Archive for cloud

Oracle: All the New Stuff Inside Everything

Oracle Open World 2017

As expected, Oracle OpenWorld 2017 (Oct. 1 – 4 2017) featured a large number of announcements. The debut of Oracle 18c, the latest version of Oracle’s eponymous database, grabbed the most attention. Given it’s billing as an autonomous database and Oracle’s flagship product, this is not suprising.. While the idea of a database infused with machine learning that automates all types of database management functions is intriguing, it overshadowed the real impact of Oracle releases. Oracle 18c was only one of several AI-infused “autonomous” products. Instead, the sum of Oracle’s presentations amounted to adding machine learning into all levels in the Big Red Cloud Stack. AI is now integrated into Oracle’s SaaS, PaaS, IaaS cloud products. Oracle didn’t stop with machine learning either. They have imbued their applications with analytics and blockchain technology too. Oracle have made this technology available from within Oracle Cloud Applications and Oracle+NetSuite, providing advanced technology to mid-market organizations through large enterprises.

In essence, Oracle has made sure that all the new technology that everyone has been hearing about for so long is everywhere in the Oracle ecosystem. That’s very exciting. Previously esoteric technology is now available to the corporate masses in a more cost-effective manner. This strategy mirrors Microsoft’s but with greater depth in large enterprise applications. Until recently, organizations that saw value in these new software technologies would have had to hire experts and maintain expensive systems themselves. By integrating them into enterprise applications in domain specific ways, organizations can reap the benefits of advanced software without the cost of building and maintaining it. This approach makes sense; Technology such as machine learning, analytics, or blockchain doesn’t need to be custom built for most organizations. Managing a supply chain using blockchain, for example, will be similar across organizations. The same is true for sales analytics and machine learning for recruiting.

If an enterprise does need to create specialized uses of these technologies, Oracle makes that easier by providing them as cloud infrastructure services. While data scientists and developers trained in blockchain are still needed, the cost and complexity of building, managing, and maintaining the infrastructure is borne by Oracle. Having these advanced technology stacks prepacked as cloud services also means a faster start. Developers can begin writing code immediately instead of having to waste time spinning up the infrastructure. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM all offer all or some of this technology via the cloud as well. For Oracle loyalists though, the decision to implement just became easier since they no longer have to introduce a new vendor to deploy these types of systems. The tie-in to enterprise cloud applications also simplifies adding customer capabilities to common enterprise applications.

By integrating these three new technologies into everyday enterprise and mid-market applications and providing them as a service, Oracle is making them more accessible to a greater number of organizations. Oracle customers can now gain the benefits of new technology with less of the work or distraction of building it all themselves.

Atlassian Summit 2017 Livestream

I’ve concluded that, for a lot of tech company user conferences, the livestream is the best choice. You get the announcements and keynotes, some of the better sessions, but none of the expense and hassle. If you are a hardcore software developer or IT professional, then the conference is likely worthwhile since it provides an opportunity to connect to others in your field. For bloggers, marketing pros, analysts, and the rest of the ecosystem, the livestream does just fine. Livestreams were also a way to “attend” events that your company or schedule would not permit. Such is the case with Atlassian Summit 2017. The company I worked for (but no longer work for) would never have approved an expenditure like that.

Atlassian Summit 2017 was both familiar and unique. It followed the basic formula of most tech customer conferences. There were keynotes and breakout sessions and the livestream had both. The keynotes, the centerpiece of any livestream or conference, started with a lot of hoopla – dancers, loud EDM, that sort of thing. After the merriment, a co-founder or CEO (or both) come out to extol the virtues of the company culture and charitable giving. Has everyone noticed that every tech company now has a charitable foundation ala Salesforce? Clearly, it’s in vogue and tech companies love to parade out their good works out at conferences. Then we finish up with a speaker, most likely an author, “thinker”, or celebrity who struggles to connect what they do to the company’s products. Kevin Spacey did that masterfully a few years ago. I saw Scott Adams speak an IBM conference where he was funny but struggled to connect with the theme of the conference.

What was different about the Atlassian keynotes was how sloppy they seemed. The co-founders and co-CEOs, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar dressed like they were homeless people. Seriously, baseball caps and tousled hair as if they just woke up and said “Oh damn! I have to give a talk in 5 minutes! Better throw on some clothes. No time for a shower.” Just sloppy. Some of the presenters also seemed nervous or unrehearsed as if they were unprepared for the big stage. It may be that this was what Atlassian was going for, trying to project an image of informality and genuineness. Perhaps but to an enterprise IT professional I doubt this would inspire confidence in Atlassian’s products.

And that’s very unfortunate because the best part of Atlassian’s announcements would certainly appeal to the biggest enterprise customers. Data Center, for example, has expanded to include more Atlassian products and added more enterprise grade features. Cache replication and Rebalancing tools especially will allow for more stability in large installations. The new Identity Manager makes Atlassian products more palatable in security-minded organizations. The addition of Project level administration will also appeal to large enterprises where it is untenable for even a group of administrators to manage each project individually. Even something as simple as the new dependency report will be a help to project managers and release managers trying to manage big and complex projects of the type found in large enterprises.

In other words, the image that Atlassian has of itself and projects outward doesn’t sync with growing ability to service the largest of companies. That’s what made the Atlassian Summit 2017 so unique. These customer confabs are usually carefully scripted to project a brand that is especially palatable to the biggest customers. Atlassian obviously prefers to go its own way and be genuine. While I would love to see them drop the aging gamer look – really guys, it looks silly – for Atlassian, being themselves is more important than looking “enterprise ready.” While I think this will change over time but at this moment in time it’s who they are.

On a final note. A number of people saw my posts on Twitter as being negative toward Atlassian. This is ironic given that the theme of Keynote speaker Kim Scott was Radical Candor. When you consider the scope of Radical Candor, saying that the CEO should lose the baseball cap or show up on time for the Keynote is not particularly harsh. So, lighten up people. And lose the baseball cap on stage.