How to Learn

Three peers listen to clients, help their colleagues, and avoid lazy problem-solving.

By Blair Campbell

September/October 2016

Roeland Van den Eynde

What’s your favorite tool on the job? Ever since I started working with Oracle Application Express and got to know the very vibrant community around it, I’ve found there’s no greater tool for Oracle Database. It’s a fantastic development tool for easily creating web-based applications with the data of your database as the central point, and it creates robust, secure, and good-looking applications. It’s very easy to make a great impression with your web-based applications when using Oracle Application Express.

Peer Specs

Company: Reynde, an IT service provider that builds extensions to Oracle E-Business Suite using Oracle Application Express

Job title/description: Founder and director, serving as lead consultant and project manager for projects of all sizes
Location: Wellen, Belgium
Length of time using Oracle products: More than 20 years
Oracle ACE Associate associate-ace

What advice do you have about getting into application development? It’s crucial that you learn to listen to your customer—whether this customer is a colleague from another department or a client of your company. A good IT person is always willing to learn and evaluate his or her work and is always thinking with an open mind—applying the things he or she has learned from past experiences, but never thinking that another solution can’t be better for the current situation. Being a team player is also vitally important, because rarely does a good software solution come from the hand of just one person.

What’s the most common cause you see when IT projects go wrong? Too often, requirements are written down in one large document. This gives the project team a general view of the requirements and a starting point—but I personally prefer a much more agile approach, working in short repetitive cycles. By using short development cycles where every one or two weeks progress is presented by showing the evolution of the application, it’s far easier for end users to see where they need to further explain their requirements.

Watch the video on YouTube.


Franck Pachot

How are you using cloud computing in your work these days? I’m using it more and more in my labs for testing Oracle Database software—to reproduce bugs before opening service requests; test new features, beta software, and configuration alternatives; and reproduce customer issues to build a small test case and test it in different versions. It’s also where I build demos for presentations. Oracle Cloud Platform services have a big advantage over solutions from other cloud providers, because even if provisioning is automated, you have full access to the database and the system once it is created.

Peer Specs

Company: dbi services, an IT company specializing in enterprise information systems infrastructure

Job title/description: Oracle technology leader, in charge of continuously improving the skills and knowledge of the dbi services Oracle consultant team
Location: Lausanne, Switzerland
Oracle credentials: Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Master, with more than 20 years of experience using Oracle products
Oracle ACE Director Oracle ACE Director

How are you using social media in your work? From the beginning, I was a reader of AskTom, which I consider an early example of social media. Through AskTom I discovered that you can learn by helping others, and I learned how to create test cases and answer questions in a simple and efficient way. Then for several years, I answered questions on the forum. Today I’m using Twitter a lot, where you can have conversations with everyone from occasional users to gurus and product managers.

What’s the next big thing driving change in your industry? With the cloud, everything will be managed by the cloud providers, and this makes DBAs fearful for their jobs. But what’s important to realize is that the jobs won’t disappear—though they may change. This new IT era brings many possibilities: companies will have to decide between the cloud and on-premises solutions, between metered and unmetered services, between IaaS [infrastructure as a service] and PaaS [platform as a service]. You may have less work to do on administration, but you’ll probably have more on feasibility, licensing optimization, security, and application design.


Robin Moffatt

Which Oracle solutions are you currently finding most valuable? The simplified installation for Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 12c is great, along with the bar method for managing deployment lifecycles. The introduction of RESTful web services also opens up a number of interesting possibilities for the tool, and speaks well of the software design thought that’s gone into the new release.

Peer Specs

Company: Rittman Mead, a technology firm focused on Oracle business intelligence solutions

Job title/description: Head of R&D (Europe), responsible for identifying optimal deployment patterns and practices for Oracle products
Location: Ilkley, UK
Length of time using Oracle products: Seven years
Oracle ACE ace-2

How are you using cloud computing in your work these days? A lot of R&D work that my company does is based on IaaS [infrastructure as a service], enabling us to rapidly provision and scale capacity for short periods of time as required. We also use the cloud for hosting training environments and customer PoCs [proofs of concept].

What advice do you have about getting into application development? Practice! Virtualization opens up worlds that just didn’t exist a few years back. Now you can run many OSs from the comfort of your laptop, you can hack around to learn something, break it—and then reset the virtual machine and start all over again. Also, don’t be lazy, throwing random code and configuration changes at a problem without truly understanding what’s going on. Make sure to use your brain. If something’s not working, dig into the log files, look at the errors, and get to the root cause of it. If it’s a new development, recognize when “good enough” suffices, and when you’re actually building technical debt that you should be paying down sooner rather than later.

Watch the video on YouTube.