Sunday 22 November 2009

The mobile generation

With 2009 quickly coming to an end I was reminded a few days back of what we were working on ten years ago in oracle as consultants. The Y2K and dot com money making making machines were in full flow and the dot com money men were full of promises of the benefits of a fully connected world, micro payments, and new ways of socially interacting. Back then the infrastructure and services where not quite there - but ten years on has their vision been realised?

With almost every teenage child having a mobile phone capable of accessing the Internet, messaging (SMS, instant, picture), tweeting etc and with the dawn of online app stores with items that people are prepared to utilise micropayments for, it's hard to say that they were wrong. However, instead of business 2 business or adult 2 adult embracing these technologies it is our younger generations who have not only embraced these technologies but have put it at the heart of their social interactions.

What is this social revolution doing to our societies, cultures and businesses?

Over the next few weeks I will be writing about how different types of technology are impacting the fabric of our society - in both good and bad ways (in my opinion anyway - and I would be glad to hear yours as always!).

In order to make my comments more 'real' I will be using the various technologies I will be discussing themselves and showing how they can impact the way we communicate.

...... And the first example is this blog item.....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday 3 February 2008

Mark Rittman and OBIEE Hybrid OLAP Reporting using MS Analysis Services & Oracle

Mark has put another very interesting blog online - how to develop a hybrid OLAP reporting solution with Microsoft and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition.

For those of using Microsoft Analysis Services and Oracle BIEE I recommend you have a look at:

Another fine article by Mark!

Oracle and Microsoft - Working together...

A very typical view of the enterprise marketplace is you do either Microsoft (e.g. .NET etc) or Java ( e.g. Oracle, IBM, BEA - err Oracle - , JBoss etc).

An often overlooked part of the Oracle technology solution is the Interoperability it offers with microsoft (and indeed other vendors). Oracle is now heavily pushing its fusion middleware products as the glue to join up a heterogeneous enterprise and this, as we all know, almost without fail includes Microsoft.

I just wanted to point out some of the areas where Oracle middleware and applications can integrate successfully (and seamlessly in some cases with Microsoft products)

This interoperability comes in two flavours:

1. Oracle software runs on the microsoft OS platform itself
2. Oracle software running on a mixed platform will integrate with Microsoft products and solutions.

Overall there is a comprehensive integration with Microsoft at the middleware level. Some examples given are:

  • Oracle Identity Management solution works seamless with MSFT ActiveDirectory, MSFT Identity Integration Server
  • Oracle Identity Management solution provides MSFT Sharepoint with heterogeneous SSO
  • Oracle Web Services Manager secures and manages both J2EE and .NET web services
  • Oracle Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) Manager interoperates with MSFT MQ, MSFT BizTalk server
  • Oracle Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) can monitor real-time business events in MSFT MQ and send alerts to MSFT Outlook
  • Oracle Portal can leverage portlets deployed on MSFT IIS/.NET servers, expose Office applications, and many other web applications developed with MSFT technologies
  • Oracle Portal can leverage MSFT Active Directory for user information

Office interoperability

  • Oracle Collaboration Suite has a tight integration with MSFT Windows and Office (Oracle Connector for Outlook)
  • Oracle Content Services works seamlessly as a file server for Windows (e.g., Oracle Drive)
  • Oracle BI Spreadsheet Add-in embeds OLAP capabilities directly in Excel for reporting, ad-hoc analysis, modeling
  • Oracle XML Publisher can take data from MSFT SQL Server, data from Excel, Word, render output formats into Office forms and send the data back to MSFT SQL Server or any other data sources
  • Oracle E-Business Suite has over 150+ integration points with Office for data entry and report distribution in applications such as Financial Consolidation Hub, HR, Incentive Management, Asset Manager, Internal Controls Manager, Projects, Advanced Product Catalog, and more.

There is huge potential for organisations to do more with what they have - and the interoperability of Microsoft with Oracle has to be one of the key areas yet to be explored.

To find out more go to Oracle's website on working with Microsoft

Saturday 26 January 2008

I want to learn about Oracle...where do I begin??

A few of my clients at a present customer have stated that they want to learn more about Oracle but dont know where to start, so could I help them?

Its an interesting topic when you have been working with (and for) Oracle for a number of years you get used to having access to a variety of information sources that a customer may not

a) Know about
b) have access to

So where do you begin?

When I was a practice manager at Oracle I would always say to my Consultants to go to the following sites on a daily basis to get the latest information that was getting passed to Oracle's customers:

Oracle Technology Network - A fantastic source of information on the technology that Oracle has
Oracle Applications Network - Now called Ospace for packaged applications information

These two sites will give you access to a fantastic set of information.

For Product Documentation the following sites:

All up to date product documentation

If you are an Oracle customer and have a support agreement then the following two sites are also excellent:

Metalink - Oracle's support site with knowledge bases
etrm - E-Business Data Models (from 11.5.4 onwards)

An excellent site with links to a variety of very useful documents is Boat Consulting ran by e Business Suite technical guru Peter Jacklin. I have added his site to my links to make it easy to find.

Now, some people prefer a more tactile experience and there are some excellent books out there covering a variety of areas.

Oracle Press is always a good place to start and two books which are a little dated but very relevant still today(for anyone working 11.5.x of Oracle Apps)

E-Business Suite Financials Handbook
E-Business Suite Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management

Oracle Press also do a fantastic range of technology books and for anyone wanting to learn about the database, sql and pl/sql then Tom Kyte's books are a must have:

Effective Oracle By Design
Expert Oracle Database Architecture

In parallel with Tom's books is his website - Asktom where the man himself will answer your questions (if he has the time)

Alan Hornsby @ Phones4u recommended the following link as a good source for Oracle eBusiness Suite Technical Articles -

I will pull together a useful list of blogs when I have a few mins and add it to this blog. In the meantime if you know of other good links, drop me a line...

Adding Intelligence to your SOA Architecture

Mark Rittman (Global Oracle Ace for BI and Director of RittmanMead ) has a great article published on otn at the moment which describes how Oracle BI EE can be integrated with Oracle SOA suite to provide increased insight into how an organisation is operating in real time.

The article got me thinking about the key stakeholders in an organisation for whom this would be important. The key buzzword here is really AGILITY. By Providing an effective SOA with integrated BI an organisation can increase an organisations agility:

  • Reduced reaction time in response to the operational environment
  • Reduction in Planning Horizon
  • IT enablement of business strategy - not limiting
  • Increased organisational capability to focus on business-oriented development projects
  • Increased leverage of "legacy" data through the ability of SOA to cope with heterogeneous environments
  • Evolution rather than revolution in the technology platform(s)
  • Potential for smaller and shorter projects with reduced risk

As ever the question is - how much do I need to spend. The products that Mark discusses in his article are not cheap - but there are open source alternatives to some components.

What is great for me is the discussions are at last moving beyond the "implementing a SOA" and evolving into "How can leverage my SOA investment"

Have a read of Mark's article and pop by his website and blog too.

Tuesday 8 January 2008

New Year Resolution - Spread the Blog....

Happy New year to all. Its 2008 and I am determined to do better on the blogging front than last year.

I also want to introduce you to some fellow former and current Oracle people who I would recommend you keep and eye on: Chris Reid and Angus Myles. I have added their respective blogs to my links.

Chris is an Oracle technology and development guru. Having worked with Chris for over 10 years (yup its that long!) there is no technology that he has not been able to master - and trust we have seen a few with Oracle!

Angus is a Java God. Its the only way I can describe him. Whatever you need to know about Java he is your man. I can remember hiring Angus into Oracle many moons ago and I am very proud to say he is still there, delivering outstanding solutions - and delivering minimyles V3.0 recently.

Pop by and say hello to the guys and keep them on your radar. They are good guys to know!

Saturday 8 December 2007

Its all about the method....

One interesting challenge for organisations implementing and integrating mixed technology and "suite" solutions is which method(s) to use. For many eBiz implementations the standard approach would be to use Oracle's Applications Implementation Method (AIM) and Conference Room Pilots. For Siebel implementations the standard approach is to use ePlan. For interfaces and integration a more "modern" approach of using community development and wikis can be employed.

Normally this is pretty simple - you look at what you are implementing and choose one approach - but one size does not fit all, and what if you have multiple work streams, implementing multiple technologies and with multiple suppliers (internal and external) delivering into the programme?

Here are some quick tips:

1. Ensure that the method(s) are agreed up front between all workstreams and suppliers and ensure that ALL parties have a common understanding of the methods, approaches and timelines. Sounds obvious but often these things are left open to "interpretation" and a supplier saying "yes I understand" does not always mean that they have the same understanding as you.

2. Get the business engaged right from the beginning. Again it sounds like project management 101 but with large, complex, multi vendor and technology implementations this is not always easy.

3. Get it on a blooming big picture so all can see how the methods and timelines join up. Visually representing the methods, approaches and milestones makes such a difference.

4. Get ready to coach and manage more than you expect. Not all suppliers are experienced in certain approaches. If you do not have lead consultants who are highly experienced in the methods you may need to coach more than you would like. Make sure you have someone who has practical (not theoretical) skills in a method and approach. Get a consultant on your side if you have done such a programme before.

5. Be strong and prepared to stay the course. It can become too easy sometimes to move from an approach because things get tricky. Joining up testing for example: System, Link, Integration, Conference Room Pilots, UAT, OAT etc can be a very complex and painful process if you have multiple workstreams and multiple technologies that may need data, test harnesses, users, environments etc. Dig deep and push on. It will be worth it. Make sure you have a good test team!

What methods work well when integrating a multi-vendor, multi-technology fabric in an organisation? Well there is no silver bullet solution. From experience I rate conference room pilots and iterative development on most technologies (including Siebel!) as it gets the user community engaged right from the start, and gets them 'owning' the solution early on - and that is invaluable, indeed a must have, for any organisation wanting to put a large enterprise solution in place.

Let me know your thoughts on this one.....