On June 15th and 16th 2017 the very first OGh Tech Experience was held. This 2-day conference was a new combination of the DBA Days and Fusion Middleware Tech Experience that were held in previous years. To summarize: OGh hit bullseye. It was two days packed with excellent in-depth technical sessions, good customer experiences and great networking opportunities.
The venue was well chosen. De Rijtuigenloods in Amersfoort is a former maintenance building of the Dutch Railways converted into a conference center. So the backdrop and even the location of some sessions were old train carriages.
The first bombshell was dropped in the introduction by OGh Chairman Robin Buitenhuis. Starting July 1st, the OGh will be renamed to nlOUG, the Netherlands Oracle User Group. This will provide OGh with a more international allure and hopefully attract more foreign speakers and visitors to their events.
After the introduction it was time for the first Keynote. Maria Colgan (@sqlmaria ) the Oracle Database Product Manager delivered a great talk about bridging the gap between developers and dba’s, by letting them work together as DevOps teams. Even though I don’t agree with her definition of DevOps (I agree more with Lucas Jellema, but more about that later in this blog), I do agree with her sentiments.
During her talk a lot of new Database 12c features were shown, that were interesting for both the DBA as the Fusion Middleware attendees. A few highlights:
- leveraging REST from the database by using SQL Developer as ORDS (Oracle Rest Data Services)
- dbms_json and json_dataguide to implement json directly from/in the database
- new Materialized View features like Enable On Query Computation
- ALTER TABLE INMEMORY for better performance
- dbms_redact to redact data for security reasons
After the first keynote and much needed refreshments due to the tropical temperatures, the parallel sessions started. Because the Tech Experience was a combination of two events, there were 9 simultanious tracks about many different subjects. Ranging from DBA and PL/SQL to Integration & Process and Web & Mobile, choosing an interesting track was easy.
My first session was one by Jon Petter Hjulstad , namely ‘Experiences from SOA 12.2 implementations’. Because my current customer is in a transition from 11g to 12c, this one gave me some insight in what to expect and what to avoid.
My second session was also in the Integration & Process track. This one was on ‘Case Management in Process Cloud’ delivered by Ralf Mueller . He showed the audiance the path that Oracle is taking in expanding the Process Cloud with Unstructured or Dynamic Processes by introducing stages that can be invoked by rules, similar to the on-premise ACM implementation. He even did a demo, to show the ease with which a new implementation can be built.
Later Ralf gave a glimpse into the future of Process Cloud by talking about Adaptive Processes. That will be supported by AI and Machine Learning, data based rules and a Deep Learning Algorithm. Stuff out of sci-fi!
After this it was time for some good old SQL. Chris Saxon  showed the audience some magic that can be achieved by using some neat features that the Oracle Database has hidden. Some examples are:
- SQL Translation Framework
- Edition Base Redefinition
- Index Organized Tables
- Invisible Columns
My next session was by Sandra Flores (@sandyfloresmx ), an Integration specialist from Mexico. She explained her vision on SOA, Microservices and Service Orientation. Especially how they connect to each other. My main takeaway from this session was, that Microservices can be a part of a SOA, but they are both a part of a Service Orientation.
The last session of the first day that I visited was by Lonneke Dikmans and Ronald van Luttikhuizen. In this session they showed the audience how Architects and Integration Specialist can start debates on the architecture of a integration implementation.
The day was concluded with a very good dinner and some much needed drinks.
On the second day of the event, things started off with another keynote. This time it was Duncan Mills , who titled his session “How I learned to stop worrying and love the Cloud”. In his keynote, he explained how he started his life as a young programmer and gradually growed into the person he is now, and what lessons he learned along the way.
It was a fun talk and it provided lots of insights for developers and managers alike.
Duncan explained how an organization can take it’s path towards the Cloud. This path consists of four steps in his opinion, but an organization should not go further up that path than they dare to go. If step 1 is enough for them, you don’t have to go further to be able to profit from the Cloud. If you take it too far, adoption might get too forced.
Another great lesson was based on Richard Dawkins book “The Selfish Gene “, about how genes that wanted to grow started the evolotion of organisms. Therefore Duncan introduced us to the Selfish Developer. He explained that helping developers in all their whims (like: “give me another environment to test stuff”) will help an organization evolve.
And finally Duncan explained a list of things he learned along the way.
- Be pragmatic
- Don’t over-design
- (Mostly) Don’t take anyone’s word for it
- Strive for automation
- Work in short iterations
- Make mistakes!
Because the venue was an old railway complex, some session were inside railway cars, like my first parallel session of day two.
Luc Gorissen had an inspiring presentation about Faulthandling in ACM and BPM. It all starts with the functional design. You have to think about the happy-flow, but you should never forget what should happen when something technical (like a failing server) or something functional (incorrect zipcode or unknown user) goes wrong.
Not until you combine your Fault Categories, Fault Strategy, Layering Model, Design Guidelines and Implementation Guidelines, you will get a complete Fault Handling Implementation.
Next up was Xander van Rooijen of Rabobank. He showed an example of an API Management implementation.
Using Apiary for the API design and API Fortress for testing, they were able to create a full API implementation on Oracle’s API Platform CS bêta environment. Now they wait for Oracle to be able to push it to production.
Another client story was by Froukje van der Wulp and Maarten Smeets of spir-it, the IT department of the Dutch Council of the Judiciary. They explained how spir-it has transformed it’s organization from a classic Waterfall to an Agile environment. This enabled them to tackle large performance issues in their complex applications for digitizing the Judiciary.
In the last parallel track I visited a session by Robert van Mölken on Blockchain. For me a very new and unknown subject. But his session gave me insight and I learned that Blockchains are an implementation of the techniques used by Bitcoin.
The final word was for Lucas Jellema. In the third and last keynote he wrapped up the conference.
With many salutes to audience, speakers and organizers he gave some valuable lessons. And he wasn’t afraid to disagree with some of the other speakers. As I said in the beginning of this blog, his definition of DevOps is different from the one that Maria Colgan showed. His description of a DevOps team is more practical: “You build it, you run it, you fix and evolve it”.
Lucas’ talk on bridging the gaps that exist on many levels, left the audience inspired to come back again next year.
If you got curious after reading this blog, please visit the nlOUG website  to download handouts from the Tech Experience.