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Philip Howard

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Mixed messages for master data management

Opinion IBM's first European user conference on MDM (master data management) in Barcelona was certainly interesting, but I felt that the results were mixed. For example, some users clearly felt the conference was useful, while others were disappointed. One investment bank I talked to felt the content was insufficiently technical and, …
Philip Howard, 20 Jun 2006
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Digging into the future of data mining

Comment The first thing to appreciate about data mining is that it should be thought of as R&D. That is, you do a bunch of research, some of which (but by no means all) is then deployable in the business. Moreover, some of it becomes so well established that it becomes a mass market product. For example, market basket analysis (which …
Philip Howard, 14 Jun 2006
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ESP and CEP...what's the difference?

Comment If you talk to some vendors you could be forgiven for thinking that ESP (event stream processing) and CEP (complex event processing) are one and the same. Indeed, I have previously suggested that CEP is a misnomer because the events in event processing are actually quite simple entities. This is true, but it is not the whole …
Philip Howard, 06 Jun 2006
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Database security via event stream processing

I wrote recently about the potential for using event stream processing (or complex event processing) for database security. This is precisely what Symantec will be offering later this summer (the exact date has yet to be announced). Moreover, this database security product, which will also provide auditing capability, will be …
Philip Howard, 02 Jun 2006
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BI tools - certainly not commoditised

Comment Given that we have had decision support systems, enterprise information systems, and now business intelligence for the better part of two decades, you would think that the market would be showing some signs of maturity or, at least, that it was consolidating and moving towards some sort of commoditisation. From the number of new …
Philip Howard, 24 May 2006
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The evolution of integration platforms

Comment Once upon a time there were ETL (extract, transform and load) tools and then, quite separately, products for data cleansing and matching started to appear. However, it took some time before the vendors of the former realised the synergies that existed with the latter. The (partial) exception was Prism, which developed its …
Philip Howard, 19 May 2006
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Object databases - alive and kicking?

Comment At a recent meeting with InterSystems (vendor of Caché and Ensemble) the company said it was seeing increased interest in object oriented databases. Now, I must qualify this by saying that, first, Caché is not merely (or only) an object oriented database and, secondly, that this interest was primarily in the United States and, …
Philip Howard, 17 May 2006
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Business Objects extends further into infrastructure

At Business Objects' European User Conference in Cannes, the main emphasis was on encouraging users to migrate to BusinessObjects XI Release 2. However, from my perspective, what was most interesting was the announcement of EIM (enterprise information management), though there was also some Crystal stuff of note. Let me start …
Philip Howard, 15 May 2006
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DB2: the Viper is coming

Comment The next release of IBM's DB2 (for both z series and distributed systems), which is code-named ‘Viper’, will be generally available in the not too distant future: “mid-summer” for distributed systems, according to IBM. It is therefore appropriate to consider some of the new features it will introduce, and its impact on the …
Philip Howard, 14 May 2006
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Making sense of spreadsheet madness

Comment I have written in the last year or so about a number of vendors offering spreadsheet management and compliance capabilities. However, one that I had not previously come across is QTier, whose QTier-Rapor product combines spreadsheet management with spreadsheet automation. Indeed, the latter was the original focus of the product …
Philip Howard, 05 May 2006
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Detecting mischievous activity

Comment Computing magazine recently ran a major feature on security. In particular, it focused on internal as opposed to external threats, reflecting the fact that, according to the (former) National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, some 38 per cent of financial fraud in the UK is a result of internal security breaches. The article(s) then went on …
Philip Howard, 25 Apr 2006
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She should get out more

Comment The last time I wrote about the marketing shenanigans that companies get up to I was castigated by one correspondent who claimed that this was not analysis. True — but it is informed comment — and analysts are probably better positioned to see, and point out, the murkier side of marketing than most other people. Here is a case …
Philip Howard, 19 Apr 2006
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Compuware completes cycle

Compuware has touted itself as a vendor that supports application lifecycle management for some time. However, that is really only a credible claim if you can do everything that you need to do within the lifecycle and, while that doesn't mandate that you have to provide every necessary facility yourself, it does mean that you …
Philip Howard, 06 Apr 2006
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ParACCEL up and running

ParACCEL is the latest company to announce that it is joining the data warehouse appliance mêlée. That said, and before I discuss ParACCEL, another company that is rumoured to be about to enter the market is Dataupia — more on that when it actually makes any announcements. ParACCEL isn't actually an appliance vendor per se, …
Philip Howard, 30 Mar 2006
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DataLens demystifies complex matching

Comment I have long espoused the cause of semantic approaches in a variety of areas: I think that natural language processing works better in search engines, and I think that LAS (which has just been acquired by IBM) offers just about the best name matching on the market, thanks to its semantic and linguistic basis as opposed to the …
Philip Howard, 28 Mar 2006
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xkoto powers up DB2

Comment xkoto is a relatively new company - it only came to market late last year — however, it has some neat technology. The company's product, called GRIDIRON, provides dynamic load balancing for DB2 in transaction processing environments. In particular, what GRIDIRON allows you to do is to build out clustered DB2 environments …
Philip Howard, 28 Mar 2006
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Improving on optimisers

Comment After all these years you would assume, wouldn't you, that database optimisers were pretty good? Companies like IBM and Oracle have been costing query plans and re-writing SQL not just for years but for decades, so you would expect they would know what they were doing. Well, if that’s the case, how come ActiveBase and its UK …
Philip Howard, 17 Mar 2006
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How your IT department is breaking data protection laws

Comment Now, here’s a dirty little secret that most of the people that concern themselves with corporate governance and compliance don’t know about. Leaving aside very small print that may have been inserted into documents that no-one ever reads, the data protection laws mean that personal information may only be used for explicit …
Philip Howard, 14 Mar 2006
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When 'enterprise' is self-defeating

Companies like to describe their products as being suitable for enterprise-wide deployment. However, this is by no means always a good thing. Indeed, an "enterprise" product, by its very nature, may be precisely the reverse of that. Consider the nature of "enterprise" products. They have the performance to supports thousands, …
Philip Howard, 13 Mar 2006

IBM simplifying the data warehouse

IBM has just announced the second strand in its strategy for simplifying data warehousing. It contends, rightly, that deploying and managing an enterprise data warehouse is horrendously complicated. Moreover, those complications directly drive costs up. So, it is simplifying the data warehouse and driving costs down. The first …
Philip Howard, 10 Mar 2006
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More Excel madness

Comment Recently I wrote that Mobius has the best solution I have seen for spreadsheet management. And, wouldn’t you know it, just a week or two later, I run into another, rather different but equally valid, way of doing much the same thing. Worse, I already knew the product supported Excel (and StarOffice for that matter) but I hadn’t …
Philip Howard, 08 Mar 2006
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IBM and BI - I take it all back

Comment Okay, I confess. I have been beating IBM up about how it needs to buy a BI player in order to be a credible player in the space, and it turns out that I got it all wrong, because IBM already owns a BI player. Well, actually, a bit of a BI vendor. A very small bit. And I’m not actually sure the information management people …
Philip Howard, 23 Feb 2006
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Weird scenes inside the BI gold mine

Comment If there is a gold mine in the software industry right now it is surely business intelligence. However, the business intelligence market is supposed to be consolidating and commoditising. In that case, why is it that there are a whole bunch of new vendors and products entering the market? I have spoken with four in just the …
Philip Howard, 22 Feb 2006
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An answer to spreadsheet hell

Since I wrote my white paper (available for free download) on the problems of spreadsheets last year, a number of vendors have come up with a variety of solutions, not least Microsoft, which has substantially improved the security and auditability of Excel in Office 12, though it still lacks facilities like cell level locking. …
Philip Howard, 21 Feb 2006
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Informatica buys Similarity

Comment Informatica has announced the acquisition of Similarity Systems, the Dublin, Ireland-based purveyor of data quality solutions. Now, I have been asking Informatica for years about why they weren’t going beyond data profiling and into full data quality solutions and had more or less given up beating my head against this particular …
Philip Howard, 06 Feb 2006
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DATAllegro - is it all hype?

Comment Towards the end of last year I wrote an article about the future of data warehouse appliances, asking whether it was a boom or bust. Since then, a number of the vendors mentioned in that article have been in touch with me, plus one other company that I am not at liberty to name. Interestingly, I have spent an extended time with …
Philip Howard, 03 Feb 2006
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Replicating CA's MDB database

Management Database (MDB) lives at the heart of Computer Associates' strategy for on-demand computing, which it refers to as Enterprise IT Management (EITM). This integrates more than 25 of the company's products, such as Unicenter, eTrust, and so on. In the middle of EITM is MDB, which is used to store and manage the …
Philip Howard, 01 Feb 2006

Actuate gets busy

Comment Actuate has been busy lately: BIRT 2.0, which is the reporting technology developed by Actuate for the Eclipse community will shortly be generally available, and the company has just announced that it has acquired performancesoft. Both of these developments are significant. performancesoft (spelled with a small ‘p’) is/was …
Philip Howard, 17 Jan 2006
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A brief look at Trillium's Discovery 5.0

I recently received an update from Trillium Software on its latest release (5.0) of Discovery, the data profiling and analysis product it acquired from Avellino. Even though the product is all about profiling and analysis there are actually no new profiling and analysis capabilities (apart from ease of use and similar things – …
Philip Howard, 12 Jan 2006
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The case for open source ETL

Comment As far as I have been able to discover, there are four open source ETL (extract, transform and load) tools on the market. Somewhat surprisingly, two of them are homonyms: KETL and Kettle, the other two being Enhydra Octopus and CloverETL. Kettle is based on an ETTL paradigm, the extra ‘T’ standing for transport (which seems an …
Philip Howard, 29 Dec 2005
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Of Sybase, iAnywhere and Extended Systems

Analysis Sybase announced its intention to acquire Extended Systems at the end of July and it completed said purchase about six weeks ago. It is now briefing analysts and customers on its plans for Extended Systems’ OneBridge product and how that will be integrated within the iAnywhere environment and, specifically, with the iAnywhere …
Philip Howard, 28 Dec 2005

Progress takes SOA to mainframe with Neon buy

Analysis Last week Progress Software announced it will acquire Neon Systems and merge that company with its DataDirect operating division. Simple question: why? For those of you unfamiliar with either DataDirect or Neon, a brief exposition may be appropriate. First: DataDirect. DataDirect started life as SequeLink which, a decade ago, …
Philip Howard, 27 Dec 2005
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The problems with IBM's SOA message

Comment This is the fourth and final set of my observations based on IBM's recent analyst conference from its Software Group. As I have discussed in my previous articles, SOA (service-oriented architecture) now pervades all of IBM's software offerings. Is this a good thing? Yes. Are there unanswered problems? Yes. I have discussed the …
Philip Howard, 14 Dec 2005
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Warehouse appliances: boom or bust?

Comment From the number of vendors entering the market as suppliers of data warehouse appliances you would think that this was a major growth area. It probably is. And you would also think it was easy. It isn't. Here is a list of the companies that, over the last few years, have attempted to move into this market: Netezza, DATAllegro, …
Philip Howard, 13 Dec 2005
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Sesame Software: going against the flow

Comment Is the accepted way of doing things always the best way to do things? Intuitively, one would have to answer 'no' to that question. One company that certainly thinks so is Sesame Software. Sesame offers two products: 'Relational Junction for Salesforce' and 'Relational Junction ETL Manager'. Neither of these products fits the …
Philip Howard, 12 Dec 2005
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IBM information management

Comment This is the third of my articles derived from IBM’s Software Group analyst conference, in this case focused on the Information Management part of the IBM software portfolio, which is my main interest. The Information Management group is the only part of the Software Group that is not known by its brand name. It is, of course, …
Philip Howard, 07 Dec 2005
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More on IBM and SOA

Comment Further to my previous article resulting from IBM’s annual analyst Software Group conference, here are some more thoughts on what IBM was talking about. One of the things that struck me, and which I am not sure that I have seen discussed anywhere, is that an SOA (service oriented architecture) solution is topologically …
Philip Howard, 06 Dec 2005
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IBM mainlines on SOA

Comment This is the first of several articles following on from IBM’s recent Software Group annual analyst conference. Typically at these events there is some sort of theme that runs through all the presentations but this is usually as much notional as a reflection of reality. When it comes to individual product or product group …
Philip Howard, 05 Dec 2005

CA lets Ingres go

Comment When I first heard about Computer Associates letting Ingres go my reaction was negative, to say the least. But having discussed the matter with CA I am not as concerned as I was, though questions still remain. The facts are simple: Ingres and OpenROAD will now be developed, managed and marketed by a new company called the …
Philip Howard, 01 Dec 2005
homeless man with sign

Interesting times for EII

Comment The EII (enterprise information integration) market is going through interesting times. This article discusses a number of the things that have happened or that have been reported to me. First, Business Objects bought Mediance, a company of which I had not previously heard. Mediance was active in the EII space but it is by no …
Philip Howard, 25 Nov 2005

Hyperion System 9 and master data management

Comment The recent release of Hyperion System 9 was not, basically, a surprise. Amongs other things, not least, the front-end user environment, the company introduced a unified platform for its entire product suite and is claiming that it is the first CPM (corporate performance management) vendor to do so. This is certainly true when …
Philip Howard, 23 Nov 2005

Will IBM buy BI?

Analysis While much of the acquisition talk this year has been about Oracle and its spate of purchases, IBM has been quietly building up its portfolio of capabilities within the business intelligence area and associated technologies. Of course the most notable of these acquisitions was Ascential but there have been a number of others, …
Philip Howard, 16 Nov 2005
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Why Yahoo! should call Identify

Comment One of the first and last things I do every working day is to log on to Yahoo! Finance to check what is happening to the stock market. One of the features of the page is that it continuously shows the prices of the last ten stocks I have expressed an interest in. The only problem is that it doesn’t work. There are two obvious …
Philip Howard, 09 Nov 2005
For Sale sign detail

Liferay after Plumtree

Analysis Plumtree is being acquired by BEA. This raises two points. The first is the perennial question of integration that arises whenever a vendor buys another that has a directly competing offering: how will the two products be merged? How long will it take? Will they, in fact, be merged at all? If not, how long will the acquired …
Philip Howard, 18 Oct 2005
fingers pointing at man

IBM touts information as as service

Comment The IBM Information Management group has been taken over by Ambuj Goyal following the retirement (actually she's not gone yet but will be doing so shortly) of Janet Perna. As a result, he and his team have been busy briefing analysts as to the company's plans, particularly at a recent event in Boston. The overall strategy that …
Philip Howard, 07 Oct 2005
graph up

Sorting the ETL men from the boys

Comment The ETL (extract, transform and load) market, far from commoditising, is diverging. To begin with, ETL is no longer an appropriate term to use, both because operations are no longer limited to the order indicated but also because the technology encompasses far more than just moving data into a warehouse. However, I don't like …
Philip Howard, 30 Sep 2005
homeless man with sign

ANTs: a strange name for a database

Comment ANTs Software, otherwise known simply as ANTs (which actually stands for Asynchronous Non-preemptive Tasks), is little known, yet it is a public company that has been around since the 80s. It started life working on parallel supercomputers but then faded into dormancy for the best part of a decade. It then re-emerged in 1999 as …
Philip Howard, 27 Sep 2005

On Open Source data warehousing

YI greeted with some scepticism the initial launch of Greenplum earlier this year (here and here) and was unconvinced about the future of an Open Source data warehousing model. Nevertheless, the company has pushed ahead with its plans and has made a number of significant advances. To begin with, it has simplified its …
Philip Howard, 12 Sep 2005

Do we need Bambi?

Consider Business Activity Monitoring (BAM): what does it do? The short answer is that it provides real-time information about your business activities (processes). Thus, to take a simple example, you can see that you are currently processing 5,000 invoices an hour. Jolly good. But how useful is it to know that you are …
Philip Howard, 22 Aug 2005

Why is Oracle really buying TimesTen?

Comment You may have seen that Oracle is buying TimesTen. The question is why? Is it because it thinks that TimesTen has great database technology? Hardly: Oracle does not exactly have a reputation for recognising database technologies other than its own. Then is it perhaps because Oracle thinks that it is worth harvesting the …
Philip Howard, 01 Jul 2005