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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

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

February 2006 Archives

If you use it the way Scott Levine of Boca Raton, Florida did. As reported in ZDNet, Mr. Levine "was found guilty of breaking into Acxiom's servers and downloading gigabytes of data in what the US Justice Department calls one of the largest data heists to date. Acxiom, based in Little Rock, says it operates the world's largest repository of consumer data, and counts major banks, credit card companies and the US government among its customers."

It's always interesting to me when the term data warehousing gets into real news. Most of the time, it's negative news like this, but at least it's getting the credit for storing the data (although without proper security in this case).

Posted February 24, 2006 2:11 PM
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Speaking of quantum computing, controlling light appears to be key to bringing quantum computing closer to reality. Light travels at different speeds in water and glass and can even be stopped in ultra-freezing Bose-Einstein condensates, as explained in this article from the NASA web site.

The basic properties of matter can be probed through pulsating light in these conditions.

Posted February 20, 2006 12:43 PM
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Open source databases are gaining recognition, whether it be stand-alone DBMS such as MySQL or embedded in data warehouse appliances. Oracle bought the open-source database company Sleepycat this month. Sleepycat open-source database is the Berkeley DB. Oracle has spent $19B acquiring companies in just the past 18 months.

Complimenting those well-publicized acquisitions that already have market share like Peoplesoft, Oracle is also acquiring technology that has yet to make much market splash, but has potential. In the database area, Oracle also purchased InnoDB in October. InnoDB is the transactional database technology embedded in MySQL.

IDC projects the embedded database market, where Sleepycat plays, to grow to $3.2B in 2009.

Posted February 18, 2006 12:36 PM
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We seldom take the time to consider the limitations brought on by the bit-based computers we use today where the state of any bit can be either 1 or 0, on or off. After all, so far, we've been able to double computing power about every 18 months. That's a nice rate of improvement, but ultimately unsustainable without a paradigm shift.

The most promising shift will be to quantum computing. Quantum computing, based on "qubits" which allow bits to be BOTH 1 and 0. As this 2000 article from MSNBC.COM attests, "As you string together more and more qubits, the power grows exponentially. If you link two qubits together, you can work with four values at the same time. Three qubits can work with eight values, and so on. If you can get up to 40 qubits, you could work with more than a trillion values simultaneously."

So far, quantum computing exists only in the lab. And, from what is leaked out, it sure very slow-developing. However, it's very possible that our children will work completely outside the limitations of on/off bits and detectable processing times for most computing requests.

Posted February 13, 2006 12:04 PM
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As announced yesterday, Business Objects has entered into a purchase agreement for data quality solutions provider Firstlogic for $69 million - all cash.

That Firstlogic would be bought soon is not surprising since they had recently announced, though not consumated, intent to be purchased by Pitney-Bowes. Surely they will thrive more within business intelligence with Business Objects as their suitor. The move is not surprising on another front, and that is the overall consolidation trend of the business intelligence industry.

What is does signal is that the "big 3" of Microsoft, Oracle and IBM are not doing all of the purchasing and that even BI-centric players like Business Objects (and Informatica with their recent purchase of Similarity Systems) are still growing their businesses through acquisition. Although other BI acquistions are probably not complete for 2006 (Informatica? Microstrategy?), this recent trend will keep a thriving, competitive (and non-standardized) BI market in place for years to come.

As well, data quality is becoming so true a component of business intelligence, that it is well regarded as a member of the standard stack alongside ETL, DBMS and data access.

Posted February 9, 2006 3:23 PM
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Data Warehousing systems are becoming much more “operational support” than “decision support” in nature. There used to be a significant difference between Operational Support Systems and Decisions Support Systems in the manner in which a company was dependent upon them.

Transaction processing systems tended towards 24 x 7 (or at least 20 x 6), and Data Warehouse systems were 12 x 5. Now, day-to-day business operations, end of the month accounting, compliance and even SEC filings are dependent on Data Warehouse systems, and the line between OSS and DSS systems is blurring. Modern application systems now routinely use Data Warehouse technology in support of day-to-day operations. For example, CRM systems almost always incorporate technology first developed for Operational Data Stores and Marketing Information Warehouses.

As a result, best practices for classical OSS architectural standards need to be incorporated into Data Warehouse systems such as:
• Separate test, development, and QA platforms, often full-scale
• Rigid change management
• Inclusion of “DSS” systems in Business Continuance (i.e., Disaster Recovery) planning
• Upgrade pathing
• User training and documentation

However, these are also the very same things that tend to forestall the full maturation of a data warehouse environment. Many data warehouses have been built that meet a specific business need, but the solution and platform are unable to be leveraged to other business needs. As a result, these systems fail to continue to deliver ROI, and fail to have the ability to deliver its initial value in a predictable (i.e., "production") fashion when natural events occur such as:

• Upgrading the hardware and software
• Dealing with failures in the ETL jobs
• Adding users who haven't had the luxury of learning about the data by being part of the warehouse development
• Adding new reports, new tables, or new columns
• Adding a backlog of data from an alternate source
• Users increasing their reliance on it such that if it were down, business would suffer

When initial warehouse development does not foresee these needs, it can be difficult to fold them in, yet that is one of the crucial challenges facing many warehouses today. If these are your challenges, you are not alone.

Posted February 5, 2006 2:24 PM
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