August 2012

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Trends and Applications

Every now and then, the IT industry - vendors and customers alike - takes a common problem, gives it a catchy name, and drives the buzz (and market) rapidly to create new business opportunities for everybody. It's happening again with the "big data" phenomenon. It's here, it's real, and yes - it is probably going to cost you a lot of money over the next few years.

Big data is toughfor enterprises to handle, and adding to the challenge is the fact that much of it is unstructured data—business documents, presentations, log files, and social media data. Respondents to a survey of 264 data managers and professionals—subscribers to Database Trends and Applications—almost unanimously agree that unstructured data is on the rise and ready to engulf their current data management systems. The trouble is, their management typically does not understand the scope of the challenge and is failing to recognize the significance of unstructured data assets to the business.

With many organizations having established data warehouse solutions there comes a point where the solution needs to be extended in an unusual direction. This challenge presented when a European mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) wanted to add both compliance and archiving functionality to their existing data warehouse. MVNOs differentiate themselves by very competitive pricing on certain parts of the call package, for example ethnic MVNOs target ethnic communities by providing inexpensive calls to their home country. To enable such offerings and to track costs, especially where subscribers start using the service in unexpected and possibly costly ways, is a key business function and this is where the data warehouse is used.

Flash memory is taking the data center world by storm and creating new and innovative opportunities to challenge the status quo. This is occurring across numerous use cases: turning SQL server databases into fraud detection powerhouses for the world's largest retailers, scaling MySQL to support the infrastructure behind a premier sport league's mobile application, and capturing massive data volumes in real time with new NoSQL stores like MongoDB. Across the board, these organizations are breaking new ground with unprecedented performance, scaling beyond what was previously possible, and slashing infrastructure spending.

Columns - Notes on NoSQL

Throughout the 2000s, a huge number of website developers rejected the Enterprise Java or .NET platforms for web development in favor of the "LAMP" stack - Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/Python/PHP. Although the LAMP stack was arguably less scalable or powerful than the Java or .NET frameworks, it was typically easier to learn, faster in early stages of development - and definitely cheaper. When enterprise architects designed systems, they often chose commercial application servers and databases (Oracle, Microsoft, IBM). But, when web developers or startups faced these decisions, the LAMP stack was often the default choice.

Columns - Database Elaborations

A database design may occasionally show evidence that it lacks proper prioritization. Data models should express truths about the business, or about the universe of discourse. But in expressing business truth this does not mean a data model should express absolutely every truth that anyone might conceive. Some relationships are significant while other relationships are not. And as a general rule, database design is not an exercise in trivial pursuit. Insignificant truths only clutter up a design, increasing complexity, causing users' eyes to glaze over more quickly, and adding no real value towards the endeavors of the enterprise.

Columns - DBA Corner

It is impossible to have missed the sweeping changes being thrust upon the data world due to regulatory compliance. But even if you've noticed, chances are that the sheer volume of regulations was too mind-boggling to fully digest. Compliance starts with the CEO, but it works its way down into the trenches, and impacts database administration. With that in mind, this month's column will offer a brief introduction to the regulatory landscape and its impact on database administration.

Columns - SQL Server Drill Down

SQL Server 2012 includes a lot of new and exciting features. One feature that has caught the imagination of many in the user community is the high-performance feature called Columnstore Indexes. (Incidentally, it was also known as Apollo during its beta cycles). Columnstore indexes, as their name implies, store indexed (and always compressed) data contiguously in columns, rather than in standard format where the data is stored contiguously on 8Kb data pages according to the rows in which the data resides. Because of their structures, columnstore indexes speed up read-heavy operations like data warehouse queries from factors of 10x to 100x.

MV Community

BlueFinity International has extended its reach to enable applications running on any MultiValue database to be deployed across tablets, handhelds, phones and other mobile devices. According to BlueFinity, because its approach provides all of the ‘plumbing' and framework to support the application creation process, developers can save time and money as well as reduce the inherent risks of developing their own framework in getting the application implemented and ready to launch. "There is a rapidly growing trend, fuelled by the rapid uptake of smartphone and tablet devices, for IT strategy to be driven by end user expectation," adds Pete Loveless, CEO of BlueFinity International. "Ultimately, it's all about being able to deliver solutions that address the evolving needs and expectations of users and customers."

Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., is using Entrinsik's Informer software to keep its emergency notification system refreshed with the most up-to-date information. According to Sharon Shelton, vice president of marketing at Entrinsik, who describes the implementation in a new blog post this month on the Entrinsik website, the college purchased a new emergency notification system and they wanted the system updated frequently. The project was a high priority for the college because it needed to be able to get messages out to the students, faculty and staff in case of emergencies.

Kore Technologies partner Frank Kertai gave a presentation titled Integrated SQL Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence for Datatel Colleague at the combined 3CDUG / CHUGADUG Datatel (Ellucian) User Group meeting held on July 18 and July 19, 2012 at the Woodland Community College campus.

Northgate now offers Database-as-a-Service (DbaaS) in the cloud. According to Northgate, the fully-managed DbaaS takes care of scalability and high availability of customers' Reality databases in the cloud. The initial offering is for U.S.-based companies.