September 2010

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Trends and Applications

Oracle is a fast-changing company, and in recent years, its pace has accelerated to blinding speed. The software giant has expanded well beyond its relational database roots to encompass applications, management tools, service-oriented architecture and middleware, and even hardware. There are now many components to Oracle - from three major databases, to enterprise resource applications, to web applications to development languages to open source desktop tools.

Brent Ozar achieved SQL Server 2008 Master status earlier this year, becoming the fifth person in the U.S. outside of Microsoft to achieve the company's highest technical certification. A Quest Software SQL Server expert at the time, Ozar has since joined SQLskills.com, a provider of training and consulting focused on Microsoft SQL Server, as a principal consulting partner. In this issue, he provides an arcane gliimpse into the intense 3-week-long onsite program that include the most difficult exams he had ever seen.

Organizations turn to master data management (MDM) to solve many business problems - to reach compliance goals, improve customer service, power more accurate business intelligence, and introduce new products efficiently. In many cases, the need for an MDM implementation is dictated by the business challenge at hand, which knows no single data domain. Take a manufacturing customer, for example. The company decided to deploy an MDM solution in order to solve buy-side and sell-side supply chain processes, to more effectively manage the procurement of direct and indirect materials and to improve the distribution of products. To meet these goals the solution must be capable of managing vendor, customer, material and product master data. Unfortunately, quite a few vendors sell technology solutions that focus exclusively on either customer data integration (CDI) or product information management (PIM), which solves only a piece of the business problem.

Many organizations now have, in their possession, the sophisticated analysis tools and dashboards that connect to back-end systems and enable them to peer deeply into their businesses to assess progress on all fronts-from revenues to stock outs to employee performance. However, a recent survey of 279 Oracle applications managers reveals that when it comes to decision making, simple spreadsheets still remain the tool of choice. And business users still wait days, weeks, and months for their IT departments to deliver reports, despite significant investments in performance management systems.

Columns - Applications Insight

The promises of public cloud computing - pay as you go, infinite scale and outsourced administration - are compelling. However, for most enterprises, security, geography and risk mitigation concerns make private cloud platforms more desirable. Enterprise customers like the idea of on-demand provisioning, but are often unwilling to take the performance, security and risk drawbacks of moving applications to remote hardware that is not under their direct control.

Columns - Database Elaborations

As databases are established, particularly databases intended to support analytics initiatives, responsibilities for the design must include articulating the planned approaches for enhancing and scaling the database over time. If a database is created to express a multidimensional data warehouse bus architecture, or a corporate information factory, or anything else, the explanation of this connection should exist somewhere. Such documentation should also expand on why things were decided as they were and the expected stylings to be associated with proposed enhancements. Descriptions involving anticipated processing patterns extend naturally from such architecture artifacts. Database and application design personnel should work together in the creation of such credentials to ensure these documents thoroughly cover the needs of the personnel involved in building and maintaining the solution.

Columns - The Open DBA

Interest in and adoption of open source databases continues to dramatically increase. This truth was recently underscored for me when I sat down with one of the top industry analysts who covers the database market. Among the many interesting data points we discussed were the fact that his company has seen a 50% increase in open source database inquiries in the past 18 months and that more than 80% of corporations are looking to use open source databases in their infrastructures, including companies in the Fortune 100.

Columns - DBA Corner

Database systems require data files to store the data under management. These files, or data sets, reside on storage media. So storage management should be a key part of the database operations required of a database administrator (DBA). Unfortunately, storage is sometimes relegated to an afterthought; after all, don't we have storage administrators who deal with our disk arrays? But this way of thinking is misguided. To succeed, database administration and storage administration need to cooperate and work together.

Columns - SQL Server Drill Down

It's almost hard to believe I've been your columnist for Microsoft SQL Server topics for more than 5 years! As an analyst of Microsoft SQL Server, as well as one who's interested in the whole spectrum of database systems, I've tried to provide insight for the questions of "how" and "why" Microsoft has made the choices it has in crafting SQL Server. After all, understanding the context and motivation for a particular set of features-or a particular marketing strategy-can help you fully understand the best choices for your own internal IT strategies and projects.

MV Community

Imagine the job of a high school athletic director - juggling the full spectrum of seasonal sports, planning for fields, gymnasiums and pools, transportation to the events, as well as the assignment and fees of the officials, timekeepers, scorers, security, and other necessary personnel, for all of freshman, JV, and Varsity teams - all with little, if any, staff. Add to that mix, the inevitable last-minute scheduling changes that occur due to inclement weather and there is the potential for some very unhappy students, coaches and parents if those changes are not shared in a timely manner. MVP Software eases this burden with Sportspak, a software application which provides game scheduling and official assignment management to a league, conference or district-wide office, and a more recent product, SportspakAD, which serves the needs of high school athletic directors by providing modules for student athletes, teams and rosters, equipment, coaches' certifications, awards, budgets inventory, facilities and alumni. A third product, Sportspak.Online can be used with either Sportspak or SportspakAD, allowing a central office or school to publish current, up-to-the minute game schedules, personalized directions, news, and web links to the public.

Entrinsik has announced that the Everett Housing Authority (EHA) has selected Entrinsik's Informer Web Reporting software at the recommendation of its solution provider, Progenixx.

BlueFinity plans to hold a webinar titled "An Introduction to Web Browser Development using Microsoft Silverlight and BlueFinity's mv.NET" in September. According to BlueFinity, Microsoft's Silverlight technology has created an opportunity for developers to quickly create sophisticated, professional interfaces to existing MultiValue applications. Silverlight allows users to create applications that look and feel like desktop or rich-client applications, except they run inside a web browser. Users create these Silverlight applications using a single programming language and build it all in a single industry-standard development environment - Visual Studio.

Revelation Software has announced its Fall 2010 Training Schedule. The "Introduction to Development in OpenInsight" course has been updated to provide an overview of OpenInsight 9.2 features. New to the schedule is "An Introduction to OpenInsight for Web (O4W)."

The Rocket U2 Denver team has moved its offices. The new address is 4600 S. Ulster Street, Suite 1100, Denver, Colo., 80237. All phone numbers and email addresses remain the same. Additionally, Rocket Software has made a special product lifecycle end of marketing announcement for IBM-branded products. After September 30, 2010, Rocket will only distribute Rocket-branded versions of the U2 products. Existing customers can still acquire additional user licenses and maintenance for these versions, but replacement media will no longer be available. To determine the product lifecycle status of a given product version, see the product availability matrix on the Rocket U2 Support website.