Postcard from Lisbon - Fusion Middleware Partner Summer Camps 2015
24 Aug 2015 by Simon Haslam (in Events)
|Last week I attended my second Oracle Fusion Middleware "summer camp" in Lisbon which this year, as you might expect, was themed around Oracle middleware cloud products. This is not a technical post - I have another Java Cloud Service (JCS) post in progress - but rather, how much it costs to go to the training, how you as an Oracle Partner might benefit from them, and whether you should aim to attend a future one.|
Apparently this is the fifth summer camp now, though I have only attended the last two. They are organised by Jürgen Kress from the EMEA Oracle Middleware Partner team, under the umbrella term of "Partner Enablement", i.e. making sure partners have the skills and tools to sell and deploy Oracle products effectively for customers.
Firstly, let's consider costs. The training itself is completely free, other than your organisation needing a current Oracle Partner Network membership (e.g. $3000 per year for gold partners). Jürgen typically opens registration for his events at least 100 days in advance so if you want to attend it's important to act quickly since places are allocated on a "first come, first served" basis and are quickly snapped up - this one for example had ~150 registrations for only 100 places and was fully booked quite a few weeks ago. Be aware that there's a hefty fee of €2000 for no-show: fair enough in my opinion since this is probably the value of training you are depriving someone else of if you don't turn up.
Oracle had a negotiated rate at the Lagoas Park Hotel of only €75 per room B&B which is very reasonable indeed for a modern, 4*+ hotel, and well below their standard rate. I always try to stay at conference hotels if I can since you invariably have interesting discussions with your peers over breakfast or in the bar in the evening and, at this rate, there was certainly no reason not to.
Flights to Portugal could well be the biggest expense for non-Portuguese delegates - even flying Easyjet from the UK was around £350/€260, although I probably could have saved money had I been able to book a little earlier.
Of course the biggest costs for most people is the potential loss of 5 days' revenue. The impact of this will depend on whether, in mid-August you're on a project or not. For my work I can usually juggle things around and consider such training as a business investment, but I'm sure not all organisations (or their project managers) will see it that way, even with 100 days' notice.
The training itself is takes place at either the conference centre in the hotel itself, or the Oracle office which is just round the corner, and is from 9am-5/6/7pm with a comfortable hour for lunch (more of which below).
I attended the JCS track which also included a day on the Document Cloud Service. Alongside JCS there were tracks for Hybrid Integration, Process Cloud Service & Mobile Cloud Service. The JCS trainer was Cosmin Tudor (@CosTudor), and the Docs trainer was Flavius Sana, both from Oracle's PTS team - both enthusiastic and capable in equal measure.
The training content does vary depending on the products covered, trainers and objectives, but for JCS this year it was a set of 10 lab sessions, interspersed with technical presentations. I'd say the class was fairly evenly split between developer types and administrator/infra architect types like me. Whilst focussed on full PaaS Java Cloud Service, we also spent quite of lot of time on the Developer Cloud Service, DB Cloud Service as well as bit of JCS SX. An unexpected bonus for me were quite deep discussions about load balancing JMS and Coherence with Oracle Traffic Director, as well as supporting labs. In fact the labs were probably the hardest I'd tackled in recent years - it wasn't that most were particularly difficult but there were lots of steps (e.g. one of them had ~125 pages of instructions!), and quite a few discrepancies. I can live with the discrepancies though: firstly we are privileged to get brand new training (or delivered for the first time to non-Oracle staff), and secondly, this forces you to think more about what you are doing, so probably is more educational (nor do you get instructions in the real world!). Training starts at "9am sharp", you will probably be socialising in the evening, but then quite possibly doing some labs last thing at night: 6-7 hours sleep most nights is not unusual in my experience so this is not an easy week away from work.
Social Events and Networking Opportunities
As I alluded to above, all 100 of us sat together for lunch each day. This allowed us to meet new people from other partners across EMEA, to discuss project experiences, and generally hatch new business ideas! It also gives ample opportunity to talk to Oracle staff delivering the other courses. Each lunchtime Jürgen would also spend 10 minutes talking about various non-technical aspects of Fusion Middleware business development - the sales kits available, how to get access to demo environments, what marketing support existed, how to get specialized, and so on. For technical people this is easily overlooked and it is important to be reminded about if only to push others in our organisations to the right places.
Oracle also provided a big social event for us - a wine tasting and dinner in the cellars of the Marquis de Pombal's former house - again another very good opportunity to mingle with other partners from across Europe.This year I brought my family to Portugal too and am now spending a few extra days in Lisbon - although I travel on business quite a lot it's very nice to spend time exploring such destinations with my nearest and dearest, so am happy to have the opportunity this time.
Should you attend?
Assuming Jürgen gets budget approval to run another summer camp, should you register next year? Firstly, the topics will be focussed on Oracle's "latest and greatest" products so your employer will need to be well aligned to Oracle product direction (which these days means cloud). Secondly, it will suit you best if you are technical (of course) but also likely have the opportunity to put the technology to good use, either in Proof of Concepts or real projects; there is little point Oracle investing in training, or you in your own time, if what you learn remains unused - as has been proven you forget new skills if you don't reinforce them quickly. Next, don't expect the training to be pristine and scripted such that you end up with a "tick in a box" at the end - that's not its primary objective. Finally only sign up if you are open to meeting new people and sharing ideas - this is a key part of the exercise and helps us all come up with new alliances and innovative solutions.
If all that sounds appealing then registration will probably open in around 250 days..!