whirlwind couple of months.
First in September I left TUSC and joined IT Convergence as their strategic consulting manager. Nothing against TUSC, but with the direction they currently have it wasn’t the place for me right now. At IT Convergence I really can’t ask for a better job. I’m building my own team of experts from across the world. At last count we had over 10 different countries represented at our Naperville office alone. My role focuses on building the team to take charge of Identity Management, custom J2EE / SOA development and Business Intelligence. I’ve worked with some great companies like these, and started to plan some of biggest architectures I’ve worked with to date. My role has allowed me to play with tons of new technology and software from all of the major players and integrate some open source ones. Look for a couple articles coming up around that.
Friday I got my acceptance letters for both Collaborate and Kaleidescope. I’ll be doing talks on Oracle Identity Management, Application Development with AJAX, and Securing Web Services at both conferences, and at Collaborate I’ll be adding a fourth on Virtualizing Your Environments with VMWare. It’s going to be a couple busy weeks getting ready. I also have a couple presentations on the “wait list” if other people drop out. I actually hope that they don’t get approved, I have enough on my plate right now.
I’m still working on the side project I alluded to. Thank you to all the people that have been beta testing it for me. The only problem I’m running into right now is seeding the torrents on the same machine as my tracker is running. I’m using VBTT for the tracker and bittorrent-console on a Linux box. If anyone has any ideas I would greatly appreciate it as I’m at a loss right now.
On a personal note, Erin and I finally got married on October 20, 2006. After 8.5 years together we tied the knot. We did a great destination wedding in Marathon Key, Florida with 30 of our closest family and friends. Those of you that know Erin know I really cannot ask for a better woman. She has been with me through all my crazy work schedules and projects, supporting me all the way.
Last week we signed the papers for building our new home our in Ashburn, VA. The area is great and the best part is that the neighborhood is full of other Oracle and technology geeks that all work in Reston. Being in the apartment with all 4 of my servers running and the plethora of other toys I have from the house back in Michigan its going to be nice to get back to a normal life. I have 2 rooms in the basement dedicated to my toys plus my home office.
That’s right, I’m up to 4 actual servers at home right now. I bought myself a Dell 2950, dual core, dual cpu, 8 GB of Ram for Christmas. After seeing these things fly doing all of the architecture and application scaling at ACT, I had to have one for myself. I’ve been building a lot of VMs on it, its my primary development box for the new technologies I’ve been working with. You really can’t beat booting 6 VMs at once and not noticing a performance decrease and if I need to reinstall Linux from the ground up its done in under 10 minutes.
If the first month is any indication of how the rest of the year is going to be things aren’t going to slow down and if anything they are going to speed up tremendously. It’s really great to be surrounded by people that I see as the best in the business again and grow a company to be number one. Thats the one thing I missed the most about Polk after leaving PolkInsight and now I get to do it all over again on an even bigger level.
My goal for this year is a new blog entry or article every 2 weeks, so keep an eye on this place things should start moving again real soon.
< ShamelessPlug > If you’re an IT Professional looking to work with some of the best people in the world on the biggest problems drop me a line. Oracle centric or not, if your passionate about technology I’m sure we can find a spot for you. < /ShamelessPlug >
Looks like Larry’s pockets got a little too full again and some money fell out to buy another vendor.Â Today Oracle announced they bought Sunopsis an ETL / Data Integration Provider with some very nice tools.Â I love how Oracle already has a list of frequently asked questions when they just announced the purchase, that must be some of the predictive data mining tools working overtime right there ;).Â In all honesty its a good move for Oracle, I’ll be more interested to see which pieces of the Sunopsis stack they are going to use in the tools.Â Whether its the ETL integration / CDC to be put into OWB or the Data Integration into the Enterprise BI Suite (Siebel Analytics) or all of the above.Â Either way I’m very happy to see that Oracle is again stepping out of their one database platform shoes and realizing that to be competitive they need to be able to interoperate with everything/everyone.
On a side note, for everyone thats been asking whether or not I’m going to be at Oracle World this year, the answer is no.Â After 8 years Erin and I are getting married in Marathon Key, FL and I’ll be out on my honeymoon the week of the conference.Â I tried to convince her that San Fran was a great place for the honeymoon, but as you can imagine that didn’t fly.Â I’m not worried, I have a feeling that Collaborate in Vegas is going to be a heck of a lot more fun anyways.
PS- The side project is still being worked on I’m hoping to have some big updates in the near future.
The side project I’ve been mentioning for a while now is a new site that delivers Oracle software through prebuilt VMWare virtual machines. Many people say the hardest part of using Oracle software is getting the installation down and functioning properly. I know many people who have been turned off of some wonderful software because its just a pain to configure. My goal with this new site it to remove that pain, allow people to download the prebuilt virtual machines and just start playing with the tools and walking through the demos instead of worrying with how to get everything setup correctly.
However, because I feel the architecture planning, installation, and configuration of the software is extremely important to success in many cases, I’m going to document all the virtual machine installs I do for the new site on here so that people can refer to them when they want to build their own from scratch. So over the next few weeks look for the build up of some of the virtual machines that will appear on the new site listed here.
First thing I would like to discuss is my selection of software for this project in hopes of getting some thoughts from you before I release everything publically. Over year ago when I had this idea originally there were many things in the way preventing me from doing this project with any success.
One of the first issues I struggled with was linux licensing. At the time, the only supported options for linux under the Oracle suite of tools were either Suse or RedHat AS. Both these products cost hundreds of dollars a license and my bank account could not support the fees of people downloading and using my licenses for personal use. Within the last 9 months I’ve stumbled onto a project called CentOS (http://www.centos.org) which aims to provide an open version of the RedHat AS distribution of linux with no licensing fees. While not officially supported by Oracle, there are plenty of people internally and externally (including myself) that use this distribution without a problem. Problem #1 solved.
The second barrier was VMWare and their virtual machine technology. At $200 a license for the Workstation software I knew it wouldn’t be in everyone’s budget to buy and use to “play” with new technologies. I had been using VMWare for years and really loved the product, but knew this would prevent a lot of people from using my prebuilt machines. Luckily enough, EMC (who owns VMWare), saved the day and in December of 2005 launched VMWare Player (http://www.vmware.com/products/player/), a free to use and distribute version of their popular Workstation product that allows users to run any prebuilt virtual machine on their own desktops on either Windows or Linux. And even recently they’ve started a beta version of the product for Mac OSX. Problem #2 solved.
The third major issue was how to distribute the software, with many of the virtual machines I was building nearing 6GB in size it greatly concerned me about the bandwidth costs I would ensue by allowing people to directly download the VMs from my site. Even with 2TB of bandwidth available a month, that was approximately 300 downloads a month and I’d be running into some major bills. And unmetered connections would greatly add to my monthly hosting fees. So because of that I decided to research Torrent networks deeply. I know torrents get a bad name because much of the “underground” uses it to trade music and movies, but the architecture and technology behind the distributed network is pretty amazing. The key to any torrent network is the seeders, they are the people that have entire copies of the download on their machines and seed the network sharing the bandwidth costs and boosting the download speeds for everyone. There are also some torrent tracker technologies that force people to authenticate to the trackers and monitor their contributions to the network. This greatly appealed to me because I could now track who my best users are and reward them with early downloads and also watch and ban the people that were leeching from the servers and the community without being seeders. I know its not the “nicest” solution, but it ensures a great community atmosphere and makes sure everyone is helping each other out (and not sticking me with a bandwidth bill).
So thats the idea, prebuilt Oracle Virtual Machines built using free and open source software, with a bulletin board and blogging community surrounding it. Should be fun, at the least should be an adventure. Consider this my Alpha Release announcement, I’m looking for anyone who would like to be an early adopter and help out with the start of the site. I really need someone to help with site design (I’m horrible with graphics), some beta testers for the torrent tracker and virtual machines, and anyone else who cares to help out I’d be more than happy to welcome you. Send me an email directly at: email@example.com or add a comment to the blog.
Keep your eye out in this space for some new articles about building the virtual machines and hopefully I’ll have the full release out by OracleWorld.
OK, I decided to finish the look and feel changes to the site and throw it out there.Â Let me know if you see any issues.Â I think its going to be a fun couple of weeks coming up.Â Watch out for some new posts as well.
To everyone thats been bugging me, the site has been down a lot lately. We can thank my wonderful hosting provider for upgrading WordPress for me, which in turn caused a whole bunch of my plug-ins not to work. So for now I have removed all of the plug-ins, reinstalled basic wordpress, and used the default theme. I’m hoping to have some free time this week to do some updates. Its my first full week at home in a long time. I’m hoping to add a new look and feel and also announce the release of a new project I’ve been working on. I’m 100% sure I can get the first task done, we’ll see about the second. Being a week at home, maybe I should send some time with Erin before the wedding. Then again maybe we’ll remember what its like to be around each other more than 72 hours at a time… (just kidding 😀 )
I looks like flickr too a sizable hit to their storage array today, as this picture shows they are at least making a fun game out of their troubles:
Heres more details:
This is going to be one of the problems with the whole Web2.0 movement going forward, what happens when the service you count on for your application is down or just disappears off the planet. It makes you wonder how many people have built this into their plans, there are lots of companies such as here, here, or here that would have major issues if Google Maps disappeared one day. Interesting topic in today’s Web2.0 society. At least it looks like the static.flickr.com links are still working for most photos, but still an interesting topic none the less.
Well, I’m calling it day -1 because the festivitites that is ODTUG isn’t supposed to start until Sunday, but Paul Dorsey and Dulcian put together an Architects conference with a lot good people and good topics. I started out getting up a little late, its been one of those weeks from you know where and worked until 2am and left about 9:00. I love conferences in DC, it lets me jump on the metro 2 blocks from my house and not have to worry about traffic. So I get out of the metro and should have made a right instead of a left, ended up walking around for half an hour realizing I must of made a wrong turn. Called thehotel and realized if I had looked to the right when I left the metro I would have been staring at it. Oops, I’ve only been living in DC full time for 8 weeks, I don’t know where everything is yet (and probably never will). So I finally get in at the end of David Schleis’ AJAX talk, by the look of people it looks as if it was very good, no one was sleeping and everyone was paying attention. Next was David Wendelken’s .NET talk, I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t very interested and found everything to be a high level overview of .NET and really didn’t dive deep in anything specific in working with .NET and Oracle. Instead I spent most of that time building an updated J2EE Development Virtual Machine that includes the newest versions of Oracle XE, Oracle Applications Express, and jDeveloper 10.1.3. Next was Frank Nymphius’ talk on JSF, a very good overview of ADF and JSF. Talked about how easy it was to switch out their backend beans from TopLink to facades, I’d like to see the numbers of how long it took on that one ;-). Next up was John King talking about Oracle and JDBC, Some nice things around the batch processing and auto commit that can be turned off at the conncetion level. I think he should have better stressed the piece on callable statements and bind variables as there are some major security and performance gains there. And then lunch…
Right after lunch was Scott Ambler. Scott is in charge of Agile Development for IBM. The talk focused on Database Refactoring. Great guy with presentations the way I like them, to the point and very blunt. Calling out the obvious problems with current database models, and going into depth with real examples!! Open an honest about performance hits when your moving things and refactoring databases, especially when you use triggers to support it. Compares it to Sun’s Java deprication strategy for the database. Maybe its the RedBull I drank after lunch, but this talk really hit home with me. It seems to be that with all the projects I hit there are always problems with refactoring data models, I’ve suggested the same methods in the past. Its nice to see someone else as crazy as I am. One thing that he didn’t talk about was making sure your logging the usage of your “pre-factored” tables (the old deprecated ones). Scott discussed using triggers and such to allow old and new applications to synchronize tables and setting hard dates when the old tables are going away. If you take this approach you need to audit the “pre-factored” tables to see usage actively go down and when your nearing deprication time to know who you have to go “talk to” to go change their code and make sure the deprication will continue on schedule. When talking about configuration management, “If you don’t need to lock it down, then why are you bothering to do it.” It amazes me how many companies are so anal about locking down their J2EE code, but completely ignore data models and scripts. Database regression testing, unit testing for databases. I like this guy…database encapsulation with TopLink or Hibernate. Applications are evolutionary, and why shouldn’t data models be? Invest in regression tests to validate corporate data, regression test your stored procedures, need real strategies to fix endemic problems with data sources, data sources shouldn’t be the anchor around your team’s neck, cross train your developers to be database guys and vice versa, raise the bar for data management!!! Great talk, its not easy to do in practice, but if you can even take away some of the thoughts from his talk your organization will be much more flexible in their development and deployment strategies. Its already been done for years in the J2EE/Java arena, why not push the same concepts into the database world.
Next up was Roland Berg, on the people factor of Web Architecture. One of the big points was that the keys to architecture that we really don’t understand today are People, Time and Motivation. Very true, thats why sometimes when theres the impossble project that no one believes you can get done, the team finishes early, and the project that should be done in 2 weeks takes 4 months (I’ve been on both sides of the coin there). Some good discussion on who leads at different parts of the project and who needs to have control on the direction:
Logical Model: Architects (Leads), Designers (supporting role), Engineers (supporting role), Stakeholders (as reviewers).
Physical Model: Designers, Engineers (supporting role), Architects (reveiw, preserve vision), Stakeholders (as reviewers). This is where technology selection belongs.
Implementation: Developers, Designers, Architects, Stakeholders. “Having the right people at the right place and at the right time is critical to the success of a project.”
A key point:
“The architecture must take into account the people involved at all phases of the project to be effective.”
I like to think this is one of the reasons that the teams l’ve put together through projects have succeeded
The last talk before the panel was Peter Koletzke on Web Application Communications. Honestly, it was a low level talk on the HTP request and response cycle and the components of those messages. I felt it was one of those “Well DUH!” talks and too high level for a Web Architecture Symposium. I checked out mentally and completed my proposals for Oracle World papers. Onto the round table…
The round table seemed to be a very much us vs.them talk. On one side was the group that wanted to put everything into the database, aligning with Paul Dorsey and his thick database concept. The other camp was the OO developer, SOA, new world camp as I like to call them. The big worry seems to be with just about everyone, how do I keep myself safe from changing technology while still remaining flextible. Its an age old fight that never really has an end. The thick database camp wants to put everything in the database because its one place to maintain all of the business rules and at the bottom of every stack. This may be fine and dandy but really doesnt leave things to be flexible, not everything runs through a database and not everything can live in the database. A question came up about where to put error checking for data being pushed and pulled from the database and other interfaces. My answer to the question is BOTH. As a rule of thumb I never trust anyone, no matter if its an external source or an internal service. Things always change, people always forget who’s using a service, and things arent always checked. Its a good rule of thumb to trust no one. ;)Thats all for today, tomorrow the BI Customer Advisory Council….
As I said in my last post I was hoping to give daily updates, well I’ve been having too much fun meeting new people and catching up with friends.Â I’ve been keeping track of everything and have posts ready to go, I just haven’t had time to give them the once over before posting them.Â Lots of great stuff at the conference so far, BI its just plain exciting right now, hopefully Oracle’s customers will be able to afford it ($225K a proc, ouch!!!).Â The JSF / Ajax / SOA presentations have been great.Â I love Oracle right now, the only problem is trying to keep up.Â Also, look for a site that I’ve promised for a long time to come online soon.Â I think I’m getting final clearance soon to go ahead with it, keep your eyes peeled.Â I think its going to be a lot of fun for everyone.
Well its time for another conference, I’ll be presenting at ODTUG this week and at the conference all week. TUSC recently opened an office in DC and I moved out here to help support it. So if anyone wants to catch me I’ll be working the TUSC booth or flying around.
I’ll be one of the guys completely out of place in a suit the whole time.Â UPDATE: I guess someone from TUSC is reading my blog, the day after I posted this an email came out saying this was now a business casual conference 😀
|Saturday, June 17||8:30 â€“ 5:00||Web Architecture Symposium|
|Â||9:00 â€“ 4:00||Hands on Training|
|Sunday, June 18||1:00 â€“ 4:00||Discoverer CAB â€“ Wilson AB|
|Â Monday, June 19||11:15 â€“ 12:15||XML Publisher – Mark Rittman â€“ Wilson C|
|Â||12:30 â€“ 1:30||TUSC Booth|
|Â||1:30 â€“ 2:30||BI Real World Cases â€“ Dan Vlamis â€“ Wilson C|
|Â||2:45 â€“ 3:45||Successful Dimensional Modeling â€“ Washington 6|
|Â||4:00 â€“ 5:30||TUSC Booth|
|Tuesday, June 20||8:30 â€“ 9:30||Why OWB â€“ Jean Pierre â€“ Washington 6|
|Â||9:45 â€“ 10:45||ADF Recipes â€“ Duncan Mills â€“ Washington 5|
|Â||1:30 â€“ 2:30||BI DW Panel – Washington 3|
|Â||2:45 â€“ 3:45||Quick Web Development â€“ Matt Topper â€“ Washington 4|
|Â||4:00 â€“ 5:00||Climb to the OLAP Summit â€“ Keith Laker – Wilson C|
|Wednesday, June 21||9:45 â€“ 10:45||Why you need a TRB â€“ Dan Norris â€“ Washington 5|
|Â||11:00 â€“ 12:00||Ajax and JSF â€“ Frank Nimphius â€“ Washington 3|
|Â||1:00 â€“ 2:00||Effective Data Warehouse Architecture â€“ Rittman â€“ Washington 6|
|Â||2:15 â€“ 3:15||Changing the World with SOA â€“ Matt Topper â€“ Washington 4|
I’m really looking forward to this conference, there is a lot of new things coming out in the BI/DW space and it’ll be good to catch up with some friends. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to meet some new ones too. My goal is to blog some daily updates and give a recap. We’ll see how that works out.