On the balcony…
As a very wise colleague I worked with at a large resources company going crazy during the mining boom once told me, just before we checked out of the chaos… “Sometimes you just have to get off the dancefloor and get onto the balcony”. So with this thought in mind I spent Tuesday hanging out at the Crown Casino for Oracle Day – or as I like to call it…’Poor Man’s Open World’ . The idea being to give my mind some… Oracle Day is always a fast-focused immersive experience and one of the best ways to get a feel for what is hot in the IT industry based on where Larry – the 41 billion dollar man – is heading – hype or reality? – I am never sure – Oracle a key influencer? – no doubt.
I actually think they should start charging and keep out some of the riff-raff as the crowd tends to be full of freeloaders, but then again within the IT industry and its critical shortage of students doing IT majors it is always nice to see a few young academics and career conscious Gen Y-ers in the sessions and even better scoffing cakes during the breaks and returning for seconds and thirds at the free lunchtime buffet.
How much RAM?
I had to put my propeller-hat on for the couple of hardware sessions I went to. And in the exhibition hall not a single big box with lots of shiny lights – all ‘out there’ in the Cloud I guess – bah humbug. When Oracle acquired Sun over three years ago I went to an Oracle Day and some strategy, some R&D and some early products were presented, all focused around bringing hardware and software together. It looked pretty interesting but to me was completely counter-intuitive to the IT activity and strategy talk I was seeing back then – ‘virtualisation and commoditised infrastructure’ blah blah blah everywhere – this Oracle strategy seemed to be going the other way. But in 2013 three years plus down the track I am seeing some real stuff, stuff that has evolved into the mainstream, and is a real hardware trend. As John Furrier in a recent Forbes article reflected “Ellison’s moves with the creation of the so-called “Red Stack” (a reference to an all-Oracle integrated system) were designed to capitalize on an industry transition toward convergence in a way that would give Oracle strategic advantage against competitors. By engineering hardware and software together, Oracle can not only lock-in customers, it can lockout competitors”. Now imagine if that kind of technology is what is running your cloud – or should I say Oracle’s cloud… ‘Engineered Systems’ was the buzz term this week. So back to my propellor hat and the top of the range in Engineered Systems – the Oracle SuperCluster M6-32 running Solaris with 32 TB of main memory, the SPARC M6-32 only has TWICE the memory capacity of IBM’s current largest Power server. You see its all about software on silicon – something a company that spends about $5Bn on R&D knows all about (read 10 Reasons Software On Silicon Redefines Enterprise Computing). Well the Server Administrators in the room were getting excited (the on premises ones that is) – but me I am apps guy – my little moment of joy – perhaps a minor epiphany came in a throw-away line from the presenter “so now you don’t have to have a reporting database and you can re-think how you update your data warehouse – just put it all in RAM”. For an Enterprise Architect who earns his living coming up with clever strategies for integration and managing data staging, data historians and general scalability challenges around IT/OT convergence this was something to reflect upon. I wonder what the virtualized/commoditized/on-premises is the only option infrastructure boys were thinking – well apart from too expensive – I was thinking can I put “it all” in RAM? – if it is out in the cloud – the Oracle cloud – I think I can.
As I said I actually did not spend that much time with in the hardware sessions. A few years ago an Oracle Day was all about the database then about the hardware. The only mention of database this week was DaaS or Database as a Service – and database in the cloud – – this was a new term and had some real solutions. I could go on here but I won’t as it was not about the database. These days Oracle is in a different place. Most of the innovation being discussed at Oracle Day was in the apps and their use of the cloud.
How much data?
Oracle was a bit late coming to the Cloud. In 2008 Larry famously quipped “Cloud is the new SaaS” and “… the computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women’s fashion … I don’t understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud computing, other than market.. you know, change the wording on some of our ads”. Loved your work then Larry and even more now you have turned things inside out again in 2013 – that is how you stay in business – staying on top of the fashion. According to one of the Oracle Day presenters Oracle’s cloud is currently about 41 petabytes. Impressive I thought – especially for a late starter. This got me thinking about who’s cloud is biggest and who might win out in this mega almost Orwellian, in its end-state implications, managed service play. Or let me put it another way, in the plain language of Iron-Chef, I was thinking “who’s cuisine will reign supreme’. Unfortunately some heavy duty Googling and Binging revealed little – But it did send me off on a more interesting path into social networking which was (LOL – well obviously) another key theme of Oracle Day. Facebook at its IPO a year ago claimed it had 100 petabytes at that point – that’s 107 billion megabytes!!. This year Facebook has 1.15 billion users so is probably now using much more storage in its private cloud. How Facebook keeps this all online is also pretty interesting. I like the idea of clustering you’re your global data centres yes clustering the data centres – that is big. But hey it turns out it’s not all just kids posting to Facebook and YouTube. CERN have published stats confirming collisions in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) generated about 75 petabytes of this data in the past three years – Big Science!
I was very impressed with the Fusion material and where that stack is heading. Apps in the clouds – in a big way!. No surprise that Oracle has started moving all the Fusion apps to the cloud with some nice on premises integration. What was neat and mentally stimulating was that I had a deep-dive in the showcase breakout area with one of the Architects working the Human Capital Management (HCM) cloud solution space. I asked if the ‘in cloud’ apps were Peoplesoft etc in the cloud SaaS style. No – they are brand new apps – new gen stuff. I cynically asked well then how do you migrate from on-premises Peoplesoft to HCM in the cloud? that is a big move? – well in a totally convincing way he totally convinced me – a total cynic – on how you achieve an incremental one module at a time phased low risk migration where Oracle manages the on-premises components to cloud HCM components integration – Seems real? – the technical explanation that is – solution hype or reality – to be confirmed but looks real that in the next year or so some key ‘tier one’ on-premises internal apps such as HR can be fully migrated to the Oracle cloud with associated staffing and budget benefits for an IT shop – totally convinced. And hell if running on Engineered Solutions I might stick some BI and reporting warehouses ‘out there’.
Forget CRM – its all SRM now (or Wow you can measure that?)
Last but not least I actually loved Oracle Social Relationship Management (a new product category – Oracle does this so well) and this whole new ‘Social Marketing’ thing – but then I always love it when Oracle buys a few interesting companies and mashes them up to create something better than the sum of its parts (and at the same time often a new product category! – see also the Oracle Database Machine). The demo showcase in the exhibition hall was being looked after by a young female Gen-Yer who was looking really bored sitting there playing on her android phone as most of the predominantly male infrastructure-database-heads were focused elsewhere – mmmh – a demo on Social Marketing – just for me, and by someone young who looks like she knows about Facebook, but actually uses Tumblr, Snapchat and Instagram and possibly even Prezi for her presentations – this was a good start. Well I can now tell you now from a much more knowledgeable position this stuff is awesome. The product is being pitched as an SRM that fully integrates inhouse organically-developed Oracle products, with solutions from recent acquisitions Vitrue, Collective Intellect, and Involver. The pitch goes that “the solution combines social marketing, engagement and monitoring into a complete platform which allows enterprises to seamlessly listen, create and publish content, engage customers and analyze interactions across multiple social channels in real-time”. Luckily she did not give me the pitch – instead she showed me social marketing in action – in a live demo running ‘out there’ – she showed me some very clever ‘social apps’ (I know what these are now!) developed using the SRM suite and being used by McDonalds (check out the Local app on the US Facebook page. These apps generate social buzz AND capture data. She showed me some other social apps and explained how they are used by a user but also what they are actually being used for – wow. It reminded me about when I started to learn many years ago as about supermarkets, check out scanning, and loyalty cards – and why they are always discussed together. We then went behind the scenes into the measuring and trending and dashboards etc – and lots and lots and lots of data real-time data – she showed me examples of what she could learn quickly – very quickly – social media meets big data analytics. This is the future.
Now Oracle Day is one day in Perth with about 300 attending … Open World is a week in San Francisco with 60,000 attending and 2,500 sessions… I managed to get to IBM Impact in Vegas last year – now how do I get to Open World next year?
The Maroon 5 Mosh Pit Goes Berserk… with IT Geeks