Blog: William McKnight Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed!

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!

October 2007 Archives

I first heard of ParAccel from my relationships with members of the executive team. I was intrigued, but dismissive due to its enterprise ambitions with a column oriented data organization approach. When I heard of the TPC-H results, I immediately checked to see if the test had been revised recently. It hadn’t. While I remain skeptical of the column-oriented approach, the in-memory nature of the calculations and other performance enhancements may be mitigating the challenges that the model has with enterprise workloads. ParAccel could be that breakthrough performance DBMS that will not be toppled easily.

Posted October 30, 2007 2:26 PM
Permalink | No Comments |

This is funny. From Scotland. A shoplifting seagull. He's a regular at this store, always grabbing the same brand of Doritos.


Posted October 22, 2007 12:38 PM
Permalink | No Comments |

According to research, we only need to see the first and last letters of a word in order to understand it. This is the first paragraph of my last blog entry, scrambled:

"Tihs miornng, it was aounecnnd that SPA itnneds to buy Beisunss Otbjecs for the elvueiaqnt of $6.8 biillon. Wlihe Bnsesuis Ocebjts will inililaty be run as a wollhy-oewnd siiusradby, I can ciltnaery see the vuale of Bsseunis Objtecs swaortfe being adedd to the SAP ERP - elalpesciy the paotrl, the OALP tool and the data qliatuy tool. SAP saftwore eentualvly colud be rpehesad by this atosiicquin, not olny the ERP, but also the Business Wohurease."

Other than the acronyms, yes, I think I would get this.

I sbrmeelacd this wtih the Jaiprsacvt code at tihs link.

It’s an editor’s productivity-turbo charging tool. Why edit all the letters? If there are 6 letters in the average work and now you only need to get 2 out 6 right you can forget 4 out of 6. For writers with bigger words the productivity on a percentage basis gets even better. It seems like a tremendous productivity enhancer, not to mention how many months of school our kids are wasting on spelling - they could get productive sooner in life and the compounding effect would probably advance humanity generations into the future – it's either brillant or the most useless piece of code ever written.

Technorati tags: Javascript

Posted October 15, 2007 9:11 AM
Permalink | 1 Comment |

This morning, it was announced that SAP intends to buy Business Objects for the equivalent of $6.8 billion. While Business Objects will initially be run as a wholly-owned subsidiary, I can certainly see the value of Business Objects software being added to the SAP ERP - especially the portal, the OLAP tool and the data quality tool. SAP software eventually could be reshaped by this acquisition, not only the ERP, but also the Business Warehouse.

Furthermore there’s the competitive play into the Oracle/Business Objects accounts. As Ken Rudin, CEO of LucidEra, commented: “Business Objects is installed in a lot of Oracle accounts, and the implementations are being managed by the IT groups. These are the same people that SAP wants to talk to about putting in SAP's other applications, so it gives SAP an introduction into a large base of accounts currently controlled by Oracle.”

The business intelligence market continues to be absorbed into enterprise software lines. Business Objects was one of the last large standalone business intelligence companies. Enterprise software players now seek an end-to-end story and eventually so will end clients. I’ve talked a lot about “BI Frameworks” – those handful of companies that sell a complete BI story. Maybe we should be talking about enterprise frameworks like those from Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and IBM. If HP did not make moves here beyond NeoView, I would be surprised.

Informatica didn’t need to rush into this, assuming they were even considered by SAP. They are still selling data integration as a standalone and doing it quite well, thank you very much. However, as potential suitors go away one-by-one, long-term, they may need a path into a framework.

Teradata, freshly minted as its own company last month, continues with a “data warehousing is different and necessitates its own consideration” strategy. How long will this serve them? Also there’s Cognos, who, while having less depth than Business Objects, surely was considered in this. And, finally, they may be easy to forget on the financial stage since they are private (albeit one of the largest private companies in the world), but SAS could be a buyer or seller. And welcome to the big time Netezza. What will the eventual NeoView story and the black-box purchasing that will sweep the industry (i.e., Oracle now doing an appliance model) – mean? Are appliances being bought for superior performance, or for the purchasing model? For Netezza’s sake, let’s hope it’s the performance.

So, I’m not rushing into calling this a BI purchase. Rather, they’re now enterprise purchases and further validate the transition of business intelligence from post-operational to operationally embedded in the enterprise.

Technorati tags: Business intelligence, Business Objects, SAP

Posted October 8, 2007 1:36 PM
Permalink | No Comments |

Oops, what is that I tripped on? Oh, it’s another new column-oriented data warehouse appliance. If you haven’t noticed, in 2007, Vertica, ParAccel and Calpont have emerged with a column orientation to their DBMS and the appliance model to their delivery. By the way, that makes 12 data warehouse appliances by my count.

A phrase I saw on the internet recently - “Pioneer calls RDBMS technology obsolete” - caught my eye and the first thing that came to mind was “Michael Stonebraker?”. My suspicions were correct. Vertica is his new venture and he states “my prediction is that column stores will take over the warehouse market over time, completely displacing row stores”.

Most IS professionals do not know about column (or “vector”) oriented DBMS. Column-oriented DBMS have several major architectural differences from other relational database management systems. The main difference is its physical orientation of data in columns as opposed to rows. This allows it to perform very high selective compression because all of a column’s values are physically together. It also provides for excellent performance when you select a small subset of the columns in a table since you do not perform I/O for data that is not needed. Column-orientation greatly assists a compression strategy due to the high potential for the existence of similar values in columns of adjacent rows in the table.

The Model 204 was sort of like this and Sybase IQ is definitely column oriented. There have been special occassions where they are more appropriate than the row-oriented DBMS.

It will be interesting to see where and how these approaches find merit in DW, if they have overcome some of the problems of the past such as those below (early indications are that they may have) and finally, if they intend to compete for EDW, as Michael Stonebraker suggests in his quote above.

Former challenges of column-oriented DBMS:

It is recommended and common practice to index all columns at least once and, for some columns, more than once
Lack of parallelism
Query performance disadvantages for any query other than columnar functions
Insert performance disadvantages
Overcoming lack of market resources, lack of vendor ports and industry row-oriented mindsets

Technorati tags: DBMS, ParAccel, Vertica, Calpont

Posted October 5, 2007 8:26 AM
Permalink | No Comments |

To say you should “pick” your data warehouse executive sponsor carefully would be a rather strange statement. Not many DW programs can pick their sponsor. Usually, it’s the other way around. The program staff must deal with the sponsor that has chartered that course of action for the organization. DW programs need to have that top down driver and support at the executive level. Nonetheless, the executive sponsor acceding to his or her roles is critical to success and hopefully those roles are clear or there is the opportunity to make them clear.

I have worked with all manner of executive sponsor, from those who intuitively get it and put forward the effort required for success to those who need some guidance. Most are more than willing to listen and align their actions with successful practices for DW success. Generally, I ask my sponsors to invest in understanding DW systems generally and within their company; lead, as necessary, the governance meetings; provide overall direction for the DW and keep the DW out of internal cross-fire.

I’ve stopped asking them to define data elements and transformation rules!

Technorati tags: Data Warehouse,

Posted October 3, 2007 1:46 PM
Permalink | No Comments |

Search this blog
Categories ›
Archives ›
Recent Entries ›