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June 20, 2005

New sub-domain for Fiteni.com

A sub-domain seems to be short hand for a place holder for a new resource area. Since the blogs and journals are more in the nature of a knowledge resource, I thought I would follow other organizations' best practices and place my blogging in its own 'virtual' space. Not as easy as I thought, though! Well, I am always willing to learn new techniques. Greg Sweeney of Nexcess, my intrepid web hostng service, helped me set up a blog sub-domain for fiteni.com and it seems to work well. Now my blogs can be found at blog.fiteni.com which is a little easier to find.

Also, I have added Technorati to the right hand side to show links to me and search capability throughout Technorati.


Posted by alexfiteni at 7:44 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2005

Getting the most out a conference can be daunting.....

Without making this sound like an attendance log, I did drop in to several sessions at OAUG 2005 to sample security, compliance, best practices and general Oracle product sessions ( which I mentioned yesterday's blog ).

The Sarbanes-Oxley Idea Exchange session was very lively and hosted by Kim Autreyan OAUG board member and a great facilitator. The dialogue roamed the length and breadth of the debate from the interpretation of Sarbanes-Oxley through access controls to file retention. It was the opinion of many that these types of forum discussions really help users to share concerns and information.

I also attended a great session on Process Automation hosted by fellow Canadians Marianne Rait and Peter Gee of Ryerson University (gotta plug the home team occasionally!). They demonstrated that a serious effort to handle a piece of paper only once can be achieved using the right imaging and workflow software - in this case 170 Systems integrated into Oracle Applications - and be able to save storage space by destroying the originals (depending on the local/federal laws, of course). Such a project is not without its challenges, and while getting executive buy-in is important, they stressed the importance of communicating to and listening at all levels in the organization and at every step in the project to ensure that the community knows what to expect and when. If you missed the session, the presentation will be on the OAUG Conference site shortly.

Lastly, a session on E-Commerce to Application Integration hosted by SiteStuff was a panel discussion that ended up as a demo of Oracle's new BPEL middleware product, which Basheer of SOA Software really showed off. The visual designer walks you through the steps needed to complete a basic flow between two systems, with sufficient flexibility to handle a wide variety of integration scenarios.

There were many tracks, so an OAUG conference attendee had plenty to choose from.

Also, a visit to the exhibit floor included Oracle's demo areas, as well as visits with Sabrix, Vertex, and also attending on Virtual Trader, and Applimation demos.

Oh, yes, there was the obligatory evening event. The evening's entertaininment was top notch, as usual, but what do you do when you are in Texas? Play Texas Holdem, of course, and ride bulls, get your picture on top of bull, or rope a bull (maybe too much bull?).

Traveling the so-called friendly skies is getting a little harder each year.....

Arriving and Leaving Dallas is like getting a toothache, the memory lives on longer than the event. Hated the airport, the weather, and the urban sprawl. I found myself at 3 am looking for a mis-directed hotel address ...thanks a bunch - NOT - Travelocity ... and thanks to a very helpful front desk person at Bedford Suites in lovely Irving for her incredible service to not one but two forlorn travellers to get us sorted and re-directed to our respective hotels.

Flying out of DFW was part of the toothache experience, like who was the smart ass who figured out that a two foot long roller counter on the security gate was enough time to get all your valuables into those pesky rubber bins less than 8 feet from the security gate? And when are the airlines going to catch up with Jet Blue at Oakland airport .... free WiFi, please and thank you, is the only way to go for add-hoc web access!

Posted by alexfiteni at 10:12 PM | Comments (1)

June 15, 2005

Welcome to OAUG Texas 2005

The OAUG/Qwest combined conference in Texas this year was very well attended and very well organized, so props to the conference commitee and the collaborative teamwork that pulled it off. This observer found the mix of SIG Special Interest Group) sessions, functional and technical tracks very helpful. The sessions I found particlarly interesting were the end user experiences, and the SIG sessions. I participated in the Multi-National SIG with Hans Kolbe of Celantra Systems, and later in the CPE accredited session on Statutory Compliance Tools on Tuesday. Also, a nod to Solution Beacon LLC for allwing me to use their demo environment via WiFI at the last minute due to network issues.

On the Oracle front, John Wookey's session on Monday that laid out the Fusion strategy with some solid business drivers around adaptable business processes and better business insight driving better business decisions. He also mentioned that Oracle wants their customers to have a "Superior Ownership Experience" and made the first steps toward a real customer focus, clarifiying what was being supported and until when for many nervous J D Ewards, PeopleSoft and indeed Applications users. The messages were also clear in all the presentations it seems, although I only got to see Steve Miranda's session, where it was tied to both the 11.5.10 new features and at least one hint on Release 12 around Multi-Org Security.

More later ......

Posted by alexfiteni at 4:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 7, 2005

Has Open Source found a reliable business model?

The 'Silicon Valley Leadership Forum' recently reminded me that networking is still the road to building business and even friendships outside of corporate life. The event held in Mountain View focused on Open Source, a topic that, by some reports, should have the traditional proprietary software makers shaking in their boots. One prediction has the proprietary software vendors seriously challenged to remain profitable within 5 years. This observer finds that hard to believe, since Open Source link has been around for many years and the only serious challenger observed so far appears to be around operating systems – DOS vs Linux.

The promise is certainly there, but as a basis for actually making serious money – ie. A sustainable business model - has yet to be determined. The Linux variants have rolled out under the guise of a 'free' operating system, but technical support inevitably requires some expertise - outsourced or otherwise - to make it all work. Perhaps it is not a free as we would like to believe. Open Source has made a great many promises, yet few have really tested it. We are still at the stage where a 'product champion' will practically write the specification, code, test and then evangelize it to get customers before the software can really take off. There are few domain experts participating in some of the niche areas, and this can inhibit uptake by knowledgeable buyers. Most successes are modest and are bootstrapped.

But the beginning of the end is at hand some say. Yes and No. Yes, there will be a greater push to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and that will impact the amount budgeted for capital and license costs, as it has affected hardware, but inevitably the installation, implementation, support, and maintenance of Open Source software has a cost and the customer is still looking to meet some basic payback goals. A company choosing to use this method must seriously judge its capacity to 'tinker in the back yard'. I still build my own PCs, but would never counsel a large company to do so. Would I risk my corporate knowledge bases or key business flows to OpenSource? Well, some companies are indeed doing so, and very well thank-you. What characterizes these companies? Strangely enough it is that group of companies that believe in owning their own destiny, which really surprised me. These companies have a culture of innovation and/or self-determination, they want to keep their TCO way down, and are willing to fill in the gaps with their own code where needed. The IT organization tends to be agile and responsive, and make decisions based on deep technical understanding of the risks and rewards.

Where is OpenSource headed? By all reports, it is flourishing, with some 70,000 projects and 70 new projects added daily, and a community of over a million participants. This kind of acceptance can be compared with the traditional models amongst software tools vendors, who deemed that a community exceeding a million developers meant a key acceptance threshold has been reached. Witness Sun's drive to get Java passed a million developers as just one example of this trend and the parallels are obvious. The implications, however, differ. This is a highly fractious community, building many competing products, and the winnowing process has barely started. Do we really need 15 varieties of CRM? How do we judge which are fit for prime time? Where do we begin the process of evaluating what products and components we can reliably use from this vast code pool? We can choose based on a popularity contest, or on whether it meets our specific functional requirements, more on User Interface, or solid technical execution. How do you, as an CIO make a decision? Well, there is help coming, and Bernard Golden of Navicasoft is there to make it easier. The author proffered that a structured methodology based on the nominal costs of various buy vs make vs rent scenarios and some weighting would provide a serviceable basis for an evaluation.

OpenSource is here to stay. It has proven itself resilient over time. Various experiments in business models will eventually result in one or more winning formulae to allow such software products to reach the mainstream IT shops. It shops however, must be open to new options for spreading their risk and hedging their bets against the proprietary software models of today.

Posted by alexfiteni at 7:15 AM | Comments (0)