Wednesday
Aug202014

Vlamis Allows the World to Try Oracle Software

All three of Vlamis's Oracle test drives have migrated to the new AWS Orbitera platform. We have free test drives for:

  • OBIEE (2 labs), 
  • Oracle Advanced Analytics (2 labs), and 
  • Oracle Big Data (5 labs) 

The OBIEE 11g Test Drive incorporates the newest version of SampleApp. With this new interface, you only need to register once for all of our test drives. 

In each case, we make Oracle content more accessible, allowing you to immediately use Oracle software with a dedicated virtual machine, alleviating the need to download a VM. There is a lot there, so you'll want to devote somewhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours to the test drive. We even have videos to watch that detail the process while you wait for your own private virtual machine to start up. You connect to your VM via a browser (BI), Windows Remote Desktop (OAA) or VNC (Big Data). 

 You can get more information and spin up your own test drive at www.vlamis.com/td.

Tuesday
Aug122014

Charlie Berger blogged about Vlamis Test Drive

We have seen an uptick in test drives since Charlie Berger blogged about our Oracle Advanced Analytics Test Drive.  Thanks, Charlie!  We have three major test drives now:

By the way, these test drives have the full functionality of the virtual machines upon which they are built.  So if you want to experiment with SampleApp, simply spin up a test drive.  We do not limit what you do to a defined script.  Go ahead and go off-road.  Just don't expect us to send a tow truck to get you out of a ditch!  If that happens, simply abandon the test drive and we'll recycle the bits for use by you or someone else next time.  If you want more persistent or permanent access to a Test Drive environment let us know and we can arrange that too.

Wednesday
Aug062014

Register now for the Upcoming KCOUG Meeting

Hello to all of our Kansas City Area readers!

Now is the time to register for the next Kansas City Oracle User Group Meeting on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 6:00pm - 7:30pm.

Location: Burns & McDonnell Auditorium
9300 Ward Parkway
Kansas City, MO

This meeting will be focused on the user group by having round table discussions on the following topics:

  • Best practices for development discussion with hands on demos
  • OBIEE best practices and demos
  • Performance Tuning: tools available and demos

KCOUG meetings are absolutely free and are a great way to network with other Oracle users in the Kansas City area. Come and learn about others' experiences with Oracle!

Friday
Jul252014

OBIEE Test Drive Live in Orbitera with SampleApp 406

Vlamis's OBIEE and Map Views test drive has successfully migrated to the newest AWS platform and is ready for use, completing the migration of all Vlamis test drives to the new platform:

Our OBIEE test drive now also features the newest release of SampleApp v406.   SampleApp v406's upgrades include Mapviewer version 5 and Oracle Database 12c with the full pluggable database installed.

All three of our test drives run using actual Oracle software in Amazon Web Services's EC2 environment.  All three also give you hands-on experience with the software and a tour of the features. You can also use the environments to test the software "off-road" in your own way. 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.

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 ...