COMMUNITY: Up Close
Expanding IntelligenceBy Jeff Erickson
Organizing a summit helps one leader give back.
I caught up with Dan Vlamis in the lobby of the Oracle headquarters conference center, where he was directing volunteers and greeting attendees of the Business Intelligence, Warehousing and Analytics (BIWA) Summit held by the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) in December 2008. As the volunteer chair of the event, Vlamis managed session leaders, assisted sponsors, and introduced keynotes. The job takes hours of logistics and accounting, but he said the work delights him—as does the popularity of the new BIWA Special Interest Group (SIG).
“It’s becoming important for every business to be able to compete on analytics,” said Vlamis. “That’s why we’re seeing so much interest in Oracle’s BI platform and why so many people are interested in our technical talks. BI [business intelligence] is not just a hot trend; it increases businesses’ return on IT investment.”
The 2008 BIWA Summit was only the second conference of the BIWA SIG, but like the 2007 conference, it was well attended. “Our 65 technical sessions this year covered high-level topics such as how to use Oracle Warehouse Builder and deeper subjects such as text mining and multidimensional analysis using Oracle OLAP, Oracle Essbase, and Oracle Spatial,” said Vlamis.
Vlamis has worked throughout his career to build a user community around the analytical power inside Oracle Database. His commitment to Oracle BI began in 1995, after Oracle acquired a piece of OLAP technology called Express, around which his company, Vlamis Software, had built a specialty. Vlamis became president of the IOUG’s Express SIG in 1997. His presidency lasted for seven years, during which he became a regular presenter at Oracle and user group conferences on BI and analytics.
BIWA SIG leaders asked Vlamis to join the group’s governing board at the 2007 BIWA Summit. Aside from the annual summit, the BIWA SIG manages the BI track at the annual COLLABORATE user group conference and hosts member-generated Webcasts. “We focus on how you can handle BI inside Oracle Database,” said Vlamis. BIWA Webcasts cover topics such as Oracle Data Mining; Oracle OLAP; and what Vlamis calls “the centerpiece of Oracle BI,” Oracle Business Intelligence Suite, Enterprise Edition Plus.
Near us as we spoke stood a red-and-black HP Oracle Database Machine. I asked Vlamis what impact Oracle Exadata technology was having at the conference. “Our members are excited to figure out where [Oracle] Exadata fits in the picture,” he said. “We all want to see how it runs in real customer implementations once you put the BI stack on top of the database.”
The thing to note, said Vlamis, is that Oracle is putting a lot of energy into BI, data warehousing, and analytics—and more organizations are taking an interest in the subject. “We’ve had people come out of the woodwork for this conference,” he said.
There might be no better guide into the world of Oracle BI than Dan Vlamis. “Being part of the BIWA SIG is how I can give something back,” said Vlamis, for whom the Oracle developer community is of great importance. “Building a community gives people a sense of place and a chance to connect. It gives them a sense that they’re not just doing a job but that they belong to a community that supports them and makes them better at what they do. The connections I’ve formed as part of this community are responsible for my success.”
Jeff Erickson is a senior writer at Oracle Publishing. His blog is at techspectator.com.