Today’s SQL Server 2012 Anniversary question is:
I thought the image I created above might inspire you.
Follow @SQLServer on Twitter and answer their daily questions to win fame and prizes.
I’ll be participating in this year’s Enterprise Data World 28 April to 2 May in San Diego, CA. If you register using the coupon code DATACHICK you can get $200 off a multi-day registration. That code saves you $50 on a one-day registration.
On Thursday, 2 May I’m giving a half day workshop on the data modeling process:
S5: Advanced Data Modeling: Be Happier, Add More Value and Be More Valued
Sr. Project Manager & Architect
In this advanced workshop, Karen Lopez covers how to make data modeling more relevant in 2012 and removing pain points for modelers and other team members. It includes how to be successful in an agile/scrum environment, how to make models valuable in a NoSQL project, how to better work with DBAs, Developers, Project Managers and how to sound and be more valuable.
This follows a workshop format, with both individual and team exercises. It is expected that attendees will have more than two years of hands-on data modeling and database design skills at the enterprise level.
Starting a Blog for Data Professionals
On Wednesday I’m doing a professional development session on getting started with blogging: Starting a Blog: Easy Step Show and Tell for Data Professionals. This session is nicely placed between the coffee and desserts segment on the exhibit floor and the ice cream social that happens right after. I’m expecting a lot of sugar-motivated potential bloggers.
I’ll also be doing some special activities with vendors and sponsors: watch your inbox for information from them about their events.
EDW is one of my favourite conferences of the year – part technical education, part data professional reunion, part data community revival. You don’t want to miss it.
My general advice on this question (and I get it a lot) focus more on fit to your organization and technical environment than on specific features. I should disclose that we partner with most the major data modeling tool vendors, but we don’t make any money from the sales of such tools. We aren’t a reseller and don’t get any referral fees. The partner programs I’m part of with these vendors is closer to an MVP or Ace program.
Target DBMS and Development Tool Support.
It depends on what your target DBMSs and data stores are, of course. While I am a huge fan of modeling for the knowledge, to document the business, and to be able to communicate requirements, ultimately to get the full value of modeling we need to ensure that our modeling products are directly able to support development and implementation activities as well as all the requirement gathering.
I see weaker returns on the value of modeling when the chosen modeling tool cannot be easily consumed by developers in their tools, or when the tool cannot forward and reverse engineer databases. This also include XML files, non-relational DBs and even the most common database in the world, Excel.
I consider this one factor the most important of all in the post.
Modeling Not Just Drawing
Every obstacle between the data models and another person’s ability to consume them is an obstacle for the models being integrated into the full development and support lifecycle. There’s very little chance of Model Driven Development being successful if all that wonderful data model goodness has to be retyped (and reinterpreted) into someone else’s process or products.
A data modeling tool needs to support the highly-iterative nature of data modeling. Drawing and database diagramming tools rarely have the ability to compare and resolve differences between models and databases. I do these types of compares many times a day, across many models and databases.
Data modeling tools also allow data architects to design and record important information beyond what might appear in an ERD or DDL. These features include security, encryption, capacity planning, data privacy and a slew of other critical data requirements. In shops where a diagramming tool such as Visio is used for data modeling, these important meta data items are typically buried in a spreadsheet or document. They can’t be easily searched or reported on, nor easily shared across projects.
Vendor Tech Support
When you buy a data modeling tool you aren’t just buying a product – you are investing in a vendor. Log a few tickets during evaluation. Learn how well support works. Remember, the vendor will never treat you better than when you were considering a purchase. If support is slow or non-existent it’s not going to get better after you buy. Don’t use your sales person as the support person. They may be great but they might not be your sales person tomorrow. You are evaluating the support process and system, not one person.
If the vendor says that tech support isn’t available to evaluators, ask them why not and tell them you need to evaluate them as well as their product.
The technical architecture landscape is changing faster than most vendors can respond. The good news is that often that means it’s changing faster than your organization can change as well. However, you need to review the history of releases of the product to assess the responsiveness of the vendor to changes in the industry. Sure, past performance is not a guaranteed indicator of future behaviour. It is something to consider, though.
Ask to see public roadmaps or presentations about products/features in development. Vendors can’t always share a lot of details but generally they have information they can share either at a high level or features that are currently in beta testing.
I don’t know about you, but my work happens in many locations and across many devices. As much as I’d like to buy a separate license for every desktop, laptop and tablet I own, I’m not going to do that. I do most of my modeling on a desktop with three screens because it makes me more productive. However, when I am in a meeting I want to use my laptop or tablet. If the only licensing scheme available is via device or MAC address I either have to buy multiple licenses or remote into my desktop to do the work. Neither one reflects how modelers really work. Licensing options such as floating/concurrent or user-based do.
If common tasks take hours instead of seconds the cost of using the tool may exceed the value it can deliver no matter how pretty your models are. If publishing models takes more than a few minutes you won’t publish (share) as often. You’ll want to evaluate the full lifecycle of modeling, including forward and reverse engineering, printing, publishing, sharing, exporting, importing…everything a professional data modeler needs to do to get his job done.
A team of data modelers (even a team of one + co-workers like developers and DBAs) must have real version control for models. That means not at the file level but at the object level within the model. A tiny change in one part of the model can ripple throughout the model completely unseen on the current diagram. The ability to compare the impact of a change to previous versions of the model is critical. Because data models are typically persisted in a proprietary format third party version control tools like Subversion can only detect changes at the full file level, not at the object level.
A drawing tool isn’t going to have these features.
If the tool doesn’t fit well within a corporate IT environment it’s going to be difficult to get support from your own IT resources. Support for the types of requirements you’d have for a business application is key. Active Directory, password complexity requirements, installation permissions required, target DBMSs supported, data file location configuration are just some of the examples of things to evaluate.
Your data models are production data for you, the modeler. You want production level support from your company’s IT resources. If the product isn’t enterprise ready, you’re going to have a tough time getting that support.
A vendor that participates and supports professionals in the field is one that is demonstrating how much they want to see users of their products succeed. Do they have product evangelists who help users succeed by blogging, creating videos, speaking at events, etc.?
Does the vendor sponsor user groups? Conferences you attend? Do they have a user group they fund? Do they they have a form product advisory group that helps product management understand the needs of data modelers in the field?
A vendor that gives back to the community is more likely to deliver the product features you need, plus help you be successful at data modeling.
All of the above features come at a cost, as do all enterprise class tools. But organizations are going to pay those costs whether or not they use Excel, Visio or FreeDrawingTool to manage their data architectures or a real data modeling tool. In my experience the real costs using these “cheap workarounds” greatly exceeds the costs of using a real enterprise data modeling tool due to lost productivity, data modeling errors, lack of reuse and wasted business user time in recreating the same data models over and over again.
Data modeling is more than diagramming tables. ERDs show about 10% of the information in a professional data model. You need tools that support your environment and data modeling goals. It’s less expensive, faster to model and your models will continue to deliver benefits for years and decades afterwards.
This month’s Big Challenges in Data Modeling webinar is Thursday at 2PM EDT. We’ll be talking about better collaboration with developers and the development process.
I have a great panel:
Missy Wittman, Information Modeling Engineer Specialist, American Family Insurance
Missy Wittmann is an Information Modeling Engineer Specialist at American Family Insurance. Missy has worked in the data modeling field for over fifteen years in various roles. She started out as a business partner on a project that did some data modeling and enjoyed the process so much that she changed career paths. Missy has facilitated projects for Business Modeling, Logical and Physical Data Modeling. Most recently she has been participating in projects that are creating XML Schema’s. Data Modeling is an exciting place to be in the world of technology. No matter what technology is being used to get the end result, we always need our blue-print!
Joe Devon, CoFounder, Diamond Web Services
Joe Devon is the co-founder of Diamond Web Services, a boutique web development shop based in Venice Beach; Startup Devs, a “Prototypes as a Service” company building MVP’s for startups, and founding partner of Television Four, where he is building a technology channel.
Joe has been a computer programmer for more than 20 years, working on projects spanning Search Engine technology, Performance Management, scaling Wide Area Networks; for Internet backbone providers, Investment Banks, Telcos & Media.
Joe serves on the advisory boards of leading development industry conferences (Zendcon, Semtech) and for the educational program of Cross Campus. Joe is an organizer of several technology oriented meetup groups in Los Angeles and CoFounded Global Accessibility Awareness Day, bridging the gap between disabled citizens and the Internet.
Gwen Thomas, President, Data Governance Institute
Gwen Thomas is a Data Governance pioneer, founder of the Data Governance Institute, and publisher of the web’s largest Data Governance resource at www.datagovernance.com. Gwen has personally assisted many large, mid-sized, and small organizations with their data strategies, data governance and stewardship programs, master data strategies, and other information practices. Gwen is a frequent presenter at industry data events and contributor to IT and business publications.
I’m expecting a lot of good discussion and sharing of tips about how data models and data modelers can best work with developers during fast-paced, get-er-done projects.
Registration is free, but you need to do that to get the information to join.
(plus an opportunity for PRIZES!)
We often work with Anthony, Pierre and Mitch, the evangelists from the IT Pro team at Microsoft Canada. They asked us to share this important message with you.
The team at Microsoft Canada is focused on ensuring that they help set you up for success by providing the information and tools you need in order to be get the most out of Microsoft based solutions, at home and at work.
Twice a year, Microsoft sends out the Global Relationship Study (GRS for short); it’s a survey that Microsoft uses to collect your feedback and help inform their planning. If you receive emails from Microsoft, subscribe to their newsletters‚ or you’ve attended our any of their events you may receive the survey.
The important details:
- Timing – March 4th to April 12th 2013
- Sent From – “Microsoft Feedback”
- Email Alias – “feedback@e–mail.microsoft.com”
- Subject Line – “Help Microsoft Focus on Customers and Partners”
Many of you already read the Microsoft Canada IT Pro team’s blogs‚ connect with them on LinkedIn and have attended their events in the last year or so. So you may already know that you’re their top priority. So they want to hear from you.
Pierre, Anthony and Mitch use the GRS results to shape what they do, how they do it and if it’s resonating with you. Tell them what you need to be the “go-to” guy (or gal). Tell them what you need to grow your career. They want you to be completely satisfied with Microsoft Canada.
This year, Pierre, Anthony and Mitch have delivered 30 IT Camps and counting across the country. Giving you the opportunity to get hands on and learn how to get the most value for your organization. They have a few more events planned this year, so keep an eye on their plancast feed for events near you. Based on your feedback, topics they’re planning to cover will include:
· Windows 8
· Windows Server 2012
· System Center 2012
· Private Cloud
· BYOD – Management and Security
That’s not all. They’ve heard you loud and clear so in addition to hands on events, they’re also delivering more technical content online via the IT Pro Connection Blog. Windows 8 continues to be a big area of focus for them. They covered a lot of great content at launch and they’ve complimented that with new content like:
In addition to this, there are some valuable online resources you can use like Microsoft Virtual Academy, Microsoft’s no-cost online training portal. Or software evaluations (free trials) on TechNet that allow you to build your own labs to try out what you’ve learned.
There are some great SQL Server labs there, too.
Let Microsoft Canada Know What You Need
Regardless of how you engage with the team at Microsoft Canada‚ you’d probably agree that they hear you. They’d also encourage you to continue to provide that great feedback. They thrive on it‚ they relish it‚ they wallow in it and most importantly of all‚ they action it. So please keep connecting with them and keep it coming! Pierre, Anthony and Mitch are listening.
Resources, Tools and Training
· Tim Horton’s Gift Card Contest – We’re giving away 350 Tim Horton’s gift cards, all you have to do to qualify is download a free qualifying software evaluation (trial). Download all three for more chances to win, but hurry, the contest closes soon.*
· Windows 8 Resource Guide - Download a printable, one-page guide to the top resources that will help you explore, plan for, deploy, manage, and support Windows 8 as part of your IT infrastructure.
· Windows Server 2012 Evaluation – Get hands on with Windows Server 2012 and explore the scale and performance possibilities for your server virtualization.
· Microsoft Support - Get help with products‚ specific errors‚ virus detection and removal and more.
· Microsoft Licensing -Visit the Volume Licensing Portal today to ask questions about volume licensing‚ get a quote‚ activate a product or find the right program for your organization.
*No purchase necessary. Contest open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec. Contest closes April 11, 2013 at 11:59:59 p.m. ET. Three-Hundred-and-Fifty (350) prizes are available to be won: (i) $10 CDN Tim Horton’s gift card. Skill-testing question required. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries. For full rules, including entry, eligibility requirements and complete prize description, review the full terms and Conditions.
You know I’m a fan of standards, both internal organizational standards and external open standards. Today was one of those days that made me feel like hugging a few more.
Have Surface Pro, Willing to Travel
I have a Surface Pro. It has been fun to get to know it, but I’ve had one thing stopping me from making it my primary travel machine: I would need to use it as a presentation device. When I bought it, the Microsoft store was out of the Surface Pro VGA adapters and due to hardware differences, the one for the Surface RT won’t work. I figured this was a typical Canadian retail outage and I could pick one up in the US or online somewhere. But then I started searching. Amazon.ca, BestBuy.ca. All sold out. So then I tried BestBuy.com. Not available online. Unavailable for pick up in any store I searched for.
I did see that Microsoft online stores would let me order, but I was worried that if I ordered I would then get a dreaded “backordered” email a few days later. So I resigned myself to wait.
Then I noticed something I should have noticed all along: the adapter wasn’t a proprietary connection like the power supply; it was Mini DisplayPort Adapter. Where had I heard that before? Thinking, thinking….BINGO. My MacBook Air uses Mini DisplayPort adapters. Could they work? I doubted it. I was sure there’s be something that just wouldn’t work. But I grabbed my set of VGA and HDMI adapters (the bottom two adapters in the photo) and hooked them up first to my TV, then a monitor. Bingo. They worked. I didn’t need to wait for Microsoft or lug around my heavy Targus Dual Display Dock that I bought. I could just keep using the same adapters for both my MacBook Air and my Surface Pro.
I didn’t have to install any drivers. All I had to do was configure the Surface to use an external device (Left side swipe to open the charms, click Devices, then Second Screen) and it all just worked.
That left the USB Ethernet dongle (the top adapter in the picture), something else I needed because sometimes I stay in hotels that don’t have Wi-Fi but do have wired Internet. I do travel with a small wireless router, but sometimes there’s an issue with the hotel’s proprietary login/charge screen. Having the option to wire up my tablet is a bonus.
I tried just plugging in my Apple USB Ethernet cord, but no joy. So I did some searching and came across these two blog posts that made it work":
- Liu Bo’s post on where to grab suitable drivers for Windows 8 and how to modify them to work. It’s a simple text edit and save.
- Laslow’s post on how to temporarily disable signed driver checking to install the modified driver. He has great detailed instructions and it’s only temporary, so a restart means I’m back to checking drivers.
That worked. So now I have two display options, HDMI and VGA and I know that I can find these in lots of retailers if I need more.
This all worked because neither Apple nor Microsoft chose to use proprietary adapters or appware to support video out on their devices. This is why standards are better for consumers. I can Reduce the purchase of more eCrap and iCrap. I can Reuse things I already had. Hopefully, they are Recyclable as well. They will at least have a much longer lifespan that all my proprietary connectors from the last 15 years.
Standards help consumers, even if they cut a bit of icing out of the math for the manufacturers. This is why Europeans have pretty much forced device manufacturers to use standard chargers. We need standards. Standards make stuff just work.
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- Karen Lopez on Strutting: We all Know When You are Doing It. So Stop.
- Joey D'Antoni on Strutting: We all Know When You are Doing It. So Stop.
- Karen Lopez on Strutting: We all Know When You are Doing It. So Stop.
- Thomas LaRock on Strutting: We all Know When You are Doing It. So Stop.
- Karen Lopez on Strutting: We all Know When You are Doing It. So Stop.
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