News and noteworthy about Oracle PaaS – My thoughts on the emerging PaaS Partner Community Forum 2019

5 days packed with lots of information regarding the current product portfolio as well as the respective product strategies and that’s all for free? Where can you find an offering like that? Simple answer: At the annual Oracle Emerging PaaS Partner Community Forum!

This year the conference took place at Magaluf (Mallorca, Spain). This traditional event is a must-attend event for partners, since it provides outstanding possibilities
to share and exchange knowledge with other Oracle partners as well as the Product Management team. It also provides the chance, to give feedback Oracle’s Cloud Platform portfolio and the products itself.

The event is also intended to enable Partners to implement solutions on basis of the Oracle platform, by provide an interesting and valuable set of Hands-on labs (HOL) focussing the the latest Product versions and features.

The conference agenda

The first day of the forum belongs solely to the Partners, who did presentations on emerging technologies used in customers projects. Attendees were able to choose between presentations about SaaS and SaaS integration, technical topics like Digital Assistants or GraphQL and business-related topics, with session about Women in IT, as well. This day, with its built-your-own agenda concept was really cool with valuable information.

The second and third day were mainly focussing on the Oracle Cloud Platform portfolio and the latest evolvements and innovations within the portfolio. Where the second day gave a high-level and general overview to the platform-level strategy with respect to the following product areas:

  • Content and Experience Management
  • Serverless Functions and APIs
  • Digital Assistants
  • Integration, Process and Machine Learning (“Smart Processes”)
  • Artificial Intelligence

On the third day it gets more into the details of the aforementioned areas. The respective  breakout sessions could be chosen individually. The day was structured in four different rounds:

  • Enterprise process & integration track, where aspects like SaaS Integration patterns as well as SaaS Customization, the general Integration portfolio
    and SOA Suite migrations to the Cloud have been discussed
  • Development tools & DevOps track, with topics from the area of Application modernization with Client-side Javascript, Digital Assistants, Progressive app development with VBCS and
    DevOps based on the Oracle Cloud portfolio
  • Application development track, dealing with Microservice development with Helidon, Weblogic on Kubernetes, API Management and last but not least Serverless development with Oracle Functions
  • Innovation track, dealing with innovative solutions in the Content & Experience space (Integration with AI and ML), Enterprise Blockchain, Smart process (Dynamic processes supported by ML and Robotic Process automation)
    as well as Internet of Things

Traditionally, the conference closes with two days of Hand-on Labs (HOL). The offering here was overwhelming. 11(!) different Labs were offered covering everything that was discussed over the days before. Incredible offering and an amazing chance for partners to get their hands dirty on the latest stuff.

Summary and key takeaways

The annual PaaS Partner Community Forum is a first-class conference and as already mentioned a must-attend event for Oracle Partners, to get the latest information from Product Management and – even more important – to provide feedback on products, the portfolio and also the current strategy.

My personal key takeaways from this years conference are:

  • Oracle continuous their way to embrace and support Open Source technologies by leveraging respective technologies in their products, like Spark for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning or Hyperledger Fabric in the Blockchain area; Oracle also publishes frameworks like Oracle JET (Javascript UIs, http://tinyurl.com/y38rkgta), Fn Project (Serverless/FaaS, https://fnproject.io/) or Helidon (Microservices, https://helidon.io)
  • Kubernetes is the de-facto next-gen Application delivery platform
  • Don’t under-estimate the power and also weaknesses of GraphQL; there is no REST or GraphQL, simply use the one that best fits your use case; there are good reasons for a co-existence, e.g. GraphQL for implementing API compositions based on REST APIs
  • Digital Assistants are the latest and fanciest communication channels to engage with customers, partners and also internal colleagues (ChatOps, etc.)
  • Blockchain is becoming more and more relevant for enterprises with respect to transparent and secure End-2-End Business transactions; time to take a deeper look and discuss real-world cases with customers
  • Integration and workflow automation is not new, but it is still a first class citizen and provides the foundation for new concepts, like Digital Assistants; in addition, it all gets more and more integrated with AI and ML, with respect to Smart and predictive processes
  • Helidon is a serious alternative to Springboot for implementing Microservices
  • Oracle provides a good and solid Serverless foundation with Fn Project and Oracle Functions (to be GA’ed) and should be seriously considered

Last but no least I wanted to thank Jürgen Kress for an amazing event, which was perfectly organized and very valuable for all attendees. Thanks for building this amazing community of experts and provide an opportunity to share knowledge in such a great and professional atmosphere!

 

 

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DOAG 2017 contributions overview

With DOAG 2017 conference, I am done with my conference year. You can find the complete conference program here.

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But – as always – after a conference is always before the next conference. With this in mind, I just quickly wanted to provide a quick overview on my contributions and where to find respective materials.

At this years conference I had 3 presentations, which I gave with with my congenial partner Danilo Schmiedel. We covered different topics all around strategies, guidelines and technologies on the area of digital transformation

Strategies for efficient Delivery with APIs, Containers, Microservices, DevOps

A central challenge for today’s IT is how to ensure business agility and how to keep the robustness of core business functionalities. A microservice-based architecture in conjunction with APIs for decoupling the building blocks becomes more and more important. By using modern container technologies, companies can leverage all the advantages of modern software development. This session covers the impact of modern software architectures based on a real-life scenario, which we implemented to establish faster delivery cycles and to start innovations. Learn different strategies for how modernized software architectures can be introduced. Slides are available on Slideshare.

Cloud meets On-Premises: Guidelines and Best Practices

Integrating distributed systems or microservices with each other has been a challenging topic over the past years. The architecture blueprint which will be explained in this session considers highlights and lessons learned from our real life experiences with hybrid and multi-cloud environments. As part of that we will demonstrate how to bring back architectural best practices into modern solutions that are suitable for organizations of any size and industry. Slides are available on Slideshare.

Dynamic Processes & DMN Accelerate Digital Transformation

Business Process Management (BPM) as a Service, that is what the Oracle Process Cloud Service (PCS) is about. It provides tools to collaboratively create business processes, forms, rules, documents, services and data in a zero-code web-based environment. Of course BPM is not a new topic and quite a few initiatives failed in the last decade. However, with dynamic processes and decision modeling, Oracle PCS provides two very important enrichments which avoid the main challenges from the past in order to deliver real value to the knowledge workers. But is BPM dead or is it still relevant with respect to digital transformation? This is a question, we’re trying to clarify. Slides are available on Slideshare.

In summary, we had very interesting sessions at the conference, with great feedback and discussions. I am really looking forward for the next year. Until then, I’d like to say thank you and see you next year in Nürnberg.

Chatbots, Cloud and beyond – Impressions about the PaaS Forum in Split

The yearly PaaS Forum should be a fix appointment in every Oracle-focussed IT Specialist. Why do I think that? Here are some reasons:

  • Get aligned with the newest products, features and roadmap information regarding Orcale’s massively growing Cloud offering
  • Get into touch with Oracle Product Management, Architects from the A-Team and leading experts from diverse Oracle Partners
  • Use the productive atmosphere at beautiful locations to network and talk about the newest trends and challenges in the IT market

This year the conference took place in Split at the beautiful Croatian coast in an excellent hotel; ideal settings for a productive and valuable working atmosphere.

The topics of the conference were all related to the Oracle Cloud Platform and insights into the roadmap as well as the strategy and where things are heading to. The key aspects of that will be briefly covered in the following.

Chatbots awakens

It sounds a little more scary than it really is; we will not run into a Terminator-like Skynet vision! But, it’s fact that chatbots seems to become more and more relevant, even for the business world.

In the consumer area chatbots are commodity. Intelligent asssitents like Siri or Alexa are helping us to organize daily work. Companies can also leverage from that. With today’s technologies the creation of those virtual assistants is possible in a quite easy way.

Key to be successful is to train the bot to identify the intent of the conversation partner, so that it can provide an appropriate answer. Since natural language is not that easy and straight-forward this can be challenging, because the bot also needs to know about synonyms, etc. In addition, a chatbot must be enabled to be self-learning, which is supported throug Machine Learning algorithms.

With their Chatbots Development Platform, Oracle allows the implementation of those virtual assistants. With Facebook as a strong cooperation partner in this space, Oracle seems to be well prepared to be at top, when the broad business adoption of chatbots begins.

APIs as a key enabler for new business models

APIs are doors to an enterprises data, services and processes, which might be exposed to the outbound world. Those APIs need to be managed to allow the definition of security, thread protection and throttling. In addition, things like API usage monitoring and monetization are also very important since a consistent API management approach is a key enabler for new business models.

With Oracle API Platform Cloud Service (APIP CS), which will come out soon, Oracle addresses the needs for implementing a consistent API Management approach, which covers the full API lifecycle from design over implementation to deployment, monitoring and management. The acquisition of Apiary, which covers the full API design lifecycle, makes the platform even more complete. You should definetly keep an eye on this upcoming product.

Integration is not dead yet

The basis for adopting new concepts, like for example IoT, are integrated enterprise systems. Even if integration as such is not as sexy as chatbots, since it purely happens in the background without user interaction, it is essential for keeping backend systems into sync with each other and for supporting concepts like a harmonized data model.

With Integration Cloud Service (ICS) and SOA Cloud Service (SOA CS) Oracle provides a first class integration offering, which enables the implementation of hybrid integration architectures. Those architectures are relevant to support companies on their way to the Cloud.

Containerization as basis for flexible architectures

Markets are very dynamically today, which causes companies to react on that. Furthermore technology is also evolving faster. To keep up with that, an ability to change mindset is needed throughout an organization. This means the business side as well as the IT. Therefore applications, which depict business capabilities, need to be changeable in an appropriate amount of time, without disturbing the business continuity.

With the Oracle Cloud Platform it is possible to create applications in a Microservice architectural style, by using Servics like Application Container Cloud Service (ACCS) or Container Cloud Service (CCS). A broad palette of technologies is supported by ACCS and CCS, applications can be scaled out at runtime and containers can be orchestrated, which makes the solutions even more powerful and flexible. To support flexibility agility a complete DevOps approach can be established by leveraging Oracle Developers Cloud Service’s collaboration and development features.

With that services, Oracle provides a very consistent approach to develop next gen applications and services, adressing the volatility of markets, business requirements and technologies.

Human-centric business workflows

Depicting human-centric workflows can be done Process Cloud Service (PCS) that’s nothing new. With PCS straight-forward workflows can be expressed using BPMN. But when business processes have a more dynamic character, it will be difficult to address those with BPMN.

For depicting dynamic business processes Adaptive Case Management (ACM) is needed. This was already part of Oracle BPM 12c and now will also become part of PCS. This is great and makes even more valuable for businesses, since with that capability the platform provides the basis for Enterprise decision modeling and Human-centric business workflows.

ACE world record in integrating Cloud Services

From the ACE team a showcase was delivered showing the integration of 15 (!) different Cloud Services in a Showcase in which a Voting Platform, for this years Open World music act, was created.

The team lead by Lucas Jellema showed impressingly how different Oracle Cloud Services (DevCS, APIP CS, PCS, ICS, SOA CS, ACCS, CCS,…) can be combined and integrated with each other to depict a Cloud native application.

The ACE team consists of:

  • Lucas Jellama
  • Lonneke Dikmanns
  • Richard Olrichs
  • Danilo Schmiedel
  • Mark Simpson
  • Torsten Winterberg
  • Sven Bernhardt

It was good fun and also very experiencing, being part of this great team.

Conclusion

It was again a great conference, which I personally left totally inspired with new ideas, taken from the spirit of the conference. Good to see that Oracle is making their way in the Cloud space consistently and is taking the partners with them on this journey. It is essential to build up knowledge in this space, since there seems to be lack of knowledge in the market; homework for us as partners!

Special thanks to Jürgen Kress for building up such a great and powerful community of friends!

 

 

OTN Appreciation Day : Integration Cloud Service (ICS) On-Premises Connectivity Agent

The notion for Cloud adoption is stepping forward and companies start thinking of how they can improve their businesses by moving applications, platforms or even their infrastructure to the Cloud. The goal: Create new, innovative business models to distinguish from competitors.

Oracle ICS is an Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS), which supports enterprises to overcome integration challenges, while moving their business to the Cloud. You can learn more on the use cases for ICS in my latest OTN article.

One feature, which is from my point of view especially important and valuable, is the Oracle ICS On-Premises Connectivity Agent. This software component is essential to simplify Cloud adoption for enterprises since it con be used to easily integrate Cloud and On-Premise applications with each other.

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The agent’s software can directly be downloaded from Oracle ICS and has to be installed behind the firewall and needs to be registered with an ICS instance. The installation procedure is straight-forward and done within a few minutes. The agent manages the communication between ICS and the On-Premise applications. Since the agent initiates the communication with ICS using standard protocols and ports (HTTPS on port 443), there is no need to open specific ports in the firewall! This is really beneficial and makes the implementation of On-Premise to Cloud integrations even more efficient, because exhausting discussions regarding security exceptions with the security officers are a thing of the past.

This is why I really like this feature of Oracle ICS. For more information regarding installation and usage of the On-Premise Connectivity Agent, you can refer to the aforementioned OTN article. In addition, further information can also be found in blogs from Robert van Mölken and the Oracle A-Team.

OOW 16: My thoughts and experiences

Oracle Open World 2016 is over and it’s time to take at least two steps back. Why at least? You’ll know it, if you read through this article.

To briefly summarize it upfront: It was again a great event! There was an amazing and, at the same time, special spirit around, which attendees were able to feel and which was contagious – that’s my view, because before Open World I felt a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure about the general direction, where Oracle is heading regarding different Cloud topics; the overall strategy was not 100% clear to me. I had some open questions and uncertainties, which were answered respectively clarified during the conference. This makes me much more confident for the future and gives me in addition new ideas for my daily work, which of course will not become easier with the knowledge I gained at the conference. But this simultaneously makes my job attractive and exiting.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – The new focus

If you look at the figures in Oracle’s business summary for fiscal year 2016, it is really impressive what happened there. The revenue, just for the Cloud business, was at 1 Billion dollar!

Cloud Business Figures 2016

The good news, although this is not a secret, Oracle will keep going with investing in their Cloud business. As it can be seen from the picture above there is still room for improvement, since most of this revenue is coming from the SaaS and PaaS area.

“Now we are aggressively moving to infrastructure. We have a new generation that we are running around the world”, Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison  

The new thing is that a large part of the investments will be especially done in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) area, the Gen2 IaaS offerings, – I personally wasn’t aware of this. But doing so is just the logical next step, because a robust and reliable IaaS platform is key for growing the PaaS and also the SaaS business! This also converges with Larry Ellison’s statement, who said in one of his Keynotes: “IaaS represents a huge new opportunity for Oracle to layer on top of our rapidly growing SaaS and PaaS businesses”.

With this move, Oracle is approaching their main Cloud Competitors, like Amazon and Microsoft even more aggressive. So it will become hard times for them, since Oracle is even cheaper and faster than Amazon – the only thing you need to do is that you must be willing to pay 20% less, as Larry Ellison mentioned.

Oracle Gen2 IaaS vs. AWS

A further key differentiator for Oracle’s IaaS Cloud business are Bare Metal servers, which were announced during the conference. Bare Metal is a physical appliance optimized for high performance, without the need for virtualization. It is able to handle any workload, on any operating system and hypervisor – another piece of the Cloud puzzle. In addition Oracle is also working on the availability by providing cross-datacenter HA. All in all, these are  interesting steps in the right direction!

Further investments in PaaS offerings to delivery “One consistent Platform”

Also in the areas of PaaS Oracle listed a singificant growth. Starting with 12 Cloud Services in Q1 2016, Oracle finally ended up with over 50(!) Cloud Services by Q4 2016. This is a very impressive increase in only one year, but also a huge challenge for Oracle to make comprehensible offerings to customers, since some of the Cloud services have overlapping functionalities. One big advantage of the Oracle PaaS offering: it is one complete platform that covers different areas, like for example Integration or Big Data, and which can be managed and monitored consistently.

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To survive in this “jungle” of Cloud Services, customers need some guidance to choose the right combination of Cloud Services to address a specific business need. From a partner’s perspective, it is important to guide customers and to help them to find the right combination of Cloud Services – that’s blessing and curse. Oracle is already aware of that and will shortly introduce so called Suites, which will contain a useful combination of services, aiming to cover specific use cases.

In addition, there were some announcements regarding new PaaS services respectively the enhancement of existing ones. Highlights here were:

  • New: API Platform Cloud Service
    • Consistent Enterprise API Management platform
    • Supports API First Design
  • New: Analytics Cloud Service
    • Visualize any data on any device
    • No need for specific implementation skills
    • Great connectivity (40+ connectors)
  • New: Data Integration Cloud Service
    • Data Warehouse and analytics
    • Repliaction, ETL/ELT and Data quality
  • New: Dataflow Machine Learning Cloud Service
    • 0-Code GUI
    • Leverages from Open Standards, like Apache Spark and Kafka
  • New: Big Data Discovery Cloud Service
    • Visualize and discover hidden values in data
    • Transform huge amount of data to business insights
    • Process data using Apache Spark
  • New: Content and Experience Cloud Service
    • Digital asset management and mobile collaboration (Multi channel)
    • Consistent brand experience across channels
  • New: Virtual Assistance (Chatbot) Platform
    • Contextual conversations with intelligent virtual assistant
    • Integration with Facebook Messenger, Slack and others
  • New: Identity Cloud Service
    • Central Identity Management Platform
    • Can be used to align OnPrem and Cloud Identity Stores
  • New: Management Cloud Service
    • APM capabilities
    • Centralized Logging

Furthermore there were announcements regarding enhancements of the already existing Cloud Services, like Integration Cloud Service (ICS), which is further improvement by adding new connectors and also adding new capabilities for defining integrations. So the existing Cloud Services are becoming also more and more mature, which is good to see.

Oracle Cloud Platform – Migrate, Extend and Modernize

Oracle’s claim is to provide a complete  Cloud offering that supports the easy migration of existing applications to the Cloud, the development of Cloud Native apps in common technologies like Java or Node.js and the creation of new applications leveraging from the functionalities from the PaaS offerings.

Regarding the migration, Oracle’s  intention is to make it as easy as possible for customers to move their applications to the Cloud by just hitting a button, which furthers the Cloud adoption – Lift ‘n Shift is the magic word these days.To flesh this out, Oracle acquired Ravello Systems. With Ravello it is easily possible to move complete existing VMware images to the Public Cloud. This works seamless by just hitting a button, without any furthers efforts.

In addition, Oracle provides Container Cloud Services to build Cloud Native apps, like Application Container Cloud Service (ACCS), to allow customers to easy shift existing Java, Node.js or even PHP applications to the Cloud. With Developers Cloud Service (DevCS), Oracle also provides a Cloud development platform that covers basic DevOps capabilities, like Source Code management, Build automation, Issue Tracking, Wiki and more.

To infinity and far beyond…

To make a long story short. Oracle’s Cloud offering reaches the next level of maturity, even though there is still a way to go! The great advantage of Oracle with respect to the competitors is that they have an integrated approach built upon the three pillows: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.

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It is interesting to see that Oracle is doing a huge shift of it’s core business; away from a leader for on-premise Platforms and Solutions and over to a pure Cloud company. This takes some time and also is challenging, from a organizational as well as from a technical perspective. The exciting thing is that we can learn a lot from this, because similar things has to be taken into account while defining a long-term Cloud strategy!

Even if Oracle seems to be late in the Cloud market and is now maybe not as mature as for example Amazon, they have a consistent and comprehensive vision. And although some people think that this is a disadvantage, from my point of view this might be a potential advantage form a long term perspective. Because as we’ve already seen in the past, learning from the pioneers in a specific area is not the worst thing.

 

 

Designing the digital enterprise: Cloud2On-Prem integrations using Oracle ICS

Integrating distributed systems with each other has been a challenge for many years. In the context of digital transformation, companies are using more and more Software as a Service (SaaS) applications to address standard processes, so that they can focus on improving and evolving the core business.

Since those use cases become more common, me and two of my colleagues – Alexander Däubler and Cornelia Spanner – wrote an OTN article that is based on a real world Proof-of-Concept (PoC) implementation. In this particular PoC, a on-premise SAP solution needs to be integrated with Salesforce.com (SFDC). As integration platform, we choose Oracle Integration Cloud Service (ICS) to implement the integration.

If you want to learn more on that, just checkout the article available on OTN.