Oracle Fusion Middleware Partner Community Forum in Malaga
14 Feb 2012 by Simon Haslam (in Events)
I spent last week in sunny Malaga at the Oracle Fusion Middleware Partner Community Forum. The contrast in weather between the UK (about -5C with snow on the ground) and Malaga (clear blue skies, up to 20C in the day) was quite dramatic and very welcome! The event was similar in format to last year's in Utrecht (which I described here), though the scope has been broadened from SOA/BPM and WebCenter to include pure WebLogic Server and Coherence (which I'm very pleased about!). It is primarily a 2 day technical conference, followed by 2 days of hands-on labs, and attendance is free for any Oracle Partner registered within the appropriate community. Over 200 people showed up for the main conference, and this year the labs were 3 tracks and each limited to 20 delegates on a first-come, first-served basis.
The NH Malaga hotel was a comfortable, modern business hotel within a few minute's walk of Malaga town centre. Note: the organisers, Herren Kress and Blass, had suspended a giant Oracle Deutschland banner between the windows of their adjacent rooms, which had I had been a bit quicker off the mark, I might have caught on camera before the "authorities" removed it!
So, here's a quick run-down of the event:
Days 1 & 2: Presentations
Tuesday afternoon had mainly what I'd call "scene setting" presentations: the growth in the middleware market, Oracle's plans for the 12c products over the next couple of years or so, what's new in WebLogic 12c, OEM 12c and Exalogic, the ADF roadmap, and the importance of Oracle Partners to achieve "Specialized" status to give customers confidence in their capabilities.
In addition there were a couple of case study sessions. The first one was by the ever affable Geoffroy de Lamalle (founder of eProseed) who talked through a SOA/BPM project at a European government orgasniation with particular focus on some of the non-technical aspects such as team skills and delivery approach. Secondly, was a customer session by David Rametta, from Inmarsat, talking about their new content consolidation and delivery platform based on various Oracle Fusion Middleware products (UCM, ECM, IAM, WebCenter, etc). He described one of Inmarsat's main products as being like a normal 3G mobile phone network, except that their base stations were 22,000 miles high in the sky and accessible all over the planet. David's role is Digital Marketing Manager, i.e. working for the board and not in IT. The board had signed off the David's digital strategy so when he returned later with a costed proposal for how the strategy could be delivered they couldn't really turn him down. Yet again this demonstrates the importance of new systems meeting agreed strategic business requirements, even for implementations that are sometimes hard to quantify.
The evening was spent at a tapas bar which had lively local musicians, and which had probably never had so many people wedged inside, followed by dinner at a separate restaurant. Networking is a really strong aspect of these events, and being quite product specific means that anyone you start chatting to will probably have interesting experiences of Fusion Middleware to share.
The second day had 4 sessions, each split into a WebCenter, SOA/BPM and WebLogic track. For me I attended one of What's New in BPM 11g (quite a lot it turns out, especially in the Patchset 4 Feature Pack) by James Allerton-Austin from Oracle, who also told us about the process accelerators and other things in the pipeline. Oracle are very keen to highlight the maturity of the 11g platform, despite what might appear quite a jamboree around WebLogic 12c. Next came a similar session, this time about SOA Suite, by Simone Geib (@SOASimone), also from Oracle product management. It seems quite some time ago now that I first tried a beta of SOA 11g in a rather hair-raising (due to the speed/intensity) hands-on lab run by Clemens Utschig-Utschig at a similar SOA Community Forum at the start of 2009!
Danilo Schmiedel, from Opitz Consulting, is someone who I met a few years ago but hadn't seen present before. His presentation, describing migrations of a customer's applications from SOA 10g to 11g seemed to go very quickly - Danilo has a quietly confident (and rather suave) style and his slides included several useful diagrams - well worth attending if you get the chance.
Finally I gave a presentation about automating the management of WebLogic. My presentation style is probably quite the opposite to Danilo - we hammered through the slide deck, varying from code extracts to busy diagrams, and overran by 5 minutes! As I had promised to Jürgen I also slipped in a few slides about my first impressions of WebLogic 12c (and Active GridLink of course!) at the end.
The formal sessions were rounded off with everyone back in the main hall for a demonstration by Andy Kershaw of Oracle's latest toy - the Oracle Social Network, i.e. their social media platform for use in the enterprise. This was in the same vein to Larry Ellison's keynote at last year's Oracle OpenWorld, although it went into greater depth.
Days 3 & 4: Hands-On Labs
My remaining 2 days were spent in the WebLogic Server 12c Hands-On Labs. Maciej Gruszka spent some time outlining the new WebLogic 12c features, which I admit I'd already mostly studied myself, though having come from a BEA background he had some very useful insights into how they would be used. Maciej then handed over to two of his local colleagues and the remaining time was mostly spent doing labs. These were based on an excellent VirtualBox VM image put together by Jeff West and Steve Button, and that could be easily reconfigured to test TopLink Grid, Coherence*Web and so on. There were far more labs than feasible to complete in the allotted time but, because the materials were provided, it should be possible to complete them all later. The second part of the labs were developer-focussed and ran on the OTN WebLogic Virtual Developer Day (VDD) VM - you can try this out yourself by either signing up to the next VDD or downloading the recordings from OTN. Even though I work with WebLogic Server quite a lot there are areas I either haven't used much, or some new features that I haven't had chance to try, so this kind of pick and mix approach really suited me and made the days very worthwhile.
This must be my fourth or fifth Oracle Partner Community Forum now. At them you hear about Oracle product road-maps, meet and share experiences with other professionals working in the same field from across Europe, and have access to some senior Oracle employees. For any partner organisation working seriously with Oracle Fusion Middleware they're really an essential event to attend.
Note: sorry, but the photos are currently missing due to an intermittent problem with the blog software when uploading images. I hope to sort that out when I get time at the weekend.