January 28-29: Join Me for ILOUG Tech Days in Tel Aviv

It’s been a long time since I’ve presented at an Oracle User Group event in the Middle East, so I’m thrilled to report that I’ll be at the Israeli Oracle User Group (ilOUG) Tech Days just outside of Tel Aviv, Israel on January 28-29, 2019.

We’ll be meeting at the Oracle Corporation offices in Petah Tikva, and I’ll be presenting three different topics – two on Autonomous Database (both ADW and ATP!) as well as a brand-new presentation on how traditional Oracle DBAs can easily make the transition to DevOps DBA by embracing the technology behind Application Express (APEX) and Oracle SQL Developer. You can check out these session summaries to help you decide which ones to attend.

So if you are near Tel Aviv, be sure to plan on attending this conference – you can register right now – so you can partake in the cavalcade of over 30 great speakers lined up from both Oracle and the ACE community. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!


So OOW18 Is Done. Time To Get To Work.

Me, After OOW18.

I returned from OOW18 energized and ready to enter a new phase of my IT career: Instead of fulfilling a pre-sales role, for the first time in the last four-plus years I’ll be concentrating on researching deeply the capabilities of Oracle Database technology, both in the Oracle Public Cloud and for on-premises solutions. And it looks to me like this transition is happening at the best possible time, based on what I encountered at OOW18 last week.

Front and Center: Autonomosity

Here’s my impressions of just two key takeaways from that conference:

Autonomous Database isn’t going away. Larry Ellison doubled-down on Autonomous DB at both of his keynote sessions. I wasn’t surprised by that because as Larry says, Autonomous Data Warehouse (ADW) and Autonomous Transaction Processing (ATP) are two of the more revolutionary offerings that Oracle has produced in some time. Yet in a way, they’re simply the logical progression of the “autonomosity” (to coin a phrase) of the Oracle Database and its powerhouse enterprise systems characterized most by the Exadata Database Machine.

I could definitely tell this development has quite a few of my Oracle DBA colleagues rattled, based on the standing-room-only crowds for just about any session whose title included the words the future of the DBA role. And maybe that’s good! IMHO, plenty of us have lost touch as to what being a DBA really entails; first and foremost, we should be focused on helping our customers – our development teams and business development units – build better applications and systems, and we can’t do that treating our role like it’s a job when it’s really a career – or, even better, a profession.

Automatic Indexing. Probably the most interesting new feature – coming in Oracle 19c, but entering beta testing as I write this! –  is the ability for ATP to decide precisely which SQL statements need precisely which indexes to run better. Maria Colgan presented the basics of Automatic Indexing at our ACE Director briefing and I’m hoping to get a chance to poke it with a stick in the coming weeks. But here’s the essence of this new feature: it’s exactly what we’ve been doing as DBAs whenever a query or application malperformed – except now, it’s happening based on tireless observation and dispassionate decision-making through machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Stars On the Horizon, Rising In Prominence

And here are two topics that are definitely rising in prominence, based on interest I observed at OOW18:

Chatbots. The new technology that Ellison demonstrated in his second keynote when he submitted an expense receipt for reimbursement to the Oracle Digital Assistant was nothing short of amazing. Personally, I really enjoy doing expense reports more than most people – and I hate doing expense reports! – but the new chatbot-enabled technology made short work of submitting the request.

And that’s just a simple example of what chatbots promise. Ellison also demonstrated the ability of Oracle’s latest generation of Fusion Cloud applications to seamlessly create a mini-data warehouse with a few simple mouse clicks, and even answer verbal questions about Oracle’s ongoing efforts to hire the best and brightest candidates.

I even got a chance to experiment with the Pepper chatbot at The Hub for a few hours – one of eight new exhibits that my ACE colleagues and I manned to demonstrate the future boundaries of these new technologies. I was surprised at the flexibility of her communication interface, but not yet convinced Pepper will be taking my place as a speaker anytime soon.

Blockchain. Sessions on anything with the word blockchain in the title were heavily attended as well. That’s not a big surprise, of course; this technology, once it comes to full fruition, will offer some fascinating capabilities, especially the ability to preserve and traverse the myriad twists and turns of complex financial transactions. My colleague and fellow ACE Robert van Molken from the Netherlands – who just published a 500+ page book on Oracle Blockchain – discussed several alternative applications of blockchains, and I’m planning on diving deeply into this nascent technology in 2019.

11/1: Time For NovemberFest in Chicago!

If you are in the Chicagoland area the week right after Oracle OpenWorld 2018, you won’t want to miss the next meeting of the Chicago Oracle User Group (COUG) on Thursday, November 1st at the renowned  in Glendale Heights. Registration is now open, and we have limited seating, so be sure to sign up right away for this free event.

SchnitzelPlatz. Come hungry!

Promatis, our sponsors for this event, are based out of Colorado here in the USA, but since their international headquarters are in Ettlingen, Germany, we decided that an Oktoberfest-themed event would be appropriate. Yes, we’ll be missing Oktoberfest by just one day, but Chef Wolfgang at Schnitzel Platz assures me that his world-renowned German food will taste just as fantastic. Oh, and there will be bier, too, of course!

Our colleagues at Promatis specialize in GDPR compliance. They’ll be telling us all about the pitfalls of complying with the EU’s stringent guidelines as well as presenting their expert knowledge and toolsets to insure that your IT organization can ascertain your risks regarding GDPR non-compliance. And if you’ve been following recent news, you already know that can cost hundreds of millions of dollars if you’ve missed something.

Then, Alfredo Abate and I will talk about what we heard at Oracle OpenWorld 2018 so that you can stay ahead of the wave of new features and products coming your way from Oracle in the next several months. (Hint: #ThinkAutonomous.) I’ll wrap up with a brief presentation on Autonomous Data Warehouse so that you can get a handle on how that works and how you might be able to take advantage of this potentially revolutionary offering.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the recently-redesigned COUG web site for lots of great information on my hometown Oracle User Group. See you on 11/1 – Prost!

Oracle Community Participation: Easy, No. Worth It? Yes.

Tim Hall’s recent blog post on his decade of experience as an Oracle ACE Director (and now as a Developer Champion) prompted me to think over my own experiences as an ACE Director since 2014. My perspectives are a bit different because of my different roles since I was awarded that status to my surprise in March of that year, but I’ve got a lot of similar experiences to share.

The Grind

For example, I recently took part in the far southern leg of the 2018 Latin America Oracle Developer Champion (LAODC) tour:

  • I flew from Chicago to Sao Paolo, Brazil and then to Asuncion, Paraguay – an 11-hour journey – in standard coach seats, with a lengthy, unexpected delay that delayed my arrival until late that evening.
  • I presented the next day, met with the user groups there, and then jumped on a plane with my colleagues to Santiago, Chile the next morning … except that meant flying east to Buenos Aires at 3 AM to fly back west to Santiago.
  • The rest of the trip – 11 days, five cities, nine presentations – left very little time to really get more than a taste of these marvelous countries and cities. I’m not complaining – I’m just explaining these aren’t vacations, they’re deeply serious exchanges with our colleagues to help explain some of the finer points of Oracle application and database technology, and a chance to mentor our younger colleagues as they traverse their careers as IT professionals.
  • Yes, we do celebrate a bit at our speakers’ dinners, and there’s a lot of camaraderie and shared stories, but after 11 days I was glad to take an afternoon off, take a break from talking about anything related to technology, and just catch up on a bit more sleep.

And that’s just one extended conference I attended this year. I just added up my scheduled events for 2018 and by mid-December, I will have presented at four major regional conferences in the USA (COLLABORATE, KSCOPE, GLOC, and ECO), two in Europe (DOAG and UKOUG), and close to a dozen smaller regional Oracle user groups and conferences.

  • As Tim mentioned, ACE Directors do receive some limited compensation for these events, but trust me, we’re not traveling in business class unless we pay for it ourselves or use accumulated miles. I’ve only done that when I need to arrive in fighting shape and ready to present the next day. Think more RyanAir and Southwest than Emirates or British Airways, and you’ll get the picture.
  • Before I was an ACE Director, I funded almost all of my conference attendance and travel on my own dime; a major conference can cost as much as $2000 once airfare, hotel, and other travel expenses are accounted for – but that doesn’t include the lost billing time if you are working as an independent contractor, or have to take vacation time to attend.
  • Full disclosure: As the Oracle SME for ViON Corporation, based out of Herndon, VA, my employer has sponsored my participation at many of these conferences, so I don’t have to pay for most of my travel to those events. However, that also means I often have to do double-duty at the company’s vendor table to help salespeople decode Oracle DBA tech-speak, and so I often miss out on conference content and chances to learn alongside the event’s attendees.


As the saying goes, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Presenting at these events demands a commitment to experimenting with the technology that underlies the presentations, mastering how it works well enough to present it effectively, and spending time with other professionals – ACEs and Oracle Master Product Managers and technology experts like Bryn Llewelyn, Maria Colgan, Anil Nair, Dominic Giles, Gerald Venzl, Marc Sewtz, and Steven Feuerstein, just to name a few! – to understand precisely why something is working the way it does.

As Tim has already mentioned, this simply takes a lot of time, especially in the run-up to major conferences like COLLABORATE, KSCOPE and OpenWorld. And since my employer doesn’t pay me to experiment on their time, that means I’ve got to either dedicate some of my non-billable time to design tests that demonstrate what I’m presenting about. So that means it’s not unusual in January and February to kiss my wife goodnight at 9:30 PM and toddle down to my chilly basement home office for several hours of exploration, testing, frustration, success, and hopefully some sleep usually in the wee hours of the morning.

It doesn’t end there, of course; with Oracle’s new release schedule, there are significant new features coming out every few months, and that means I’ve got to tweak, re-tweak, and rebuild at least a few slides between conferences and user group events. As I like to remind people, at most events you can usually find an ACE Director at the end of the hotel bar typing madly on his keyboard until the presentation is as close to perfect as possible.

So Why Do I Do It?

If this sounds a lot less glorious than you imagine, you’re right. So why do I keep doing it? For several reasons:

  • I absolutely love presenting. I am in the fortunate position of doing something I love: standing in front of a crowd (the bigger the better), talking about technology I understand pretty well, telling stories about what I’ve been through – especially the mistakes and disasters! – and even pontificating about what I believe the future holds for our industry. It’s unbelievably edifying to see a light go on above someone’s head when they learn something new, see something in a completely different light, or even disagree and debate a bit.
  • I stand on the shoulders of giants. My mentors – Arup Nanda, Kerry Osborne, Tom Kyte, Daniel Morgan, Maria Colgan, Penny Avril, Tim and Kellyn Pot’vin Gorman, Jeff Smith, Charles Kim, Connor McDonald, and dozens of other presenters and Oracle ACEs too numerous to mention – gave me a boost up, helped nurture me as a presenter and writer, encouraged me to try for ACE – and it would be shameful not to pay that support forward.
  • It’s time to give back. Most of all, I’ve spent almost four decades in IT, and I’ve seen a lot of stuff happen. If I’ve learned anything, it’s figuring out that sometimes it’s more important to know what not to do in a sticky situation that can save a database, a project, and even a whole team. There’s a whole new generation of DBAs and developers coming into our industry that could really benefit from my experiences, and the only way our industry – indeed, our civilization! – gets better is by transferring that knowledge and uplifting our colleagues. That’s my passion and my purpose.

Note: These observations are entirely my own, and are not endorsed by Oracle Corporation, the Oracle ACE program, or my current employer.

October 22-25: Meet Me @ OOW18 SFO for Enlightenment on 12cR2, 18c, and ADW!

I am humbled and thrilled to announce that Oracle has asked me to present at Oracle OpenWorld. For the first time in almost 10 years, I’ll be presenting a topic at Oracle’s request – I’ve usually been speaking as part of the Sunday training schedule on behalf of my able colleagues at IOUG – and I’m bringing some of my best stuff ever on Oracle 12cR2, 18c, Database In-Memory, and Analytics to the fore. I’ll also have an opportunity to share with you my explorations into Autonomous Data Warehouse (ADW) and how any Oracle DBA can leverage ADW to her advantage.

Session TRN1263
Saving Your Database From Memory Loss: Oracle Database In-Memory Analytics Improvements
Tuesday, September 23
4:45 PM – 5:30 PM PDT
Moscone West – Room 3006

I’ll be reprising this presentation – one of the most popular ones among those I’ve presented at COLLABORATE18, KSCOPE18, and the recent LAOUC Developer Tour in South America – and it covers how best to use the latest and greatest features of Database In-Memory (DBIM), Analytic Views, and analytic function inprovements in Oracle 12cR2 and 18c.

Session CAS5744
A Start-to-Finish Case Study of Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud (ADWC)
Thursday, September 25
1:00 PM – 1:45 PM PDT
Moscone West – Room 3002

I’ll also excited to team up with my good friend, colleague, and Oracle ACE Anuj Mohan from Data Intensity to reveal our explorations into Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse’s feature set and capabilities, including how to leverage the latest Oracle multitenant features when migrating to ADWC.

UPDATE: These are the currently-scheduled dates and times for these sessions, but things can change swiftly at OOW18, so please be sure to check the the official Oracle scheduling application so you don’t miss any of these sessions.

Oh, and don’t forget to register for OOW18 – I’ll see you there!



LAODC 2018: Time for a [Late] Wrap-Up!

I know, I know … it’s been weeks since I finished participating in the 2018 Latin America Oracle Developer Champion (LAODC) tour, but I have an excuse: I’ve also been on vacation in the Galapagos and Ecuador for ten days, and then I took a brief break for some remedial surgery. This tour was one of the most intense ACE Director travel experiences of my life – nine presentations in five different cities over 11 days! – but I appreciated every moment of the opportunity.

My part of the tour got off to a rousing start in Asuncion, Paraguay at the PYOUG event with a visit from their internationally-famous Recycled Orchestra. The 30+ students constructed their instruments completely from recycled materials and presented several numbers to get our attendees revved up to learn all about Oracle technology, especially Cloud – which is ironic because Paraguay has just recently upgraded its national internet infrastructure sufficiently to allow their DBAs and developers to take advantage of Cloud offerings.

Next, it was time to scale the mighty Andes and head to Santiago, Chile, by way of Buenos Aires. (Just like in the USA, sometimes the shortest distance between two points … isn’t.) My newfound friend Marc Sewtz from Oracle – a wizard of all things APEX! – was my able traveling companion for an early-morning flight to Santiago.

We teamed up there with CLOUG, Anil Nair (master product manager for RAC), Connor MacDonald (of AskTom fame), and plenty of the local ACEs – nice meeting you, Alexis and Otavio! – for several excellent Oracle presentations, excellent company,  and some great Chilean wines and local beers. (Speaking is tougher work than it looks. We stayed thirsty, my friends.)

Next stop: Sao Paolo, Brazil, one of the true megacities of the world. We had a little extra down time upon arrival, so we joined up with ACE program commander Jennifer Nicholson at the magnificent Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) to view their collection of medieval and modern art.  A brief evening rainstorm didn’t cloud our spirits as we presented the next day on behalf of the GUOB and and their team to several hundred attendees.

Then it was time to head for the airport again and make the journey to Montevideo, Uruguay. I’ve dreamed of visiting Montevideo since I was in high school, and I was not disappointed – marvelous beaches and skylines, great company (nice to see you “at home,” Edelweiss Kammermann and Nelson Calero!), and a fantastic speakers’ dinner at the old Ferry Building that’s been converted to an open-air restaurant locus. Jennifer, Anil, and Marc even tried their hand at being cocineros for a few minutes. Montevideo had numerous squares scattered across the city on our way to our UYOUG hosts as well – a pleasant reminder of what I like about my native Chicago too.

Finally, I ended my part of the tour with a visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Buquebus ferry across the Rio de la Plata speedily delivered us to our hotel just down the street from the famous and magnificent Obelisco in the Plaza de Republica, a tribute to Buenos Aires’ founding in 1812. We spent a long day with ACEs and speakers at AROUG, and after another marvellous dinner at an Argentinian steakhouse, I set my sights towards my trip to Quito, Ecuador to join my wife to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary aboard ship bound for the Galapagos.

This trip was the culmination of a dream I’ve had since my teenage years – to actually see the cities and countries of America del Sur Australes that I’d only read about. I encountered vibrant Oracle User Groups and ACEs in every country I visited, as well as DBAs and developers that were hungry for the knowledge that I and my fellow ACEs and Oracle team members delivered. Thanks so much for the opportunity to present within your marvelous side of the world, my friends and colleagues!

Oh, and one more thing: I discovered that the Spanish word for developer in South America is desarrollador. How sexy is that?

11/28: Near Detroit? Don’t Miss MOUS!

If you are in the Detroit area during the week after Thanksgiving, come join me and several other Oracle professionals at the Michigan Oracle Users Summit (MOUS). I’ll talk about two of my most popular topics this year: how to choose the right Oracle Public Cloud offering for your exploration of all things Cloud, as well as how to leverage Oracle 12cR2’s latest and greatest features for Partitioned External Tables.

You can check out the MOUS web site on our planned itinerary for that evening for the most up-to-date information. It’s a great way to get caught up on the latest information from Oracle OpenWorld 2018 and some additional wisdom obtained during my travels with some of the top Oracle ACEs and product managers in the past few months. Looking forward to seeing you there!