Monthly Archives: February 2006

SugarCRM, the elephant in the room?

I’m constantly amazed at how no one calls SugarCRM on their deceptive open source license. Cliffs Notes: They call it open source, but it by no means qualifies as such and OSI will never certify it because doesn’t meet the definition of open source! Apparently, because they’ve got a bunch of money no one made a stink when they switched their license, and went from a legitimate “open source” company to well, shareware type license.

Matt Asay (smart, sharp, open source advocate) thinks it’s copacetic (check out the thread here). Is SugarCRM allowed to change the definition of open source to suit their own business model? Am I the only one willing to say without any standard (OSI) the term open source will become dilluted and viewed with skepticism?

PS – I think I’m just being awnry now… I should lay off it I suppose… Or invite John Roberts to have a beer and see if he can convince this skeptic it’s not shareware.

How about a Pete Finnigan Loop-du-jour

Apparently there are two classes of bloggers: those in the grace of the big O and those that are not. I like the big O (what puts food on my table so to speak) but find it silly to exclude bloggers based on content. How many bloggers post total CRAP that appears to be well intentioned tuning advice that could end up TOTALLY messing up an Oracle solution? Is blogs.oracle.com going to peer review and ban these bloggers as well? It’s not that it isn’t a good idea to keep GOOD content on the official blog site, it’s just HOW are you going to decide what’s good?

Just like a recent “Best Blonde Joke Ever” loop, I suggest the remaining bloggers offer up a Loop-du-jour. It might get me banned as well, but oh well! :)

I’ll start off… I rather like Pete Finnigans web site. Check it out here!

Five Tough Questions, HA!

I received an email for an online webinar on ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) products. The email claims to be a “tough as nails” get to the details type of webinar (usually good in my mind). They even listed the five tough questions they’re gonna grill the vendors with:

The Five Tough ESB Questions Will Get Answered!

  1. How do ESB architectures work with existing infrastructures
  2. What are ESB’s most popular features
  3. Can you show us some real-world user cases
  4. Please tell us about ESB Best Practices
  5. How are ESBs helping define SOA roadmaps for many firms

What a bunch of softballs! Tough Questions yeah right!

My favorite is number 2. That’s right, we’re going to grill you! What is your biggest selling point and why do users just LOVE your product. Puhhhlease.

ODTUG Desktop Conference

I’m looking forward to popping my virtual head into a few of the ODTUG Conference 2006 sessions. In particular the following look to be well worth the registration fee:

Mark Rittman
SolStonePlus
Oracle XML Publisher-What’s It All About?
Oracle XML Publisher is the hot new Oracle BI and reporting tool that lets you build production-quality reports using a Microsoft Word add-in. This presentation looks at what XML Publisher does, how it works, how you use it, and whether it’s a replacement for Oracle Reports.

Irene Chen
Solbourne
DBI: The Good, Bad, and Ugly—Comparing a Successful to a Not-So-Successful Implementation

Daily Business Intelligence (DBI) is an integrated out-of-the-box reporting and analysis application that enables managers and executives to see relevant, accurate, and timely information using self-service dashboards. However, depending on how DBI is implemented, a company can get great results that help improve various aspects of its business. We will compare two DBI implementations, and discuss best practices for key portions of the implementation process. This session is intended for functional and technical users who are responsible for planning the DBI implementation and who need a more in depth understanding of Daily Business Intelligence reporting.

Rene De Vleeschauwer
Ikan Software
Common Warehouse Metamodel (CWM) Compliant, Multi-Dimensional Modeling and Oracle Analytical Workspaces (AW)
This presentation will explain how to model an Oracle AW application using multi-dimensional techniques which are OMG/CWM-compliant and using an MDA architecture to generate the analytical workspaces.

Nicholas Goodman
Bayon Technologies, Inc.
Oracle Warehouse Builder 10gR2-Late, but PACKED with Features!

Oracle Warehouse Builder 10gR2 is packed with useful features and not just for the data warehouse professional. Improved ETL, expanded metadata capabilities, and advanced dimensional editors will mean a great deal to data warehouse developers. Features like model-based streams integration and the data profiling/cleansing features will even make DBAs sing Oracle Warehouse Builder praises.

Had to throw in the shameless plug for my own presentation!

This Graph is VERY special!

What’s so special about this graph? Well, other than the fact that it’s a really cool way to translate an XML document into a visual HTML report (this isn’t an image, it’s actually an HTML document) the technologies used to produce it are REALLY compelling. Chris Harrington and I spent a couple of hours this morning, working to generate a few reports using both of our “technology stacks” and with just a few small adjustments we were able to do something that spells big potential.

Let me first describe exactly how this chart was built:

  • An XMLA request was passed OVER THE INTERNET (from Pittsburgh to Seattle) from the ThinOLAP command line XMLA client to a Mondrian instance I have running in my lab.
  • The XMLA request was parsed and passed to the Mondrian ROLAP server that issued JDBC calls to my BizGres database.
  • My BizGres database executed a handful of SQL statements that Mondrian used to generate the actual data values for the MDX query passed from across the country.
  • The XMLA response was sent back OVER THE INTERNET (from Seattle to Pittsburgh) to the ThinOLAP command line.
  • The ThinOLAP then did a post processing XSLT transformation to take the boring XMLA results (ie, pure data) and turn it into a really compelling chart.

Why is this exciting?

First off, because it’s using XML for Analysis which was supposed to be a hot ticket item, but has less than stellar support from vendors (including the 8000 lb guerrilla that “supports” the standard). There are a handful of XMLA clients, almost ALL of which are tied up in “dot net this” and “dot net that” and are clearly written to work with SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services. Mondrian happens to be the only other PUBLIC/PRODUCTION OLAP server that implements the interface (if the other vendors are actually public with their XMLA providers please let me know on email). We proved that the standard is pretty sound and that with small amounts of tweaking interoperation is pretty straightforward! UPDATE: I’ve just read that HYPERION has a provider, but I’m uncertain of how useful it is in practice. It also appears that SAS has a provider but again I’m not sure if there any clients that aren’t fused to the existing MS technologies (OLEDB etc).

Secondly, because it’s running over the Internet at pretty respectable speeds. Between two remote offices the REQUEST/RESPONSE was reasonable (a couple of seconds). This is one of the first times I’ve actually received some benefit from a SOA perspective over the Internet. Chris and I figured it was HTTP, there was no need shipping software back and forth we just did some port forwarding and it all worked BRILLIANTLY. We proved that XMLA can work, reasonably, over the public internet.

Thirdly, the server side is 100% OSI Certified software. That’s right… my provider was serving up OLAP goodies using Linux, Tomcat, Mondrian (part of the Pentaho platform), and BizGres. There were ZERO proprietary applications running to build and deliver the XMLA responses. The XMLA client (ThinOLAP) is an freeware product that uses from Microsoft packages for XML processing, scripting, transformations, etc. We proved that one can build an open source OLAP solution that can be leveraged by whizbang clients.

Beyond open source, Mondrian is a JDBC ROLAP server so it can be plugged into just about any database that supports JDBC. Choice is GOOD! Oracle anyone? The potential of actual interoperating XMLA clients is HUGE! Think about how many boutique visualization, charting, and reporting engines have been fused to OLE DB and other proprietary protocols. Perhaps a handful interoperating clients/servers will entice the others to write to the actual standard?

Chris and I continue to work at seeing what potential exists for interoperating his Intrasight Product with Mondrian. If you’re interested in using Mondrian or a nice AJAX client for Mondrian please don’t hesitate to be in touch with either of us in this regard.

DAMA-PS March 2nd

I’ve been a member of DAMA-PS since I moved to Seattle in 2004. I wasn’t able to make last years DAMA day but I’m looking forward to DAMA day 2006 in Seattle. If you’re in the area, check it out:

Morning Keynote:
Stephen Brobst
Best Practices in Enterprise Meta Data Management
and Data Warehouse Deployments

This session provides a taxonomy of data warehouse
topologies and discussion of best practices for enterprise
data warehouse deployment. Characterization
of performance, total cost of ownership, and business
functionality will be used to describe tradeoffs
among various choices in topology and architecture
deployment. Implementation techniques using integrated,
federated, and data mart architectures will
be discussed as well as deployment of four distinct
classes of meta data (end user, design technical and
semantic) which will be described in the context of
creating a single source of truth for enterprise decision
making across multiple lines of business- and
functionally-oriented organizational boundaries.

Afternoon Keynote:
David Loshin
Master Data Management and Data Standards:
Building From Consensus

The hot topic these days is master data management,
or being able to capture and manage reference
data as a shared corporate asset that
feeds into both production operational and analytical
applications. However, in the absence of
an agreement as to the semantics of the data
objects being “master-managed,” the perpetual
problems of misunderstanding the data will infiltrate
your applications. Developing a master
data management program provides an opportunity
for the business and technical teams to
discuss and agree to standards for the structure,
form, and most importantly, meanings of the
data elements to be managed. In this session,
we’ll discuss using a data standards approach
to successfully support a master data management
program.

Ingres GPL: I'm not alone!

Well, apparently I must not be alone in my disapproval of Ingres choosing GPL. I just noticed the following notice on the Ingres Licensing page:

Important Notice on GPL Licensing
Posted February 12, 2006

We have had significant feedback from many of you who would like to bundle access or include the Ingres access technologies (JDBC, ODBC, .Net, OpenAPI, ESQL etc.) with your non-GPL products, or link with these technologies, but are concerned about the viral aspects of the GPL.

We understand this important customer/partner requirement and are working to make this possible without limiting the needs of GPL partners and customers, or for end customers to get support.

I value this feedback from the Ingres community and the level of interest in using Ingres as an embedded or bundled database in applications as diverse as appliances, printers, and ERP solutions. Please check back in the next few days for an update on this topic.

To receive email updates on this topic, please email info@ingres.com with the subject GPL.
Dev Mukherjee
Chief Marketing Officer
Senior Vice President of Business Development

Hopefully this will be one of those cases where the community gives tough love, and it turns out in the best long term interest of the project. We’ll see!

CTO on GPL

I met with the CTO of a company leveraging open source projects to build a compelling offering in the BI/DW space. Their secret sauce is staying closed source, but they are contributing some good stuff back to the core projects which they are leveraging.

We were discussing the dual licensing GPL/Commercial strategy and he put it quite nicely:

For business focused projects that have little or no value to hobbyist projects, it’s almost antagonistic offering GPL

This echoes my thoughts on the Ingres move to GPL. Business focused open source projects know that they have to exist in an economy of open and closed source applications so offering a GPL version of their project could be considered insulting! In practice, it becomes shareware (try for free, but use for money). For instance, Ingres corporation is saying that you are free to use our database if your product is GPL. This is like offering a scholarship to an underprivileged inner city youth for a PhD program in Astro Physics when they only just passed their GED. They can claim they are being benevolant but they know that student will never get accepted to the program.

My advice to “business focused” open source projects: If you want to flourish, you must have a business friendly license otherwise your community will not arrive. The hobbyists don’t need advanced business workflow processing, and companies that could invest in your technology won’t because they need business friendly licenses.

MySQL works because it actually benefits the community because “Joe’s MP3 collection manager” does need a simple database for it. MySQL is on the “cusp” of a business application. There is a reasonable value add for MySQL in GPL and vice versa.

I’m continually amazed at how the words “open source” and the actual practice of “open source” are getting twisted, turned, mauled, and misused to make a buck. It’s entirely possible for someone to choose GPL and not build a great open source project… Community (developers, companies, users) is the secret sauce so your license, posture, philosophy must engage your potential or existing community with the idea that getting some invested in your project (ie, hard working hours of coding, testing, and leveraging your project) will far surpass any tricky antics to force people to pay you some money.