Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Data Virtualization...

With companies/business having different types of  data marts/datawarehouses there is a fear that these could become independent silos and could not provide value to the business as a whole. There has been lot of resources(Time,Money,People) being invested in building a datawarehouse/data marts. The business would like to get value from the disparate datawarehouses/data marts, so the concept that has been in play for quite a while is Data Virtualization. Data Virtualization could be defined as process of building a agile data layer for easy data access and delivery. This is also sometimes referred to as the data abstraction layer so that users can get access to data quickly. Having defined Data Virtualization, where does one use this concept: Here are some of the situations where Data Virtualization could be used.
1. Data Federation - Scenario: A application requires data from multiple incompatible data sources.
(Example: Federated Views, Virtual Data Marts)
2. Data Warehouse Extension: The Datawarehouse does not contain the required data to create reports (Example: Datewarehouse Extension)
3. Data Virtualization - Build a Agile Data layer for easy data access.
4. Big Data Integration: How to combine Big Data with traditional data for analysis (Example: Hadoop)
5. Cloud Data Integration: Need to integrate systems on site with the Applications running in the cloud (Example: SaaS Application Integration)

Based on the scenario and type of question we are trying to answer, Data Virtualization could be a solution. The concepts described here were based on a article related to the Composite , a data virtualization/Integration tool from Cisco (http://www.compositesw.com/data-virtualization/).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SQL Server 2014-EBook

With SQL Server 2014 being released, there are lot of lectures/talks being organised by SQL PASS for folks who want to get a understanding of what is available in SQL Server 2014. There is a free ebook written by Ross Mistry and Stacia Misner on SQL Server 2014. The eBook is titled "Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Overview". The ebook is around 116 pages and contains primarily 2 Parts: 1. Database Administration, Part 2: Business Intelligence Development.
The Part 1 has 3 Chapters, these chapters highlight the 1. SQL Server 2014 Engine Enhancements, 2. In-Memory Features, 3. High Availability, Hybrid Cloud and backup enhancements.
The Part 2 Focuses on the BI related enahnacements available in SQL Server 2014.  The 3 Main Areas focused on are: Chapter 4 on Self Service BI, Chapter 5: on Power BI, Chapter 6: Big Data Solutions. All of the chapters describe the future BI solutions that are going to be available. The Chapter 6 dwells into the Microsoft Big Data Framework HDInsight. Here is the link for the eBook:
http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/ebooks

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

AS-IS - TO BE...Business Process Management

When I work/worked on BI projects, one of main reason for initiating a project is to make a process better for the business and provide increased value to business in terms of revenue/profits. A good analysis and design of the business requirements would yield very good results. One of the methodologies i have been exposed to as part of Business Process Management is the AS IS TO BE analysis method. As part of this method the first step that is to be done is to understand the current process which is called as the AS IS State. Here one builds a flow diagram of the present system/process in place. Once this completed, the analysis of the current process takes place. In this step any possible flaws/deficiencies are identified, also any possible opportunities to optimise the process is also discussed/documented. The goal here is to identify steps that improve the overall process and provide Business value. Once this step is completed, then we move on to the TO BE stage where the proposed/improved process is documented. In this step the improvements/optimisations are captured. A walk through of the proposed process is performed and made sure that the design can be implemented. There are different tools to perform the AS IS-TO BE methodology. One of the tools available is from visual paradigms, here is the link http://www.visual-paradigm.com/. The specific product that helps with the AS-IS - TO-BE Process is Logizian: Here is the description of the tool from the web site at a high level. One of the reasons to write a blog post on this topic was to highlight the importance of analysis and design in a project where BI solutions are going to be implemented.
http://www.visual-paradigm.com/product/lz/

Logizian - BPMN 2.0 Business Workflow Design Software

Easy-to-use and cross-platforms business process design tool that supports business process modeling with Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) 2.0, Data Flow Diagram (DFD), decision table and organization chart. Logizian supports also advanced business modeling features like to document working procedures for workflow elements, animating business process diagram, process simulation, reports generation and publishing workflow design to website.
 
 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SQL Server 2014 - Evaluation...

As folks are getting comfortable SQL Server 2012, In some cases I have heard that users want to bypass SQL Server 2012 and upgrade straight to SQL Server 2014 from SQL Server 2008. One of the big attractions is use of in memory technologies across the OLTP, Data warehousing and BI platforms. There not been much of improvements in SSIS and SSRS but SSAS/BI has got some new features. Please check the following link for all the features and the product itself.
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/sql-server/#fbid=l3BkTG6tymf.
The image below was taken from the SQL Server 2014 Data Sheet...which talks about In memory across all workloads.



Hope one of these days I will get to install and evaluate SQL Server 2014.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gartner 2014 Report - BI and Analytics Platforms...

The Gartner report for 2014 related to the Business Intelligence and analytics platform is out, as expected the number of vendors competing in the BI and Analytics space continues to grow. There are niche vendors continuing to enter the market space, at the same there are some vendors who have made it to the leaders quadrant. The vendors were evaluated across 17 categories which were divided into 3 main areas:

  • Information Delivery
  • Analysis
  • Integration
 The vendors who made it to the leaders quadrant are:
Tableau,Qilk,Microsoft,SAP,SAS,IBM,Oracle,Tibco Software,MicroStrategy and Information Builders. Since i use Microsoft suite of products the most, areas of  concerns that has been listed are, Interactive visualizations, metadata management and Mobile BI support. As per the report Microsoft is trying to handle the Mobile BI space by using Power BI. Currently Microsoft BI products seemed to be most used in the Enterprise and Small business world the most. One of the challenges that Microsoft faces I feel is cross product integration, we have the traditional Microsoft BI stack on one hand, the Office/Power BI suite on the other, to add to the mix we also have Sharepoint driven BI capabilities. How do these different versions of BI products from Microsoft Co-Exist? At the same time Microsoft is depending on cloud based BI offerings to reduce complexity for smaller companies.
There were other vendors who have good mention with respect to the leader's quadrant: They are:
Tableau
TIBCO Software
Qilk
The concerns for the above three vendors were mainly in the areas of Customer Support and sales. For Qilk as per the report there were mixed opinions about whether product is enterprise ready or not.
In the report there was mention of two cloud based BI vendors:

Birst
Birst's BI platform is primarily a cloud-based offering. It includes a broad range of components, such as data integration, federation and modeling, a data warehouse with a semantic layer, reporting, dashboards, mobile BI and a recently announced interactive visualization tool.

GoodData
GoodData is a cloud BI and analytics specialist. It provides a range of front-end BI capabilities and packaged analytic applications that complement its comprehensive cloud and on-premises source data integration and cloud-based data warehouse platform.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SQL Scripts...

As a Developer, I have always loved writing scripts to automate tasks in SQL Server. They come in really Handy especially for DBA's and Developers alike. When I used to work as a DBA for a product development firm i had to create scripts as part of installation and provide utility scripts for clients. With the constant evolvement of SQL Server there are lot of areas where scripts can come in handy. Here is a blog by DBA On the Go, where in the some of the useful and quality scripts have been compiled:
http://www.dbaonthego.com/2014/03/my-favorite-free-scripts.html. I am a big fan of Ola hallengren's scripts, please check out the blog link above.