Tag Archives: OGh

Birth of a user group conference…

Or, how post-conference blues hit.


You don’t actually get to witness these kinds of things to often. Yes, there was the birth of POUG conference, the passionate work of Kamil Stawiarski and the people he gathered around him. He did an awesome job and pulled it off.
Why then is this so special? Well, first of all because it is my native conference. People that have contributed for many years, working closely together with new members to create something new. I think it is kinda special.
Richard Olrichs, Ise Douwes, Luc Bors and Bart van de Laar formed the team that pulled it of! Kudos to them.

Work started already end of 2016… on the notion that this conference was being organized, there was a small Twitter bombardment to recruit as many of the interesting international speakers to come and join us. This helped create a fabulous agenda, covering 81 (!!) sessions and 3 keynotes over 2 days in the spectacular setting of “De Rijtuigenloods” in Amersfoort.

Importance for NL

We have (finally) done it! The Netherlands have experienced their very first Full Stack Oracle Conference ever! I have said this many times before, and I will say this probably many times again, this is so very important for the spread of knowledge, the exchange of experiences and cross-pollination between countries!
We have never done this before… We have APEX World, which is, of course, super important! And we have SIGs, which are very important for people working within a specialization. All good, all very important! But our business is way to specialized already. If you never take the time to look over your boundaries to what your colleague is doing (for which you don’t have time on a day-to-day basis) you’ll get isolated and miss out on possible great idea’s, changes and inspiration. For this alone, events like these are so important. For a country / region (as we span Benelux) that is so active in IT, it is a nuisance to have to go to either the UK or to Germany to experience a conference like this.

It is _that_ important…

One personal thing… nl.OUG (this is the brand new name for OGh, which also symbolizes a new start to me) focus on talks on (end-) user experience, in effect, partners with end-users coming to share project briefs… Good in itself, but not what I would applaud as main focus. These conferences – to me – are about learning and the best learning comes from professionals sharing either best practices or telling about technical implementations of technique. These stories are obviously always very welcome, but are no main focus…

My personal experiences

— International scene

As an active member of the Oracle community, I tend to know a number of people, spread out over this globe. One of the joys of a general conference is the fact that many of these people also participate. This leads to many happy encounters. With Oren Nakdimon from Israel, to Sandra Flores from Mexico, with Tim Hall, aka. Oracle Base, Maria Colgan & Brendan Tierney and therefor with Chris Saxon, more than 2rds of the Ask TOM-team!! And even many more famous speakers from home and abroad. It was a very special feeling to meet all these beautiful people on my home turf!

— Followed sessions

I didn’t get to follow many sessions, partly because of the many people I met and wanted to catch up with and partly because of, well, other responsibilities…
And perhaps a bit because of the fact that the ratio between serial sessions and parallel sessions was a bit off.
I did get to see:
The keynote by Maria Colgan highlighting the many things you can do with an Oracle database
Investigating the performance of a statement via the SQL Monitor report by Toon Koppelaars, which is always insightful!
Moving Oracle data in real-time – The 3 fundamental principles of Oracle replication by Jakub Sjeba from Dbvisit, which proved to be an excellent basis for my own session, later that day
Blockchain on the Oracle Cloud, the next big thing by Robert van Mölken, who helped me understand the technical side of the Blockchain technology.
It’s a wrap by Lucas Jellema, who did a great job at really zooming out and looking at the bigger picture.

— My sessions

I had the lucky opportunity to present even 2 sessions in Amersfoort.
Migrating your Oracle database with almost zero downtime
Comparing PostgreSQL to Oracle

Both sessions were well attended and interactive. I enjoyed it very much and, judging from the reactions and interactions, I guess the attendees too. Thank you for attending!!
Obviously I am happy to see the uptake of PostgreSQL and EDB Postgres in the Benelux. As said with “horses for courses”, Oracle has it’s playing-field, but so does PostgreSQL, and probably bigger than it is today 🙂

And now, the future…

This was 2017, this was the kick-off, the very first one.
With the buzz and with the post-conference blues…

It now is time to look to 2018, start preparing. Gathering lessons learned, inventorise feedback and make plans.
Whatever the outcome, there can only be 1 plan! “nl.OUGTech18″ or “Tech Experience 2018” we need to make sure the messages reaches further and wider.
With over 250 attendees for a first event, we aim for over 500 for the next event. There are more than enough potential participants in our region to pull this of.
The basic structure is there, the first succes is there, let’s do this!!

See you all next year!!
(or hopefully sooner)

#DBADev (Ops), who knows what is going on…

I have been considering writing this article for quite some time now.
APEX Connect 2016 in Germany’s capital Berlin and the DOAG Database days have finally persuaded me to talk more about #DBADev, let me explain why…

Whenever in the stone age…

During my career as DBA, I was always working closely together with Oracle Forms & Reports developers. In retrospect, the cooperation in that time was remarkable.
These Forms & Reports developers had always been used to working on a host-based platform.

For those of you who actually remember Oracle Forms & Reports and wonder…
Was there ever Forms & Reports host based?
Yes there was, but it is creepily long ago!!

Because of the nature of Forms & Reports, there always was a lot of consideration about where to place application code. This especially became true when PL/SQL was introduced and the migration to Oracle Forms & Reports 6.5 came about.
This brought the transition to client/server based computing and introduced physical distance between the database and the “front-end”.
Front-end between quotation marks, as in today’s world we don’t actually know “front-end” anymore in this same qualification. The “Frond-end” was always more elegantly and fittingly described as a “fat-client”, because of the sheer size of the software and utilities that were required on the end-users workstation.

The physical separation and distance between the presentation entity and the data manipulation engine required and inspired a lot of thought and debate on where the bulk of data processing had to be done.
You can imagine the impact of having a specific data manipulation done inside an Oracle Form that lived on a desktop on the other end of the network. Especially when the required data set is large. Having 1,000 records being fetched, where 2 where manipulated and then send back in bulk, repeated 100 times, 4 times a minute on a 10 Mbps network. OK, clear, that needs to be done smarter.
The solution: work with small data sets and do database side manipulation to limit client/server communication. And actually, that worked quite well!!

All good and fine… But how does this tie in to #DBADev? This already sounds so harmonious. And how could APEX Connect 2016 have inspired this article?

Well… Let’s see

Later on, I found that this cooperation appeared to be not so normal.
If you step out of the world of client-server computing and move on to “todays world”, that started more or less in the nineties with web based computing – or cloud-computing “avant la lettre“ or “my stuff on your computer” or however you describe it – you find a world that consists of “strange things”.
I find these things “strange things” because I believe they are suboptimal, and luckily I find myself not alone in this corner.
Suboptimal in a way that data manipulation solutions (lets call them applications for now) should be considered to be database agnostic. This independence dictates that you use the database as just a data store or even more accurately, as a persistency store. Blane Carter 2 minute TechTip

In another scenario these applications are designed and build by developers who are very good at creating intuitive and sharp looking user interfaces. Unfortunately often with a lesser developed understanding of the mechanics involved in dishing up and serving data to this newly established middle tier.

With the continuing professionalization of IT over the past 20 years, we have seen the creation of a wide variety of disciplines. These range from those who think about IT (architects, managers, designers) to those who build IT (programmers, engineers) to those who run IT (system administrators, operators) and the majority of these disciplines today are self-contained groups of professionals and specialists who excel at their own game. Basically that is good as the profession is wide and complex enough to support this.
The problem is that there is no longer anyone who has the whole picture.

Bring it on / together!

apex-logoAPEX Connect 2016, to me personally, was the first time I really saw #DBADev in practice. With the following two examples I want to illustrate my inspiration.

The first talk of this genre was @alexnuijten with his confessions, and subsequent smart tips and best practices in “Structuring an APEX application”.
As a pure database developer like Alex, you are automatically more prone to thinking about “DBA-stuff”. A lot of these best practices, although they are very database centric, like using a view for each application screen, are obviously primarily there to help the developer. And, don’t get me wrong, that is a very good thing! Alex inspires to try and combine the best of both worlds, which helps getting the most out of your application, your database, and therewith frankly, out of your total investment.

The second example was the information-packed presentation by Dietmar Aust @daust_de, called “Oracle APEX Scripting – die Kommandozeile ist Dein Freund“ (the command line is your friend).
Much more than “just about developing”, this presentation bridged gaps in more than one way. Perhaps it is even #DBADevOps if you think about it.

The recent DOAG Database days held a few additional surprises with the presence of @cczarski and @nielsdb. A very will pitched presentation by Bruno Cirone really sparked the growing interest in the topic!!

It is funny how an idea that was initiated some 18 months ago, conceived together with Sabine Heimsath @flederbine has grown and evolved out of natural demand. For me, this is one other aspect of the industry, where APEX is setting new frontiers.
With a growing awareness and more people recognizing the gap, the deficits it is bringing and the benefits cooperation brings, I have good hopes.

APEX is not only the technology that enables you to create web-based apps super quickly, it is also the technology that brings developers and DBA’s truly closer to each other, ensuring a maximum bang for the buck when it comes to utilizing your database infrastructure investments!
I am not saying we are there, but this is definitely a first step in the right direction!

The importance of meetup.com

The Oracle community convenes at the various events, SIG-meetings and gatherings that are organized by the national Oracle User Group organizations. This is, for my reckoning, one if the most important parts of the power of the Oracle user community.

During these events, local Oracle stars are joined by the travelling Rock Stars of the Oracle Tech community, together they share knowledge and experience to teach and learn about the tricks of the trace. As said many times before, by people much greater than me, this is truly a unique and powerful way to nurture and grow the combined knowledge about Oracle products and the best ways to use them. My favorite quote remains that of Monty Laitiolais: “This truly is a celebration of Tech!” where he obviously was referring to the yearly KScope happening, but which easily translates to many of the Oracle events around the globe.

Since quite a while now, the phenomenon meetup.com has emerged. It is an on-line place where people can initiate meet ups of like-minded people. Either being a small initiative with just a few people in a cafe up to bigger, or perhaps more commercially colored, happenings. Whatever the subject or idea, from travel to innovation and from hobby to profession, you can find a meet up to suit your needs.

Even though the richness and the broadness of the activities of the Oracle User Group organizations worldwide, recently I have seen more and more activities of Oracle aficionados on Meetup.com.
As far as I recall, the ever-vibrant APEX community started organizing these kinds of events under the flag of APEX-meet ups, using this platform. Gathering to share best practices and share experiences about APEX and all the various bit and pieces that adhere to this technology.
If you would look at the following list you would conclude that it even has quite a big list of meetups there… The adoption of meetup.com by the Oracle community is growing rapidly.

Is this a bad thing for the ‘regular’ Oracle user community?

I think not.

From my experiences participating in both “regular” Oracle user group events as well as in Oracle-related meet ups, I think they have a complimentary function.
The traditional user group events are usually more “speaker – audience” oriented, which is a very good format for educating and teaching. A format that is indispensable because it enables a larger group of people to gain knowledge and understanding quickly and effectively.
The meetups have a, let’s call it, more informal character, one where the interchange of information and knowledge is more of a group event. And, let’s face it, the social aspect of meetups is also a little more on the foreground, which in itself is a good thing too.
The need for this kind of contact already was there in the form of SIG’s. During the traditional events, with the emerging of the round-table phenomenon, this has been even more obvious.

Conclusive I would like to state: Let’s embrace meet ups. Go find or organize a meet up – preferably about our much-loved Oracle technology – in your neighborhood. Find and inspire people, share, learn and laugh! It is worth your time, I can tell from experience.

Big Data: Hadoop and Oracle technologies explained

MarkRittmanUnder the title “Hadoop and Oracle technologies on BI projects” Mark Rittman flew to The Netherlands on the 14th of July to visit the Oracle Usergroup Holland.

As I had obviously heard a lot about Hadoop, I never really did anything further with it and left it to a synaptic link to Gwen Shapira. This lack of action created a kind of threshold in the understanding of the technology. When I heard about this session I realized this would be the moment to take a step further. It turned out the be the  first real talk that puts “Big Data” in the perspective it needs to be consumable and realistic.

In these current times where “The Internet of Things”, more and more social media and ever further digitization we are heading to a Big Data Disruption. This is both a conceptual as a very real thing if you take a moment to think about it. According to real world experience it is also not something “which will once be”, it is something which is actually here today!

On the technical side of thhadoopings, data is captured in something that is called a “data reservoir” (or “data lake” or “data dump (yard)”). Compared with “regular” data storage, you can conclude that data-governance, or a data-structure, in a Big Data system is applied later  We are used to apply this structure, this governance, beforehand, by applying data definition. Using Hadoop in combination with noSQL give you “schema on read” capabilities making quering of the Hadoop data reservoir possible.

Adding this structure later is harder! This leads to the following:

  • Data is much easier to get into Hadoop then into a star-schema
  • Data is much easier to get out of a star-schema then out of Hadoop

This could be one of the essential things to consider when thinking about engaging in a Big Data project!

As Tanel Poder concluded: “High value, high density data will remain in the Oracle database” which I think is a very true conclusion. In the end, the high value conclusions (or the engineering of Big Data results) will also happen within the Oracle database.

On the horizon is “Oracle Big Data Discovery” which will help with the time consuming and tedious work of sorting and interpreting raw data in the data reservoir. The use of ‘R’, as the data exploration tool of duty, is expected to be replaced by this discovery tooling, over time…

To sum up the concept of the first half of the presentation, to my taste:

  • Hadoop changes business
  • NoSQL scales business
  • Oracle runs business

It takes eons to list all names of the Buddha” nicely sums up the number of different applications that make up and are needed to execute a successful Big Data project.
Plus, “You’d better keep the 13 rules for relational databases close at hand“!


Part two of the evening was spent on mapping these concepts on actually tools, disclosing data through Hadoop to Oracle SQL and making actual use of Big Data. The exercise was completed by demos and illustrated by screenshots from the slides (link below).
A special word of warning goes out to the security aspect of Big Data, which is something to really pay close attention to. Kerberos authentication and apache Sentry are imperative things to implement in your Big Data environment.

All in all, this evening turned out to be 110% more informative and necessary as I expected when I embarked on the journey to Utrecht! Thank you for sharing, Mark!

Thanks to Piet de Visser for the nice quotes! And a great “hi there” to Klaas-jan Jongsma, René Kuipers and Marti Koppelmans.

If you want to work with Big Data on your Smal(ler) Device, please download the Big data light VM from OTN.

The link to the slides for anyone who wants to review the “extended remix”!

Share your passion

What I have encountered over the past few years, as I got  more and more involved in the Oracle User Community, is the passion to share.
As I have stated in previous posts, it is unbelievable how many smart people are willing to invest private time AND money to travel the world and to share knowledge and experience they have accumulated over the years.

Typically, the annual Oracle User Group events are the place to be to learn from these people. And most often many will submit abstracts of their stories to be elected to be part of these events.

Only, to be able to submit these abstracts, you need to know:
– when these events are
– when the so-called CFP (Call for Papers)
is open.

As all Oracle User Groups tend to be independent, this information is hard to come by if you’re not part of the in-crowd, which if, of course, a pity!!
My goal is to collect this data and make it centrally (well, as central as this website is, then) available to whomever is searching for it.

I have made a start.

It’s a small start yet, so:

  • If there are errors, correct me!
  • If information is missing, tell me!

Hope this helps!!