So … Anything Happened Since I Last Blogged?

As we start the second half of 2020, it’s a great time to reassess where we’ve been and where we’re headed. For example, I just realized it’s been six whole months since my last blog post, but it’s not like anything happened since the beginning of the year, right?

It’s hard for me to believe that in late January, as I was getting ready to attend what turned out to be my last in-person Oracle User Group event for the year (so far), that my greatest worry was whether the conflict between the USA and Iran might erupt into a shooting war while I was speaking in Tel Aviv at ilOUG2020. That seems like such a fond memory of relative normalcy when compared to once-in-a-generation events like:

a) a Presidential impeachment that further polarized USA politics;
b) a pandemic outbreak that the USA should have tackled and defeated handily;
c) record disruption of economic systems worldwide as a result of the pandemic;
d) major civic unrest after years of brutal police violence towards people of color, and many of us have said at last “Enough!”; and finally
e) increasing tensions between several major world powers.

Through all this drama, my wife and I have spent countless hours worrying about younger family members all in possible contact with COVID-19 through their work either indirectly or directly support health care in hospitals, nursing homes, and the Veterans’ Administration. We’ve sewn face masks for them, sent messages of encouragement and thanks, and made sure they knew we loved them and honored their commitment to their professions.

And what better time could I have personally chosen to move my career in a different direction?

In mid-April, I said a fond farewell to the team at Viscosity North America, as I’ve decided to concentrate more on volunteerism for causes like Hire Heroes USA as well as helping our local US Congressman during his efforts to secure a second term during the upcoming 2020 general election. In both cases, it’s been a great opportunity to develop some real-world use cases for Oracle Application Express (APEX), Visual Builder, and Machine Learning, which I’ve been writing about since early 2020. In my role as ODTUG’s Database Community Lead, it’s been exciting to help some excellent authors publish their knowledge on our TechCeleration portal. (Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re interested in volunteering to share what you know!)

So while I don’t know what the rest of 2020 holds for us all, I’m going to stay positive, focused, and most of all, science-based. If there’s anything positive that the COVID19 pandemic has provided, it’s the ability to learn just how many of us will decide to listen to scientific experts, follow their advice, and work together to get through these challenges. 

Stay safe, stay healthy, and most of all, don’t forget to vote in upcoming elections. It’s the only way things get better for everyone else!

The Decade’s Almost Over. What Will 2020 Bring?

Dude … Where’s My Decade? If anything sums up my IT career’s arc since 2010, I’d say it’s that phrase. Somehow, I’ve managed to keep my head above water through the transition from HDD to SSD, from custom-built servers to Exadata Database Machine, and at least five different versions of the Oracle Database. Along the way, I’ve been fortunate to fulfill a personal goal of becoming an Oracle ACE Director for the the last half of that decade. That gave me the chance to meet IT folks on six different continents at dozens of Oracle conferences and OUG meetups.

Heck, I even got to chauffeur one of my heroes, Tom Kyte, to a Chicago Oracle User Group meeting!

As I enter my fifth decade in IT, I see 2020 as full of amazing opportunity, whether you’re a total Oracle newbie or a seasoned professional. Here’s where I think we’re headed:

Autonomy: The End of Tedium for “Helicopter DBAs” 

Based on my deeper experimentation with both ADW and ATP this past year – especially with the new Autonomous Dedicated option that offers elimination of “noisy neighbors” –  it’s apparent to me that the new role of Enterprise Data Architect can leverage that autonomy to further her career. With the announcement at Oracle OpenWorld 2019 of the upcoming launch of the Autonomous JSON database projected for early 2020, it sure looks like we’re going to be able to leverage key-value stores much more effectively than we have in the past.

The new Automatic Indexing features I’ve experimented with are just the tip of the spear. (You can download and then read more about my experiments in a recent white paper I published for Viscosity North America; if you are pressed for time, there’s a neat little video on that page too.) And I’m sure there are other autonomous features planned for later in 2020 that will finally free forward-looking DBAs from the tedium of normal day-to-day activities, especially just “keeping the lights on” for their databases. 

A/I and Machine Learning: Nearing a New Singularity?

Based on the massive interest in AI and ML I’ve observed at conferences this past year, I think we’re nearing a new singularity in data-driven decision-making. I’ve spent some time recently experimenting with the Oracle Machine Learning (OML) features already built into Autonomous DB; if you’ve got a spare five minutes, be sure to take a look at this short video that shows how easy it is to leverage those features with just a little bit of SQL and a few mouse clicks.

The best thing about these ML toolsets is that they’re already built into the Oracle Database, so I don’t necessarily need to learn a completely new set of analytic functions or ML algorithms to take advantage of them. I’m going to continue my research in 2020 on several fronts, particularly in learning how to better visualize hidden patterns within my data with Oracle Analytic Cloud (OAC). If you’re interested, check out this short demo on how easy it is to leverage OAC for data visualization.

The Converged Oracle Database

Though it’s taken some time to get there, it appears we’re headed towards a new data-centric paradigm: Let’s get our business users exactly the data they need, from exactly where it’s currently stored – either intra-RDBMS, or extra-RDBMS! – exactly when they need it, with the utmost concern for its security. From the discussions I’ve had with folks at Oracle like Jenny Tsai-Smith, Oracle’s new Converged Database strategy is focused precisely on achieving these goals, so expect to hear and see a lot more about related offerings in 2020.

It’s Vegas, Baby!

Finally, if you want proof that the 2020s are going to be quite different from the past decade, I offer up this evidence: Oracle OpenWorld 2020 will be held for the first time, not in San Francisco, but in Las Vegas instead. It’s going to be quite the ride, my friends and colleagues! I look forward to exchanging knowledge with you all at upcoming OUG meetings, COLLABORATE20, KSCOPE20, and of course OOW20. Stay safe, have a great 2019 holiday season, and Happy Computing!

A [Belated] Thanks to Oracle GroundBreakers

Yes, I know I’m just a bit late … but I’d like to take a brief break between testing out Autonomous Database intensely to shout out a big thank you to all the folks at Oracle and within the Oracle GroundBreakers community – ACEs, Java Champions, and GroundBreakers – that do a fantastic job of supporting the team of technical advocates that promote the technology running in the Cloud, on premises, and in between.

Halfway through my sixth year as an Oracle ACE Director, I’ve visited some amazing places on six continents, but ultimately, it’s about the user community we support through our efforts. I’ve had a very small part in something huge, and I couldn’t have contributed that without the support of the ACE program, my fellow technology advocates, and most of all the people I’ve tried to inspire through my articles, books, blogs, and presentations.

So here’s to all of us – a toast: May our ARCHIVELOG directories never fill up; may our APEX applications keeping APEXing; and may the only Java that goes sour be the coffee we’ve left in our travel mugs over a long weekend away from work.

October 29-30: Meet Me In Raleigh, NC for ECO2019!

I’m getting excited for the chance to present at and engage with my fellow professionals at the upcoming 2019 East Coast Oracle Users Conference (ECO2019) in Raleigh, NC during the week of October 28, 2019.

ECO2019 is jam-packed with four pre-conference workshops plus several great presenters talking about nearly 70 different topics. That makes it one of the best values for education and training “at the feet of the masters” in the Eastern US, so it’s definitely worth attending this year.

I’ll be presenting two of my most popular sessions – one on how I leveraged Application Express (APEX) to build two neat little applications without any real training, and another on how Autonomous Transaction Processing (ATP) is quickly becoming a “force multiplier” for busy Oracle DBAs.

Check out the full agenda for ECO2019, and don’t forget to register – I’ll see you there soon!



Say Hello to Your New ODTUG Database Community Lead.

I’m excited to finally announce that I’ve accepted the volunteer position of Database Community Lead for ODTUG. I’ll be working closely with my friend, mentor, and colleague Danny Bryant, the current Database Community Liaison on the ODTUG Board, to bring relevant learning materials, articles, blog posts, and other social media.

The evolving role of the Oracle Database Administrator and the IT industry itself is undergoing a dramatic transformation in the age of Cloud computing, data science, Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and increasingly rapid application development cycles through DevOps. My hope is that my new role with ODTUG will expand the realization among us “old school” DBAs that this oncoming sea change offers immense possibilities – as long as we’re ready and able to face up to the challenges that transition offers.

And if you’re interested in making a difference as the future unfolds – either by contributing a blog post, article, white paper, or short video – just reach out to me directly via Twitter, LinkedIn, or e-mail ( Those who have worked with me know that I’m a demanding but fair editor, and there’s few limits on what I will accept for content as long as it’s relevant, forward-looking, and accurate.

I’m going to focus on getting this message out to our ODTUG community in the coming weeks and months, so be sure to catch me at Oracle OpenWorld 2019 and future ODTUG events, especially KSCOPE20 in Boston next year, which as we know will be wicked cool!

Chicago. Summertime. MOUG / COUG Tech Day, July 18th

Summertime has finally reached the Midwest. The hot dogs are boiling, the flowers are blooming, and it’s a great time to visit the City of Big Shoulders, my hometown, Chicago! Be sure to join us on July 18th at Oracle’s downtown Chicago HQ offices for an all-day technical extravaganza. The Chicago Oracle Users Group and Midwest Oracle Users Group are teaming up to bring our communities a full day of technical training featuring several Oracle ACEs and a look at the future of all things Oracle.

Our event will feature keynotes from Willie Hardie, VP of Database Product Management, as well as Joel Kallman, Senior Director, Software Development from Oracle Corporation. Willie and Joel will provide us a look into their crystal balls on the future of Oracle Database 19c and Oracle APEX, one of the most in-demand application development toolsets today.

We’ll then split into two tracks – Database and Applications – and you’ll get a chance to hear from a team of Oracle ACEs, ACE Directors, and experts in their fields so that you can gear up for the coming challenges that our business users will be most interested in solving in the coming year.

Our event is being held high in the magnificent WIllis Tower near both Union Station and Northwestern Station, so public transportation is a great option if you’re a suburban resident. And best of all, breakfast and lunch are included, courtesy of my colleagues at Viscosity NA. So don’t hesitate to register today to save a few bucks before July 18th because – just like our first Chicago snowfall! – it’ll be here before you know it.

May 9: COUG APEX Day

Be sure to join us on May 9th at Oracle’s Field Office in Deerfield, IL (1405 Lake Cook Road) for a full day of technical training and tips on Oracle Application Express (APEX). Our event will feature the extensive knowledge of David Peake, APEX Product Manager from Oracle Corporation, for a deep dive into the capabilities of APEX, one of the most in-demand application development toolsets today.

I’ll also be presenting briefly about my own experiences on my journey as an “old-school” Oracle DBA as I learned how to leverage the power of Oracle Application Express (APEX) to build a new set of applications based on a real-life use case: constructing mobile, flexible, responsive applications to enable voter canvassing for a US Congressional campaign. (If you’d like to get a preview of what I’ll be presenting, feel free to check out my ongoing journey via my recent four-part article series in IOUG SELECT entitled A DBA’s Journey to APEX, starting with Part 1: From Napkin to Application In a Single Weekend.) 

Best of all, breakfast and lunch are included, courtesy of my colleagues at Viscosity NA. Check the COUG web site events page in the next few days to register for this free event, mark your calendars, and come prepared to have your APEX knowledge expanded dramatically! I look forward to seeing you there.

May 21st. The Big Apple. Oracle CODE

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been selected for my first-ever Oracle CODE event. I’ll be presenting at the New York City event on May 21st at the Jacob Javits Center on my journey as an “old-school” Oracle DBA as I learned how to leverage the power of Oracle Application Express (APEX) to build a new set of applications based on a real-life use case: constructing mobile, flexible, responsive applications to enable voter canvassing for a US Congressional campaign.

If you’d like to get a preview of what I’ll be presenting, feel free to check out my ongoing journey via my recent four-part article series in IOUG SELECT entitled A DBA’s Journey to APEX, starting with Part 1: From Napkin to Application In a Single Weekend that explains how I constructed the original specifications and data model and built the original database schema for the application. All content is free courtesy of IOUG SELECT.

In the meantime, don’t forget to register for the event. I’ll see you in New York in just a few weeks! I’m looking forward to a completely new set of questions from my audience.

6-7 September: Join Me at #POUG2019 in Wroclaw, Poland

Dzien dobry! I’m thrilled to have been selected to speak once again at the 2019 POUG conference on 6-7 September in lovely Wroclaw, Poland. I’m especially excited to explore this corner of my grandfather’s homeland because my extended family has put down some deep roots nearby. (Literally: my cousins raise their own grapes for wine at their estate in Sklary).

I missed last year’s conference because I was participating in the LAODC Tour and then vacationing in South America, so I’m especially thankful to my colleagues at ORA-600 for choosing me to attend this year. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews for last year’s gathering on the Baltic, so I’m honored to join the best presenters from every corner of the globe coming to attend this event.

I’ll be presenting one of my favorite topics: In-Memory External Tables (IMXT). I’ll show you how to leverage the power of Oracle Database 18c to access and analyze data wherever it exists – even if it’s in HDFS! – and use the power of Database In-Memory and Analytic Views to power through tons of data quickly and efficiently. And I’ve promised Kamil Stawiarski that I’ll try out my expanded Polish vocabulary while I’m there – but the majority of my presentation will still be in English yet again this year, prszepraszam.

So be sure to register soon, as this conference is one of the most popular events in Central Europe! I hope to see you there, my friends and colleagues.

Hanging My Hat At My New Home: Viscosity NA

I’m unbelievably excited to announce that as of March 16, I have joined Viscosity NA, a dominant Oracle Platinum Partner in North America, as their new Senior Enterprise Data Architect. I’ll be joining their already-robust team of five other Oracle ACEs, ACE Directors, and GroundBreakers as Viscosity continues an incredible growth spurt in 2019.

In my new role, I’ll be working closely with Viscosity’s energized sales force and experienced technical consultants as we enable their clients with the best technological solutions possible. I’ll leverage my experience with Oracle Enterprise Systems and Oracle Database technology to help their IT staff  – especially their Oracle DBAs! – as that role and the IT industry undergoes a dramatic transformation in the age of Cloud computing, data science, and increasingly rapid application development cycles through DevOps.

And I’m especially excited to at last join my co-author Charles Kim as we both continue our advocacy of Oracle technology when we co-present at #C19TX in San Antonio in just a few weeks, so don’t be surprised when you see me sporting my new Viscosity regalia. Be sure to catch me at one of my three presentations, as well as the famous, spirited, and not-to-be-missed Viscosity social events. Looking forward to seeing you all there!