OOW 2012: Questions to get answered during this conference

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The show of the year is around the corner: on Sunday it will all start again, the Oracle Open World conference. Tens of thousands of developers, architects, administrators, project managers, decision makers and others involved with Oracle products one way or another are gathering in and around San Francisco. AMIS will attend with an 8 person team. We will present, network, publish and investigate. As much as we bring our knowledge and experience to the conference, we also want to find out many things. A quick list of some of the questions that are on the top of my head to get answered during thus year’s conference:

Cloud

After last year’s announcements, we have not really seen any concrete cloud instances from Oracle. I hope to learn during this conference where exactly we stand and are headed with the Oracle Cloud – both the Application and the Platform Services. My focus will be on the latter in particular: what is the functionality and non-functionality offered by the various services – from Database Service to Web Services (PHP, Ruby and Python support) and Oracle Cloud Developer Services Hudson (for continuous integration, Git and GitHub for source control, wiki and tasks for project management). Also: Mobile Services allow organizations to build cross-platform native and HTML5 applications for smartphones and tablets. And three more components that are services that Oracle provides to end users: Documents Services, Sites Services, and Analytics Services.

Apparently, the site at https://cloud.oracle.com has not yet been adapted (and neither is http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/cloud/overview/index.html) to align with the announcements made early June by Larry Ellison and Mark Hurd (see for example http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-06-07/larry-ellison-finds-his-voice-oracle-finds-its-cloud and the article in Oracle Magazine: www.oracle.com/technetwork/issue-archive/2012/12-sep/o52cloud-1735855.html). I suppose during OOW 2012 we will hear many more concrete details about the exact cloud offerings – including: when, where and under which conditions (real pay per use model, a base subscription fee, or ‘bring your own license’  and for how long do you enter a commitment). What SLA commitments is Oracle prepared to make in terms of availability and performance (and recovery?). Which management facilities are available for administration of the cloud services – to ensure availability, scalability, security etc.

It is also interesting to see how Oracle positions itself against the competition, such as SalesForce.com that just announced the Heroku Enterprise Java Cloud Service (PaaS) during its own conference (Dreamforce): adtmag.com/articles/2012/09/20/new-enterprise-cloud-service.aspx.

Other questions still open from last year: will there be support for SOA and BPM from the cloud? and is access to the data in the Database Service only through APEX, Java in the cloud application (JDBC) and RESTful services? Or can we access the cloud database in more direct ways from on premise (or on some other cloud applications).

I would be interested in some references too: who is using the cloud services, for what, and what have their experiences been like.

Engineered Systems

What is the current status of ExaLogic? Any substantial updates in the layout of ExaData (a new ExaData generation for example) or ExaLytics? Any new steps on the path of Engineered systems – such as an ‘OSB in the box’ (although ExaLogic can be set up as such)? And what has been the uptake by the market of the previously released engineered systems? Is the concept of the private cloud still being pursued in the same way as before?

see these predictions for Hardware and Database Announcements on OOW 2012: http://blog.oracle-ninja.com/2012/08/pre-open-world-predictions-exadata-x3-2/ and the possibility of an ExaData Flash-WriteBack feature: http://blog.oracle-ninja.com/2012/08/exadata-flash-write-back-sooner-than-we-think/. Info World write this about a new ExaData machine: http://www.infoworld.com/d/applications/oracle-likely-announce-exadata-sequel-soon-203259. Another source: http://kevinclosson.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/oracle-announces-the-worlds-second-oltp-machine-public-disclosure-of-exadata-futures-with-write-back-flash-cache-thats-a-sneak-peek-at-oow-2012-big-news/.

Java/JEE

Where are we with the roadmaps for the various Java components? The recent re-structuring of JEE 7 (https://blogs.oracle.com/theaquarium/entry/java_ee_7_roadmap) has changed the EE roadmap potentially quite considerably. What now is in JEE 7 seems to be small fry – updates of existing APISs largely, with support for HTML 5 and WebSockets the potentially most interesting new definition – and the exact roadmap for JEE 8 is now somewhat unclear. Is SE 8 still on track – for release in the Summer of 2013 – and is FX still slated to merge into SE 8 soon after?  The support for clouds, for SaaS and PaaS that make up the most dramatic new aspect of JEE 8 – has that reached some sort of clear roadmap?

What has project Avatar (support across the Java platform for HTML 5 and WebSockets) delivered? And where is it going?

How is the current relationship between the world of Java and Google (of Dalvik and Android)? Does Google contribute (again) to the Java platform?

Mobile

Technology to enable the enterprise to go mobile – is what I expect from Oracle. Last year, interesting announcements were made around ADF Mobile – to support development of applications (HTML 5 and native/disconnected) for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android. Used by Oracle itself for WebCenter and Fusion Applications. Around OOW 12 I hope to see more than early demos and slideware – hopefully real demos and shortly the tools themselves available for our download and evaluation. Also the relationship between ADF Mobile and the Oracle Cloud Mobile Service. And in general: the proposed architecture for mobile applications – for example using JSON based Web-service exposed by ADF BC or by the OSB? How does the off-line mode work and how can we re-synchronize the device when it comes on-line again?

SOA and BPM

The SOA Suite has reached a fairly mature and stable state some time ago. Last year, the roadmap for SOA Suite indicated primarily a further strengthening (industrializing) of the product in the upcoming 12c release. Other plans for 12c included a further integration between OSB and SOA Suite (the SCA engine) – at design time in JDeveloper and at run time in the Enterprise Manager Fusion Middleware Control Console. Support in 12c for refactoring, testing and debugging for composite applications sounded very attractive. The still somewhat reluctant support for the UMS Adapter (incoming emails, support for IM – instant message) will further be strengthened as will the Enterprise Scheduler. I am also looking for more (OOTB) support for JSON (and REST).

In 12c there is also expected a next level of support for Events – extending from the 11g Event Delivery Network. A lighter weight development environment – being able to run SOA Suite on the integrated WLS in JDeveloper for example. Easier and more effective administration facilities might also be added, as part of the industrialization of the SOA Suite. Also interesting would be: monitoring (and pro-active alerting) on both a technical and functional/business level, SLA monitoring, easier recovery, better pruning (of the dehydration store) and the ability to perform longer term trend-analysis on service behavior and resource consumption

During OOW 2012 I hope to find out where the 12c plans stand: is the above still the plan, has the roadmap been changed in any substantial way and when can we expect working software? Hopefully we will be able to see some demos of this (intended) functionality.

For BPM the story has been a little more interesting: the PS4 FP and subsequent PS5 release earlier this year introduced substantial new functionality for BPM – for example the upgrade of inflight BPM process instances and the ‘force a process instance to a specific step and set of process variable values). For the near future, I am anxious to learn if the integration in BPM processes of documents has been extended. Another, similar theme, is the approach of a business process through case management – with a far more flexible process that allows improvisation and user defined paths.

The next generation of governance tooling – especially the Oracle Enterprise Repository 12c – is an area of interest to me. Governance – for example in order to really achieve reuse – is becoming increasingly important. OER 11g is not the perfect tool I would think of to do Governance. Hopefully the all new (ADF 11g based) OER 12c will by contrast be that perfect tool.

ADF

ADF has established itself as the strategic development framework for Oracle – and as such as the one of the most robust and rich frameworks for enterprise application development in the industry. The recent announcement of ADF Essentials will further strengthen this position; I am very curious to see how the Java/JEE community will respond to this announcement. For ADF the big news during this conference are probably in the mobile space. The Data Visualization tags are always an area of personal interest – perhaps there are new components to try out. I am wondering whether a move has been made (or at least designed) to base ADS (Active Data Service or push ADF Style) on WebSockets. The support for automated build (Hudon/Jenkins, Maven, Git/GitHub) in ADF and JDeveloper is an area to investigate into. Experiences with deployment of ADF applications to GlassFish, JBoss and Tomcat is also on my list, as is experience with run time tuning of ADF applications. Finally, a special interest of mine is support for Design Time @ Run Time in ADF – through the Composer products. I hope to learn more about the Page Composer and the Data Composer.

A special topic around ADF: how best to do automated functional regression testing and load/performance testing of ADF applications.

WebCenter

WebCenter has been the subject of several re-structure and reposition attempts. I am eager to learn for example how the announced integration of Sites into Portal has been progressing – since these started out as completely separate technologies, this integration is no small feat. Similar, yet easier I would expect, is the change in Sites to make it use WC Content (pka UCM) as Content Server. In general the uptake of WebCenter in the market, the use made of it by Fusion Applications and especially the position of WebCenter Social is interesting. What are Oracle’s plans for WebCenter – in particular for on-premise usage.

Database

We know Oracle is working on Database 12c R1. Larry Ellison made it public that the release of 12c would not happen until very late 2012 or even early in 2013. So we will not get our hands on Database 12c during this OOW conference. However, there is still bound to be a lot of information being disseminated about 12c, starting with Andy Mendelsohn’s keynote on Monday morning, 1st October.

One of the themes for 12c – as we heard last year during OOW – is the management of large numbers of database instances. Creating instances (through cloning for example) and upgrading these many instances would be made much easier. We will see how this objective will be realized.

The pretty advanced Edition Based Redefinition (EBR) mechanism – that allows for zero-downtime application upgrades is used for EBS 12 and will help to smooth the EBS 12.2 Online Patching process. I am curious where else the EBR facility is being used. Note: EBR is free to use – any Database Edition has EBR, it does not require an additional license.

WebLogic

WebLogic 12c was released last December, finally supporting the full JEE 6 standard. WebLogic is undergoing some rework to provider a better fit for the Oracle Cloud offerings. It is will also be updated to support JEE 7, that should come out in December. One of the features expected in the next WebLogic is support for WebSocktes. Additionally, I am eager to learn what the cache-fetures are for WLS and how these may further evolve. I also want keep a close eye on the production redeployment features that helps with zero-downtiw applixation upgrades.

Miscellaneous

Several areas in Enterprise Manager are on my list of watching out for. OATS – the testing suite is one of these. RUEI is another – to monitor at run time what end users are experiencing – and ideally to act on disappointing system behavior before users start complaining themselves. Support for cloud management is still one more – in the area of metering/billing for true usage for example.

Last year on Oracle Open World, the launch of BigData and support from Oracle for NoSQL were among the big items of the conference. Support for Hadoop for processing large volumes of fairly raw data in order to arrive at information worth acting on or worth storing in a relational database was among the announcements. One year on, I am interested to hear what people have been doing in this realm of data and possibly with tools Oracle offers.

APEX: no big news is expected on APEX. The 4.2 release is imminent, with the most important modifications in the area of mobile (HTML) development through the introduction of jQuery mobile.

Forms: we know Forms 12c is planned for probably sometime early 2013. At this point I have not heard about Forms 13x or whatever it will be called, but it definitely seems there is more life in Forms yet. During OOW 2012 we will have several opportunities to learn both Oracle and from organizations using Forms what their respective plans for the future are. Most importantly, at the Forms Community Event there will be a gathering, two presentations and panel on Forms (http://oracleformsinfo.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/ask-the-product-manager-join-us-at-the-oracle-forms-community-event-at-openworld-2012/) where we will learn much about plans, desires and strategy.

I would be interested to learn if Oracle is selling hardware at a satisfying pace, finally stabilizing or even starting to grow some of the market share of the former Sun’s products.

Architecture discussions to conduct/best practices to define

How to best implement batch/bulk data exchanges in the Oracle stack: where do OSB, SOA Suite and ODI meet? Does the Enterprise Scheduler play a role? Should we try to give up batch and go for trickle feed – on possibly a low priority background job?

Should our Web or Portal application use ADF BC to directly go to the database? Or should we have Web and Portal application access Web Services (on the ESB) that internally may or may not be implemented using ADF BC?

What is the best way (an ongoing discussion) for implementing data oriented business rules? What are considerations? What ensures best performance and scalability, the highest water-tightness, the easiest implementation?

If we organize our enterprise data in separate domains (or hubs) – how do we implement data constraints across these domains? How may MDM (Master Data Management) help to further organize, structure and improve our enterprise data model and the way that data is used, managed and exposed.

What is and is not the role of Business Rules in our Fusion Middleware environment? How can we use OPA (Policy Automation)?

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About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director for Fusion Middleware. Consultant, trainer and instructor on diverse areas including Oracle Database (SQL & PLSQL), Service Oriented Architecture, BPM, ADF, Java in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press book: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook. Frequent presenter on conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle OpenWorld, ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Devoxx and OBUG. Presenter for Oracle University Celebrity specials.

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