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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!

January 2007 Archives

This blog entry is co-authored by Mike Ferguson (link) and William McKnight and is being cross-posted on our blogs.

When you’ve decided the appropriate forays into EII (staying away from the times NOT to use EII) and you’ve selected your product, you will need to architect it into your information management environment.

The process of getting the EII tool to learn about a data source is called mapping. From this exposure to the underlying sources, you can use the EII tool to create a virtual schema, which will be used on data access. All EII applications will then see and use the single virtual schema.

The technical base of the data sources can be relational databases, packaged applications, file servers, web services and potentially numerous other data stores – operational and decision support e.g. data warehouses. Indeed, this will be a major criterion of your tool selection. EII platforms differ somewhat in the data source types supported.

Generally, one of these EII instances per environment with multiple data sources is all that is necessary. If your users already use a portal to access information systems, the EII platform can become another of the underlying data stores accessed from the portal.

Applications built on the EII platform can support SQL, XQuery for XML, ODBC, JDBC, and other APIs to access the heterogeneous data sources hidden by virtual view(s) defined in the EII platform.

The implementation of EII in an environment is often the first time that an organization will be capable of providing users with access to an integrated view of both their operational and the post-operational environments. A big decision in your EII architecture will be if you want to expose this fact to the user and for what kind of use should you make such views available. Many organizations start out by leveraging their EII investment to rapidly produce operational and regulatory reports that require data from heterogeneous sources. More mature implementations of EII, in environments that have already been able to shield users from underlying architecture elsewhere in the data access environment, should successfully be able to continue this practice.

Technorati tags: eii, Enterprise Information Integration

Posted January 25, 2007 7:26 AM
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My latest white paper is available at The title is "Choosing Microsoft SQL Server 2005 for Data Warehousing" and it is about choosing Microsoft SQL Server 2005 for data warehousing. ;-)

If you're looking at building a data warehouse, or the rearchitecture of an existing data warehouse, and may consider the Microsoft solution, I go through the various components of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and place them into a data warehouse environment.

Posted January 23, 2007 12:56 PM
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Of all the RFID uses I've heard of, this one is the most unnerving because there's no clue who is behind it. And while chips in coins is seemingly ineffective given what we think we know about reader technology, it leaves open the possibility that there is stronger reader technology out there under the radar.

Then again, it was probably a targeted operation for the individuals given the coins, perhaps by a program accepting the short-term nature of the association of person and coin and perhaps simply for detecting if the individual passed a certain, specific reader. Of course, I'm wandering off into James Bond land here, but, given the cost and trouble to do the coin tagging and plant them, I suspect it was hopeful about something someone deemed important.

Technorati tags: RFID

Posted January 22, 2007 1:12 PM
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Credit Celequest with bringing some much needed attention to the fact that much of business intelligence resides in the operational environment. They tried to popularize BAM (business activity monitoring), but eventually acknowledged it as just another form of operational business intelligence - the difference being the slight instantiation of data. Celequest then married this with the appliance model, offering an operational business intelligence appliance.

Cognos has been steadily moving in this direction for years, orienting itself to business performance management (BPM) and away from a data access tool for those multidimensional data marts hanging off of data warehouses. In doing so, Cognos has clearly extended its market. BPM is more parts operational than it is data warehouse. Celequest now gives Cognos another vehicle to extend its leadership in BPM and operational BI. The price is not revealed yet, but interestingly, it may have been Celequest’s relatively new SAAS business model that made them appealing. Overall, nice move by Cognos.

Link to more information.

Technorati tags: Cognos, Celequest

Posted January 17, 2007 8:24 AM
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This blog entry is co-authored by Mike Ferguson (link) and William McKnight and is being cross-posted on our blogs.

If you’re ready to take the plunge into EII, you may be surprised to find that one of your existing information management vendors is in that marketplace. It’s also a marketplace of opportunity, where new, focused vendors have emerged.

There are two main types of EII vendors in the marketplace:
1. Model-driven federated query EII vendors
2. ETL tool vendors providing EII via data integration services built using traditional graphical data flows and published as web services

Federated query EII products include
o Business Objects Data Federator
o BEA AcquaLogic Data Services
o Composite Software Information Server
o Denodo
o IBM WebSphere Federation Server (formerly WebSphere Information Integrator) and IBM Information Server
o Ipedo XIP
o Metamatrix
o Sybase Avaki
o XAware

It is also the case that several ETL data integration vendors have extended their data integration tools to support EII. These products include:
o Ab Initio
o Business Objects - Data Integrator
o IBM - WebSphere DataStage SOA Edition
o Informatica - PowerCenter
o Microsoft - SQL Server Integration Services
o Oracle - Warehouse Builder
o SAS - Data Integration Studio

Technorati tags: eii, Enterprise Information Integration

Posted January 12, 2007 8:17 AM
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This blog entry is co-authored by Mike Ferguson (link) and William McKnight and is being cross-posted on our blogs.

Much discussion abounds about when not to use enterprise information integration (EII). This blog looks at some situations that are not particularly well-suited to the use of EII technology as a solution. Please note that these criteria should be taken only as guidelines.

Generally speaking EII is NOT suited for
o Complex transformations, fuzzy matching and integrating high volumes of data
o A replacement for data warehousing
o Business process management
o Frequent federated query processing with single federated queries integrating data across a large number of data sources. Performance may become an issue as more and more data sources are added to a data integration server. Several vendors do support caching in order to counteract this problem but nevertheless if you plan to integrate data from a wide range of data sources in a single query you would be well advised to benchmark products and compare results before making any purchase

o High volume transaction processing (insert, update and delete) is required to update virtual EII views of data in multiple underlying systems. This is because update processing via EII is still in its infancy and can be subject to product specific restrictions. Also concurrent access to EII servers may cause problems as workload management is missing from many tools. It is recommended that you investigate carefully how well EII vendors support transaction processing and if they support 2-phase commit distributed transaction processing.
o Transaction processing when integrity constraints across data sources are complex and could cause update processing to fail
o A complete solution to enterprise master data management. EII products can potentially provide a virtual view of integrated master data IF EII tools support global unique identifiers (and the mapping of disparate keys to the global one) and also the matching process to integrate data from multiple master data systems of entry does not require complex fuzzy matching. EII may be offered up as a component technology in an MDM solution but it will not provide everything needed for a full complete solution

Technorati tags: eiiTechnorati tags: Enterprise Information Integration

Posted January 10, 2007 8:54 AM
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This blog entry is co-authored by William McKnight and Mike Ferguson (link) and is being cross-posted on our blogs. This is the first in a series of entries on Enterprise Information Integration (EII). EII is gaining traction for enabling data integration without the need for the physical instantiation of the integration. In other words, EII adds integrated reporting capabilities while minimizing impact on existing systems. We have been selectively adding EII to our data warehouse architectures. Today, we’ll look at those situations when EII makes sense for data integration requirements.

1. Connecting structured (as in data in a data warehouse) data in particular with unstructured data takes advantage of EII’s strength of leaving data in place that could dramatically increase overall storage requirements if duplicated

2. When immediate data change in response to the data view is desired (changing a copy of the data would not suffice)

3. When data transformation is relatively light or nonexistent and just getting the data together for integrated query is the biggest challenge

4. When the relatively worse query performance of EII query is acceptable (versus the obvious advantages of physically cohabitating all data for the query)

5. Some operational and regulatory reporting where the data needed is not completely integrated in one place

6. Integration of Performance Management software with multiple underlying line of business BI systems to allow a company to see performance management at the enterprise level (across line of business BI systems) using LOB metrics to calculate enterprise KPIs

EII is changing and some of the disadvantages and restrictions will lessen over time but it’s a chicken-and-egg situation. More end clients will need to incorporate small adaptations of EII in their decisioning environment to spur the growth. There may be opportunities and TCO propositions to federate your data acquisition requirements now using EII. Small sized, relatively smaller transformations, unstructured and interactive situations provide those opportunities.

Technorati tags: eiiTechnorati tags: Enterprise Information Integration

Posted January 5, 2007 7:33 AM
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Throughout '06, I posted some interesting, and some of my favorite, uses of RFID. Here is an article which is titled "The best, worst... and craziest uses of RFID" that also outlines some of the more progressive uses of RFID throughout the world.

One example is "Marks and Spencer has long been associated with being at the forefront of flogging ladies' undies. It's also now at the forefront of item-level tagging, having chipped some of its men's clothes. The retailer has avoided questions of privacy protection by attaching the tag to a label on the suit that can be cut off."

I have posted this link, as well as many others I thought you may like to know about in the links section of my channel fyi.

Technorati tags: RFID

Posted January 4, 2007 1:37 PM
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I’ll start off ’07 with a tip blog. As information systems get more complex and need to be more reliable, usage information BY USER is becoming more essential for meeting the expectations. The 80/20 rule is certainly evident over time in data warehouse usage among the user community. Those 20% of users who put the 80% of the load on the system also may provide upwards of 80% of the value the user community is getting from the data warehouse. They need to be cared for, sometimes close to the personal level. With the built-in DBMS tools, it’s difficult or impossible to get a good profile of usage by user.

Appfluent is a vendor that provides insight into how users interact with applications and data over time. The Appfluent Product Suite then helps optimize query performance. What I like about it is the ability for DBAs to target their support to the user’s specific needs. I have watched this product in action and now believe it merits strong consideration oversighting any data warehouse that a company is bent on relying on.

Technorati tags: Data WarehouseTechnorati tags: Appfluent

Posted January 3, 2007 8:15 AM
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