We Invite You to Test Drive Our New Test Drives!

Vlamis is now offering Oracle's new Big Data test drive and the Oracle Advanced Analytics test drive on AWS's new platform, Orbitera. It makes for a more user friendly experience, and we think you'll enjoy it. 

Check it out at: http://www.vlamis.com/td/

***Coming Soon***

The newly released SampleApp 406 will be coming soon as we migrate our OBIEE and Map Viewer test drives to the new platform.

Categories
Monday
Jul212014

Vlamis - Technology and the Individual

I have spent some time observing and coordinating with the people in the office in an attempt to understand how technology fits in our work and how it fits in our culture. Having also been the fulcrum for specifying and procuring equipment has given me a lot of information that I hope to delineate here in a set of suggestions for an ongoing internal IT procedures and (I hate this word > ) policies.

In the 14 years I have worked here, I learned that I was taught a lot of wrong-headed and "old" business theory that applies well to filing cabinets, but are awful for electronic devices. Business computer equipment in the 70's-80's was often built to be permanent installations and long-term investments like manufacturing equipment. In the ancient world of the IBM PC 286, it was advised to leave your computer on because the electricity it used was less expensive than replacing the power switch. In hindsight, that was not realistic. I have been told of an architect that purchased integrated workstations for his drafters that had an integrated pencil and paper drafting table with built-in CAD computer hardware and software. All encased in beautiful high-tech looking plastic, these were the top of the line and built to last. The architect spent $30,000 on each of these workstations. They were utterly obsolete in about 2 years and the "investment" helped sink his firm and it did not ever recover.

My first day at Vlamis Software Solutions (August 2000) revealed the stifling nature of how technology was viewed in the larger companies I had worked for. The mouse that was attached to the desktop PC I was assigned was a trackball. I abhor trackballs. I figured I was stuck with it. I gave it a shot. I couldn't do work with it. So I asked Dan where I could find a different mouse, and if we were out of them, what kind we were supposed to buy and from where. He looked at me like I didn't understand how life worked. "Go find a mouse that you like and will help you be productive, and if it is under $100, just buy it with your credit card.", Dan said (give or take).

My 14 years ago brain screamed, "What? No. You don't understand. There are approved things that are part of the company standards that are one-size fits-all. You buy these things in bulk and when it goes bad, you have to beg an IT person or other supply strangler to replace it with another sub-optimal thing. This man in front of me doesn't understand how businesses are supposed to work."

I have a scar on the tip of my middle finger. That scar wore a pattern in the plastic of the right-mouse button of the mouse I picked because I ended up using it so long. My productivity was increased and even though the mouse was one of the expensive new 'laser' mouses (mouses point, mice squeak), it cost less in the long term because I bought something based on my knowledge of my working habits and how I used technology. For the cost of $40, I felt more empowered, more respected, more trusted, and more of a part of this company than any results I had from the thousands of dollars spent by the corporations I previously worked for with their silly team building exercises and free bad-coffee and donuts training.

It was enlightening.

The incredibly personal nature of technology and the absolute impermanence of it makes a compelling case to allow freedom of choice with personal electronics.

There are some benefits to standardization. A stack of identical laptops will allow for trading and loaning power supplies. You can exchange parts from one to the other. You can test software and configurations on one machine and have reasonable expectation that it would work for all of them.

The reality of what actually happens in Vlamis is that a laptop and its associated hardware are given to one person and there is so very little "sharing" of that equipment. I cannot think of an example of it ever happening. Beyond that, each person's list of installed software is not the same and there has been little opportunity to realistically do "real" configuration testing. When our laptops have an expired warrantee, we move to a new one, not continue to repair them. After three years, laptop hinges are weak and the case is scratched/dented and worn. Bringing an out of date and worn laptop does not reflect the image of the exclusive boutique business intelligence consultancy we are. I believe that what little benefit there is to strictly standardize is far outweighed by the benefits of allowing a personal choice based on the users' knowledge of their work habits.

In visiting the development areas of a verly large company that is one of our clients, I noticed rather quickly that there was very little computer equipment that was not unique to each user. Laptops were of many shapes and sizes. Mouses and keyboards had rainforest-like "biodiversity". Some happily pecked away at a lightweight and very portable laptop, while others had powerful mobile workstations. Not once did I hear a single complaint about an electronic device that was issued by the company. If a corporation as large as the one I visited cannot gain an advantage at their scale for standardization of equipment for developers, how could we?

We do need ways to work together and whatever technologies we choose need to allow for this. The counter-point to this concern is that it isn't 1995. I saw a picture recently that parodied the Apple "Mac Guy" and "PC Guy" advertisements. The tagline was something like "It doesn't matter which one you pick. You are only going to use it to look at Facebook and Netflix anyway, so they are exactly the same thing." This is a curiously strong statement. The vast majority of what we do is now either browser-based or virtual machine based. The "thick client" Windows/OSX/*nix compatibility issue has been tackled by our esteemed Director of Technology. He uses virtualization to allow him to use Windows 7-based programs directly inside his OSX operating system. I've seen this in operation and it is really slick and just works. His choice of using a Mac has had very little impact on servicing our clients, even VPNs work for him. That doesn't mean that there haven't been challenges to configure cross-compatibility, but there hasn't been a problem that has not had a functional work around.

I find that I am pontificating. It doesn't seem to matter much what color, size, shape, or interface the machine is, as long as the person using it is comfortable with it and they can be productive with it, there is little benefit gained by insisting on standardizing on specific technologies and it is likely that constraining our staff to use only the one thing that some person has arbitrarily decided is "right" decreases productivity and morale.

So what do we do now? Give everyone a credit card limit and say "Go buy some happy!"? Well, that isn't very realistic. Some people have little interest in this at all and would go buy a nice red one, but it may not meet their needs because they didn't realize they even had the need. Some will need to have pre-chosen and pre-approved choices laid out in front of them or they won't ever chose. Some would much rather have a list of requirements that their machine has to fit and that they can go buy that one perfect machine for themselves.

Our laptop requirements, my top 3 picks, and the conclusions I came to are below the fold.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun302014

Vlamis Repeating ODTUG KScope Presentations

We recently returned from the ODTUG Kscope conference (great conference, by the way!), and several people wanted to be able to share our presentations with colleagues, so we're planning on repeating the following sessions as webcasts on July 2, 2014:

Please send us an email if you are interested in registering for either of the webcasts, and we will provide the registration details.

 

Thursday
Jun192014

Vlamis Test Drive Updates

We at Vlamis Software Solutions, Inc. have been working hard to give you some updates to Vlamis' Oracle Test Drive program, and we wanted to let you briefly know about them. 

As a reminder, our test drives run with the actual Oracle software running on the Amazon Web Services EC2 environment.  They give you hands-on experience with the software and a tour of the features. If, after registration, you need additional time or need further instructions, simply send an email to testdrive@vlamis.com and we would be glad to help you.

First, we are offering Oracle's new Big Data test drive, which is made up of five individual hands on labs that explore both Big Data and NoSQL Access to the Oracle Database.  The data used is from Oracle Big Data Lite's MoviePlex.  You can sample and see the inner workings of a movie streaming company.

Second, the Oracle Advanced Analytics test drive is now using Oracle R version 1.4 as well as SQL Developer 4.0. In addition, both the Advanced Analytics and Big Data test drives are using Amazon Web Services’ new test drive launch platform, version 3.0. The new launch process is more user friendly. Once a test drive is launched, there is a video as well as written instruction that takes you through the start-up process, typically taking no longer than ten minutes.

Lastly, we are in the process of migrating our OBIEE and Map Viewer test drives to Amazon’s new platform, and when they move, they will also be migrating to the newly released SampleApp 406.  These changes are rapidly approaching, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, you can still access both of test drives in their current version.

Thank you for allowing Vlamis to be your Oracle test drive resource!  We appreciate your support.

Friday
May302014

See Vlamis at Kscope 2014

Please look us up at Kscope 14.  I will be presenting two sessions:

The second presentation will preview the Oracle Press book coming out later this year on Data Visualization for Oracle Business Intelligence that I am working on.

Please let me know if you're going to be at KScope - I look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday
Apr022014

Major Update Releases for Oracle’s R Technologies

March 2014 turned out to be a banner month for the team working on Oracle R Enterprise, Oracle R Distribution, and Oracle R Advanced Analytics for Hadoop. Link to Oracle R Technologies page

Last week Oracle R Enterprise 1.4 was released. This is an important release with key functionality for the analytics community, for Oracle database administrators, and for Enterprise CIOs. Something for everyone!

Data Scientists get ready to geek out

Perhaps the feature that is most interest to the professional R programming community is the support for R 3.01 (both open source R and Oracle’s newest Oracle R distribution). This means a *ton* of additional packages and newer package releases are available for use in embedded R processes on Oracle Database servers. The step up to R 3.01 is a major milestone. New in-data base algorithms include

  • ore.odmNMF (Non-Negative Matrix Factorization algorithm),
  • ore.odmOC (Oracle’s proprietary Orthogonal Partitioning Cluster algorithm),
  • ore.odmAssocRules (apriori algorithm for building market basket analyses and sophisticated recommendation engines).

Additionally, ore.neural (neural nets), ore.glm (generalized linear regression model), ore.esm (exponential smoothing for time series analyses) all saw major extensions and upgraded capabilities along with new support for Principal Component Analysis, ANOVA, and factor analysis on database data sets.

To see the new blazing speeds for analytics, check out the Oracle R Distribution 3.01 Benchmarks.

Oracle DBAs Get to Specify Degree of Parallelism for ORE Functions

Traditional Open Source R was developed with single-threaded processes as the rule, so users just accepted long run times along with limits on data sets imposed by the amount of memory their machines had. Enterprise data sets and enterprise data demand faster processing and far larger dataspaces.

Enterprise CIOs See the Integrated Future of Designed Data Warehouses, NoSQL Big Data, and Multi-Tenant Solutions

Compromise, strategic tradeoffs, lock-in, and local optimizations have dominated the world of CIOs working to develop a coherent vision for their organizations regarding descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. The combination of Oracle’s R technologies with Oracle 12c Database, Oracle NoSQL 3.0, Oracle’s Engineered Systems, and Oracle’s Big Data strategy means that CIOs can confidently set forth a defined analytics path for their organizations without becoming hostage to a proprietary analytics culture and system. Oracle R Enterprise 1.4 enhances Oracle Database’s ability as a world-class high performance computing environment for advanced statistical functions and parallel processing within a secure and managed system.