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Two Weeks


Two Weeks

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Steve Jones
Steve Jones
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Group: Administrators
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Daylight Savings Patch


Are you ready for March 11th? It's just under two weeks away and it's going to be a big day for IT administrators. It's the day that daylight savings time in the US will change and that's about 3 weeks earlier than any unpatched systems are expecting.


There are XP, Vista, and Windows 2003 patches that you can download for your systems. And while everything should function the same, just the time changing earlier (and later in Nov), it pays to do some testing. Copy a DC, a SQL Server, and put them on a separate network, change the time forward and see if things work.


And if that fails, set an Outlook reminder, get up early Sunday morning, and start Terminal Serving into machines and checking the time. That's what I'll be doing, just in case Smile








Microsoft is the leader in OLAP at least according to an analysis by The OLAP Report. I'm sure the purchase of Proclarity helped tremendously here. I wonder to what extent or even how they count SSAS instances as well.


In any case I'm not sold that BI and OLAP/Analysis Services/whatever is catching on. Or that it ever will get deployed widely beyond specialized instances. However maybe Microsoft can change my mind.


I got invited to attend the first annual Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference in Seattle this May 9-11. I'm not sure if I'll get to go, but I'd like to go and argue with the BI people. And I'd like to have them prove me wrong, but I have to admit I'm skeptical. I think BI is a cool idea, but I'm not sure how well it will get implemented or widely deployed.


Anyway, if you're a BI person in the SQL Server world, you might think about attending. And if you're in the Unix world, you should definitely attend and at least learn how to build less expensive solutions!


Lastly, in case you missed it, and you shouldn't have, SQL Server 2005 SP2 was released last week. You can download it here.

Gift Peddie
Gift Peddie
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I got this from the Dobb’s Architecture mailing list interesting subject if the dimension modeling is done right Jetblue could use it to create extraneous weather related staff logistics. I think the conference is interesting but the question is what will you get for the money, if I cannot make it I hope the conference content is sold.

http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/architecture/bb229292.aspx



Kind regards,
Gift Peddie
Bob Firmin
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I cannot aggree with the statement that BI/OLAP will never catch on. The amount of money / effort that both Microsoft and Oracle are investing in it would seem to indicate the opposite.

Having been a long term user of Oracle's now defunct Oracle Express Server, I see these products as a means of transforming all transactional information into realistic data cubes that businesses can make strategic decisions upon.

Without these OLAP/BI facilities any operation is naked when it comes to business planning.

Bob Firmin

Independent Developer (UK)


Loner
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Steve

Since I am a data warehouse developer , why do you think BI and OLAP would never catch on. I had my first data warehouse project in 1993. BI has its own use, mostly for forecast and statistic analysis. I do not use Analysis Service, I build my data warehouse in SQL Server using Star schema. The DTS tool is one of the best (cheap) tool to extract data.

Do you want me to write an article about it (how I did it in 1993 when there was no BI tool around?)


Steve Jones
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There are definitely people using BI/OLAP. I don't dispute that and I'm sure more companies are implementing these technologies all the time.

I guess my feeling is that star schemas and warehouses as complicated for most DBAs. They're hard to understand and it's a different way of looking at data. I think many DBAs could learn it, but it's a leap from the relational model and it's very simple method of putting data in tables. Getting to a more complex star schema, understanding meta data, tracking it, and successfully getting ETL jobs to run regularly is hard. And if you can't afford dedicated people to do it, you probably won't implement it or do it poorly enough that it won't be used.

The next leap is to cubes/OLAP technologies. To me, I think this is extremely complicated and beyond most people working as DBAs today. It's a complete reference change and not only does it require a great many more technical skills, it's a whole new way of working with the business. There's another great chasm of explanations that you have to bridge between how we technically view data, build measures, and actually understand what the mining models mean and what the business people are looking for. I'm not sure how many business people are great at spotting patterns or working with them.

I just feel that the current models, credit card fraud, sales trends, etc. are the edge of OLAP. They're like us automating general ledgers and sales entry. It's the bare beginnings of what can be done. I'm just not sure there are enough really intelligent people with the time to spend on digging into models.

I could be completely wrong and I'm looking forward to debating stuff at the conference and getting proven wrong. If I am, then it's great for SQL Server, which is the low cost platform in this area.

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You are absolutely right that there are not enough people or DBA to understand data warehouse.

However, do you think there are enough people to fully understand SQL, T-SQL, DTS and even enough people quality to be a SQL Server DBA?

There are SQL deverlopers who do not understand what outer join is, there are developers who do not know the difference between truncate table and delete table, or IN/NOT IN vs EXISTS/NOT EXISTS. Some had no idea what a correlated subquery is.

It is a matter of people willing to learn. The technology is going too fast whether you are ready or not.

I consider SQL Server is quite capable of building a data warehouse.

When I was at college, one of professor said if the program was wrong, it was not the fault of the computer, it was the fault of the programmer who wrote it.


crabman27
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Steve,

It sounds like what you're really saying is that BI/OLAP will never catch on for a traditional DBA, not that it will never catch on. It has already caught on in and is spreading rapidly.

It takes special skills to properly implement Data Warehouses and BI solutions and having a DBA attend a seminar to add another responsibility to a list that is almost always too long already is a mistake.

-Jon





Bob Abernethy
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There are good business reasons why Microsoft and others are now focused so strongly on BI. In Gartner's 2006 annual CIO survey, BI ranked as the #1 priority for CIOs.

IDC forecasts the BI market to continue to grow at a 10% compound annual growth rate over the next five years, which is more than forecasted general IT spending. IDC says that about 75% of organizations expect their BI budgets to increase over the next 12 months.

So I think it's not so much a question of whether BI will catch on as it is a question of what platforms and tools are going to be used to implement all these new BI systems (as well as revamping older ones), and will those systems in fact be successful.

BI is really not a new concept. Previous incarnations of it had names (and acronyms of course) like Decision Support Systems (DSS) and Executive Information Systems (EIS).

A few things that are different today, however, are:

1. BI is being extended to more users - the idea of "Pervasive BI". But to achieve this requires a whole new approach to delivering BI tools that do not take a rocket scientist to operate.

2. "The Internet Changes Everything", even BI. It is becoming critical for many BI projects that they be able to deliver fully-functional BI (as opposed to just a small subset of available functionality) over the web, ideally using a zero-footprint web browser client, to all users, even report designers and admins. This becomes even more important when there is a need to deliver BI to people outside the organization such as customers, suppliers, partners, etc., which is also becoming an increasingly important BI requirement.

3. Users have come to expect high-quality graphics and visualizations the older DSS and EIS systems often did not have.

4. The platforms required to deliver world-class BI. In particular with Microsoft's entry into the BI space with SQL Server 2005 and Analysis Services, a whole new pricing/value option is on the table for the CIOs who are expressing such strong interest in BI. The smart ones are taking a close look at it.


Steve Jones
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I definitely don't think there are enough qualified DBAs already. And from the horror stories I constantly see, I'd be scared of letting most current DBAs take on a DW.

I think SQL Server is capable of it, just not sure I am. I'm not certain that the CIOs are the best choice. I've seen lots of those surveys about priorities for the coming year and they don't always seem to come true. In fact, I'd bet that BI spending has been on the list before.

Like I said, I'd love to be proven wrong and am looking forward to the conference. And I'd like to see concrete examples of how to go about deploying BI and where it really helps users. If anyone has suggestions for the tracks/sessions, let me know. I'll readily admit I'm new to this world.

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Gift Peddie
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Steve,
Microsoft only made BI cheap but currently not easier, most companies need BI but they just don't know it, remember my reference about Jetblue time is their business they need to quantify staff logistics to handle weather related cancellations but they have not done it because it is not required by the Government for their business. The relational model keep a business going but dimension modeling and prediction modeling grows the business and manage vagaries of business issues.

The conference is a good place to start but one thing I know about Microsoft is anything that they think you should call their consultant they will not cover it, the same thing with anything they have not implemented per Bill Inmon and Ralph Kimball. The reason IBM makes a lot of money in software services Microsoft is building its consulting division, so if an employer pays for MOSS2007 enterprise BI will be easy for you if not you have to build what you need. How will BI help a business? Banks sell other services to existing customers, companies that depend on delivery hedge gas costs, hotels and airlines dump rooms and seats rather than let the time be a waste.



Kind regards,
Gift Peddie
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