OOW13: What questions to get answered and plans to see evolved at this year at Oracle OpenWorld Conference

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As I am about to start my ninth Oracle OpenWorld Conference, I am wondering what this year’s conference will have in store for me. My schedule is largely filled  up, I know who I am going to meet, where I have to speak and where I need to go. Now I also try to create an overview of what questions I would like to get answered during this conference, what topics I – and my 11 colleagues from AMIS who are also attending the conference – should cover in our explorations, report and presentation after OOW. During the AMIS Oracle OpenWorld Review session – Thursday 10th of October – we will answering most of these questions in our presentation at AMIS HQ (sign up here: http://www.amis.nl/nl-NL/evenementen/technologie-evenementen/oow-review).

(note: this is the list I put together before hearing any announcements or learning of any inside stories. Later today I will learn such information under embargo and then I could no longer honestly speculate of course)

  • What is this In-Memory Database option that promises such spectacular (10-100 times) application performance improvements? And what is required to benefit from it – both in terms of hardware, application architecture, database implementation as well as licenses. What customers and applications are likely to benefit from it? Is it a move against SAP’s HANA?
  • With Oracle Database 12c Release 1 only just shipping, it becomes interesting to learn about themes for 12c R2 and beyond. It may be a little early to hear too much about this – but one can always try.
  • Where are we on Big Data? Has it become practical for more companies than the happy few? What are practical use cases? What is the message from Oracle in the keynotes by Mark Hurd (Transforming Businesses with Big Data and Analytics on Monday) and Thomas Kurian (Hardware and Software, Engineered to Work Together: Simplifying and Enabling IT for a Cloud, Big Data, and Customer Driven World) on Tuesday
  • Cloud
  • Many questions surround the cloud: how is Oracle doing in terms of actually delivering its cloud services (which services are available for production level usage and to what extent are real customers using these services? What is the status of the IaaS services Oracle announced last year? Is the uptake of SaaS – especially Fusion Applications – proceeding on a healthy course?
  • Convince me [to convince my customers] to start using the Java and Database Cloud Services. What is Larry’s message in his keynote on Wednesday: The Oracle Cloud Platform: Database as a Service. Java as a Service
  • Has Oracle Cloud adopted the 12c database with pluggable architecture that allows for much more efficient resource sharing? If so, what are the gains Oracle is seeing itself – and what possible drawbacks?
  • Is there any chance of getting Fusion Middleware on the Oracle Cloud – allowing organizations not only to quickly get going with the middleware but also doing so under scalable costs (related to usage) and without big investments?
  • Are there plans to make Java Cloud Service available for free to open source projects and other community initiatives? If not: what can we do to put some pressure on Oracle to make it happen?
  • What impact will the deals with Microsoft (Azure) and SalesForce have on the way Oracle positions its own cloud?
  • Last year there was talk of an App Store for the Oracle Cloud, in which partners could publish their extensions to Oracle Cloud services. I have not heard a lot about this store since last year and I am anxious to learn where it stands. I may actually  make money of that store.
  • What is the reality around Oracle Social Network? Larry Ellison demonstrated with gusto – but then it became quiet it seemed. It that OSN real? Are people using it? How is it or can it be used? What will it do to/with  LinkedIn, Yammer and other business focused social tools?
  • I would also like to find out whether Oracle has devised additional, more refined subscription fees for the cloud services that are more in tune with actual usage of the service (than just a fixed monthly fee).
  • I was intrigued last year by the notion of having Oracle Cloud on site: Oracle providing and managing hardware and software on the customer premises. I am curious to learn if that service is still offered and whether it is actually happening anywhere in the world.
  • Hardware & Engineered Systems

  • What is the status of hardware at Oracle. The financial results for hardware are mixed at best: continued decline and tremendous growth for engineered systems (in relative numbers; growing by large percentages is easier when you start small of course).
  • What is the uptake of the ODA and the WebLogic on ODA combination? It is a very tangible option even for companies that do not think at the scale of Exadata when it comes to buying new hardware to run their Oracle Database on. Is the ODA selling? Is it making its buyers happy? What next will be in store?
  • Operating Systems and Virtualization
  • How important is the recently announced Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance? (http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/1988596) How will it be positioned? The software and hardware engineered together in this case are the OVM and the underlying hardware; is something such as ‘engineered to work together’ now also available between OVM and the Oracle platform (Database and Fusion Middleware) and if yes: to what extent and how does it work?
  • What is next for Oracle Linux? It feels like Oracle is becoming more visible as a Linux distributor. Interest in Oracle Linux seems increasing – judging by traffic on the internet. I have recently started using Linux in anger myself – and that has led to far more eagerness to learn about it evolution.
  • Is the cross over between Solaris and Oracle Linux continuing? In what ways?
  • Fusion Middleware
  • Quite a few of my customers have a strong interest in the future of Forms (yes, they still do!); therefore, I do too. So I like to get confirmation that Forms 12c is in the works and will be released in the next 12 months; an insight into what Forms 12c will offer beyond certification with the WebLogic 12c and Database 12c would be nice too.
  • Where is Oracle on integrating WebCenter Sites with WebCenter Portal and Content? And vice versa? Is there any true synergy on the horizon? Or are the objectives, deployment models and developers/content managers too separate to really marry the two together?
  • What are popular use cases for Coherence? Is it being used as much as one would expect from its capabilities? Is Oracle itself leveraging Coherence as much in its products as could be the case? What future integrations for Coherence into FMW products is planned?
  • What is the latest on GoldenGate? Golden Gate has been getting a lot of attention, as a solution for data(base) synchronization supporting business cases around availability, migration, application upgrade and MDM. What is the road ahead for GoldenGate?
  • BPM Suite for me was the star of last year’s show. I am anxious to find out the further evolution of BPM Suite. Adaptive Case Management was introduced earlier this year. Where is it going next – as it seems to become a core aspect of automating business processes. How will it mature? How will classic BPMN and ACM be combined? There has been talk of BPM taking over some of the capabilities for Enterprise Architecture modeling that were found in the BPA suite in the past. I would like to know the status on those plans. Enhanced support around business rules has also been mentioned in BPM overviews in the past. The 12c roadmap for BPM will be very interesting to learn about.
  • SOA Suite [SCA Composite Engine] and Oracle Service Bus – up until now by and large considered two separate products even though part of the same suite license are heading towards a true integration in the 12c release. I expect to see demonstrations on exactly how the SOA Suite 12c product will contain both the Service Bus as well as the SCA engine and how the two integrate both at design time as well as run time. Other aspects of the 12c roadmap include robustness, ease of development (and footprint of development), ability to test, debug and refactor and support for REST and several other adapters into new technologies.
  • When Oracle acquired BEA (back in 2008) it also acquired Enterprise Repository – a tool for supporting IT Governance. Governance is an important aspect of achieving successful implementations of service oriented architecture and are crucial for long term agile development (to name but two of the reasons for caring about Governance). I never really liked the tool itself. OER is intimidating, unattractive and lacks close alignment with processes I witness in IT departments (development shops). I happen to know Oracle is working on a successor to OER. And I am hoping to learn more about this 12c product for Governance.
  • Administration of Middleware is not a trivial task. It is hard to learn what is going on in our run time environments, to be warned ahead of time of pending failure or to quickly analyze and correct problems when they occur. End to end tracing of transactions, monitoring messages as they travel from components to component and identifying the cause of delays and actual conversation break down is the holy grail for administrators. The BTM (business transaction management) module in Enterprise Manager was supposed to be one part of the solution. I am curious if it pans out that way and what are options the Oracle run time stack has to offer.
  • Back in June 2011 Oracle acquired Datanomic – a leading provider of enterprise customer data quality software and related applications for Watch List compliance screening. It currently offers a product called Enterprise Data Quality based on the Datanomic offering. I have not yet looked at it very closely but I intend to do so shortly.
  • Endeca: one of the highlights in 2012, this new kid on the block of Information Discovery. I am eager to find where Endeca stands, how it integrates into other components of the stack and what its roadmap is.
  • ADF
  • What is next for ADF? What effect will Web Sockets have on ADF and how is the REST-evolution and HTML 5/CSS 3 development going to affect ADF? Will ADF BC expose REST-ful services just like today it exposes EJB and SOAP style interfaces? Any new DVTs on the horizon (the diagrammer for example that has been hinted at)?
  • Is any work being done in ADF at reducing the sometimes staggering resource consumption (primarily memory) from large scale deployments?) Is the combination ADF and Coherence one that is being pushed (not only for session replication but for caching at the ADF BC level as well as read-only ViewObjects and other NoSQL examples?
  • Is there more to be expected around the governance of ADF Taskflows, as truly reusable components with contracts, stand alone testing and other reusability facilities? Is Oracle making changes in the way ADF applications are modularized to for example make deployment more manageable than right now through a single monster EAR? (easier use of WLS Shared Libraries for deploying ADF Libraries that are linked into much smaller ADF Web applications at run time)
  • Any news on (automated) testing of ADF Web applications? If the Oracle Application Testing Suite today really good at running regression test scenarios for rich UIs created using ADF?
  • What will Java EE 7 mean to ADF? When will we see evolution in ADF that is derived from Java EE 7?
  • What is the status of ADF Essentials? What is the uptake? On which platforms is Essentials being used? Are changes planned in what Essentials does and does not include?
  • What is the evolution around the Composer tools for Design Time at Run Time? Will the Data Composer (code name Jedi) come into the limelight? Will we be able to use Page Composer without having to license all of Web Center Portal?
  • Where is ADF Mobile today? Is it widely used across Oracle? Is it starting to mature at least a little? Is the performance of the Android apps up to par with iOS? Is the development experience for ADF Mobile getting more in line with regular ADF?
  • Important Themes
  • I expect ‘REST-ification’ to be a  major theme during Oracle OpenWorld 2013. Some products have strong support for REST (APEX, WebCenter Content, Coherence, Oracle Cloud services) or are rapidly evolving (ADF, WebLogic – a REST-based equivalent to WLST?) while for others there have been rumors and hints (SOA Suite). REST support in the database (something like native JSON support, similar to PL/JSON, for example and wrappers for UTL_HTTP) is not yet very evolved. Across the stack support for REST is not just a reaction to the trend in the industry. The development of mobile applications (as well as the next generation of web-applications running on desktop browsers) is typically done on top of RESTful services. With Oracle’s emphasis on (ADF) Mobile as well as adoption of (all of) HTML 5, more and consistent support for RESTful ways into the back end is warranted. Another important aspect of the expected push for REST is the cloud: management of Cloud services – including monitoring and automated (scripted) operations – is required; such admin tasks are executed over HTTP. Therefore, HTTP based APIs are required and REST is a de facto way of exposing such an API. Many components in the FMW stack already offer such APIs (WebCenter Content was one of the first I believe). I expect to see more mutual alignment across product groups to work in a consistent fashion on exposing such services.
  • Internet of Things – “uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure ” (source:Wikipedia); I am still not entirely comfortable with that term. The phrase keeps popping up and it seems like Oracle is embracing it as well. {edit: On closer examination, the internet of things turns out to be about the ever growing number of devices that is IP-enabled and can connect to the internet; these things – devices – form incredible sources of data and pose tremendous security challenges- among other things]
  • Similarly, the standards around Web Sockets (among other things for highly scalable server to client push) have been finalized and support for Web Sockets in Java EE 7 has been defined as well. WebLogic 12c provides support for Web Sockets (since June 2013). I expect to see many Oracle products leveraging the Web Sockets – not just for server to browser communication by the way. Web Sockets provide a standardized, cross technology, bi-directional communication channel that could have the database call out to the middle-tier or the Java EE server to the .NET environment and vice versa.
  • Java
    Java EE 7 was released just before the Summer. Java EE 8 was already in the works for some time, Cloud (PaaS) being one of the themes. I am wondering how much is known at this point about where Java EE is going and how well the vendors are working together to make it continue moving forward. It is also interesting to learn about Google’s position at this point. Is it actually involved in the Java eco system? Playing a role as a back bencher?
  • The PaaS theme in Java EE 8 requires many PaaS providers (and competitors) to work together to describe how Java EE could work with PaaS platforms in general; for Java EE 7 it turned out to be not possible to align the vendors, many of them with contrasting views and interests. I would like to learn if for Java EE 8 reaching meaningful consensus (apart from agreeing on disagreement) is going to be reached
  • Java SE 8 was deferred until the Spring of 2014 (The target release date for Java 8 is now 2014/3/18). During JavaOne 2013 I expect at least an update of the current progress (especially on completing project Lambda, the main cause for the delay). The integration of JavaFX – to succeed Swing – may actually happen a little bit differently than originally anticipated now with this delay. I hope to find out where JavaFX is at right now and how it is evolving.
  • Java Embedded (and Mobile) for small devices and not so smart phones is a very important focus area for Oracle. I am curious to learn about developments in that area – and the response from the industry
  • The continued cross over and even outright fusion between original Sun products (GlassFish, Hotspot JVM, NetBeans…) and Fusion Middleware components (WebLogic, JRockit JVM, Mission Control, JDeveloper) is also of interest. My customers for example show an interest in running ADF (Essentials) on GlassFish. With the evolution of both – we can offer these customers solutions that fit better into their landscape.
  • The roadmap for WebLogic – making clear when it will fully support Java EE 7 is one of my points of interest as well in this conference.
  • Miscellaneous
  • And the really important big question that slowly is heading our way: will the next generation of Oracle software – beyond 12c – use 13 (that is thirteen) as it numerical label? Or will Oracle join hotel chains, airlines and many other companies in avoiding that conspicuous number?

More on these questions in the days to come. Hopefully some answers as well.

About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director and Oracle Developer Champion. Solution architect and developer on diverse areas including SQL, JavaScript, Docker, Machine Learning, Java, SOA and microservices, events in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press books: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook and Oracle SOA Suite 12c Handbook. Frequent presenter on community events and conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle Code and Oracle OpenWorld.

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