January 2011

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Trends and Applications

As security threats increase and become more sophisticated, organizations face pressure to implement strong processes and technology solutions to ensure compliance and the safety of critical assets. The risks associated with a data breach can be devastating, regardless of whether it is due to a simple mistake, or a stolen end-point device such as a laptop. The impact goes beyond fines and lost revenue, to negatively impacting an organization's brand identity and equity, or jeopardizing customers' trust. Providing greater clarity, as well as aligning with industry changes and best practices, Version 2.0 of the PCI DSS standard went into effect earlier this month.

The idea of moving off IMS might seem compelling at first glance, but once you look at the whole picture, you might think otherwise. Most people think of cost as the primary reason to move off IMS. But if you look at all of the comparative costs of IMS on a mainframe against a WINDOWS/UNIX solution, you will find that running IMS is actually cost-effective. The obvious cost elements are hardware and software and the huge expense of converting hundreds of thousands of lines of code and hundreds of databases. However, these are only a small part of the story.

Database Trends and Applications recently hosted an educational webcast to explain how organizations can extract business intelligence and business value from large and complex data, with Apache Hadoop. In a recent Unisphere Research study conducted for the Independent Oracle Users Group, nearly two-thirds of respondents reported more than 5 terabytes of data online and 20% reported more than 100 terabytes of data, according to DBTA president Tom Wilson, who pointed out that as recently as earlier in the past decade, a single terabyte environment was considered unusual enough to be reported as news. With data stores now growing at breakneck speed, users have begun to search for new ways of integrating information to provide a single view of the business and to delivery actionable information for business decision makers.

Business Intelligence (BI) systems are used to improve an enterprise's decision making by combining tools for gathering, storing, accessing, and analyzing business data. While traditional features for querying, reporting, and analytics have long been the core focus of these tools, BI has evolved in recent years to become comprehensive, enterprise-wide platforms, and newer trends, such as self-service BI, have helped to continue interest in this technology.

The exponentially increasing amounts of data being generated each year make getting useful information from that data more and more critical. The information frequently is stored in a data warehouse, a repository of data gathered from various sources, including corporate databases, summarized information from internal systems, and data from external sources. Analysis of the data includes simple query and reporting, statistical analysis, more complex multidimensional analysis, and data mining.

With its January 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Oracle gained the MySQL open source database management software (DBMS) platform for enterprise IT environments. MySQL is designed to let users design and manage complex applications and data sets, and has gained a substantial share of the overall DBMS market.

When designing a system an architect must conform to all three corners of the CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity and Accessibility) triangle. System requirements for data confidentiality are driven not only by business rules but also by legal and compliance requirements. As such, the data confidentiality (when required) must be preserved at any cost and irrespective of performance, availability or any other implications. Integrity and Accessibility, the other two sides of triangle, may have some flexibility in design.

Columns - Applications Insight

The NoSQL acronym suggests it's the SQL language that is the key difference between traditional relational and newer non-relational data stores. However, an equally significant divergence is in the NoSQL consistency and transaction models. Indeed, some have suggested that NoSQL databases would be better described as "NoACID" databases - since they avoid the "ACID" transactions of the relational world.

Columns - Database Elaborations

Back in the 1970s, the ANSI SPARC three-tiered model arose, foreshadowing a smooth intertwining of data and architectural design. The three tiers concept isolated the physical storage needs of data structures independent of business' perception of these structures. The three levels were comprised of schemas labeled external, conceptual, and internal, with each level describing the data in focus from varying perspectives.

Columns - DBA Corner

As my regular readers know, toward the end of each year I devote an edition of my column to review the significant data and database-related events of the past year. Of course, to meet my deadlines, the column is written before the year is over (this column is being written in November 2010), so please excuse any significant news that may have happened late in the year!

Columns - SQL Server Drill Down

In line with recent SQL Server releases, Microsoft on Nov. 9 announced at the PASS Summit that the first Community Technology Preview (CTP) version of SQL Server 11 - codenamed Denali (after the Alaska mountain also known as Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America) - is available for download and evaluation. This is our first opportunity to look at some of the features that will form the basis for the next major release of SQL Server, expected to be fully available in the second half of 2011.

MV Community

InterSystems Corporation, which specializes in advanced integration, database, and business intelligence technologies for breakthrough applications, has announced that support for the latest 2010 releases of the InterSystems CACHÉ database and InterSystems Ensemble integration and development platform is now available on the Amazon EC2 platform with 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the guest operating system.

MITS, a provider of online analytical processing business intelligence and operational reporting solutions, has announced the availability of two completely new OLAP cubes for its Discover analytics solution.

Revelation Software offers regularly scheduled classes for OpenInsight.

Rocket Software has announced a free product called U2 DataVu Query. This tool provides fully functioning capabilities to graphically build queries against U2 data sources, including the ability to group and aggregate information to provide totals, and to print the results or export them to PDF. All queries built with U2 DataVu Query can be reused in U2 DataVu Report and Dashboard without any re-coding. Instructional material on using U2 DataVu Query can be found on the U2 Developer Zone section of Rocket U2's website.

Entrinsik Software has announced that Summit Professional Education (SPE), a global training company, has implemented SEMtek ERP software and Informer Web Reporting software.