UK Oracle User Group

An interview with... Your Tech16 Database Community Keynote!

25 November 2016

We spoke to Connor McDonald - our UKOUG Technology Conference & Exhibition 2016 "Database" Community Keynote speaker - to find out why his session is a must attend, industry trends and what it's like to take over AskTom.

Connor McDonald
Connor McDonald
 Developer Advocate, Oracle

Here's what he had to say:

- What industry trends do you feel DBA's and Database Developers should be aware of?

It's all about flexibility. The days of the specialist seem to be coming to an end. DBA's and Developers alike nowadays are expected to have a broad range of skills, across an ever increasing array of technologies. So if you are familiar with Relational, you should expand into knowledge of the NoSQL aspects. If you are a Java programmer, then get up to speed with Javascript as well, and so forth. WIth the landscape changing so fast, being flexible trumps being brilliant :-)

- Where do you see your area of Oracle Technology heading in the next 12 months?

It's hardly a profound statement to say that "Cloud" is the dominant buzzword across all of the I.T landscape currently. But without getting swallowed up in all of the hype (and of course, trying to do that is in itself a serious challenge), we finally seem to be getting closer to an era that we (the I.T industry) have been promising to our customers for so long, namely, a service style model for I.T facilties, whether they be software or hardware. I've lost track of the number of presentations I've sat through, where the metaphor of "It will be just like getting power from the electricity company" has been quoted. But finally, we might be getting there.

- Why do you feel User Group events are beneficial for attendees?

Any event, user group or otherwise, that brings I.T professionals together I think is a good thing. It is only when people come together in a non-work environment that collectively we all make progress. At the risk of shooting myself in the foot, since I'm speaking at the conference, often the biggest takeaway an attendee will get from a conference is not from a session, but from a passing comment from someone they were speaking to over coffee or drinks. That moment when someone in casual banter says: "Yes, we used this feature, and here is where it worked for us, and here is where we had problems" can be that vital lightbulb moment for someone else about to adopt that feature. That's why I encourage attendees, even if attending alone, make the effort to cross that the sometimes uncomfortable gap, and start up a conversation with a stranger at the various networking events. That's where the real value lies.

- How often do you get an AskTom question and think "Wow, I really don't know!"

More often than I'll admit to in answering this question :-) The depth and breadth of the features and functionality in the Oracle database never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes I get a question about why feature "X" works in a certain way, and the first thought into my mind is: "I didn't even know we HAD a feature "X"". But that's why working on AskTom is so much fun. It is like free training every day on the Oracle product set. Also, it's a great means of finding the common challenges facing I.T professionals out there, which gives me great input for blog posts and videos to improve our community's success rate with Oracle.

- How do you decide which questions to answer, and which questions Chris will answer?

There is no hard and fast rule - most of the time it is the simply due to geography. I'm in Perth, Australia which is 8 hours ahead of the UK so when I wake up each morning, I'll take a stab at the questions that have come in overnight (typically from the United States), and handle from of the questions from Asia throughout the day. Chris will come online just as I'm finishing up, so he'll get some questiosn from Asia, and then the questions from Europe. When we're both at conferences, things can get a little hectic but we do our best to keep the site accepting questions as best we can.

- What are the key takeaways will attendees gain from attending your session?

I've got a few sessions this year. On my 12.2 features talk, hopefully this will inspire and excite people to start exploring the new release. Each release of the Oracle database normally has a "banner" or "headline" feature that gets all of the airplay, but my talk will show people just how much we manage to cram into a release. It's pretty exciting. I'm also doing a session on partitioning to help people understand the technology. As every business starts to store more and more data, partitioning will become commonplace. And finally, I'm doing a "fireside chat" about what it's like to work on AskTom and to follow in the foot steps of an industry icon like Tom Kyte. This is more of a non-technical session, just giving people an insight into the history of AskTom and what I've discovered about the Oracle community by working on it.

Check out the abstract for his engaging and interactive keynote - or to find out more about Connor, view the keynote page.

Are you attending Tech16? With only three weeks to go until the big event, view the agenda and book your place today!

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