Learning the “Why”

Three peers advocate detailed goals, up-to-date tech, and prudent debt management.

By Blair Campbell

September/October 2017

Gary Gordhamer

Gary Gordhamer

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Company: GE Digital

Job title: Principal architect

Length of time using Oracle products: 25 years

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What advice do you have for those just getting into application development? Get to know the details. One of my favorite quotes is from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Captain Kirk says to Lieutenant Saavik, “You’ve got to learn why things work on a starship.” In my career, that message has time and time again allowed me to deal with increasingly complex situations, designs, and systems. Don’t just know what to do, but know why you’re doing it.

What’s the most common cause you see when IT projects go wrong? Lack of planning and lack of detailed goals. There’s a huge move to be more agile and iterative and deliver fast. My main comment most the time is, “Slow down to go fast.” Having a good plan and executing it quickly is way more successful than having no plan and running fast.

What’s your favorite thing to do that doesn’t involve work? I have way too many hobbies. I really enjoy brewing and tasting beer, downhill skiing, and woodworking, and I’ve recently started playing with Raspberry PI and Arduino to make a smoker controller for my BBQ needs as well as an automated temperature controller for beer fermentation. Above all that is helping my kids with Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts and running the LEGO Robotics club at their elementary school.

Tobias Arnhold

Tobias Arnhold

Heppenheim, Germany

Oracle ACE Associate

Company: Tobias Arnhold–IT Consulting

Job title: Consultant

Oracle credentials: Oracle Forms Developer Certified Professional, Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate

Length of time using Oracle products: 11 years

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How are you using social media in your work these days? I’m using Twitter to stay in touch with other specialists and to get the latest news about Oracle technologies. To stay connected to my local colleagues here in Germany, I’m using, where I’m a co-organizer of the Frankfurt Oracle Application Express meetup group. To share my knowledge, I blog on APEX-at-Work, and sometimes I help at the Oracle Application Express discussion forum.

What’s your go-to Oracle reference book? When I was a DBA, my life was saved several times by the book Oracle Database 10g RMAN Backup & Recovery [Oracle Press, 2006]. It helped me recover several database crashes by recovering the data with the Oracle Recovery Manager [Oracle RMAN] utility. At the moment when the database needs to be recovered, your pulse goes up to 180. You need a guide you can trust, and this book showed me the way to handle such challenges. These days, I mostly read blogs and Stack Overflow.

What advice do you have for those just getting into application development? Work with Oracle Application Express. It delivers the same or even better development speed than Excel or Access. On the other side, the data and the business logic are saved in a high-availability Oracle Database environment. In addition to speed, security, and high availability, you also have access to all-new web features and can include them quite easily in your applications.

Scott Spendolini

Scott Spendolini

Ashburn, Virginia

Oracle ACE Director

Company: Sumner Technologies

Job title: President and founder

Oracle credentials: Oracle Application Express Developer Certified Expert

Length of time using Oracle products: 21 years

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How did you get started in IT? One day long ago, my father brought home an Atari 400 computer. I was fascinated by it—particularly with the BASIC programming language—and spent any and all free time learning how to program with it. Fast forward a few years, and I took a summer job at Aetna Health Plans, where I used Visual Basic and FoxPro to build some of my first database applications. I loved the challenge and the ability to work with both the business side and the technical side to craft solutions, and then see those solutions in action.

What’s the next big thing driving change in your industry? I’d say total cost of code ownership is starting to change the way that we think about building new solutions. I’ve also seen this called technical debt. Like your personal finances, debt is a fact of life; it’s how that debt is managed that makes it either good or bad. And in most cases, application costs aren’t even close to realized during the design and development phase. Requirements change, platforms get swapped out, and even methods of delivery evolve. Applications that are well thought out and built on a solid foundation will weather these changes better.

How are you using cloud computing in your work these days? From my company’s public website to its back-office applications, everything runs on Oracle Application Express in Oracle Database Cloud Service. This was a no-brainer for a company that provides Oracle Application Express services and training, because there’s no better customer use case than your own.

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