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Richard Hackathorn

Welcome to my blog stream. I am focusing on the business value of low latency data, real-time business intelligence (BI), data warehouse (DW) appliances, use of virtual world technology, ethics of business intelligence and globalization of business intelligence. However, my blog entries may range widely depending on current industry events and personal life changes. So, readers beware!

Please comment on my blogs and share your opinions with the BI/DW community.

About the author >

Dr. Richard Hackathorn is founder and president of Bolder Technology, Inc. He has more than thirty years of experience in the information technology industry as a well-known industry analyst, technology innovator and international educator. He has pioneered many innovations in database management, decision support, client-server computing, database connectivity, associative link analysis, data warehousing, and web farming. Focus areas are: business value of timely data, real-time business intelligence (BI), data warehouse appliances, ethics of business intelligence and globalization of BI.

Richard has published numerous articles in trade and academic publications, presented regularly at leading industry conferences and conducted professional seminars in eighteen countries. He writes regularly for the BeyeNETWORK.com and has a channel for his blog, articles and research studies. He is a member of the IBM Gold Consultants since its inception, the Boulder BI Brain Trust and the Independent Analyst Platform.

Dr. Hackathorn has written three professional texts, entitled Enterprise Database Connectivity, Using the Data Warehouse (with William H. Inmon), and Web Farming for the Data Warehouse.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Richard's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Recently in 200910 IBM Gold Category

ibm-iod logo.pngNice lunch. Getting into the rhythm of these briefings. Looking forward to the analyst dinner tonight to meet several old friends.

ibm-ILT arch.pngIBM InfoSphere Servers by Sriram Padmanabhan, IBM Distinguished Engineer, Architect for InfoSphere. Sriram started with the layered architecture for the Information-Lead Transformation theme. He then went into five major components that comprises the InfoSphere Server. The rest of the briefing was under NDA.

IBM InfoSphere Master Information Hub by Mandy Chessell, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Architect for InfoSphere Tools. The Master Info Hub (MIH) focuses on spots in the enterprise data model for critical entities where data glitches cause major problems for the business. The MIH synchronizes the various copies of master data (for instance, about customer, product and so on). In their press release, IBM is positioning MIH to go beyond pre-packaged entities in traditional MDM products. My interpretation is the MIH is an 'active' MDM service. The rest of the briefing was under NDA.

ibm-InfoSphereTools.pngIBM InfoSphere Foundation Tools and Info Mgt Metadata by Dan Wolfson, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Architect for Info Platform Solutions. Dan started with a good introduction to the problems and value of master data as 'authoritative information'. He weaved us through the various tools for understand-design-govern used by various roles on various systems across various generations of legacy IT. The overall diagram of the project lifecycle is shown at the right; click to enlarge. I have heard this story for many years. Each year the story goes deeper and broader across enterprise IT development/execution requirements. Progress is being made

Posted October 26, 2009 3:23 PM
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ibm-iod logo.pngThe day started with the keynote kickoffs on this first day of the IOD conference. And I have been here three days already?

IOD Grand Opening by Ambuj Goyal, General Manager of Business Analytics and Process Optimization. Ambuj started by saying that attendance is up over last year, despite the recession. He remarked that this year's gold sponsor of IOD is Intel and then reflected that the last several years the gold sponsors were acquired and now are part of IBM, such as FileNet and Cognos. Did he suggest that IBM will be acquiring Intel? ibm-arvind.jpgAmbuj introduced Arvind Krishna as the new General Manager of Info Mgt Solutions, as described in a previous blog.

Frank Kern, SVP of Global Business Services, followed by getting an understanding and business justification to "Information-Lead Transformation" theme. What does it take to create deep predictive analytics? ...to reduce uncertainty in our decisions? The dilemma is that we have more information than ever before, but less trusted information is available, and radically less real-time information. Frank shared the example of the NYC Fire Department. They are monitoring conditions in 8,000 buildings. They feel that their mission should be not the fighting of fires, but the elimination of fires totally! By using analytics to predict which buildings have a high probability of a fire, they can take preventive measures. Frank ended with a quote by Robert Kennedy who borrowed from George Bernard Shaw, "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never and say why not.

Frank then invited a customer panel onto the stage, consisting of Shirley Lady of BlueCross BlueShield Association, Nihad Aytaman of Elie Taharl Ltd, and Debbie Oshman of Chevron. Great discussion but wished they would have gone deeper into the specifics. Nihad made the point the small (SMB) companies can have BI with only one BI person!

IBM Smart Analytics System (ISAS) by Bill O'Connell, IBM Distinguished Engineer of Data Warehousing and CTO. Bill has a tough job of juggling dozens of technologies spread across dozens of products, with new technologies being added monthly through acquisitions. He started with an overview of the recent announced IBM Smart Analytics System (ISAS). From customer forums, Bill remarked that most customers want to build their own systems and avoid packages. In other words, most customers want the ability to customize their solutions, rather than predefined appliances. Hence, ISAS is a highly customizable packaging of a full-stack BI system. We went through the options available. For the smaller predefined packages, IBM has built and inventory those systems to assure two-week delivery. Also, InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse has evolved into ISAS since the former can be obtained by unchecking certain options.  The rest of the briefing was under NDA.

From a discussion of SSD (solid-state disk) implications, an question that I asked was why not just increase main memory. Why continue the traditional distinction between main memory and external storage? Bill reminder me that main memory is good-olde volatile RAM while SSD is slower and cheaper non-volatile flash memory. Hence, the traditional distinction will continue.

Posted October 26, 2009 9:18 AM
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ibm-iod logo.pngibm-gold room.pngNice lunch and good conversation with Richard Winter about various DW appliance products. Back to my warm seat.
InfoSphere Discovery by Alex Gorelik, Chief Architect, and Todd Goldman, Program Director. The objective is to accelerate time to deployment by automating data discovery to document the data objects. The use case is data growth, data integration, and data privacy. Components are: Transformation Analyzer and Source Data Discovery and Unified Schema Builder. The demo discovered tables/relationships related to ORDERS among 30+ tables. Several more demos of finding complex business rules buried in the data and sensitive personal data embedded in other files. Impressive! Wished I had this tools years ago!

ibm-cotner.pngTodd drove the key points by doing several magic tricks (smoothly executed) for us. As first-time presenters to the Gold group, they done well...

IBM Integrated Data Mgt by Curt Cotner, IBM Fellow and VP/CTO for Database Servers. Curt is a regular at the Gold group so the conversation goes like, "last year we discussed this but now it is that". Curt gave us a tour through a series of products like: InfoSphere Data Architect, Optim Data Privacy, Optim Database Administrator, Oracle support in Optim Development Studio, pureQuery variations, and Optim Query Tuner.

IBM IMS Update by Betty Patterson. IMS is the top revenue-producing software product, long running over 42 years and going strong! See the Wikipedia entry for IMS's history. Why is IMS still relevant to Enterprise IT? Betty argued that IMS has become an integration points for SOA and a solid performance/reliability/security record. And, IBM has continued to make considerable investments into IMS.

One program is educating the new generation of IT professionals in IMS skills. An academic initiative for System z has involved over 600 schools with 50,000 students, resulting in 30 courses, exams, and Application Programming certificate. Another program is application modernization to increase usability leveraging IMS investments. The third program is a simplification of database administration reducing the skill level for performance tuning, etc.

IMS version 11 is available this month. A list of new functions is here, and fact sheet is available here. Betty continued by covering future directions for IMS, which was under NDA.   

Posted October 25, 2009 2:20 PM
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ibm-iod logo.pngIt is Sunday; must be the third day of Gold briefing... It is going smoothly. Mike and Teressa are doing an excellent job of herding us cats. Last night, we had a wonderful six-course (with wine pairing) dinner at Aureole Swan Court. As shown here, the table was set full with the proper wine glasses. There are real swans, one of whom was quite friendly.

ibm-ecm logo.pngIBM Enterprise Content Mgt by Jim Reimer, IBM Distinguished Engineer. Jim started with a broad overview the entire ECM market. Lots of innovative applications that have fundamental changes in some industries, like insurance. These ECM systems are massive. Jim shared that a customer turned on full-archiving of all corporate email, resulting in several petabytes collected over a year. They estimated that they has rival Google's data sizes, given the requirement for seven years of managed history. ECM has stimulated issues...political, cultural, privacy...across the corporation and globally.

As shown in this figure, the ECM portfolio emphasizes three services: search/discovery, biz process mgt, and collaboration. Regardless of the content repositories or of the client apps, these three services form the various function delivered to the users. A critical part of this portfolio is the Business Process Mgt (BPM) service, which will be part of the new Info Mgt divisions with IBM. There are two parts to BPM, one from ECM and the other from WebSphere.

Another application area is in litigation response by filtering and organizing emails and the like. Jim then described solutions for searching and organizing external web information for use within the firewall as enterprise content. This is similar to my work on Web Farming resulting in the book Web Farming for the Data Warehouse in 1998. 

ibm-potter.pngBI and Performance Mgt by Mike Potter, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Architect of Cognos Products. Mike stated that the objective of Cognos, now as part of IBM, is on improving the performance of the business user within an enterprise context. Using the maturity model from AMR Research, there are four steps to Performance Mgt: Reacting, Anticipating, Collaborating, and Orchestrating. As shown here, the architecture for Cognos Performance Mgt System has several layers, starting with the underlying info infrastructure and ending with various apps in finance, workforce, banking, etc. Mike then took us through the variety of Cognos products, as listed here. This list does not include various applications in financial performance. Directions are toward a simplified and consistent self-service experience by business users with Cognos products. Mike explained the TM1 OLAP engine from Aptix, which seems redundant with other IBM products.

In summary, there is a blizzard of products from Cognos. The good news is that there is maturity and depth with Cognos' functionality. The bad news is that the complexity and inconsistency of this functionality among the broader IBM portfolio is mind-bending! The Hogwarts sorting hat has a challenge here!

Time for lunch! Yea! I don't need the food but do need time to clear the mind...necessary...

Posted October 25, 2009 10:32 AM
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ibm-iod logo.pngStarting the afternoon of second day of IBM Gold briefings.

DB2 for Linux, UNIX, Window by Tim Vincent, IBM Fellow, Chief Architect for DB2 for LUW. Most of this talk was unfortunately confidential. The only section not under NDA was about DB2 pureScale (DB2 for LUW's new OLTP shared disk clustering solution) that allows unlimited scalability. This figure shows almost linear scalability, at least up to 128 nodes. Initially it is available only for AIX servers, but others DB2 servers will be available in the future.

ibm-hamid.pngDB2 for z/OS by John Campbell, IBM Distinguished Engineer, DB2 for z/OS Development. John focused on the customer migration to the latest version DB2 9. This figure shows the recent evolution of the DB2 product. Various problems and hints for DB2 9 were covered, along with possible features in the next version.

eXtreme Analytics Platform by Hamid Pirahesh, IBM Fellow, Senior Manager, Exploratory Database at IBM Research. Hamid delivers the best presentation in these Gold briefings. See my blog from last year about his presentation style and innovative content.

Hadoop evolution as an open-source data engine for BIG applications for Yahoo!, Facebook, Amazon, and AOL. It is using thousands of servers using petabytes of data. Huge appetite for extreme analytics for many large corporations. Need for a eXtreme Analytics Platform (XAP) that takes wide spectrum of unstructured, structured, and semi-structured data from diverse external sources into a MapReduce Hadoop++ data engine. IBM's motivation is to provide corporate IT with a value-enhanced alternative to each user doing their own thing on their own personal data cache from often semi structured and unstructured external sources. To support a Java Analytics Apps Server, IBM has proposed JAQL as an open query language for JSON data model on XAP. To perform for the data analysis, the R statistics language, along with SPSS, will be used. Hamid did a demo of running analytics against CO2 observations (simulating real data from XAP customer engagements) using both R and SPSS. He then explained a case of exposing unusual financial activities for the SEC.

Posted October 24, 2009 1:50 PM
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