Wednesday, 31 October 2018

OpenWorld 2018 - Day 3 Wednesday

Moscone West from Howard Street

Day 3 of OpenWorld and another full day of sessions, a hands-on lab, demo pods, networking and customer appreciation party to round it all off.

My first session of the day was a Selective Adoption - Customer Panel at which three PeopleSoft customers were answering questions on how they were operating the PeopleSoft continuous delivery model.  Julie Alonso (HCM Strategy, Oracle) introduced the session with some home truths about the value of keeping your systems well maintained along with results from a recent  customer survey.  I was pleasantly surprised by how many PeopleSoft customers have established the regular cadence of  routine get-current projects, PeopleTools upgrades and selectively adopting value added features throughout the year.  Over 80% of customers are doing a get current project from between every 3 months to every 18 months. Julie's key message can be summed up in this cartoon she used during her intro.

 There's a lot of potential value locked up inside each new PeopleSoft Image (version) and key to unlocking this is to engineer time in our business year to KNOW what's in each Image, EVALUATE it and PLAN to deploy now or in the next get current.  Each of the panelists stressed that corporate governance is key. Getting the Selective Adoption strategy burnt into the corporate lifecycle of change is essential.

The panel also stressed the importance of including PeopleTools upgrades and PeopleTools patching into a cycle.  Interestingly, some of the panel combined application updates and PeopleTools upgrades and some separated them.  The testing of a PeopleTools update has a very different profile than the more functional testing of an application update.  Got into some very interesting side conversations around the value of testing.  Could it be better to take the new software, only test what's absolutely business critical and then deal with the fallout from anything untested post go live?

My next session was a hands-on-lab showing the power of "infrastructure as code" using Hashicorp's Terraform running against OCI.   The lab delegates were all given their own OCI account for the duration of the session and we walked through the creation of 2 load balancers with a public IP, 2 web servers and a database server along with all the necessary network & security configuration.
I built this with Terraform

The infrastructure is not built using a script but rather with definitions in native Terraform or JSON format which the Terraform engine reads and executes.  There's a number of advantages in this.
  • Firstly, you can validate your build prior to actually creating the infrastructure;
  • because the definitions are stored in simple text files they can be secured and managed in a version control system;
  • because it's code there's consistency in build compared to if a human were manually following a set of written instructions.
One of the really powerful features of Terraform is the ability to validate that the built infrastructure still matches the Terraform definition file.  Differences between definition and reality can be either reported or the actual build can be re-adjusted back to match the definition. Powerful! For example, if someone manually opens a firewall port directly in OCI and the Terraform definition does not define this port then Terraform can be used to report this and then undo this manually made change.  Very useful for keeping environments secure and also for ensuring compliance because you can now demonstrate that not only did you configure security in a certain way but that the security is still defined in that way.

Oracle have made the lab guide and the required files public.  All you need is an OCI tenancy and the ability to edit a file in vi - good luck Windows admins :-)

   Lab Guide
   Lab Files

(left to right - me, Dan, Kyle & Jim)
In the afternoon I was thrilled to be invited by Dan and Kyle to join them and PeopleSoft developer legend, Jim Marion, in a recording of the latest podcast where we talked about our conference highlights, new features in 8.57, Cloud Manager, Fluid development and "not all customisations are evil".    We could easily have talked for hours on these subjects and it's one of the most useful aspects of in-person conferences like OpenWorld.   You can listen online or download for later using the links below,

We love PeopleSoft !
My final session of the day was probably one of my favourites of the conference.  Customers Using Personalization, Configuration, Customization in PeopleSoft HCM .  It was in tough slot... late in the day just before the Oracle party (CloudFest) but still we had a great enthusiastic crowd showup.  I was speaking on a panel hosted by Tammy Boyles (PeopleSoft Director HCM Product Management ) alongside customers  Arkalgud Venkatesh (Alameda County), Bennett Walker (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and Chris Pannell (Allen & Overy).

In this session each of us shared how we were exploiting the configuration capabilities of PeopleSoft to change PeopleSoft system to meet requirements but at the same time reduce technical debt.  You can get the slide deck we used here so you can get some idea of the things we talked about.  A lively Q&A session which could easily have gone on for hours as we explored the pros and cons of Event Mapping, Page & Field Configurator, using Event Mapping with Component Interfaces, using Related Actions for embedded page and field level help and more.  My good friend Chris, from global law firm A&O, closed the session with some fabulous insights into how to present the value from your PeopleSoft investment.  One day it might be right to move to software as a service in the cloud but take head of Gartner's warning in their March 2018 report What Oracle ERP Customers Need to Know About Oracle Cloud Applications.

"Avoid confusing the sourcing of new technology with the fulfillment of business requirements. A full "rip and replace" of your current applications may not be your best option." [Gartner, March 2018]

And then on to San Francisco's AT&T Park for the Oracle party to listen to bands I'd never heard of (except Beck that is).  The guitarist from Portugal. The Man  was incredible - you might know them from this catchy tune.  Reminded a lot of early Gary Moore (am I showing my age?) Who's Gary Moore... check this out.

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