Java in Manila

The Philippine's largest Java developer's conference was held last April 25 - Java in Manila. Our country was one of the six competency centers chosen by Sun Microsystems for its huge potential for development. Philippines's Java competency center is focus on wireless technology; Singapore focuses on grid computing, while Malaysia concentrates on incubation center.

The event lasted from 8 to 5pm at ShariLa Makati. Java is the de facto application development tool for many enterprises today. We were there under sponsor status, so were exempted from paying the PhP1500 entrance fee. And that is just what we need to enjoy all the nice looking and nice tasting food that Shangri-La offered all through out the session. All in all, the event is a success, and is worth the buck if ever you decide to attend next year's event.

Rags Srinivas, on cowboy hats presented Java SE GUI makeover. guy, Sang Shin has a thick but cool oriental accent - "how-e-vveeerrr". He charms the audience with his knowledge about Java EE, Web 2.0, AJAX, and the new technologies emerging in the pioneering web-based application development today.

Dr. Doris Chen, the beautiful Miss Lady geek, discussed Java Server Faces.

Gilbert on Thursday, April 27, 2006 0 Comments

Google's love story with Business Intelligence

This is not a perfect love story.

Google is a He. He alone is synonymous with search. And search is about finding something that you want to know or knew a little about. It's a process of discovery, and a source of the data might be unknown as well. He wants to prove to the world that he is still capable of showing more of his data search skills by selling them to the Enterprise world. He is trying to court the lucrative business intelligence market. He gave a proposal to Business Intelligence by making a $30,000 Google Onebox.

Business Intelligence is a She. She has enticed small al the way to the biggest businesses to invest a lot of their money to enable them to "make sense" of their data. She provides them with auto-generated reports and dashboards just so it would be easy for these good paying companies. She has enabled managers of high caliber who understands the language of business to have a larger and deeper insight of their company.

They are destined to be together. Businesses wants a higher deployment for their business intelligence tool. They need to make it available to the next generation knowledge workers who are more adept in using the skills of web searching.

He is not alone, Autonomy and Fast Search & Transfer are also the first companies who are doing enterprise data search.

She is not alone too, Cognos 8 Go! Search, IBM Omnifind and Oracle Enteprise Search 10g are also targeting the same market.

As you can see, these love story is not an easy one.

Gilbert on Thursday, April 20, 2006 0 Comments

ROLAP, MOLAP, HOLAP for beginners

Why do you want an OLAP in your company in the first place? I mean you already have a relational databases with years and years of data in it. If your company (SMB) just needs a simple data reporting and query. (Stop reading here, OLAP is not for you.) You may want to read more about OLAP if your company needs a technology beyond query and reporting.

What is OLAP?
OLAP represents data using a multidimensional model (think rubik's cube) rather than the traditional tabular data model. Tabular data model treats data as a single occurrence in time (sort of a list of transactions). Multidimensional data model (rubric’s) treats data as a cumulative series of occurrences (days, weeks, months, years). This means that this data model allows you to pivot the data, just as you would in a real world rubik's cube. By turning it into different angles you are in turn looking at your data in different perspective. OLAP also allows interactive querying. In our example of the rubik's cube, let's say you’re interested in the color red; you can twist the cube to arrive at more colors of red. If you’re interested in your yearly sales reports, you can drill down and look for sales report in monthly basis, or change into reports monthly and departmentalized at the same time. It may not even surprise you that data model implementations in OLAP are called "cubes".

What are the types of OLAP?
OLAP tools do not indicate how the data is actually stored. Given that, it’s not surprising that there are multiple ways to store the data. In the world of OLAP, there are mainly two different types - Multidimensional OLAP (MOLAP) and Relational OLAP (ROLAP). Hybrid OLAP (HOLAP) is a combination of the two.

MOLAP - data is stored in a multidimensional database (most of them are proprietary). This is the more traditional approach to OLAP analysis.
Pros: fast data retrieval, fast and complex calculations (bec. computations are done during the creation of the cube.)
Cons: handles limited amount of data, cube size are computed exponentially, potential investment in manpower to maintain the proprietary multidimensional database.

ROLAP - sits on top of previous relational databases and inherits most of its limitations and functionalities.
Pros: faster load times, standard SQL accessibility, better support for textual descriptions, and more flexible data modeling, can handle large amounts of data
Cons: slower query performance and more demanding processing and system memory requirements, limited by the calculations done using SQL

HOLAP - marriage somewhere between ROLAP and MOLAP, thus the term Hyprid OLAP.

It tries to get the best of both worlds. It uses cube for summary type information to provide a faster performance. And when drill through is needed, its links itself with an underlying relational data.

At a glance, here are the information about OLAP:
OLAP – Online analytical Processes
MOLAP – Multidimensional Online analytical Processes (Cubes)
ROLAP – Relational Online analytical Processes (RDBMS)
HOLAP – Combination of MOLAP & ROLAP
DOLAP – Desktop Online analytical Processes (Cubes are stored in desktop as well)

If we were to compare the three main types of OLAP, we will arrive at the following conclusion:

The type of storage medium impacts on cube processing time, cube storage and cube browsing speed. Some of the factors that affect MOLAP storage are:

Cube browsing is the fastest when using MOLAP. This is so even in cases where no aggregations have been done. The data is stored in a compressed multidimensional format and can be accessed quickly than in the relational database. Browsing is very slow in ROLAP about the same in HOLAP. Processing time is slower in ROLAP, especially at higher levels of aggregation.

MOLAP storage takes up more space than HOLAP as data is copied and at very low levels of aggregation it takes up more room than ROLAP. ROLAP takes almost no storage space as data is not duplicated. However ROLAP aggregations take up more space than MOLAP or HOLAP aggregations.

All data is stored in the cube in MOLAP and data can be viewed even when the original data source is not available. In ROLAP data cannot be viewed unless connected to the data source.

MOLAP can handle very limited data only as all data is stored in the cube.

For additional reading on evaluating the technical advantages and disadvantages of MOLAP versus ROLAP, I suggest visiting this website:

Gilbert on Thursday, April 20, 2006 0 Comments

Oracle's Ellison to own his own Linux Distro

The last time Larry Ellison mulled over buying a company, a corporate war erupted. However, in the end Larry got his way and PeopleSoft is now Oracle. Is the same thing going to happen to Novell? If so, it will be good for Linux and the best thing to happen to desktop computing in 20 years. - ITWire

Oracle has been the second largest software company, next to Microsoft. And Larry is showing signs that his not comfortable in the "next to Microsoft" status of Oracle. He expresses his interest in acquiring a Linux distro (SuSE) and offering it as part of Oracle's software stack.

What will Oracle gain from this? Using their marketing clout and expertise, they can place Oracle on the top if they were able to lure companies/consumers to use Linux. Of course, they still need to work a lot on improving the OS, but with their deep pockets, why not?

What will Linux gain from this? A solid financial and marketing backing that can springboard Linux to a larger market share.

Can't wait what will happen next.

Gilbert on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 0 Comments

A Simple Guide for Choosing the Best Business Intelligence Tool

Choosing the right Business Intelligence Tool for your company is a risky business. Here is a simple guide that would help you in choosing the best BI for your company:

- sit down and have a coffee with your managers to talk about the Business (What are the needs?), Functional (who are the users?) and Technical Requirements (what are your existing database and servers?).

- Get an idea of the Business Intelligence market using Gartner, Forrester, TDWI and Ventana Research.

- Think long-term. If you are going to choose and grow with this BI tool, think of how stable the company and how would it respond to your changing demands in the future.

- Estimate the Total Cost of Ownership. (Licensing for all possible users, first year technical support and maintenance, training, hardware - client and server requirements, anticipated system administration and consulting.)

(2) COMPARE ("Proof-of-Concept")

- As much as possible, make a list of 3 or 4 BI vendors (supporting multiple BI tools if possible) before contacting them. Put more "points" on features that your company need, items that you discussed during the 'coffee meeting'. Put fewer points on the additional "cool factor" of the product.

- Ask them for a presentation format that you design yourself.

- Choose 2 out of the 4 and do a Proof of Concept that you talk about during the presentation using your companies' test data.

- Weigh the advantages and the additional "cool features" that you discovered during the POC.


Choosing the right BI tool and vendor is a tough decision, so I hope this mini guide will help you make the right choice.

For more information, you may want to visit these websites:
DM Review - Choosing the Right BI Software and Vendor
BI Review - Lessons Learned
Intelligent Enterprise - Flying High with BI
BitPipe - Business Intelligence (BI) First Step
B-eye Network - Best Practices for Business Intelligence Tool Selection
Business Intelligence General Information
Wikipedia: Business Intelligence

Complete List of COMMERCIAL BI TOOL: (updated last April 3, 2006). I also added a link to Google Finance for more information on the company and its standing in the market. (Just remember that a strong and stable BI company is also a consideration in choosing a long term BI tool.) Here are the BI market's key players:
- SAP - G-Finance Product: SAP NetWeaver BI
- Microsoft - G-Finance - Product: Proclarity (acquired April 2006)
- IBM - G-Finance - Product: IBM DB2 Alphablox
- Microstrategy - G-Finance - Product: Microstrategy 8
- Cognos - G-Finance - Product: Cognos 8
- BusinessObjects - G-Finance - Product: Business Objects XI
- Informatica - G-Finance - Product: Informatica PowerCenter Advance Edition
- Oracle - G-Finance - Product: Oracle BI Suite
- Hyperion - G-Finance - Product: Hyperion System 9 BI+
- DataMirror - G-Finance - Product: Data Mirror BI

Other Companies:
* Actuate
* Alphablox
* Applix
* Business Objects
* Cognos
* Cyberscience
* DataHabitat
* Decision Technology
* Information Builders
* KCI Computing
* MaxQ Technologies
* Metrinomics - Metrivox
* MicroStrategy
* OutlookSoft
* Panorama
* QlikView
* Siebel Systems*acquired by Oracle
* SAS Institute
* Saksoft
* Synola Ltd
You can also visit Google Finance for the standing of the following companies.

Remember that there are also a strong Open Source Business Intelligence tools available in the market today. They are full blown BU Suite ready for implementation already like Pentaho, you can also view our own list of Open Source BI Suite.

Good luck on your search!

Gilbert on Monday, April 03, 2006 0 Comments