Standards BearersBy Blair Campbell
Three entrepreneurial peers tout the wonders of Web services.
How did you get started in IT? I was a CPA who decided that if I could automate the work of 10 accountants, they had to pay me for the work of at least 2 accountants. I was rightand programming is a lot more fun than accounting anyway!
How do you use the internet today? I try to answer a few questions a day on Oracle Technology Network or the other Essbase boards, and we use Webcast technology daily for sales and support functions, along with instant-message technology to communicate with our customers.
If you were going to the International Space Station for six months and could only take one Oracle reference book, what would it be? I would take the Essbase Database Administrator's Guide, affectionately known as the "DBAG." It's the bible for Essbase administrators. I'd also take Look Smarter Than You Are with Hyperion Essbase by fellow Oracle ACE Edward Roske, because it's informative and entertaining.
What technology has most changed your life? Service-oriented architecture [SOA]. With SOA and Web services, companies have been able to break free of silos and interoperate in ways that were impossible or prohibitively expensive 5 to 10 years ago.
Which new features of Oracle applications are you finding most valuable? I'm focusing extensive effort on the Hyperion performance management solutions and Oracle Business Intelligence applications, because those products offer the performance and scalability that our clients have requested.
What would you like to see Oracle do more of? Create more online courses for the Hyperion and Demantra product lines. We've seen great demand from our prospects and partners for such courses, due to the fact that companies see tremendous value in these product lines and want to gain competitive advantage by adopting these solutions into their application stack.
Mike van Alst
What important lessons did you learn early in your career? Back in 1984, I was working for a large bank in the Netherlands. One day, my manager proudly announced that my department would be automatedimmediately. The whole floor was converted, terminals had been put in place, and so on. The effect was that 60 percent of the department went home sick. It showed me that there are better ways to automate, so I enrolled in a programming course and joined the IT workforce.
What advice do you have about Web and application development? Companies switching to Web or application development are often overwhelmed by the massive amount of new skills and knowledge they need. The smart thing to do is to find a good partner company that can speed up the learning process. Just being able to circumvent the pitfalls and learn from experienced personnel helps a lot.
What's your favorite tool or technique on the job? Web services and BPEL. The industry's past attempts at a more dynamic setup of applicationsfrom structured programming and the use of copybooks and external calls to component-based development, CORBA, and object orientationhad the same goal: functionality. It never came fully to fruition, but ever since the introduction of Web services and BPEL standards, we're finally able to bring more value to the business.