Category: "Computers and Internet"

Justifying a BI System

Smaller Jotting BI JustificationIt is easy to make generalizations in justifying a Business Intelligence System. Commonly used are:
  • Saves money
  • Helps enterprise to be more competitive
  • Have informed decisions
  • Improve productivity
and many others.

To face the critics of your BI system, quantify and provide specifics for your statements. For example, instead of just saying, it saves money, illustrate how the BI system saves money. If the pain point of your organization, for instance, is that one does not have a central repository of customer information so it takes accounting X amount of time creating an invoice because each time an invoice is created, one has to create a spreadsheet, getting information from multiple sources. It is effective to show how saving the time of accounting and billing the customer faster provides X amount of savings per month. As part of your justification, provide an estimate for the potential increase in receivables per month then multiply by the monetary amount of the average customer transaction.

A BI system that is aligned with business objectives and is able to maintain its economic justification gets buy-in and continuous support from the enterprise.

Multidimensional Cube - Simple Explanation for Users

The concept of multidimensional cube is a good way to help users understand how they may want to query the multidimensional database or create OLAP reports. The dimensions of a cube are stored in a database table.

The data cube in the diagram below is composed of there dimensions: Customer, Product and Time.

Data Cube

This cube would allow query BY customer, BY time and BY product. Hence, sample query could be selecting a customer BY time and BY Product.

Additional dimensions (e.g. sales territory, sales person, etc) increase the size of the cube geometrically.

PalmSource Open Source

PalmSource, an Access CO, LTD company, has been making several announcements in advance of their PalmSource day at LinuxWorldSF this coming Wednesday, August 16, including:

If you're at LinuxWorldSF this week, look for us [we'll be wearing black shirts with the following embroidery...

IASC InterASC TeleInterActive Embroidery
Click to view original size

We can talk about PalmSource and ALP, open source business intelligence, data warehousing and collaboration, or whatever else comes up. Maybe we'll even publish it as a podcast.

See you at LinuxWorld.

Zimbra, Jira and Alfresco test drives

Recently, Dave Rosenberg provided exactly the type of information on open source software that I like to see. The post shows the utility of the software, as well as any perceived flaws; it also provides both technologist and user viewpoints. He concentrated on open source solutions for collaboration through document/content management, project management and email.

I am currently having a developer friend test drive several open source applications that could ostensibly make up a full enterprise architecture. I suppose the main idea is to be able to move away from Microsoft server products but keep the same level of features and management functionality.end quotation
"Zimbra, Jira and Alfresco test drives" in Open Sources by Dave Rosenberg

For a complete enterprise architecture though, I think two other application types are essential: ERP, which is the backbone of finance, administration and operations, and Business Intelligence, which is the only way to understand the business' operations and place in the market, one's role in the business, and confidently plan business growth.

For ERP, Compiere seems the way to go; for BI, Pentaho is taking the lead.

EnterpriseDB Closes $20 Million Financing

Taken verbatim from a PRESS RELEASE sent to us by Andy Astor, President & CEO of EnterpriseDB

EnterpriseDB Closes $20 Million Financing
Fidelity Ventures Leads Series B Investment in Enterprise-Class Open Source
Database Company

ISELIN, N.J., Aug. 1, 2006 - EnterpriseDB, the world's leading
enterprise-class, open source database company, announced today that it has
closed a combined $20 million debt and equity financing. A $16.5 million
Series B venture capital financing was led by Fidelity Ventures, a leading
provider of "Go-to-Market Capital(sm)" to early-stage information technology
and communications companies. Previous investors Charles River Ventures and
Valhalla Partners also participated in the Series B round. In addition,
EnterpriseDB announced that Comerica Bank has extended a $3.5 million line
of credit to the company. To date, EnterpriseDB has raised a total of $28.5
million. The new funds will be used to expand the company's sales and
marketing capabilities throughout the world and to continue development of
EnterpriseDB Advanced Server, the company's flagship RDBMS product.

In connection with the investment, Dave Power, a partner at Fidelity
Ventures who focuses on investment opportunities in enterprise technologies,
will become a member of EnterpriseDB's board of directors. Power also serves
on the boards of leading enterprise open source companies Black Duck
Software and SpikeSource.

"Fidelity Ventures invests in companies that have the potential to transform
large markets and become category leaders. EnterpriseDB, which combines the
advantages of open source software with the ability to run applications
written for Oracle, is disrupting the $13 billion enterprise database
market," said Power. "We see striking parallels here to Linux, an open
source offering that runs applications written for Unix. We're looking
forward to working with the team at EnterpriseDB to capture the huge
opportunity in front of them."

"Fidelity Ventures has an outstanding track record of helping their
portfolio companies to succeed," said Andy Astor, chief executive officer of
EnterpriseDB. "Their investment is a gratifying endorsement of our previous
efforts and our vision, and we are looking forward to working closely with
them to leverage their expertise, resources and relationships to accelerate
our growth."

About Fidelity Ventures
For over 35 years Fidelity Ventures has played a vital role in the
development of more than 100 information technology and communications
companies including GeoTel Communications, Teleport, COLT Telecom, ONI
Systems, WaveSmith, Connected and Airespace. Fidelity Ventures is able to
leverage a unique combination of resources, including a global network of
CIOs and IT executives, to help portfolio companies accelerate their market
entrance at one of the most critical times in a company's life cycle: the
Go-to-Market stage. A traditional fund-based venture firm focused on
financial returns, Fidelity Ventures currently manages more than $800
million in venture capital, and invests in U.S.-based companies out of its
Boston office, and in European companies out of its London office. For more
information, visit

About EnterpriseDB Corporation
EnterpriseDB develops and supports EnterpriseDB Advanced Server, an
enterprise-class relational database management system (RDBMS) that is built
on PostgreSQL, the world's most advanced open source database. EnterpriseDB
Advanced Server is compatible with Oracle applications, has the reliability
and scalability necessary for high-volume, mission-critical enterprise use,
and is very affordable. EnterpriseDB has offices in the U.S., Europe, and
Asia and is the world's leading provider of enterprise-class
PostgreSQL-based products and services. EnterpriseDB was founded in March,
2004, and is headquartered in Iselin, N.J. For more information, please
contact (732) 331-1300 or visit

Open Source Effect

Recently, Clarise and I attended the Churchill Club Executive Roundtable "The Open Source Effect". The panelists were

It was the best panel I've attended, primarily because of the moderator, Sarah Lacy of BusinessWeek. She asked great questions, knew her subjects, kept the panelists going, and made the discussion very lively.

The Churchill Club podcasts its events, through ZDNet, but, if history serves as a guide, it will be several months before the MP3 file is posted.

The overall impression that I got from the discussion, is that Open Source is still waiting to happen in terms of real penetration into IT shops. Linux, especially Red Hat, and the Apache web server, are pretty much there. JBoss application server has a strong market share. Databases are likely the next infrastructure area that will open up to open source [for example, MySQL, has certain niche penetration]. Applications are still a long way from acceptance, and much of the penetration of open source into an IT shop is still by stealth. The CIOs are awakening to the fact that they have open source solutions as the underlying software for some of their infrastructure and some of their projects, but many haven't made a deliberate move towards open source solutions, and many don't have an open source strategy as yet.

Actually, a comment by David Roux, who spoke at a recent OracAlumni event, really struck home during the Churchill Club roundtable. David said that open source is simply the realization that savvy customers don't pay the large software licensing fees anyway, with 80% discounts being readily available, with 90% discounts being negotiated. David may be right, one can see this in the ever increasing percentage of revenue coming from services at IBM, Oracle, Sun and other enterprise software OEMs. From this, I would conclude that, with the barrier to entry for new enterprise software being so high [enormous cost of change over for the customer, or costs for development for a proprietary model OEM] the only new database and application software companies that have a chance to succeed, may need to use open source licensing and explore business models based on those licenses.

An interesting point of discussion centered around where the market for open source really segmented. Is it the large organization or the small and medium enterprise (SME)? Will it ever take hold in the US, as it has in other countries? One comment by Stuart was that this [open source] stuff is just too hard for the SME. But a counter by Kim, was that the VARs trusted by the SME really make the decision. The ability to implement open source solutions is the service that is most sought.

Andy and Marc had many, very interesting opinions. I think that you'll need the podcast to really do them justice, though. :>> So, keep checking the Churchill Club list of podcasts to see when it gets posted.

Hosting of open source solutions for SME never came up, nor did open source BI specifically. The microphone never came my way, so I wasn't able to ask those questions. We did get to speak with Andy afterwards. He's very engaging, and was very supportive of our interest in OSBI and EnterpriseDB. We hope to have a podcast focusing on EnterpriseDB by the end of this summer. Stay tuned.

Open Source BI Surveys

Two colleagues have recently pointed us to two different surveys concerning Open Source Business Intelligence.

Christian Donner is running a survey in support of his upcoming talk at the June Enterprise Open Source Conference in New York.

Donner OSBI PHPsurveyor

The President of the PMI recently pointed us to this survey by the Cutter Consortium

Cutter Consortium OSBI KeySurvey

Christian's survey is a quick 4 (or 5 depending on your answer to 4) questions on use of various BI tools. The Cutter survey is more comprehensive, but can still be completed in well under an half-hour.

Please help expand the statsitical base on using open source business intelligence and fill out these surveys.

Update: We've added a module to our OSBI Lens to list surveys covering open source projectsfor business intelligence solutions. If you know of, or are running one, please let us know via the comments here, and we'll add it to the list.

Building a Sun Fire SC RJ-45 to RS-232C DB-9F Adapter

As we mentioned on receiving the Sun Fire T2000, one surprise was the need to use a terminal emulator to initialilly set-up the server through the system console port. Even more suprising was that it was still using a RJ-45 connector for the serial line, just like an old Dec VT100 terminal. Of course, we're not the only one to be so surprised.

Then the time came to plug it in. That’s where the trouble started: the machine doesn’t do any video-output at all. I know it’s not really necessary for a server box to have the latest and greatest in video acceleration hardware, but a most servers come with a MACH64 of some kind onboard so you can at least get up a text console without hassle. Not the Sun– it requires that you have a computer available with a serial connection. That’s all fine with me, I have such stuff anyway. But the serial connection for this uses an RJ-45 connector instead of the standard DB-9 one. And the only adapter I had for that didn’t seem to be the right one. Luckily I was able to fabricate my own...end quotation
-- » Sun Fire T2000

You can also find more links about this in Frostyland "Sun Fire T2000 Try and Buyers".

As we said previously, this isn't new for Sun, but it is a bit of a pain if you aren't set up as a Sun-centric data center. We used the hyperterminal terminal emulator that comes with WindowsXP on a laptop, and the RS-232C serial port [DB-9 male] on the back of the laptop. We did see available Cisco Console standard RJ-45 to USB cables. That should work as well.

If you don't have soldering irons or appropriate crimp tools, building your own is also painful, as Pins 4 & 5 from the Sun need to be spliced together to go into Pin 5 [all signal ground pins] of the DB-9 connector. If you don't have the right tools, one way to do this is to simply cut the wires for both pins 4 & 5 from the RJ-45 part of the adapter, strip some insulation off of the wire for pins 4 & 5 from the RJ-45 and off one of the pins that you cut off, and twist all three together, and push the pin into the hole for pin 5 of the DB-9F.

Interpreting the pin-out was a bit dicey as well, both for the Sun system console from the manual, and for the adapter that we bought. Doug, one of the owners of Strawflower Electronics in Half Moon Bay, helped us to figure out the color coding and pins of the RJ-45 half of the adapter that we bought. Of course, the pin-out for the Sun SC port and the stanadard RS-232C determined what pin to push into what hole of the DB-9F half of the adapter.

Here's what we came up with, and it worked wonderfully well - for the entire three minutes that you actually need it before you can switch to the system console network port and use telnet over ethernet.

Sun Fire SC RJ-45 to DB-9 Adapter
Click to view original size

In addition to the pin-outs on the picture, here they are in a table.

Signal | RJ-45 Sun SC | DB-9F RS-232C | Color
RD Pin 3 Pin 2 Black
TD Pin 6 Pin 3 Yellow
DTR Pin 7 Pin 4 Brown
GND Pin 4 Pin 5 Red
GND Pin 5 Pin 5 Green
DSR Pin 2 Pin 6 Orange
RTS Pin 8 Pin 7 White
CTS Pin 1 Pin 8 Blue
Not Used
Pin 1
Not Used
Pin 9

We don't show it, but when you twist Red and Green together to connect Pins 4 & 5 with Pin 5 for the signal ground, you might want to put a bit of electrical tape around the bare wire. And you may want to close up the adapter housing, or not, as you only need the thing for less than five minutes.

Don't forget to read "Powering On the System" in the Installation Guide, 819-2546-10. Get all the docs.

sc> poweron
SC Alert: Host System has Reset
sc> console –f
Enter #. to return to ALOM.

Which lead to a bunch of system messages and the ok prompt

ok show-disks
a) /pci@7c0/pci@0/pci@2/pci@0,2/LSILogic,sas@4/disk
Enter Selection, q to quit: q
ok boot [use the value from above]

Which leads to more system messages...

and then the console login:

Now install some software and go have some fun. :>> We're starting with mock source systems to use in our Open Source solutions for BI testing, and then the open source databases and software for the ODS, data warehouse and tools.


The Sun Microsystems Sun Fire T2000 "try and buy" server arrived today.

Sun Fire T2000 arrives
Click to view original size

Opening the box brought joy to this rainy day...

Opening the box
Click to view original size

It comes with Cat5 cables and rails and cable management...

Cable Management Assembly
Click to view original size

And instructions are printed right on the case...

T2000 Instructions
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It's a handsome machine...

Sun Fire Front
Click to view original size

But, no racks here, and shades of the past, at least 10 years past for both of us. That was the last time we had set up a SPARC server with SunOS from scratch. Our hosting service uses machines leased from a rack company, at NOCs in Los Angeles, Texas and Virginia - we've never seen them. Same with our test servers. Being TeleInterActive, we all work from home.

On first start-up you must access the beast through the server console port...

T2000 SC Port
Click to view original size

Though you can use a terminal emulator on a PC [anyone remember hyperterminal?], but...

Er, no RJ-45 serial port here
Click to view original size

So, Clarise and I spent the rest of the day hunting for a RJ-45 to DB-9F gender bender, not at CompUSA, not at Radio Shack, but thankfully, I remembered Strawflower Electronics in Half Moon Bay, and yes...

RJ-45 to DB-9F adapter
Click to view original size

Now, let's see, where's there a pin-out? On the Sun site, in a manual. Look for Table 1-3.

And we can find the RS-232 DB-9 pin-out, but tomorrow.

Somehow, I don't think a ranger without a sys admin background could have dealt with the requirement for terminal hooked up to the SC port. Nor do many such folk as Jonathon targets, have a rack system about.

And to answer a few of the comment questions - the offer applies to anyone interested - not just corporate customers. We don't care if you're an educator or a park ranger or a blogger or a physicist or a CIO - so long as you're in the market for the fastest/most efficient server on earth.end quotation
-- Jonathon Schwartz Niagara FREE TRIAL - Update

But, this is going to be very interesting as we test the open source solutions for BI on the open source Niagara. We can't wait to finish the set-up. We'll keep you posted.

Sun T2000 Try and Buy

It looks as though we've been accepted for Sun Microsystems' "Try and Buy" program. Yep, a free Niagra Server, as explained and updated by Jonathan Schwartz.

We received a quote today from Doris Hamel of Sun.

Here's a quote of the Try & Buy T2000, should you decide to purchase after the trial period.end quotation

Here's the specs and the price:

1 Config ID 4296652 Configuration: T20-104A-08GA2C 1 $8,295.00
1.1 T20-104A-08GA2C Sun Fire T2000 Server
4 core 1.0GHz UltraSPARC T1 processor,
8GB DDR2 memory (16 * 512MB DIMMs),
2 * 73GB 2.5" 10K rpm SAS hard disk drives,
1 DVDRO/CD-RW slimline drive,
2 (N+1) power supplies,
4 10/100/1000 ethernet ports,
1 serial port,
3 PCI-E slots,
2 PCI-X slots,
Solaris 10 and Java Enterprise System software
(Standard Configuration)
1 $8,295.00
1.2 X311L Localized Power Cord Kit North 2 N/C

We'll be using the Sun T2000 for testing of open source solutions for Business Intelligence, in support of our research both for our book project and for our strategic consulting services. We'll be reporting the results of our testing on this blog, the wiki and lens. We'll also be using Linux and Windows platforms as part of the testing. In addition to the performance and functional testing, we're also providing background information on the OSS BI projects. An example of which can be found in the series of podcasts that we just published with the folks at Pentaho. Part 3 also contains links to Part 1 and Part 2.

I also asked if Doris knew when the T2000 will be shipping? It will help in
our planning to know when to expect it. And it will help me contain my excitement at getting this new toy. :>> Clarise is pretty excited too.

Update: It looks like we'll have the machine by the end of March. April and May are going to be very busy.

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At the beginning, The Open Source Solutions Blog was a companion to the Open Source Solutions for Business Intelligence Research Project, and book. But back in 2005, we couldn't find a publisher. As Apache Hadoop and its family of open source projects proliferated, and in many ways, took over the OSS data management and analytics world, our interests became more focused on streaming data management and analytics for IoT, the architecture for people, processes and technology required to bring value from the IoT through Sensor Analytics Ecosystems, and the maturity model organizations will need to follow to achieve SAEIoT success. OSS is very important in this world too, for DMA, API and community development.

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