Friday, March 31, 2006

Non Production databases

How do you deal with non-production databases at your current place of work? Currently we have a mix of Commercial-Off-The-Shelves (COTS) and in-house applications and we are going the route of COTS instead of custom build. For example, our HR/payroll is PeopleSoft and those guys have 5 or 6 different environments beside Production and we are being asked to provide more environments for future projects. The approach taken by Application Services is to have multiple copies of development/test for each individual projects so that there is no fear of disruption from other projects. Just think of the number of databases that have to be cloned and supported per application per project!

So, how do you deal with it? I'm planning to just restrict and limit the number of databases by telling Application Services that they will just have to be nice and share but for some COTS like PeopleSoft and Oracle E-Biz Suite, we might just have to set up instances like INT_TEST (mirror of Production) so that we can debug problems encountered in Production, DEV for developing or adding new functionalities, TEST to allow for full testing of modifications, PATCH to test out patches before applying them to the necessary environments, and DEMO, a vanilla environment but populated with standard corporation information like the sample VISIO data that comes with Oracle E-Biz Suite that can be used to verify bugs, issues, etc.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's settled for four years

Our union, the BCGEU (BC Government Employees Union), finally came to a tentative agreement with the government on a new four year deal. As an added initiative to settle, the Finance Minister has set aside a billion dollars for signing bonuses for unions who settle before the March 31st deadline. A number of other public sector unions have settled in order to take advantage of the signing bonus offer. Two other big unions are still outstanding as their contracts do expire until June this year. The Teachers and Nurses unions are critical and although their contracts do not expire until June, the bonuses are available for them too.

The whole driver behind getting union peace is the upcoming 2010 Olympics where the government do not want the event to be marred or disrupted by union walkouts or strikes.

Highlights of the tentative agreement includes a 63 cent/hour increase for all employees in the first year following by 3%, 2.5% and 2% increases for subsequent years, a signing bonuse of $1.10/hour for an approximate total of $4,000 for each employee who are full time during Apr 1, 2004 to Mar 31, 2006 and increase in health, dental and other benefits.

For the folks in IT/IM, we have been getting a temporary market adjustment (TMA) on top of our regular pay in order to bring our compensation level in line with the marketplace. Under the new tentative agreement, the TMA stays and the only difference that I could see was that folks at grid level 30 will get an increase in their TMA from 6.6% to 9.9%

Anyhow the Union has about three weeks to get the general membership to vote whether to accept the deal. I hope they do as going on strike doesn't strike (pun intended) me as being beneficial to either parties.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

It's been a while

My apologies for such a wide gap in between posts. There were really no excuse other than the fact that it was procrastination and I just recently finished reading a book, The On-Time, On-Target Manager by Ken Blanchard, on procrastination too!

There are a lot of stuff going on right now both in terms of work and personal life and Bill S was kind enough to check up on me to make sure that things are okay on my end. Much appreciated, Bill.

So a number of stuff has been happening in the Oracle world as blogged by various folks and the Hotsos Symposium came and went and seems that all the Oaktable members were in attendence (presenting). Here at work, we are trying desperately to implement Oracle E-biz suite (Financial component) before our new fiscal year start otherwise that we will have to carry two set of books going forward. We are also in the planning stage for our supply chain and have had a very interesting meeting with Oracle on licencing and pricing. That was an eye opener and I'm sure some choice words will be sent Oracle's way. Having Oracle E-biz introduced a whole bunch of changes to the way that we (IT) operates and it will be interesting to see how some of my team including myself adjust to these changes.

Oh, if you haven't keep up with the new Oracle Corp blogs, a lot more Oracle Executives have their own blogs now so that's nice although I still uses Brian Duff's Orablogs to provide me with a quick summary of the various Oracle-based bloggers. Oh yeah, Google also provided maps of Mars and speaking of Google, have you ever click on the more link on Google's main page to see what more has to offer? Give it a try. Google also got itself negative press in agreeing to censor "unacceptable" searches for China Google in order to do business in China. Obviously this is a highly charged issue as we (the Western world) believes in freedom of speech and China, on the other hand, see it it differently and some folks have argued that limited censorship is better than total censorship. We definitely live in interesting times.