Oracle Fusion Middleware Partner Community (SOA and WebLogic) Forum in Faro
27 Feb 2013 by Simon Haslam (in Events)
Last week I attended Oracle's Fusion Middleware Partner Community event in Vilamoura (near Faro, Portugal). This is maybe my fifth or sixth forum in succession now so I thought I'd outline the latest one to show why I find them so useful.
Note: Some of the material presented to us was Oracle Partner confidential so not disclosed here. However all of the slide decks are available from the Oracle Partner (SOA and WebLogic) Community workspaces - for access contact Jürgen Kress (you may need your Oracle Partner ID).
The core material on the first day was focussed around Oracle's middleware product capabilities and positioning in the market. The full agenda is here but I'll just pick out some snippets from the sessions I attended:
Oracle Middleware Sales Strategy, Opportunities and Go-to-Market
Alistair Hopkins, a VP in EMEA Sales set the scene by describing the current and growth areas for middleware, opportunities for partners and then went on to describe some of the big drivers for customers, in particular the "Internet of Things" or proliferation of machine-to-machine (M2M) interaction. He showed some research which had M2M possibilities for most verticals, as well as illustrating it with various examples, like how BMW cars now send vast quantities of telemetric data back to the manufacturer for analysis to improve the product quality and customer experience.
To me this mass automation and integration will be the culmination of two big IT trends of the last decade - service enablement (i.e. machines having standard interfaces that don't need a human to interpret them via a browser) and network availability/convergence - everything that needs to connect to the internet now can (and in a cost-effective manner - not withstanding the sluggish IPv6 rate of adoption).
Oracle Fusion Middleware 12c and innovating application portfolio with middleware
Another VP, Ed Zou, this time within product management, had flown in from California to deliver his session - a sign of how seriously Oracle HQ takes this community. He followed on from Alistair's presentation to talk about how the middleware platform is catering for the current trends, such as mobile, as well as the wider picture on what Oracle is enabling with private, and public, cloud. In particular he showed some research predicting that the number of mobile internet users will exceed desktop users by 2014 - certainly if you're a B2C organisation, and even many in B2B, your applications need to be mobile friendly now. Ed then used various references to show how customers are using different aspects of middleware today, and where the technologies are being developed going forward with cloud etc.
BPM Suite PS6 what is new and where are the use cases & why do we win against the competition
I was fortunate enough to attend training by David Read on the upcoming BPM PS6 release at the end of last year so was mostly familiar with this material. BPM PS6 is likely to contain quite a lot of new functionality (i.e. not just patches).
What is new in SOA Suite: fast data and mobile & cloud integration and where are the use cases & why do we win against the competition
This session by Simone Geib described some of the drivers for evolution of the SOA platform - RESTful web services to support mobile devices (and the security issues they can present), integration across public and private clouds, and now "fast data" - big data that has to be acted upon quickly as it has very transient value (one example Simone gave was location data for a mobile devices - if you are going to send the user an offer for a nearby store you need to do it quickly).
What is new in WebLogic & surrounding technologies & Java Cloud and where are the use cases & why do we win against the competition
Maciej Gruszka is the very likeable WebLogic/CAF Product Manager from Poland. I was quite familiar with this material as it tends to be my focus area but it's always interesting to hear the latest news as it can change quite quickly.
ADF & ADF mobile live demo
Grant Ronald followed on from the mobile point in Ed Zou's presentation to discuss some of the issues for mobile applications as well as what the ADF Mobile framework offers, including a live demo that embedded a Google map into a native mobile app which he deployed onto his tablet. What struck me, and that I hadn't noticed before, is that you use the same ADF mobile pages for both iOS and Android devices - only the deployment plan is different (I'm sure there must be more subtlety to it than this though!).
My thinking here is that businesses have far less brand bias than consumers - if you're equipping your employees with tablets/phones and Android devices can do the same job but at lower cost than Apple that's probably what you go for. This is especially true if your employees are, for example, site engineers and you know there will be quite a high rate of replacement required. Of course ADF's platform choice not only provides the customer an opportunity to source from different manufacturers, but also strengthens their bargaining position.
The next day had a choice of sessions so these are just the ones I went to:
Where and When should I use the Oracle Service Bus (OSB)This is a presentation that I think Guido Schmutz, from Trivadis, has delivered elsewhere but I hadn't had chance to see. I really like Guido's presentations - they are well ordered, his slides are very clean and he has a relaxed but efficient style of delivery. I think his unintimidating approach helped foster the questions from the audience too (quite a few topics came up, if I remember correctly - Coherence cache, reporting configuraton, clustering, memory sizing etc). The time went very quickly and we could easily have spent another hour in deeper discussion.
B2B 11g in details – live demo
I hadn't looked into B2B before and this was a really useful session by Simone Geib. The B2B adaptors convert from one "traditional" communication standard to another, allowing you to, for example, deal with EDI or ebXML messages from composites within BPEL. They also allow you to secure the transport in various ways. People often bemoan the use of XML but at least it's mostly human readable (especially with some stylesheets) whereas some of this old positional stuff is pretty cryptic - which became quite apparent in the demo. Interesting stuff.
SOA Suite best practice A-Team project experience
James Allerton-Austin gave this very useful presentation for SOA administrators. Whilst I had seen, read or experienced most of the infrastructure specific points (mostly around the database) previously there were some new anti-patterns around a/synchronous services that I hadn't really thought about so it was a worthwhile use of time.
Process accelerators in detail including live demo
The BPM process accelerators are pre-built templates for common business processes, such as travel approval. This is a particularly interesting development - the templates are not only the composites themselves but full documentation and dashboards around them, a sort of "product within a product." This just seems like the tip of the iceberg too and it looks like several more accelerators are in the pipeline - well worth investigating if you have a BPM project.
SOA Suite 12c first impression
The last session was Simone presenting a live demo of some impressive new features coming in SOA 12c. It looked pretty stable too.
SOA & BPM & ADF Community Summary & Closing
Finally Jürgen Kress, who is the driving force behind the several middleware communities in EMEA, wrapped up the formal side of the event and handed out some community awards.
Now to consider the networking opportunities. There is plenty of time built into the agenda to meet people and compare experiences at the coffee breaks, lunches and dinner. This year one evening Oracle took us off in coaches to the Estoi Palace - a large villa built in the 18th century in a variety of styles, and now a hotel - and very fine the surroundings, dinner and entertainment was too.
Personally I feel these events are a "who's who" of partners who are serious in the Fusion Middleware partner community, as well as key members of Oracle product management. I had some very interesting discussions with both German and Portuguse systems integrators, as well some of the UK partners like C2B2 and Estafet. The middleware product set is so large and we all have different capabilities in various areas, therefore I think it's useful to be on good terms with other consultancies as you never know when you might need each other. As I've said before, some of my most trusted business relationships have come from meetings at these events.
Finally there are the optional training days. These are typically 2 days, often compressed from a 4-5 day course so usually quite intensive. They are however a very useful step towards your certified implementation specialist certification. In the past I've attended SOA (with Clemens Utschig at autobahn speed!) and BPM PS6 bootcamps, so this time I went to Frank Nimphius' ADF Achitecture course.
In contrast to the other classes there were no labs involved with this one, just quite a few sessions distilled from longer training that the ADF product management team have, up to this point, only been delivering to Oracle internal teams. In particular I found the presentations on overall architecture and service abstraction at various ADF layers were particularly relevant for one of the projects I'm working on at the moment. It seems a shame to summarise Frank's ten or so sessions in only one paragraph, but there's lots of ADF architecture design and best practices coming together now on ADF Insider and ADF Architecture Square which I strongly encourage you to look into if you're working with ADF.
In conclusion, as an Oracle professional working with a constantly evolving product stack, there is always lots to learn. The Partner community forums are an excellent investment of your time in both learning new products, or at least new avenues to research, as well as catalysts for discussions with your peers from other partner organisations. Yet again many thanks to Jürgen Kress, and DDG behind the scenes, for all the hard they put in to make the conference a success.