Tuesday 10 April 2018

PaaSForum and the talk with the two ladies...

It's already been a week or three that I've been to the excellent PaaSForum '18 in Budapest.
Much is already said and written about it. About the talks and breakout sessions.
To see and hear about the state of art of the Oracle PaaS products: every year I'm having a good time with Oracle Friends around Europe and beyond.

It was nice to play around with API Management, Dynamic Processes, Oracle JET and ChatBots. And, ..., to do a few runs to the Donau and back again. I hadn't run for about half a year because of my relocation and remodelling of our new home.

But besides the great talks with Product Management and other Oracle Friends, the thing that maybe made me most exciting was the talk with two ladies: Mary Beth and Liza... A review session about the User Experience of the Oracle PaaS products.

My major concern about the PaaS products, or maybe the Oracle Cloud products in general, is that they're very 'siloed'. Looking at ICS, PCS, VBCS (now bundled in OIC), API Management, Chatbots, CX, etc., they all have a very different history of birth.
Created in different teams. And all have a different User Experience, although Oracle did work in creating a uniform UI definition.
If I want to start with a project with different services, then I need to create and provision my different services. Those all have different URLs, etc. And if I want to move my artifacts to PreProduction or Production, I need to create new services, with their own authentication and authorisation schemas.
And I need to do the release/install of those artifacts to the different environments, myself.

In the feedback session, Liza presented me two personas (Mary Beth was taking notes): a Development Manager and a Developer.
The Development manager will be able to login to the PaaS environment landing page and create a new project. He will be able to select the components by himself or base the project on a template. This will then select the particular components, or project features, so to speak. You could compare it with creating an application in JDeveloper where you get to choose between a Java application, ServiceBus, SOA Suite or BPM Suite, and one or more appropriate projects. Creating such a PaaS Project will provision the necessary Cloud services, as indicated by the chosen components. The Development Manager can also invite project members, that get an invite with URL via email, or Slack, etc.

The Developer, can follow the link in the invite and log on to the Unified PaaS environment, or One PaaS, and from a palette can select a component he/she wants to create and work upon. I suggested that the palette should be restricted by the components selected on creation by the Development Manager. Cloud Services cost subscription fees, pressing on the budget. So, when a developer finds he needs to be able to create a certain component, the Development Manager should approve the addition of that component type, to solve the particular problem. Maybe the tiles of component types for which the project does not have a Cloud Service could be grayed out.

Another suggested addition is the environments management. They foresee a kind of devops administration page, where you can see the dev, test, pre-prod and production environments, and the artifact-versions mapped over that. So that you can see what version of which artifacts are on which environment/services. I suggested that it would be nice, in my opinion, to define releases or configurations of artifacts. Some artifacts are related to each other, for instance a certain version of a VBCS screen is dependent on a version of a REST service in OIC and/or API Mgt. So you want to combine those in a release, to make sure that they're released/installed to the next environment together.

Of course I can't show you any screens or inside information. Not lastly because I only saw mock-up screens myself. 

I got a nice present, a small Bluetooth speaker with a surprisingly great sound.  But, and be assured: I don't have Oracle shares (anymore), the biggest takeaway for me, that made me enthusiastic was the knowledge and the assurance that Oracle is really putting much effort in this. It is important and I believe this is going to make the big difference in the PaaS offering. Although the different offerings on their own are promising, a unified UI and development and management experience is going to make it actually usable. As a developer I do want to create UI's or Processes or Integrations, but I do not want to bother about the URLs to use for which environment. And I want to be helped by promoting my artifacts on a uniform way to the next environment. I should not export artifacts in different ways and import those one by one in a target cloud service.

The other day I also had an introductory meeting with one of the directors for UI/UX design. And that stressed the importance of UX on the unified PaaS UX initiatives.

As you'll understand: I'm very curious and looking forward to see new developments. If they reach me, I'll keep you posted (as far as I'm allowed of course).

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