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William McKnight

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I will periodically be sharing my thoughts and observations on information management here in the blog. I am passionate about the effective creation, management and distribution of information for the benefit of company goals, and I'm thrilled to be a part of my clients' growth plans and connect what the industry provides to those goals. I have played many roles, but the perspective I come from is benefit to the end client. I hope the entries can be of some modest benefit to that goal. Please share your thoughts and input to the topics.

About the author >

William is the president of McKnight Consulting Group, a firm focused on delivering business value and solving business challenges utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in data warehousing, master data management and business intelligence, all with a focus on data quality and scalable architectures. William functions as strategist, information architect and program manager for complex, high-volume, full life-cycle implementations worldwide. William is a Southwest Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, a frequent best-practices judge, has authored hundreds of articles and white papers, and given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. His team's implementations from both IT and consultant positions have won Best Practices awards. He is a former IT Vice President of a Fortune company, a former software engineer, and holds an MBA. William is author of the book 90 Days to Success in Consulting. Contact William at wmcknight@mcknightcg.com.

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

Recently in Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Category

File this one under the "who didn't see this coming?" category. Or maybe if you have an "it's about time" category, it could go there. Microsoft SQL Server, especially with SQL 2005, is very focused on business intelligence. However, they have been unable to completely provide end-to-end capability. Their Analysis Services cubes need a front-end to be useful to users and the basic one provided with SQL Server was never quite enough.

ProClarity has always focused on this market and have created quite a few different data access and analytical offerings over the years that work with Analysis Services. So, yesterday, Microsoft announced its acquisition of ProClarity. ProClarity offerings have long been recommended to SQL Server clients by Microsoft. Now, it just got easier.

Posted April 4, 2006 10:06 AM
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As a couple of comments have indicated (link1, link2), the data mining capabilities of SQL Server 2005 are much improved. SQL Server 2000 had decision tree and clustering algorithms.

SQL Server 2005 adds these 5:
Time Series
Sequence Clustering
Naive Bayes
Association Rules
Neural Nets

Through the efforts of Microsoft in SQL Server 2005 as well as others before them like Polyvista, data mining is well on the way to being out of the back room with the scientists and into the hands of the analyst end-user.

Data mining is often the true analytical end result desired, yet many fear the complexities involved and do patchwork mining step-by-step, often bailing out before achieving the desired result or accepting a result with only the limited data that was able to be included without using true data mining.

Both data mining and desktop OLAP should be presented as first alternatives for end users, depending on the requirements of course. Education of end users will be key to acceptance,

Posted October 24, 2005 1:32 PM
Permalink | 2 Comments |

Occassionally, a vendor will come up with a new feature that you didn't think of, but once you see it, you find immediate application for it. Such is the case with 2 new features in SQL Server 2005's SSIS (Integration Services, the successor to Data Transformation Services). They're called fuzzy lookup and fuzzy grouping.

Many of the transformations in the warehouses I've been associated with are lookups. These range from simple matching to the use of some pretty complex rules for data cleansing. While many of these lookups require complete accuracy, many can accept "close enough". Actually, the right answer is often the close match and determining close requires the most complex logic.

Fuzzy lookup searches for "close" matches using its own logic. It creates similarity and confidence scores. Some combination of the 2 can be used to determine your acceptance systemically.

Fuzzy grouping looks at a group of potential records for loading and determines the probability that two (say, customer names) are actually duplicates.

Lookups and de-duplication is a huge ETL effort and I'm sure many Microsoft DW/BI shops will benefit from fuzzy lookup and fuzzy grouping in SQL Server 2005.

Posted October 19, 2005 8:40 PM
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At CSI, we have a Center of Excellence where we put new releases of BI products through the paces in order to stay on top of the market for our clients.

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 is about to live up to its title and get released here in 2005. There are quite a few important advances in this release. For those primarily involved with other database management systems, these enhancements may seem like "it's about time." However, some of these, especially the scalability-related items like 64-bit and addressable memory support and reliability items like security controls and improved failover clustering, that have been used to rule out SQL Server for upper-mid and large (i.e., terabyte) mission critical data warehouses are no longer limitations in SQL Server.

Here's some initial points of interest on SQL 2005.....

· 64-bit platform availability (Intel Itanium2 and AMD x64) maximum addressable memory is 32TB although physical RAM has only been tested to 512 GB – still a significant increase!
· XML data types
· Mirroring
· Triggers
· .NET integration allowing object creation with C#, VB.NET and C++
· Partitioning (with automatic recommendations)
· Failover clustering on up to 8 nodes
· Rebuilding the clustering (table ordering) index no longer causes rebuild of other indexes; incidentally indexes are the topic of my most recent column in DM Review Magazine: “Achieving BI Query Performance”· Bulk loading
· Text Searching with FULLTEXT index
· More granular security controls
· SQL Server Management Studio (combination of former SQL Server Enterprise Manager and Query Analyzer components) allows multiple dialog windows (this is seemingly unimportant on the surface, but adds to usability)

I'll continue this topic in later blogs with more feedback. If you have any feedback or anticipatory comments about SQL Server 2005, post them here.

Posted October 10, 2005 6:59 PM
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One of my assertions recently has been that the business intelligence industry is momentarily distracted by the high end deals. Recent titan acquisitons (Ascential, Siebel) are clearly focused on bringing in the Fortune level customer. We now see some balance being brought into the equation. Microsoft has never neglected the lower end BI customer. Actually, you could say they have not neglected the lower end anything customer.

Microsoft is "on the hunt for SMBs" according to a recent article.

As well, their SQL Server product has always had appeal to SMBs for business intelligence. SQL Server 2005 has a launch on November 7 in San Francisco. Every major city will have an event related to this launch. SQL Server should be released on or about that date. I have been analyzing SQL 2005 for business intelligence and will provide that analysis here at a later date. But I can say that I'm excited about the BI possibilities for SMBs.

Posted September 27, 2005 8:49 AM
Permalink | 1 Comment |

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