Arguments over the Semantics of the Cloud

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I read an interesting blog post by Tim Warner earlier this evening, and then watched as a strong debate over the post waged on Twitter.

Tim’s article actually has two points. The second half – the benefits of SaaS/cloud software – are pretty evident to most people now. The first two paragraphs were the ones that drew the Twitter comments.

To summarise Tim’s point, he was saying:

“Some of the more technical questions like “is it true SaaS?” often don’t really mean much to a customer.”

The counter-argument from the eminently respected Naomi Bloom was that these definitions are important, and that people shouldn’t use words like SaaS when selling software if it doesn’t meet the strict definitions of those terms. Naomi has her own definition of SaaS InFullBloom in which she spells out the criteria even more precisely.

My own opinion – not that it was requested by anyone – is that the reality is somewhere in between.

I also roll my eyes when someone obsesses over the exact meanings of cloud/SaaS/’true SaaS’ etc as I really don’t believe that customers care. They care that the price and the functionality is good, and that the systems are managed in the cloud by the vendor who also delivers regular updates rich with new functionality. Do customers worry if the database is multi-tenant or not? In the main, no, they do not.

I do differ from Tim’s opinion slightly with one of his sentences however. He says “If it’s not on-premises it’s SaaS”. I know this is me now focussing on exact meanings of definitions, but I think this one is important to the customer. There is an important distinction between the triumvirate of cloud/SaaS/’true SaaS’ and plain hosting. I could take an on-premises system and move it to some rented physical servers from Rackspace. This is plain hosting and offers few of the benefits of the other three options (eg. elasticity of resources, economies of scale cost reductions, subscription pricing etc). 

So in summary, I think there are important differences for customers between on-premises deployments, hosted deployments and cloud/SaaS/’true SaaS’ systems. However the differences in semantics between cloud, SaaS and ‘true SaaS’ are less important to most of the customers that I’ve encountered.

 

Productivity and Noise

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Everyone likes to be productive, however pretty much everywhere we work there’s something with the ability to disrupt our concentration. Some are necessary – like most meetings – however others break our flow of thought and it takes a while to get ‘in the zone’ again.

I’ve recently changed jobs and the new company’s office is in Kings Cross, London. In many ways this is hugely advantageous, but it can be a bit noisy. I also do quite a bit of working from home now, and that can be noisy too when the kids get in from school.

A great way of eliminating most of the distractions is to use music, however the tracks that you choose can themselves be distracting, especially if they contain lyrics. The solution is to use either noise generators or ‘programming music’.

Noise Generators

I’ve found one solution is to use ‘noise generators’, programs or sites that create an endless stream of background sound. Here’s some of my favourites:

Jazz and Rain
The webapp plays a continuous list of instrumental jazz music alongside a soundtrack of soft rain. You can adjust the volume level of both independently and let them run in the background.

Soundrown
Gives you a selection of noise tracks which you can combine (and adjust the volume of independently). Select from Rain, Fire, Birds, Waves and Coffee Shop. I normally take all but the latter (then tone down the birds a touch!). On the following page they also offer Night, Train, Fountain, White Noise and Playground. Night and Train are good additions also sometimes.

Simply Rain
Just rain, but you can adjust not only the volume, but the intensity of the rain. You can also control the frequency of thunder.

Rainy Mood
Just rain. Sometimes – particularly if your workplace isn’t too noisy this is all you need.

Simply Noise
Just White noise.  Or Pink Noise. Or Brown Noise.

Coding FM
This is just the sound of someone taping away on their keyboard so it’s unlikely to drown out the heavier noises, but you can vary the intensity, from ‘Monday Morning Coding’ to ‘Hackathon Coding’ to ‘Angry Dev Coding’ (which isn’t relaxing in any way!).

Programming Music

Music for Programming
A series of downloadable mp3s designed to allow maximum concentration.

Get Work Done Music
If you’re after something a little more up-tempo, this is a good choice. It contains a selection of ambient/trance music.

Natural Alternatives

Nature Sounds for Me
If you’re after something a little more natural, then this is a good site. You can select from a wide variety of sounds, combine a few others in, and then save it as a link (allowing you to easily access the combination again in the future). If you like the ambient sound of the forest, mixed with some bird tweets, a gentle waterfall and some whale song(!) then this is ideal.

Calm.com
Ideal if you like your atmospheric music a little more meditative.

 

Becoming a Fusion HCM Security Specialist

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Next up in the ‘hit list’ of topics on the way to specialisation is the Security Specialist. Fusion Security was designed with Role Based Access Control (RBAC) at its heart, allowing separation of duties for Sarbanes Oxley compliance easier to achieve, so that should make it easier to pick up, given my history of PeopleSoft. Let’s dive in … Read the rest of this entry »

Becoming a Fusion Data Specialist

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Next up in the ‘hit list’ of topics on the way to specialisation is the Data Specialist. (I’ve been temporarily scared off by the amount of course content for the Sales and Presales specialisms!) This covers getting data in and out of Fusion.

Inbound Data

As you would expect with a fully-featured system like Fusion, there are an array of options. Read the rest of this entry »

Becoming a Fusion UX Specialist

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Following the previous post discussing the changes in the requirements for the Fusion specialisation program, I thought I’d start attacking the list of exams required.

The one that looked the most interesting – to me – was the new UX (User Experience) exam. I’ve always had a soft spot for good design and I’d loved the revamped look and feel in Fusion release 8. I also liked the fact that the Oracle UX team had released their Design Patterns to the general public. I’ve worked at a couple of clients which had internal ‘best practice’ guides and I’d often talked with colleagues about creating a community ‘development standards’ wiki for PeopleSoft, but this was the first time that I’d seen one from a vendor. It’s refreshing that Oracle is being open and contributing to the community.

The course contains online learning materials from Oracle’s UX luminaries like Mischa Vaughan, Ultan O Broin and Tim Dubois. Some of the content is still specific to R7 but even this functionality is surprisingly good. Oracle have a separate division of UX experts and the material shows that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the UX of Fusion.

Much emphasis is placed on key UX principals such as: Read the rest of this entry »

Changes in the Fusion HCM Cloud Service specialization

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Oracle have recently updated the requirements for the Fusion HCM Cloud Service Specialization program. Previously, there was a set of exams that partners had to get employees through and a client reference to attain. Now the specialisation is a lot more involved:

Previously the requirements were:

1x Fusion HCM 11g Sales Specialist
1x Fusion HCM 11g PreSales Specialist
1x General Product Support Assessment (v3.0)

plus 1 pass in either:
Fusion HCM 11g Human Resources Implementation Specialist, or 
Fusion HCM 11g Talent Management Implementation Specialist

A total of four exams – plus the reference – would have been enough. For companies already specialised on this program – and Succeed is one of these – this only lasts until October.

The program has now changed …
Read the rest of this entry »

UKOUG Apps Transformation Day (aka Fusion SIG)

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I had the privilege of attending the UKOUG Apps Transformation day at the CBI Centre in London yesterday. I nearly missed it as the title initially didn’t grab my attention, but a friend pointed out that it was exclusively Fusion content and that was enough for me!

There were 120 people registered, however it looked like the numbers present were a lot short of that. The venue could have taken a lot more than 120 though. I wonder if the audience would have been bigger if it was more obvious that this was about Fusion?

So what did I learn? Read the rest of this entry »