Saturday, September 27, 2008

Notes from Oracle OpenWorld 2008

OpenWorld is over!!! As much as I enjoyed the event, I felt a sense of relieve when I stepped out of my last meeting at the Customer Visit Center at Moscone North on Thursday afternoon. One of my colleagues saw me and commented that I looked “dead serious”. I told him to leave out the “serious” part. I was just “dead”, after being sleep deprived for the whole week. I slept on my bus ride back to headquarters.

Friday was a regular workday (no vacation!). There was a product review meeting for the next release of Enterprise Manager, a planning conference call for field events, a brief chat with my boss, conversation with my team on the to-do list for this quarter, and reviewing of the notes that I took at the event and following up with a long list of people I met to keep me quite busy.

Speaking of notes, I took plenty of it from the interesting conversations at the event. Here is a sample.

Help us standardize – One of the pain points that I heard from customers was that operating silos have made it difficult to manage their applications. Different teams use different tools, which don't work well with each other. Different teams developed different practices, which in some cases conflicted with each other. Common tools, and common best practice recommendations from Oracle are highly desirable.

Help us manage changes – I heard this over and over throughout the week whether it was discussion on Sunday's OAUG Change Management SIG, conversations at Demoground, or on Thursday's application management roundtable. Change is hard even with tools such as iSetup and ADM, as they do not yet cover the complete change workflow. Another dimension in change management is access control, as different members of the team different authorizations for changing the different parts of the applications, and our software needs to be smart enough to enforce the separations.

Help us figure out the proper way to use your software – One particular example was whether people should set up a single Enterprise Manager Grid Control environment or multiple environments. Our default recommendation is single instance, but there are technical as well as organizational factors that might make it better to have multiple instances. I will write about this more in a future article.

Speaking of organizational factors, I believe that it takes more than just software to solve many of the problems that were discussed throughout the week. Ultimately, it takes a combination of people, process and technology to get things done. People refer to all of us working at Oracle, at partner companies and at customer organizations to overcome the various application management challenges, and we need to keep on talking amongst ourselves to exchange ideas. Do the issues above sound familiar? Summit your comments either on my blog or on discussion forums.

We have created several forums on to carry out our conversations. These groups include:

Oracle E-Business Suite Lifecycle Management

Siebel Install / Manage / Upgrade


If you are an architect or senior IT manager and wish to talk about more strategic or policy issues, here are the groups for you.

E-Business Suite Architects

Siebel Architects

PeopleSoft Architects

Friday, September 19, 2008

Share Your Application Management Ideas with Oracle at Oracle Mix

When I logged onto this morning, I was greeted by this page. This is Oracle Mix, a new Oracle platform for connecting with the Oracle community, network, share ideas, and get answers.

I think this is a cool idea. As a product manager, one of the most important things that I have to do is to gain insights on our customers' needs. However, unlike my peers who are on the consumer side of the technology business, especially those that manage web-based products, it is a lot more difficult to conduct broad base customer research. Traditional mechanisms such as customer advisory boards, while important, can be rather slow. Oracle Mix could be a great additional tool for understanding our customer needs if it is used properly.

Here are a couple suggestions to make this an effective tool for all of us:
1. Participate. This tool is not going to work unless we all use it.
2. Give meaningful titles, use the proper tags, and associate with the right product when asking questions and making suggestions. This helps channeling your postings to the right people.
3. When proposing improvements, state the underlying problems that you need to solve.

#3 is especially important. We sometimes get enhancement requests that basically tell us to "add a knob" here or "take out something" there. While the requests may sound very specific, it could actually very hard to use the information. Different customers tend to have different ideas of solving the same problem. While it is good to hear the specific recommendations, following them blindly could lead to piecemeal product changes that undermines the integrity of the product. Therefore, it is much better to find out the underlying problems so that we can learn about the rationale behind the requests and come up with solution that address problem root causes.

Click here to access Oracle Mix.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oracle Delivers Oracle Application Testing Suite

Lots of news are coming out of Oracle on the application lifecycle management front. In addition to announcing the ClearApp acquisition on 9/2 and Oracle IT Service Management Suite's PinkVERIFY certification on 9/9, Oracle also announced the availability of Oracle Application Testing Suite (ATS). With ATS, Oracle now provide tools that cover the complete application lifecycle, from development to test to production management.

Oracle Application Testing Suite is the first release of the product since it was acquired from Empirix earlier this year. Amongst many improvements is an open and integrated scripting platform for both load and functional testing. This is one of the product's key strengths, as some other competing products require users to set up separate scripts for functional and load tests, creating un-necessary rework.

In a way, ATS is not a completely new product to Oracle customers. Empirix was one of Siebel's test automation tool partners, and released one of the first tools designed specifically for managing Siebel. The latest ATS release continues this effort by providing functional and load test accelerators for Siebel. Along with Application Management Pack for Siebel, ATS is part of Oracle's complete solution for managing Siebel application lifecycle.

More information about ATS can be found here.

You may download a trial copy of ATS from Oracle Technology Network.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oracle IT Service Management Suite Achieves PinkVERIFY Certification for ITIL Compatibility

At ItSMF Fusion 2008 conference, Oracle announced that its IT Service Management Suite has been certified as ITIL compatible through Pink Elephant's PinkVERIFY IT Service Management certification program. The certification is achieved for six core ITIL processes: Incident, Problem, Change, Configuration, Release and Service Level Management. Oracle's IT Service Management Suite is made up of Oracle Enterprise Manager, Siebel Helpdesk and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition.

The call to adopt more vigorous business disciplines in running IT has become louder and louder each year, and the trend can be seen in the increasing adoption of ITIL practices. In a way, running IT in a business manner and making IT decisions according to business needs should really be a no brainer. Conceptually, IT management shares many common problems with other management domains, from project management to finance to operations.

Indeed, we have seen customers applying many Oracle technologies that they use to run various business functions to manage IT. Standardizing on the same technologies helps simplifying the IT environment, leading to better economy of scale and cost savings. Furthermore, it is easier to integrate IT management processes with core business processes when the same software is used.

More information about Oracle's IT Service Management Suite can be found here.

More information about the certification can be found here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oracle Buys ClearApp

Following the acquisitions of Moniforce, Auptuma and Empirix eTest Suite product line, Oracle announced today the acquisition of ClearApp, a supplier of application management software for composite applications. This acquisition, focusing on SOA application management, complement Oracle Enterprise Manager in creating a comprehensive application management solution to help Oracle customers achieve enhanced service levels, reduced system down-time and improved return on SOA investments.

More information about this latest acquisition can be found at