Quote of the day

“An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason.” (CS Lewis – thanks to Deanne Fielding)

An organization (or nation) who tolerates, or even promotes, that mediocracy rules, will never succeed. How would you know if performance is really rewarded? Review the metrics, analyze performance reward mechanisms – and compare your findings with what leaders told you.

 

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Microsoft blogs on SAP

Several Microsoft colleagues have recently launched unofficial blogs about the usage of Microsoft technologies in the SAP space.

That latest development, and given the fact that these Microsoft representatives are qualified much better than I am, offers me the opportunity to retire this blog. There’s really not much value I could add to the contributions of my technical colleagues. Thanks for reading my more or less irrelevant rants and musings. My special thanks goes to the readers who shared their highly appreciated comments. For me, learning from the readers’ comments always is the most valuable aspect when blogging.

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Microsoft and MDM

Microsoft has announced an acceleration of its focus on Master Data Management. The acquisition of a 16 headcount company by a mammoth like Microsoft might be considered a neglectable incident by the majority of industry watchers. From my point of view it indicates that somebody seems to have understood the implications of the data war and started to influence the set-up or the next battlefield. Here’s the news:

  • Microsoft is acquiring Stratature, a private company based in Alpharetta, GA., a provider of Master Data Management (MDM) products. This acquisition will help accelerate Microsoft’s delivery of technology in the MDM market.
  • Stratature’s technology and product portfolio will become a core part of Microsoft’s product offering, and will significantly enhance the value delivered to customers to manage their important business hierarchies.
  • MDM capabilities will be delivered through Microsoft Office system applications and servers on top of an infrastructure provided from SQL Server. Over time, these capabilities will become an integral part of the Microsoft Office Business Platform, benefiting our customer’s investments in our PerformancePoint, Dynamics, Project Server, and SharePoint lines of products.
  • Stratature’s existing customers will continue to receive the same level of support they received from Stratature prior to the acquisition. Microsoft and Stratature will work together to ensure all customer and partner agreements are satisfied.
  • Future equivalent and additional functionality will be provided through Microsoft branded products.

That fits well into the recently announced reorg, moving Microsoft’s Server & Tools business under the Office group.

Some additional pieces of information, from the Q&A, to shed more light on Microsoft’s strategy in that area, starting with BI:

  • What exactly is MDM? MDM, or master data management, can be described by the way that master data interacts with other data. Master data can be described by the way that it is created, read, updated, deleted, and searched. For example, in transaction systems, master data is almost always involved with transactional data. A customer buys a product. A vendor sells a part, and a partner delivers a crate of materials to a location. An employee is hierarchically related to their manager, who reports up through a manager (another employee). A product may be a part of multiple hierarchies describing their placement within a store. This relationship between master data and transactional data may be fundamentally viewed as a noun/verb relationship. Transactional data capture the verbs, such as sale, delivery, purchase, email, and revocation; master data are the nouns. This is the same relationship data-warehouse facts and dimensions share.  For more information, please visit:  http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb190163.aspx.

  • What is the future roadmap? The first delivery of MDM related technology from Microsoft will focus on analytical hierarchy management. This functionality will help business executives obtain information in a way that accurately reflects their own view of their departments, while simplifying the job of business analysts via the reuse of existing data hierarchies and the creation of custom ones. The solution will also help IT staff provide application developers with a single source of authoritative data to simplify data integration and development tasks, while helping IT executives retain control and governance over corporate information.

  • Will you add it to SharePoint in the future? Yes. Stratature’s product will be integrated in a future version of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.
  • How do these products relate to SQL Server? MDM capabilities will be delivered through Microsoft Office System applications and servers on top of an infrastructure provided from SQL Server. Stratature’s products are currently implemented using SQL Server.

 

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SAP on Microsoft SQL Server – Blog

Juergen has started blogging – I wonder what took him so long :-)

http://blogs.msdn.com/saponsqlserver/default.aspx

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Job Opening: Regional Engagement Manager – Emerging Markets Asia

A colleague just informed me that he’s looking for an experienced Senior Engagement Manager to join the team at Microsoft Regional HQ Asia, and the job isn’t posted publicly yet.

It seems to be a very exciting role, working for a start up group within Microsoft in the fastest growing region of Asia! The initial scope of the role covers the establishment of a Microsoft Consulting presence in Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and then managing all aspects of delivery and post sales relationship management for these markets. The role can be based in Singapore, Vietnam or Sri Lanka.

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Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and more

Today Microsoft will announce details about its plans with SQL Server 2008 (a.k.a “Katmai“). The announcement will happen during the TechEd 2007 in Orlando. In addition, Microsoft will announce the acquisition of Dundas Software’s Data Visualization products, which provides rich charting within SQL Server Reporting Services, enabling developers to create information rich reports & applications.

As part of an agreement with Microsoft Gold Partner Dundas Software, Microsoft has purchased – not licensed – the code base for the Data Visualization products from Dundas Software, including Dundas Chart, Dundas Gauge, Dundas Barcode. These products will be part of the final feature set for SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services. The Integration of the enhanced charting components in Reporting Services is already scheduled for the SQL Server 2008 release. Microsoft will announce the integration timeframe of the additional components (gauge, map, and calendar) at a later date.

And finally, Microsoft shares more public insight into the Astoria Online Service, which was first introduced at MIX07 last month, and another data access incubation project, code-named Jasper

Astoria is a technology that enables applications to expose data as a data service that can be consumed by web clients within corporate networks and across the Internet. The Astoria data service is reachable over regular HTTP requests, and standard HTTP verbs such as GET, POST, PUT and DELETE are used to perform operations against the service. The use of web-friendly technologies make it Astoria ideal as a data back-end for AJAX-style applications, Rich Interactive Applications and other applications that need to operate against data that is lives across the web. The first Astoria CTP will be available as both download bits and as a web service preview. The Astoria downloadable bits can be used to build data services that are entirely contained within a single computer or network and the online service preview lets you create online stores that are hosted by Microsoft and that are accessible over the Internet.  The payload format for the Astoria service is controllable by the application, but all options are simple, open formats such as plan XML and JSON.

Project Codename “Jasper”, a.k.a. Dynamic ADO.NET is a set of extensions to the ADO.NET Entity Framework designed to enable iterative (repeated loops) and agile development of powerful, real world data driven applications.  Built atop the ADO.NET Entity Framework, Jasper supports rich queries and complex mapping, and allows users to interface by naming controls according to their models without worrying about binding code.

Jasper and Astoria are both part of a set of dynamic applications designed to deliver of the “Dynamic Applications” pillar of Microsoft’s Data Platform Vision. Specifically, Dynamic Applications accelerates the development of tools by allowing them to be seen as entities (namely, from tables/rows to business concepts), and improves user connectivity from any location. Entities solve consistency needs, development speed and the need for conceptually redundant constructs, by raising the level of abstraction in data programming, providing rich services that jumpstart development, giving users the ability to build capabilities in all tiers of the application thus avoiding mismatches.

SQL Server 2008 is a significant release that builds on the innovations delivered in SQL Server 2005 and will deliver many new innovations. SQL Server 2008 will help companies access and manage the rapidly increasing volumes of data for mission-critical applications, increase the ability to better understand the organization with business insight and reduce difficulties associated with managing complex systems. Microsoft’s data platform vision is to meet the needs of the continuing data explosion and the next generation of data-driven applications. The company calls that “Your Data, Any Place, Any Time.” Microsoft plans to deliver key milestones against this vision in these four areas:

  • Redefining Pervasive Insight – Redefining Pervasive insight means enabling BI on top of any data source, for any user, with dramatically better economics. Microsoft will enable organizations to integrate all of their data in an Enterprise Data Warehouse platform, reach all their users with a scalable BI platform and empower every user with actionable insights. In addition, pervasive insight strengthens how users prepare and access data for business insight, increasing IT departments’ ability to react to business needs while keeping corporate assets secure and TCO low.
  • Mission Critical Platforms for AllSQL Server 2008 will enable IT to be more productive by providing a more secure, trusted, scalable and manageable platform for all of an organization’s data which offers optimized and predictable system performance. Furthermore, it will deliver on a lower TCO by delivering productive policy-based management of an organization’s infrastructure, freeing up time and resources to transform data into quantifiable business results.
  • Dynamic Development for Data Management Solutions – Dynamic development enables developers to access their data by defining business entities like Customers, Orders and Products instead of tables and columns using the Entity Framework. Developers can then query and retrieve these entities natively within any programming language supported by the .NET Framework with the introduction of LINQ. In addition, SQL Server 2008 enables the rapid creation of occasionally connected applications that can function, disconnected from the network.
  • Beyond RelationalSQL Server 2008 stores and delivers any type of data, from XML to documents, from words and numbers to sights and sounds In addition, SQL Server 2008 also delivers on the ability to handle and process location based data, such as spatial data enabling organizations to deliver location intelligence within applications.

The attached product overview (http://tdreller.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/microsoft-sql-server-2008-product-overview.pdf) includes a first glance at the new product. Dave Campbell (Technical Fellow, Microsoft Corp.) will provide an overview Webcast with further details:

TechNet Webcast: The Next Release of Microsoft SQL Server: Overview (Level 200)

Monday, June 4, 2007

12:00 P.M. – 1:15 P.M. Pacific Time

The first public CTP (Community Technology Preview) of SQL Server 2008 will be available for download from http://connect.microsoft.com/sqlserver, download links will be live on Monday at 8:30am EST. The feature set of this CTP is described as follows:


With the SQL Server “Katmai” June CTP release, customers can immediately utilize new capabilities that support their mission-critical platform and enable pervasive insight across the enterprise. June CTP lays the groundwork for innovative policy-based management that enables administrators to reduce their time spent on maintenance tasks. June CTP  provides enhancements in the SQL Server BI platform by enabling customers to provide up-to- date information with Change Data Capture and MERGE features, And develop highly scalable analysis services cubes with new development environments.

Mission-critical platform

Declarative Management Framework (DMF)

Declarative Management is a new policy-based management framework for the SQL Server Database Engine that delivers the following benefits:

·         Ensure compliance with policies for system configuration

·         Prevent/monitor changes to the system by authoring policies for the desired configuration

·         Reduce total cost of ownership by simplifying administration tasks

Pervasive Insight

Change Data Capture (CDC)

·         Change Data Capture (CDC) is a generic component that will track database changes asynchronously and expose the changes through a relational interface which can be consumed easily.

·         Through this interface, consumers can very easily track changes based on their specific requirements and consume the change data  using T-SQL or other data access methods. 

MERGE  SQL Statement

·         Common data warehouse scenarios require developers to either insert information or update information. SQL Server 2008 will provide new statements within the SQL language to enable developers to provide this functionality with a single statement.

VSTA Support for the Script Task and Component

  • Auto migration – Existing script components in SQL Server 2005 will automatically invoke the new VSTA environment, which makes the migration of old script components seamless.
  • C# support – With this improvement, SSIS package developers will be able to code in C#, along with existing Visual Basic .NET
  • Debugging – Standard VS debugging features are also fully enabled in this new environment.

Star Join Query Optimizations

·         For improved query performance for common data warehouse scenarios, Star Join Query optimizations reduce query response time by recognizing data warehouse join patterns.

AS Dimension Design: Improved Supportability and Integration of Best Practices

·         Enhance UI for creating and editing dimensions to guide users toward designs that follow best practices. 

·         These include: Finish Attribute Relationship Designer, Dimension structure (presentation of attribute relationships), modification to wizards to align output with best practices, simplifying creation of composite keys, and AMO warnings (spanning all objects, not just dimensions)

Developer Productivity

Table Value Parameters

·         In many customer scenarios, it is necessary to pass a set of table structured values (rows) to a stored procedure/function on the server. These values may be used for populating/updating a table directly or for more complex manipulation of data for business logic purpose. Table valued parameter will provide an easier way to define a table type as well as allow applications to create, populate and pass table structured parameters to stored procedures and functions.

June CTP  builds upon the robust platform of SQL Server 2005 and continues to improve the functionality in key areas like Manageability and Replication. For a complete list of June CTP  features and enhancements, please refer to the Readme file included in the download.

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Spotlight: #1 Price/Performance for 3 TB TPC-H non-clustered benchmark

From Microsoft’s marketing folks:

The results are in— Microsoft SQL Server 2005 delivers the #1 price/performance for 3TB TPC-H non-clustered benchmark. The recent TPC-H benchmark study with HP demonstrates Microsoft SQL Server’s ability to deliver enterprise scalability and performance enabling our customers to run large scale, mission critical applications with the best price/performance.

This result is twice the size of previous SQL Server benchmarks achieved for the launch of SQL Server 2005 demonstrating Microsoft’s increasing price/performance leadership that SQL Server continues to push the performance envelope.  Furthermore, SQL Server 2005 outperformed the previous best result on Windows with performance of 60,359 QphH@3TB (queries per hour) compared to the previous record of 37,813 with a much better price/performance of $32.60 compared to $38.00.*

To see the full results of the study, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/sql/prodinfo/compare/benchmarks.mspx

  

* TPC results as of 5/21/07. HP Integrity rx8640 (with SQL Server), 60359 QphH@3TB, 32.60 $/QphH@3TB, available 5/21/07. HP Integrity rx8640 (with Oracle), 37813 QphH@3TB, 38.00 $/QphH@3TB, available 5/14/07. Source: Transaction Processing Performance Council (www.tpc.org).

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