Techfest 19 & ACED

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TF_speaking_twitter-01This year’s UKOUG TechFest 19 conference is over.  The first time in a number of years where the user group conference hasn’t been a combined Tech, Apps and JD Edwards event.  I have to admit that I was a little concerned with the separation of Tech and Apps as some of the tech stack overlaps for the two groups – for example, Integration Cloud.

That said, the situation being what it was, I got involved with the committee for planning the event including inheriting the stream lead responsibilities for Dev (in the sense of modern development e.g. microservices etc) and what had been historically referred to as middleware (Integration Cloud, Digital Assistant, Helidon, WebLogic) with a lot of support and input from Mark Simpson, Grant Ronald and Susan Duncan.

From my perspective, I  don’t think there was a concern (and this isn’t an attempt at being self-congratulatory) as the hard graft is done by the UKOUG office staff.

As the number of people was smaller, we had a smaller venue rather than the ICC in Birmingham or the ACC Convention Centre in Liverpool – which actually worked out well. The problem of the ICC and particularly the ACC is that main community spaces had been very large as a result atmosphere suffered. This time the Grand Hotel in Brighton was really busy and vibrant as a result.

Reception Desk

 

We had a good blend of sessions covering traditional integration, low code, cloud, microservices, API, UI with people from customers, partners and Oracle travelling in from all over Europe and the US to participate and present.

In terms of my presentations and the ones, I managed to see, I’d particularly recommend checking out in the UKOUG library …

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Notifications from Oracle API Platform Cloud Service

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There are circumstances in which notifications from the Oracle API Platform CS could be seen as desirable.  For example, if you wish to ensure that the developers are defining good APIs and not accidentally implementing APIs that hit the OWASP Top 10 for APIs. Then you will probably configure things such that developer users can design the APIs, configure the policies, but only request an API to be deployed.

However, presently notifications through mechanisms such as email or via collaboration platforms such as Slack aren’t available.  But implementing a solution isn’t difficult.  For the rest of this blog we’ll explore how this might be implemented, complete with a Slack implementation.

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More Free Oracle Cloud than you might know

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free-750x536The news about Oracle offering some free cloud services ‘for life’ is making an impact.  But, the free services don’t end there. The pricing of some other native cloud services includes some free bands. So it’s worth keeping an eye on the fine print. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see limited capacity access in other areas.

Oracle Functions – whilst the core of this service is built on the open-source Fn Project (also largely driven by Oracle) the managed service has a free tier allowing up to 2 million invocations that can consume 400, 000 gigabytes of memory per second use (details can be seen here). Plenty enough to experiment with the concepts behind Serverless aka FaaS capabilities.

Oracle Notifications whilst focussed on the technical side of gathering key event data from OCI and its services, as the document states “sending notifications to numerous interested parties, or even synchronizing the moving parts of a distributed application” – this obviously means a service with characteristics a bit like AWS’ SNS. Like SNS it can be hooked up to email and other HTTPS services using Oracle Events which also has free use. Events is particularly interesting as it is bases the event structure on the CNCF CloudEvents spec. There is an excellent illustration of such a use case in the Oracle blogs here.

It will be interesting to see if we a similar trend with other Oracle cloud-native services. A new take on the now-defunct Application Container Cloud Service (ACCS) would be an ideal vehicle – whether there is sufficient demand for such a capability is not clear (it would in effect be an always live service like a Kubernetes solution, but the simpler, smaller footprint more like Functions in a multi-tenant environment. At the same time, it doesn’t have potential latency of a Function being activated).

OGB Appreciation Day : Support of Hybrid

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This is my blog post as part of the Oracle Ground Breakers Appreciation Day (more about this with oracle-base) isn’t about a specific product or feature but an approach or possibly two approaches that exist with many of the PaaS services available from Oracle.

One of the key things that many of Oracle’s products such as Integration Cloud, API Platform and the foundation of Functions (Fn) and Containers is the recognition that many organisations are not so fortunate to be cloud-born, or even working with a cloud-native model for IT. For those organisations who would rather have across location unifying approach, Oracle cloud is not a closed capability like AWS, whilst products like Integration Cloud are at their best on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, they can be executed in your data centre, or even another cloud.

Whilst the teams I work with experiment and build our service offerings ‘on Oracle’, when we engage with customers to help them with their specific problem spaces, we are more often than not operating in a multi-cloud or on-premises hybrid model.

This hybrid story is helped with a renewed vigour for open source both contributing to but also leading the development of open source. In addition to providing free tiers to some of their stack such as Functions, IaaS and Database (here). Many do forget the Oracle JVM is free as long as you keep up to date, you have got a small footprint Oracle database for free (XE), MySQL is part of the Oracle family. Then many of the modern development technologies are true to the core open-source, Blockchain, Container Engine meaning that the solutions on these layers are portable, can be run on-prem. Yes, Oracle adds value by wrapping these cores with tooling and features that make easier rather than diverging with proprietary Ingress controllers for example.

The irony is that organisations that tend to be associated with a low cost or being faithful to open source goals actually can end up locking you in and appear to be moving away from the original open-source ideals. Consider RedHat, the champion for a lot of open source-based enablement have removed Kubernetes from the official RedHat downloads for their Linux in-favour of a single node license of OpenShift, to get Kubernetes of RHEL you have to go outside of the normal binary source channels (other challenges are documented here).

London Oracle Dev Meet-up gets Blockchained

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Whilst the weather may have put some off venturing out, not for our intrepid duo of presenters – Joost Volker (Oracle PM for a Blockchain) and Robert van Mölken Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassador and author of Blockchain Across a Oracle who both had to negotiate protesting farmers, traffic jams, flight delays (wrong kind of rain to land in London) and London’s rush hour traffic.

So, what was covered in the meet-up…

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Millennials in the Workforce – PTK

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Those who know me will be aware that I try to support the UK Oracle User Group’s journal (#PTK) in a number of ways from submitting articles through to being part of the review panel.  I’ve mentioned in the past some of the changes that the journal has undergone (here for example).  But another change is that the editorial team are including more diverse content. For example in the latest issue just out. It includes an article about Millennials in the workforce and how things are changing. A theme that is confronting not only businesses as employers, but as the new generation of influencers and decision-makers and that will be making our enterprise buying decisions, and dare I say it,  members of a user group.

As part of the team who also informs the User Group’s event planning, I happened to throw in some thoughts about supporting and engaging the newer generation. That led to an invitation to participate in an interview which has contributed an interesting article on millennials in the workforce.

Putting the company man hat on for a moment, it was good to highlight the efforts that Capgemini make to support new talent into the organisation.

The article is here, and links to the Tech and App parts of #PTK journal are here.

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Mastering FluentD configuration syntax

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Getting to grips with FluentD configuration which describes how to handle logging event(s) it has to process can be a little odd (at least in my opinion) until you appreciate a couple of foundation points, at which point things start to click, and then you’ll find it pretty easy to understand.

It would be hugely helpful if the online documentation provided some of the points I’ll highlight upfront rather than throwing you into a simple example, which tells you about the configuration but doesn’t elaborate as deeply as may be worthwhile. Of course, that viewpoint may be born from the fact I have reviewed so many books I’ve come to expect things a certain way.

But before I highlight what I think are the key points of understanding, let me make the case getting to grips with FluentD.

Why master FluentD?

FluentD’s purpose is to allow you to take log events from many resources and filter, transform and route logging events to the necessary endpoints. Whilst is forms part of a standard Kubernetes deployment (such as that provided by Oracle and Azure for example) it can also support monolithic environments just as easily with connections working with common log formats and frameworks. You could view it as effectively a lightweight (particularly if you use FluentBit variant which is effectively a pared-back implementation) middleware for logging.

If this isn’t sufficient to convince you, if Google searches are a reflection of adoption, then my previous post reflecting upon Observability -London Oracle Developer Meetup shows a plot reflecting the steady growth.  This is before taking into account that a number of cloud vendors have wrapped Fluentd/fluentbit into their wider capabilities such as Google (see here).

Not only can you see it as middleware for logging it can also have custom processes and adapters built through the use of Ruby Gems, making it very extensible.

FluentD

Remember these points

and mastering the config should be a lot easier…

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Observability -London Oracle Developer Meetup

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meetup-monitoringLast night was the London Oracle Developer Meetup’s sessions around observability.  Andrei Cioaca with a focus on the use of OpenTracing as provided by Jaeger, in a standard Kubernetes deployment with Istio – realized with Oracle Kubernetes Engine (OKE).  This was followed by my session on another pillar using logging via FluentD. Also incorporated into standard Kubernetes, but also able to support traditional monolithic use cases.

Andrei provided a great overview of the 3 pillars and the strengths and weaknesses of the different pillars. With the basics covered Andrei then dove into the configuration and execution of Istio combined with Jaeger and the corresponding insights available.  including a look at the kinds of visual insights that Jaeger and Kiali provide.  Some probing conversations followed about the relationship to Spring Cloud Sleuth, Open Zipkin and the OpenTracing as a concept more generally.

Andrei’s presentation material can be found in his GitHub repository here.

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Google Analytics on Search Terms

My session followed a pizza break, as there was a delay in its arrival. With everybody having chatted over pizza about OpenTracing, we picked up on FluentD and the Logging aspect to Observability. FluentD, as an open-source project has been growing steadily, and actually baked into several Log Analytics products and services – as the above analytics from Google shows.

The presentation looked at the growing challenges of modern software in terms of making sense of logging.  We explored the capabilities of FluentD before drilling into real-world use cases and potential deployment models.

As you’ll see from the slides we ran a couple of demos. The configuration for the demos can be found at https://github.com/mp3monster/fluentd-demos along with an example payload.

The next meetup we have organized is around Blockchain, all the details can be found at https://www.meetup.com/Oracle-Developer-Meetup-London/events/264661742/.

Other related info …

Article direct to LinkedIn – OpenTracing and API Gateways

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Capgemini’s Oracle Expert Community – which includes myself, have been asked to publish articles directly to LinkedIn as part of the supporting activities to Oracle Open World. So here is my offerings: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/connection-between-api-gateways-opentracing-phil-wilkins/.

This is a short look at why API Gateways at the boundary of your environment when supporting OpenTracing can offer more values.