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The uprising of Oracle Intelligent Bot!

Author: Amr Gawish

Hands-on session

Recently, I was one of the lucky few that were handpicked to attend Oracle's partner training on Intelligent Bot in London - and that meant I got hands-on experience with the product and witnessed its glory in action! The product is called Intelligent Bot and it would be available as part of the Mobile Cloud Service (MCS) suite as it complements other features of that product - not to mention that it fits the product the most. The aim is to provide an easy way to create Chatbot applications in simple steps, and provide options for Intent Recognition - i.e. understanding what the Chatbot's end user means - and custom entities to be able to take actions and drive the conversation towards whatever developers see fit.

The hands on sessions were given by two Oracle Gurus, Grant Ronald and Frank Nimphius, in which they discussed the different aspects of the development process and how to fit everything together. The hands on experience was on point, and I personally found no problem navigating through the product and understanding it.

Oracle's vision is to put the power in your hands, and give you the flexibility to control how do you want to orchestrate the bot behaviour. That's why it fits so well with MCS - since other MCS functionalities give you all the tools you need to get ready in a short space of time - and provides even greater means for security and extendability.

While the product has great features and a lot of flexibility, it's still in its infancy, and requires a lot of improvements in certain areas. That said, with the pace that the product is evolving, I'm betting that this product is going to grow into a good thing in little to no time.

Overall, it was a great training, and it was nice to see that Oracle is providing this hands-on training to help its partners move forward with various technologies.

The team dinner

The team enjoying a well-deserved bite to eat after the training!

The Good, the Bad and the Code: Oracle Code London 2017

Author: Amr Gawish

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Oracle Code Conferences started in March this year, in the red city itself - San Francisco. The event is doing the rounds worldwide, and I attended my local one in London last week with my Infomentum Colleagues. My initial thought was that it was really interesting to see how Oracle is attracting a different audience this time around; more technical oriented attendees, with a bigger spectrum of technical skills.

Oracle Code is sponsored by Oracle Developers (previously known as Oracle Technet). They had a great pool of presentations and technical sessions, talking about all subjects like Microservices, Node.JS, CQRS and more. The sessions were great, and I personally enjoyed all that I attended. Luckily, all sessions are recorded and watchable via their Youtube channel for those who couldn't attend. But now on to what you really want to know...what's direction is Oracle going?

The Good

I loved the new approach Oracle is taking with its audience. Oracle understands now that empowering developers will increase adoption and exploration of its different Cloud offerings, and with these events I'm guessing Oracle stock between developers is going to increase. With this in mind, I constructed a small list of things that Oracle correctly nailed with this event.

1. Simple"r" Cloud Architecture

Oracle is now starting to provide developers with a lot more options to fit different requirements. Oracle Cloud Container is one example, and the recent acquisition of Wercker is another example that Oracle is embracing the containerization approach. Another example is Oracle Application Cloud Service, which focuses more to empower Microservice / Serverless styled application - and with their simple RESTful APIs and Command Line Interface (CLI) SDK, it can be automated within any Continuous Integration environment.

2. Giving a chance for other Technologies and Frameworks to shine

One thing that was obvious in the event (that I believe was intentional), was Oracle showing it is not a Java-only company anymore. There were a lot of presentations about Node.js, and more focus on the right language for the task using Microservices, rather than showcasing a single language/technology stack, which was definitely welcomed by developers.

3. Offer something for different sizes of businesses

Oracle is pushing the "Pay as you go" approach, which can fit all different sizes of business and can provide a good alternative to Amazon, Google and Azure. It also revamped the whole cloud infrastructure using Oracle Bare Metal, and at first glance it looks very promising.

4. Following the trends closely

Oracle code was also showing that Oracle is aware of different technological trends, and is giving developers options to utilise them instead of forcing its own agenda - which is a great approach in my opinion.

The Bad

While Oracle did an amazing job in the event, there a few things that I would have loved to see or get answers for. However, since this is not an official Oracle conference, they were not obliged to do so!

1. Middleware stack fate

Oracle PaaS was the strength Oracle used to get into the Cloud market. This is changing right now, and while these PaaS products still there, there were no mention of any of the Middleware stack and how these products are going to adapt to change in the future.

2. Oracle Cloud checkout is still hard!

Oracle Code gives $300 in credit for Oracle Cloud. Claiming that is a different story though. You have to provide payment information regardless (and the payment fails a lot for some reason!) and adding cloud services to your account, whilst simpler than before, is still missing a lot of features (a simple search feature would be nice!). While this is not really Oracle Code's fault, it just shows that Oracle still needs some housekeeping in order to compete more effectively in the cloud space.

3. Current Oracle product developer base

Oracle Code Conference focused on gathering a lot of technical skills. Most of the talks and sessions were more focused around trendy subjects, and it is quite unknown how current Oracle developers can adhere to the new ways Oracle is pushing. Again, this is not the event's fault, but it would have been nice to gain some insights about these questions. 

Conclusion

Overall, I think it was a great conference. I had a great time, and I got a free t-shirt to show for it!

Oracle SOA explained with London’s Transport

Author: Mauro Flores

Author: Mauro Flores

Recently, I had the opportunity to give internal training to some members of our non-technical team about Oracle Middleware, with a focus on SOA. Of course the title “Middleware for Humans” had to be used.

Oracle’s website describes SOA Suite as:

‘A complete set of service infrastructure components for designing, deploying, and managing composite applications. Oracle SOA Suite enables services to be created, managed, and orchestrated into composite applications and business processes. Composites enable you to easily assemble multiple technology components into one SOA composite application.’

However, I was looking for an analogy to explain SOA in simple words. infoMENTUM’s head office is based in London, so being inspired by John Bronswick, here’s Oracle SOA Suite explained in terms of London’s transport system.

London's Transport

Travelling around London

There are multiple travel services in London available for commuters and tourists alike:

  • Underground
  • London Overground
  • National Rail Train
  • Bus
  • DLR

It’s common to have to use more than one of these services during the day, and many of them are owned and operated by different private companies.

So, what does all these has to do with SOA? Multiple services owned by multiple providers with the need to be consumed by the same client. What would happen if a new provider joins? Or if they decide to upgrade a service? Well, with SOA, we can solve this problem with the Service Bus:

A)
“A style of integration architecture that allows communication via a common communication bus that consists of a variety of point-to-point connections between providers and users of services.”

“An infrastructure that a company uses for integrating services in the application landscape.”

“An architecture pattern that enables interoperability between heterogeneous environments, using service orientation.”

How London solves this issue:

OYSTER CARD

B)
“Use your Oyster card to travel on the Tube, London Overground, DLR, bus, tram and most National Rail stations in London. You can put Travelcards, bus and tram season tickets and pay as you go credit on to the card.“

So, London travellers just have to register for one card only, no matter what version or service they are using. This simplifies the day to day travel experience and also makes changes very simple; if they are registered and they need to change their last name for example, they only need to do it once and can continue to use all of the services as usual.

A)  http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/articles/soa/ind-soa-esb-1967705.html
B)  
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/27298.aspx

This post originally appeared on Mauro’s blog, Middleware for Humans.

Becoming a 2.0 Enterprise with Oracle WebCenter Portal

Author: Infomentum

In this post, we going to take a technical look at how a WebCenter Portal can enable effective collaboration throughout an organisation, starting with the simple integration of a discussion forum.

Forget stocks, shares and even bricks and mortar. In today’s information age, a company’s knowledge is its most important asset.

But if that knowledge isn’t shared – so everyone who needs it has access to it at all times – it can be next to useless.

Take when someone leaves for example. If what’s in their head hasn’t been distributed to the rest of the team, you not only lose the person’s skills, you lose their valuable knowledge too.

But that needn’t be the case with a WebCenter Portal.

Unlocking the power of collaboration

A WebCenter is a single point of access designed to share resources throughout a company. So every interaction a company has with its customers, partners, employees and suppliers can be recorded and evaluated via a single source.

Being an Enterprise Portal 2.0, WebCenter enables powerful collaboration tools throughout any organisation. As such, it includes out-of-the-box components for team collaboration and enterprise social networking that are ready to plug into your enterprise portal.

For the purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on just one of those components: how to integrate a discussion forum.

A step-by-step guide to integrating a discussion forum into your WebCenter portal

Step 1:

Run the Managed Server WC_Collaboration. This is the server that allocates collaboration services as discussions and announcements.

Step 2:

Login in to: http://PortalURL:8890/owc_discussions/admin

Step 3:

Select Content from the menu and create the Categories and Subcategories you need. This will generate an ID for each category, making for simple integration later.

Step 4:

In JDeveloper, go to your Portal Application. In the Application Resources, right-click Connections then click Discussion Forums.

Step 5:

Type the name for your connection and ensure you select: Set As Default Connection.

Step 6:

In the next screen, type the URL of your Discussion Service, for example: http://PortalURL:8890/owc_discussions.

Note for admin user: if the security of your portal is set to default then set weblogic as the admin user.

Step 7:

Create a Page inside your Portal Project. This page is where you will integrate the Discussion Service.

Step 8:

Go to Resources Palette –> My Catalogs –> WebCenter Portal –> Service Catalog –> TaskFlows. Then drag and drop Discussion Forums to your Discussions Page.

Step 9:

You will need to set up at least one of the parameters shown in the taskflow property popup, for example:

  • categoryId: set the Category ID from the category you created at the beginning (recommended).
  • forumId: Setting this parameter will force the taskflow to show only the threads of this forum.

Step 10:

That’s it. You’re now ready to invite your colleagues to join the discussion.

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