Senin, 29 September 2008

Nothing but the real thing

I'm writing this in the train back home from the airport. Just had a 10 hour flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam. Actually not the best part of the whole thing, but it's definitely worth it. Meeting people, attending sessions, eating the sponsored lunches, going to the customer appreciation event, Oracle OpenWorld was great! It was fantastic!

I was just thinking of the fact that in IT currently Social Computing, collaboration or Enterprise 2.0 within the boundaries of an enterprise are very hot things. So you'd think that with all new technology in place in a couple of years attending a conference might mean not going there physically, but virtually.
To my opinion attending a conference will not be as much fun, and as worthwhile then now.

I think that conferences like this, although technology is advancing rapidly will still be about people flying in from all over the world and meeting each other, no chat or webcam session can change that. I saw a lot of people finally meeting each other after a long while of being in email contact or even chatting or blogging together and everyone start smiling at that point.

Nothing but good old human interaction, face to face, discussing live and drinking beers together.

Nothing but the real thing.

CTRL + Shift what a combo..

Windows (XP or Vista) users in the US probably don't experience this, but Europeans do: There is a "hidden feature" in both XP and Vista namely the CTRL and Shift shortcut that really changes things drastically in your Windows environment...

So what is the shortcut all about?! Well it switches the keyboard layout to the next keyboard layout that is setup on your computer. So what is the big deal? You'll only have one keyboard layout, right?! So no sweat! Well if you live in the US that's correct, but if you live in The Netherlands for instance and you selected your own time zone and country during initial setup, Windows will do a couple of nifty things for you automatically...

Windows will automatically create settings for your home language AND create a keyboard layout setting, the default one for your country, although in a lot of countries the keyboard layout is US 101.

And there you are working on some document or Java code or even writing a blog. You intend to select a  line or a couple of words so you press CTRL + Shift. You change your mind so you don't press any other key while holding down CTRL + Shift and you release them. Et-voila! when you continue typing you find out that a lot of the keys you hit do not turn out to be the keys you intended to use!

Actually I myself found out this "hidden feature" already a couple of years ago, but it seems today a lot of people are still suffering from this: closing all programs, rebooting windows or even reinstalling Windows to get rid of the problem.

So the one feature I would definitely want to be in Windows 7 or actually NOT to be in the system is the default keyboard layout switching shortcut CTRL + Shift.

Thank you Microsoft. Maybe Bill and Seinfeld can record an item on this topic, sounds like a lot a of fun to me...

Oracle OpenWorld 2008: Policies, SCA, Beehive and...

Most of the conferences have a couple of things they want you to take home. Although I understand that last year was already about SCA and policies, it's still pounding here now. And of course Beehive... Well BEA had Beehive as their "making life easy", "Spring like" framework, but is brand new! Or isn't it...

Well actually Oracle Beehive is actually an awful lot like the Liquid Enterprise BEA revealed at BEA World in 2007. Then again, that's one of the reasons why they bought BEA, so no wonder!

SCA is hot at Oracle OpenWorld as well. They are pushing mainly the Weblogic Application Server platform and the BPEL / BPM products forward as their SCA enabling platform, ready for the agile Enterprise future. I'm not so sure yet about the real advantage of SCA over plain old BPM. So mainly what the added value is above having business processes being defined is that you have a good notion of what is in your composition (which services), what the interfaces (dependencies) to other components are and what the properties for the component are. You still have the point (as with BPM) that services are deployed over several systems and you'll have a deployed composition of the services on another system. A good thing is that you're not restricted to having Web Services, with SCA a composition might also contain Java classes or .Net classes. Which actually could be done with BPM using for instance the Oracle Service Bus! Nevertheless SCA is a nice clean way of composing Service based applications and since Oracle is pushing it might be here to stay.
It seems however it is mainly a technology thing, which might not make it up to deciding business level.

The scoop of the conference was actually presented on Wednesday by Larry Ellison (CEO of Oracle) in what you can best summarize as a sales pitch or commercial of about 30 minutes of the new HP - Oracle Exadata Data server.
Cool server technology but I did not like the presentation actually. Rather then setting out the new Oracle way forward he spent the whole presentation, which looked a bit unprofessional("next slide please...") on how good the relationship with HP is (elephants do love elephants) and what a perfect hardware / software combination they created for handling bigger and bigger query data throughput demands. Impressive, but I didn't like the keynote at all!
Just to be complete a little info on the Exadata servers technology. The server consists of several high performing Disks combined with Intel processors for running queries on the data. This together with a high bandwidth data pipe for sending out data puts together the Exadata server. The real trick with the server is that queries are performed on the same server that hosts the data (not on a separate server) and only the result data is passed to the database server that requested the query.
This can be a good thing for some of the Oracle customers, but it will be a limited set. The other thing is: how about inserts, updates and delete? These servers are mainly tuned for high performance on querying, not for those. Maybe next year...

Selasa, 23 September 2008

Oracle OpenWorld 2008: Tom Kyte keynote - The best way...

Just went to see Tom Kyte's keynote titled "The best way...". It once again made me realize that trying to aim for simple solutions is the best way to do things. He had one slide in his presentation stating: "you don't need 14 tiers in every solution to get things working!".

It all comes down to K.I.S.S. (Keep IT Simple, Stupid!)

To my opinion that goes for a lot of aspects of software engineering; In his case it's Database design and query / data retrieval optimization (Tom Kyte is thé Guru on Oracle Database technology) in other cases it's Software design and Software implementation or Software Configuration Management. Another one is Architecture... Just take that 14 tier example into account...

So why is it that in Software development, and typically in the Java world, people tend to over complicate things? Is it to prove own knowledge? Or to impress other people? Or does it have to do with the Software development industry, especially Java, being rather young and thus not so detailed out?

Well I'm not sure what the answer is. What I do know is that keeping things simple can make it a lot better to understand for people and in the end get more appreciation.
I think there is a lot of analogy with music, where some of the greatest hits in history consist of a very simple chord scheme and very easy tunes.

So let's Keep things simple!

Senin, 22 September 2008

Oracle OpenWorld 2008: Sunday 9/21/2008

Well today started pretty nice actually, we did not go to the sessions this morning... because there weren't any!

Instead we spent the morning cycling up the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond to the Vista Point, which is at the other side of the GG bridge in the National Park. A hell of a ride (by bike that is) but normally (if there's no fog) the view on San Francisco, the bridge and the bay would have been more than worth it. Would have been, because when we arrived up there, the clouds and fog moved in and all of  a sudden the view was gone! The trip was worthwhile nevertheless.

In the afternoon I went to three sessions:

  • The next generation Application Servers Infrastructure: trends
  • Oracle Fusion Middleware Web Service SOA Overview
  • Introduction to Web Service Manager

The next generation Application Servers Infrastructure: trends
The first session described the past, the present and the future (of course with the disclaimer: "...nothing in this presentation can be held against us...") of Application servers. 
One of the conclusions of the session was that J EE will continue to play a big roll in Enterprise development. I think so too, but what will be key for JEE is that there needs to change something to the complexity of the platform in terms of what can and must be used. This implies that for instance if I'm only using Servlets, JSP's, some JDBC and some EJB's in my application I should not have to load (in memory) all of the things needed for for instance JMS and all of the other JEE parts that are available in an application server. This will make the memory footprint and by that the necessary resources for an application very much smaller and thus performance and necessary resources will benefit of that.
For this exact reason the Oracle Weblogic team is really pushing hard to get so called "profiling" into JEE 6, which is due somewhere in 2009. This will (when the 6.0 standard is implemented) eventually lead to a more monolithic Application server. The term the presenter used is "WYGIOWYN": What You Get Is What You Really Need!
Actually SpringSource is working on the exact same thing with there SpringSource DM Application server!

One of the other trends (which you already see actually) will be that more and more POJO's will become important (Spring, etc.), as well as the support of other more scripting oriented languages to be ported on Java / JEE. This is mainly because newer languages are suffering of the lack of a good runtime environment which the JVM (with approx. 2000 man centuries of R&D) is nowadays. This means that the JVM is actually a very good runtime to host new languages, which will mean porting of the languages, like JRuby, etc.

The last point I'd like to mention is SCA, it really seems like Oracle has adopted SCA (Service Component Architecture) which will also need it's support in for instance the Weblogic Application Server platform. I'll come back on SCA in one of the following posts.

Oracle Fusion Middleware Web Service SOA Overview
Other than what you would expect from the session title, this session was mainly on the roadmap of the Weblogic Application server. The guy presenting it was a good prototype of a "businetized" nerd (he was wearing a suit, but was really into technical details :-)). I'll give you some highlights on this:

- Policies
- SOAP attachments (MTOM)
- Dual WS stack (supporting both JAX-WS and JAX-RPC)
- JDeveloper dev environment -> HTTP Analyzer / WS testing
- Although Workshop might be around for a while for J2EE development.

Roadmap: FMW 11g R1, 1st half of 2009 mainly combining WLS 10.3 and OAS 10.1.3.x

Introduction to Web Service Manager
Although I know it is not really the case I can't help thinking that Oracle's WSM product does really do a lot of things the old Aqualogic Service Bus is already capable of itself. I'm having a session on that on Tuesday, so I'll keep you posted on this...

More to follow...

"Sun targets BEA WebLogic users"

I read this article a couple of weeks ago about Sun's new strategy to try to get current / former BEA Weblogic users to move over to SUN Java CAPS, SUN's SOA Platform.

Sun tries to convince people to start using their platform with some kind of simple SOA TCO calculator. To my opinion a little to short to conclude the TCO of SOA based on the parameters (# of sockets (per core), # of employees and # of years).

Well it might convince people to start looking a little closer to investments in SOA, which is good. Probably the outcome will be that they will conclude to go for SOA players like Oracle - BEA.

We'll see...

Minggu, 21 September 2008

Oracle OpenWorld 2008: It started!

Well yesterday (Saturday 9/20/20008) I flew in from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for joining the Oracle Open World (OOW) conference 2008 in San Francisco. The flight was pretty good, no delay (we had a direct flight) and no real "roller coaster rides". Although 10 hours straight flying can be a pretty hard time...

After waiting for a colleague flying in from Detroit, we went to the Hilton Hotel, where we're staying and checked in. Nice hotel, no problemos there ;-) So that one's also checked!

Then the registration part of the conference: We went to the Moscone center, actually the hart of the conference and checked-in there. Retrieving our Full-conference passes and the goodies. We also found out to be able to see the really good stuff (sessions) we'll need to register for the Oracle Develop part of the conference, which cost an additional $100! They try to make money out of everything... Found out that due to the fact that I've been to BEA world in Barcelona last year officially I belong the veterans, being an Alumni member, meaning that I received even more goodies than "normal" registrants ;-)

Having this one settled as well we took a stroll around the city center, walking along the streets of China town, Italian quarter, seeing the Pyramid building and finally ending up at a place called Burgermeister. Very nice how the made an art out of making real Hamburgers and actually very good fries! Good thing my wives not with me because there was a lot of garlic in the stuff...

Feelings so far: so I've been to big conferences before, but this one is actually the most big and impressive one! I'm not sure about the exacts figures, but something like 1200+ presentations, keynotes and labs and about 45.000 people visiting the place from literally all of the world. In the plane I sat next to a guy from Latvia and behind me a couple from Italy, I heard some Scandinavians (Denmark, Norway) and go on... This is really big.

So what's next: this morning (I'm writing this at 3:44, jet-lag -> so what to do else :-)) we planned to go biking across the Golden Gate bridge and ride into the National Park right across the bridge to have some nice views of the bay. Later on today some sessions on SOA (Fusion) and Java (mainly the old BEA stuff) are planned. I'm really excited to see what the strategy Oracle layed out in July actually really implies. I'll keep you posted with my findings :-)