Kscope15 Recap - the Conference, Networking and Learnings!
What a couple of weeks! Having only just returned from Japan a few days earlier, I was now headed for another plane and another first; this time the East Coast of the USA, and the balmy beaches of Hollywood, Florida, just north of Miami. Despite 3 flights and a 2am arrival time, there is something about stepping out of a homeland winter and into a welcoming tropical environment that just makes everything feel alright.
So, first thoughts? I was impressed! The relaxed-seaside-midsummer vibe reminded me of holidays growing up at a place in New Zealand, called Mt Maunganui; only on a slightly different scale…and a little hotter…to which the blisters on the soles of my winter feet attested to :-)
ODTUG The reason for this trip was the annual Kscope conference, organized by ODTUG: the Oracle Development Tools User Group. I have been involved with Oracle for the past 10+ years and attended a number of conferences (specifically with a DBA focus), but I didn’t know a great deal about this particular user group or their flagship event, other than what I had picked up second hand from team members.
So, starting at the beginning then, what and who is ODTUG? They are, in their own words, an “…independent, not-for-profit, global organization whose sole purpose is to keep you on the cutting-edge of the constantly changing technology landscape.”
As such, this user group is committed to the ongoing education and development of their members, fostering professional networking and communication, and providing feedback to Oracle around their product development. Its community consists of people interested in the wider Oracle ecosystem (database, middleware, apps and development tools) and is made up of an assortment of developers, architects, administrators, analysts and consultants. I have said it before, and I will say it again, that there are just so many benefits for Oracle professionals to being actively involved in these communities.
At Kscope, I heard many stories recounted whereby people were able to call on connections made at events such as this, to obtain input and advice which enabled them to solve complex real-world production system issues. Let’s face it, we are engaged in a specialist industry where deep knowledge is required to solve challenging problems at the coalface, and there is comfort to know that specialist help is just a call (or a tweet) away. Kscope Often times, claims are projected out ahead of these sorts of events which don’t end up matching the reality, but I am happy to say that, in this case, my expectations were exceeded. I had heard it said that Kscope was one of the best networking opportunities for connecting with Oracle authors, bloggers, and experts and this turned out to be spot on! And here’s some other things I really appreciated:
- The mobile app was well designed and comprehensive, and it just worked :-)
- The pre-conference orientation communication was really informative, and excellent in building the vibe and sense of anticipation
- Particular special provision was made for first timers like myself (i.e.: a newcomers breakfast), and I think this just communicates the care that the ODTUG team places on cultivating the social atmosphere and “culture” of this gathering
This conference is boutique in comparison with the likes of Oracle Open World, but was exceptionally well run and you can sense this in the attention to detail. Oh, and the catering was outstanding! Feeding hundreds and hundreds of people is still no small feat, and it was done with some pizazz. T
ables of donuts - just what you need a couple of hours after a buffet lunch :-) And you know, the location sure didn’t hurt either! Taking a break in between sessions and soaking up spectacular views like this was just refreshingly good for the soul.
View from one of the conference floor balconies
Friends, Old and New Connecting up with old friends, and making new, is one of the rich aspects of the Oracle conference experience, and the social environment fostered at Kscope was outstanding in this respect. In this context, there was a distinct lack of pre-tense and uptightness, making it really easy to talk to people. So, I made a whole bunch of new connections, and put faces to names I knew. There were too many good sorts to name individually but 'thanks' go out especially to Stewart Bryson, Michael Rainey, Holger Friedrich, Mark Farnham, Jeremy Harms, Troy Ligon and Danny Bryant for the conversation on work, life and everything in between. Good times, for sure. And, I can’t let the opportunity go without a few special shout out to a couple of friends of Dbvisit, who really made the Kscope experience all the more brighter…
Bjoern Rost (@brost): Those of you who have met Bjoern will know what I mean; that in addition to his role as an Oracle ACE Director, he pretty much specializes in being the life of the party. In all seriousness though, his enthusiasm and community minded spirit is infectious, and he is a great presenter who really knows his stuff to boot. If you ever get the chance to see his presentation, “Tackling Time Troubles: How Oracle Implements Datetime Data Types”, it comes highly recommended.
Craig Shallamer (@cshallahamer): Craig is one of the most engaging teachers I have ever seen, and the way he works different angles to bring clarity to deep Oracle concepts is outstanding. At Kscope, I was fortunate enough to see his presentation on “Understanding Oracle Memory Serialization Control”, in which he delved into the inner workings of Oracle latches and mutexes - and what I really like is how he devises tools and tests, rather than guesswork, to report on activity and validate assumptions. Craig is also an Oracle ACE Director, and in addition to offering training, maintains an extensive website with many free Oracle resources which you can check out here.
Jan Karremans (@johnnyq72): Aside from sharing a Dutch connection with Dbvisit’s founder and CEO, Arjen Visser, Jan has had long association with Dbvisit. You may just catch him somewhere showcasing Dbvisit Replicate’s RepAttack, raising the flag for Oracle’s Standard Edition or in his new adventures with APEX plugin developers, FOEX. He is simply one of the most enthusiastic technology evangelists I have ever met, and it was great to see him recently appointed as an Oracle ACE Associate in recognition of this.
Kscope15 - Jan K gives it the thumbs up Kscope Events Snapshot The Exhibition Hall A lot of conference exhibition halls tend to be stark, functional affairs with all the regular sorts of vendor tricks and gimmicks, but, at Kscope, it was a really interesting, warm communal space - and anything but bland! Perhaps it was the general tone but we actually had a number of fruitful conversations with vendors and potential partners there, as people just seemed primed to talk.
DBA and Developer Networking, “Hopportunity” Monday night was the Community Event night at Kscope, with each of the 5 sub-communities breaking out into their own tracks. The DBA and Developer community provided the opportunity for networking while tasting an assortment of selected craft beers, with names like “Rollin Dirty” and “Monk in the Trunk”. This was a really fun event and it was great to meet and chat with a bunch of Oracle product managers such as Jeff Smith, Kris Rice and Steve Feuerstein.
Networking over craft beer - thumbs up for a few Southern specials! The 5KM Run These are the types of events that you sign up before a conference in anticipatory optimism, but, when the 6am start time looms and jet lag, consecutive late nights and a hectic schedule begin to take hold, you question the wisdom of this decision :-) But I followed through on my commitment and it was actually a lot of fun. All things considered I was happy with my time, although I wasn’t breaking any records - but you never regret stretching the legs like this, at least after the fact. And the turnout was brilliant with something like double the numbers the organizers expected turning up.
Post-run. Done. @DbvisitMark - where were you, mate? Cruising Earlier in the week, Mark and I met with Andy Jorgensen, a senior partner at Mindstream Analytics and a well known figure in the Oracle community, and, on Tuesday night, we were fortunate enough to find ourselves invited to their dusk river cruise; this was another brilliant opportunity for networking and conversation, and some of the views were simply breath taking.
The view The Nikki Beach Party Keeping in step with what seems customary at Oracle conferences, the Kscope week rounded out with a party, which was held at the iconic Nikki Beach Miami Beach Club. Travelling South from Hollywood to Miami in specially chartered buses for the conference attendees, our guides pointed out landmarks of interest and a number of haunts frequented by celebs, such as Kanye West and Madonna.
Under construction: the incredible “park your car in your lounge room” Porsche condominium
The Nikki Beach venue itself is an indoor/outdoor complex right on the Miami beachfront, and here we were treated to brilliant hospitality, music and activities. It was a lot of good natured fun, and a great way to the end an intensive few days of technical learning.
Learnings For some time, I have felt that our logical replication tool, Dbvisit Replicate, had a place in the BI/Analytics space with its ability to feed Oracle database source data in real time into reporting, auditing, ODS and data warehouse environments. It seemed to me that there was a potential fit in the E part of the ETL (extract, transform, load) process, and exploring this further was one of my aims for Kscope. A number of sessions touched on this from different angles and I found Michael Rainey’s “GoldenGate and Oracle Data Integrator“ and Nick Hurt’s “Taming the real-time Beast” presentations/material very helpful.
But it was Christian Screen’s discussion in “Real-Time BI for Oracle BI Application” which was my light bulb moment - so thanks to Christian (@ArtOfBI) for the “real-time BI” phrase, and also for the mention of Dbvisit Replicate as an option to outwork this, in his presentation. If you are interested in an alternative tool for feeding a BI system in real-time, then take a look here for a starter.
Overall, I found the quality of the sessions at Kscope to be of a high standard and particularly enjoyed presentations from Jeff Lovett (“Finance: What’s Your Analytics IQ? Critical Capabilities for the Evolving CFO Organization”) and Stewart Bryson (“Supercharge BI Delivery with Continuous Integration”), both of who are excellent communicators. On a side note, another technology which received a lot of air time at Kscope, was APEX - Oracle Application Express. It has been years since I have worked with this in any real way, but it is a brilliant tool which comes free with the Oracle database and which enables creation of apps using only your web browser.
What Kscope brought to my attention is that Oracle is continuing to refine this offering, and there is a huge community of developers and third parties, devoted to working with and extending this tool. You can check it out here. Post Conference Following a full and action packed 4 days, Mark and I left early on Thursday morning to attend a number of customer and partner meetings to conclude my time in the USA. And so concluded our Kscope15 experience, but we left with some great memories and contacts. Earlier in the week, in a Blues Brothers inspired ceremony, the ODTUG team announced that the conference will be held in Chicago next year. For anyone considering going, I would highly recommended it, and who knows, perhaps we may see you there…
Not quite the Blues Brothers, but we hope to see you in Chicago!