June 2010

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Trends and Applications

In only a few years' time, the world of data management has been altered dramatically, and this is a change that is still running its course. No longer are databases run in back rooms by administrators worrying about rows and columns. Now, actionable information is sought by decision makers at all levels of the enterprise, and the custodians of this data need to work closely with the business.That's because, in the wake of the recent financial crisis and economic downturn, there's a push from both high-level corporate management and regulators to achieve greater understanding and greater transparency across the enterprise, Jeanne Harris, executive research fellow and a senior executive at the Accenture Institute for High Performance, and co-author, along with Tom Davenport, of Competing on Analytics and Analytics at Work, tells DBTA. "In many ways, I think the ultimate result of the financial crisis is that executives realized they cannot delegate analytics to subordinates; they can't view it as technology or math that doesn't really affect them."

Customer service is always important but never more critical than during difficult economic times, when wasting time is just not acceptable and customer satisfaction is an imperative. Atlantic Detroit Diesel-Allison sells and services a full line of Detroit Diesel, Mercedes-Benz, and MTU engines, and the automatic transmissions offered by the Allison Transmission Division of General Motors Corporation. Atlantic DDA had initiated a plan to improve its service department by improving order processing, thus driving more revenue, with additional goals of gaining operational efficiency and heightening customer satisfaction. In order to achieve these objectives, Atlantic DDA needed to make real-time information available to its teams of service representatives.

In the midst of turbulent times, many successful businesses learned an important lesson: The closer IT works with the business, the better an organization can weather the storms that blow in. Thus, many savvy companies understand that the managers and professionals who oversee information technology and applications need to be well incentivized to stay on. At the same time, these professionals understand the need to develop expertise in business management and communications. Many companies are looking to information technology to provide an additional competitive edge, and see their Oracle enterprise systems as the cornerstone of this strategy. As a result, a survey finds that Oracle enterprise application managers and professionals appear to have weathered the economic storm. The survey, conducted among 334 members of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) by Unisphere Research, and sponsored by Motion International, finds an increase in the number of Oracle technology professionals who are near or surpassing the $100,000 mark in their base salaries.

VoltDB, LLC, has begun shipping the VoltDB OLTP database management system that is intended to offer faster transaction processing capabilities due to lower overhead. VoltDB, developed under the leadership of Postgres and Ingres co-founder, Mike Stonebraker, is a next-generation, open source DBMS that, according to the company, has been shown to process millions of transactions per second on inexpensive clusters of off-the-shelf servers. The VoltDB design is based on an in-memory, distributed database partitioning concept that is optimized to run on today's memory-rich servers with multi-core CPUs. Data is held in memory (instead of on disk) for maximum throughput, which eliminates buffer management. VoltDB distributes data - and a SQL engine to process it - to each CPU core in the server cluster. Each single-threaded partition operates autonomously, eliminating the need for locking and latching. Data is automatically replicated for intra-cluster high availability, which eliminates logging.

Columns - Applications Insight

Although VMware continues to hold the majority share of the commercial virtualization market, other virtualization technologies are increasingly significant, though not necessarily as high profile. Operating system virtualization-sometimes called partial virtualization-allows an operating system such as Solaris to run multiple partitions, each of which appears to contain a distinct running instance of the same operating system. However, these technologies cannot be used to host different operating system versions, making them less appealing to enterprises seeking to consolidate workloads using virtualization.

Columns - Database Elaborations

Quality can be a hard thing to define. What is good and what is bad may not be easily identified and quantified. When a data mart accurately reflects data exactly as found in the source, should that be considered a quality result? If the source data is bad, is the data mart of high quality or not? If the data mart differs from the source, when is the difference an improvement of quality and when is said difference evidence of diminished quality? While it may seem self-evident that correcting the source of load data would be the "right" thing to do, in practice that direction is not necessarily self-evident. The reasons supporting this nonintuitive approach are varied. Sometimes changes to the source impact other processes that must not change, or the changes will expose problems that may provoke undesired political fallout, or it may simply be that making the proper adjustments to the source application would prove too costly to the organization. For all these reasons and more, in the world of business intelligence, the dependent data often is expected to be of higher quality than the source data. In order for that improvement to occur, data placed within the dependent mart or data warehouse must be altered from the source. Sometimes these alterations become codified within the process migrating data from the source. Other times changes are made via one-time ad hoc updates. Either way, this alteration leads to a situation in which the dependent data will no longer equate one-for-one to the source data. Superficial comparisons of this altered content will highlight the disparity that what exists for analytics is not the same as what exists for the operational system.

Columns - DBA Corner

Before we go any further, let me briefly answer the question posed in this column's title: "No Way!" OK ... with that out of the way, let's discuss the issue ... Every so often, some industry pundit gets his opinions published by declaring that "Database administrators are obsolete" or that "we no longer need DBAs." Every time I hear this, it makes me shake my head sadly as I regard just how gullible IT publications can be.

Columns - SQL Server Drill Down

If managing your corporate data for the long term isn't currently on your mind, it should be, and in several different ways: cost, performance, business continuity, and compliance. First, let's talk about cost and performance. You want to manage your database infrastructure so it can support your growing data needs within budget, while providing acceptable performance to your users. SANs (storage area networks) have enabled us to meet these contradicting goals over the last decade, and, as I mentioned in a previous column, SAN vendors are offering innovative new technologies to push on-disk storage even further. Some interesting new strategies also are helping organizations achieve a more balanced mix of cost versus performance through the use of "tiered storage."

MV Community

Kore Technologies, a provider of enterprise integration and e-commerce web solutions for MultiValue and Microsoft SQL Server databases, is now a resale partner for Rocket Software's CorVu business intelligence (BI) and analytics products. CorVu is a product that gives BI users the ability to create interactive reports, web-based pivot tables with drill-down, executive dashboards, and extensive graphing capabilities, explains Mark Dobransky, managing partner at Kore Technologies. "It is a very modern way of presenting data, being able to slice and dice it, and put that really in the hands of the end users," he tells 5 Minute Briefing.

Entrinsik, a provider of web-based operational reporting and analysis solutions, recently announced that its first-ever Informer User Conference will be held in Wrightsville Beach, NC, October 11-12.

jBASE 5 is now available. For 21 years jBASE has been offering unparalleled robustness, scalability and connectivity. The next generation of jBASE continues that trend as jBASE Release 5 brings MultiValue closer to mainstream than ever before. jBASE 5 runs natively on 64-bit operating systems which eliminates 32-bit limitations on addressing or file sizes. It includes many new features such as warm start recovery, resilient files, auto-resizing files, online backup, known-state computing and more and allows jBASE to operate nonstop as a technology platform.

The Rocket U2 team has announced a call for beta participants for its new product, U2 DataVu. Based on Rocket Shuttle, U2 DataVu will provide U2 developers with powerful and flexible ad hoc query, reporting and dashboard capabilities. With native access to UniData and UniVerse U2, developers can use U2 DataVu's graphical drag and drop capabilities to build visual reports and dashboards with zero programming.