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Trends and Applications
Big data is everywhere today. It fills IT headlines and keynotes technology conferences. It's become a favorite topic for both industry analysts and technology investors. With lots of computing power and better database storage techniques, Big data makes it practical to store and analyze petabytes and petabytes of detailed transactional and media data. But despite the headlines, big data is not the most compelling data need that the majority of business end users have. A far bigger challenge for most people is getting access to the right data to help them do their jobs better.
Imagine Google returning search results on "Lady Gaga" in 0.03 seconds, but taking 30 seconds to return results for "Lunar Eclipse." That might seem unacceptable; however, that is the reality for most of today's enterprise data analytics. Some queries can come back in seconds with others taking minutes or even hours. Perhaps with a lot of tuning ahead of time, ad hoc analysis query performance can be improved, but in most cases, it remains a huge challenge. When you have the right indexes, summary tables, and statistics, you can get answers quickly. The IBM Informix Warehouse Accelerator solves this problem using novel algorithms on modern hardware.
U.S. state governments, the European Union, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and other governing bodies around the globe—it seems every regulatory body is debating its own definition of personally identifiable information (PII). Recent topics from behavioral marketing to GPS to Anonymous hacks have elevated privacy to the regulatory priority list. There is already significant regulatory variation about what data constitutes PII and personal health information (PHI). Existing rules were largely written in an attempt to solve known data challenges such as the problems of credit card fraud (PCI), identity theft (regional disclosure rules like the U.K. Data Privacy Act and U.S. state laws), and electronic data sharing inefficiencies (HIPAA). Some were written for loftier goals such as human rights and reputation management. They mandate controls over relatively easily characterized descriptors like credit card numbers, street addresses, and birthdates and affect physical as well as electronic disclosures.
Columns - Applications Insight
Seriously chronic geeks like me usually were raised on a strong diet of science fiction that shaped our expectations of the future. Reading Heinlein and Asimov as a boy led me to expect flying cars and robot servants. Reading William Gibson and other "cyberpunk" authors as a young man led me to expect heads-up virtual reality glasses and neural interfaces. Flying cars and robot companions don't seem to be coming anytime soon, but we are definitely approaching a world in which virtual - or at least augmented - reality headsets and brain control interfaces become mainstream.
Columns - Database Elaborations
The whole world can be divided into two groups, these being splitters and lumpers. Design battles are waged across conference rooms as debates rage over whether to split or to lump. Splitters take a group of items divide them up into sub-groups and sub-sub-groups occasionally going so far as to end with each lowest level becoming a group of one. On the other side of the design fence, lumpers combine items until everything is abstracted into group objects covering very broad territory, such as a "Party" construct, or ultimately an "Object" object. Within data modeling, arguments arise, such as whether to sub-type an entity. Or perhaps lumping is discussed as the grain of a multidimensional fact is proposed. This debate underlies much of the decision-making involved in determining what domains to create within a data model. The split-versus-lump issue is ubiquitous and universal. The question to split or lump arises across many kinds of choices, in addition to the entity definition, table grain, or the domain grain mentioned in the previous examples; this issue is at the heart of deliberations regarding establishing functions, overriding methods, or composing an organizational structure.
Columns - DBA Corner
Although data integrity is a pervasive problem, there are some data integrity issues that can be cleaned up using a touch of SQL. Consider the common data entry problem of extraneous spaces in a name field. Not only is it annoying, sometimes it can cause the system to ignore relationships between data elements.
Columns - SQL Server Drill Down
After chatting with my friend and fellow Microsoft MVP Allen White about Windows Server Core on a recent SQLCruise.com excursion, I realized that this is a technology I should be evangelizing more. I hope you've heard about Windows Server Core and are considering using it for your SQL Server, and, indeed, any relational database platform you're currently running on Windows Server. Why?
MITS, a provider of advanced reporting and analytics solutions, has introduced a new release of MITS Discover, an online analytics processing (OLAP) technology platform that provides easy-to-use tools for tracking and capitalizing on company patterns and trends, including sales, profitability, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. "MITS Discover 8.0 is the culmination of over a year and a half of intense effort, and several enhancements we included in this release were based on predicted future requests from our user base. This customer-focused approach is designed to maximize user satisfaction in what is already a highly regarded data analysis and reporting tool," says Mickey Lass, vice president, MITS Sales & Business Development.
Entrinsik, developer of Informer software, has announced the release of Informer Dashboards. With a 100% Java-driven architecture and browser-based interface, Informer Dashboards allow organizations to visualize real-time data from multiple sources on one screen to quickly identify actionable information and key trends. "Informer Dashboards is a completely new module that we have built from the ground up that allows customers to combine data that they pull from their own transactional systems by way of mostly Informer reports, as well as from non-JDBC, or non-SQL, or non-MultiValue data by way of web services or any other protocol, and bring this data into a dashboarding environment that in turn allows them to visualize that same data in a variety of ways," Brad Leupen, Entrinsik CTO tells DBTA.
Kore Technologies, a provider of enterprise integration and eCommerce Web solutions for MultiValue and Microsoft SQL Server databases, has launched Kourier Integrator: U2 Edition - Release 3.1. "What Kore offers is really an end to end solution for ETL - for moving data from U2 into SQL Server. It is a complete environment designed to do just that," Keith Lambert, vice president of marketing and business development at Kore Technologies, tells DBTA. "We try to make moving data from U2 to SQL very easy and straightforward for customers. We spent a lot of time making this easy for customers to use from start to finish," adds Mark Dobransky, managing partner at Kore Technologies.
Revelation Software is in the final stages of releasing OpenInsight Development Suite 9.3.2 to beta testers. This interim release includes both enhancements and fixes in a range of areas, Robert Catalano, director of sales at Revelation, tells DBTA. The new release adds the ability to generate dynamic dictionaries on the fly from the Banded Report Writer. In addition, O4W will be updated from 1.3 to 1.4 and will include an enhanced PHP interface to provide better performance.
Rocket U2 has announced the general availability of a SaaS license offering that gives partners the flexibility to private host their applications and offer them on a subscription basis. In addition, the initial version of U2 Toolkit for .NET (U2NETDK) was recently released, providing a .NET platform for U2 that combines an integrated ADO.NET provider for the U2 databases, LINQ to Entity, and the native UniObjects for .NET API.