Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WebFOCUS Hyperstage for BI Columnar Database

For a client, I researched Information Builders' columnar database offering called Hyperstage. If you are a WebFOCUS customer, Hyperstage may be a cost-effective way to improve BI performance without special hardware, design, or administration.

This is a WebFOCUS-integrated database based upon technology from InfoBright (previously known as Brighthouse). Information Builders calls Hyperstage a "load-and-go," high-performance, highly scalable database that is simple to implement, use, and maintain.

Like other database adapters, Hyperstage is an add-on product integrated into the WebFOCUS Reporting Server, uses standard metadata, and is administered through the server console.

While relational databases store data organized into two-dimensional tables containing rows and columns, Hyperstage is designed to store together serialized values of each particular column. Rather than retrieve entire rows, a columnar database only reads the necessary columns.

This approach has proven useful for BI systems which need quick access to small subsets of data. Columnar databases in generate are optimized for analytic queries which ask questions about the data (e.g., aggregations and trends) rather than displaying records from the data.

Hyperstage organizes columns into "Data Packs" which are compressed to reduce the physical size of the database. While columnar data compressions of 10:1 ratios are common, an IB resource says one client obtained a 45:1 compression rate.

For faster retrieval, Hyperstage caches the Data Packs into memory. Hyperstage optimizes data access using an in-memory metadata layer known as the "Database Knowledge Grid." This feature helps eliminate the need for typical performance improvement techniques such as indexes, partitions, and materialized views.

Hyperstage uses an open-source relational database (either MySQL or PostgreSQL) and adds its own layers for improved data storage and query optimization. The WebFOCUS Hyperstage adapter will transform BI requests into optimized SQL queries. Queries that cannot be optimized by Hyperstage are handled by the relational database engine.

While the WebFOCUS language does not currently support a "HOLD FORMAT HYPERSTAGE" option, we should be able to easily replicate this feature with a small custom utility.

For example, many of my clients have nightly batch processing to load special BI databases for fast dashboard access. For Hyperstage, we might simply take some of those existing flat import files and use them as the input to a Hyperstage bulk load process.

Using the WebFOCUS language, we can develop a simple procedure to read the flat file's metadata and generate two SQL routines:

• CREATE command to initialize a Hyperstage structure (using ENGINE=BRIGHTHOUSE)
• LOAD DATA INFILE to bulk-load the Hyperstage structure


You can download my prototype of this WebFOCUS utility from my GitHub account.

Do you see places where Hyperstage might be of use within your organization? Let me know if I can be of service. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Integrating WebFOCUS with Python

The Python open-source object-oriented programming language is popular in today's workforce. It's been around for a couple of decades, but demand for talent is now growing rapidly.

While job postings for WebFOCUS professionals have always been low and steady, the number of jobs with Python has dramatically taken off over the last several years. Below is an Indeed job trend showing the relative growth of jobs for Python and WebFOCUS.  





It is never good to be limited to just a single instrument in your personal toolbox. If you are a WebFOCUS professional, you should learn additional popular technologies--one of them perhaps being Python. 

Many companies have started to use Python for statistical analysis and predictive analytics; there are even contentious arguments on the web debating if Python is better than the R statistical programming language (for example, see this blog). 

Recently, I posted a four-part article on how to integrate WebFOCUS with the R statistical programming language. Guess what? These techniques work equally well with the Python language. 

See these past blog postings:

Part I: Overview
Part II: How WebFOCUS calls R 
Part III: How WebFOCUS generates dynamic R scripts
Part IV: Closer Look at the R Scripts inside WebFOCUS



Are you seeing demand for Python in the marketplace? Leave a comment to give us your insight. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Seeking BI Consultants with WebFOCUS Skills

We are seeking Business Intelligence Consultants to join our team. If you are looking for a rewarding career with like-minded passionate individuals where you can maximize your learning experiences and build a strong BI reputation, consider Kencura Systems.

About Us
As the leading Midwest provider of WebFOCUS business intelligence talent, we continue to grow. We specialize in critical BI initiatives such as strategic advice; dashboard application development; and automated legacy reporting modernizations using the BI Modernization Workbench from Kencura Systems.

Since 2007, we have served over thirty clients and performed successful BI projects. Because our reputation is so important to us, we make sure each and every engagement is organized to win; our consultants have a full support team behind them.

Because of our strong reputation, the WebFOCUS software vendor Information Builders chose us to augment their Professional Services organization. In addition to working on vendor engagements, we also provides services directly to regional clients.

While we work in a variety of industries, we are seeing strong demand within financial services, healthcare providers, and insurance firms. 

Information Builders also named us an elite Solution Partner, providing the ability to resell the WebFOCUS BI product as part of our services engagements. As a formal partner, we have access to WebFOCUS software, technical support, documentation, training, and other resources. For many years, we have been a premium sponsor of the vendor's annual Summit week-long users' conference.

We have immediate opportunities for experienced BI professionals to join our team and participate in exciting client projects. We offer competitive benefits, tremendous learning opportunities, a strong social network, and a fun time.

Position
Being a Business Intelligence Consultant provides excellent career opportunities. Well-known firms come to us for the complex BI initiatives they cannot do themselves nor find expertise elsewhere (even the BI software vendor turns to us). We specialize in the WebFOCUS enterprise BI product but our consultants may get involved with a variety of complementary products, such as the R statistical programming language, Tableau Software, Big Data, and others).

As a BI Consultant with us, you will be involved with the entire SDLC and project management of BI applications. Some of our projects are team-based and others are independent, solo engagements. The right candidate must truly be a consultant, able to explain to clients what needs to be done (our clients do not hire us as contractors nor tell us what to do; we rarely perform support or maintenance functions).

Responsibilities
A BI Consultant will be responsible for the following:

  • Display professional behavior
  • Have a sense of urgency and strong self-management
  • Be driven to be the best BI consultant possible and help build the best team of associates
  • Perform entire SDLC work on BI projects, including project management, requirements gathering, analysis, design, coding, testing, training, and transitional support
  • Lead small-to-medium sized project teams
  • Display thorough knowledge of the BI industry, products, and related technologies
  • Acquire and maintain knowledge of emerging technologies within the BI industry (e.g., columnar database, Big Data, predictive analytics, etc.)
  • Be willing and able to travel as needed
  • Work with our management to maintain and continuously improve practice

Education
The BI Consultant will need the following level of education:

  • Bachelors Degree in an appropriate technical or business discipline
  • Or equivalent work-related combination of training and experience

Experience
The BI Consultant will need the following levels of experience:

  • 5-10 years of business analysis and SDLC
  • 3-5 years of WebFOCUS BI product
  • 1-3 years of GUI user interface development
  • 1-3 years of database management technologies
  • 1-3 years of enterprise security technologies
  • 1-3 years as consultant within a Professional Services firm (software vendor experience a plus)

Skills
Our BI Consultants need the following skills:

  • Strong interpersonal communications (verbal, written, presentation, etc.)
  • Abilities to perform all SDLC tasks
  • Abilities to perform within a wide variety of environments (different industries, working cultures, operating systems, security models, storage structures, etc.)
  • WebFOCUS releases 7 and 8
  • WebFOCUS Client Tier (configuration, administration, named-user security, etc.)
  • WebFOCUS Reporting Server (configuration, administration, metadata, adapters, security, etc.)
  • WebFOCUS Developer Studio (HTML Composer, Report Painter, etc.)
  • WebFOCUS InfoAssist (end-user Report Painter, Graph Assistant, etc.)
  • WebFOCUS 4GL (Dialogue Manager, core language, etc.)
  • Related web technologies (web servers, Java app servers, HTML, JavaScript, CSS, etc.)
  • Variety of database technologies (SQL, MDX, etc.)


(If you want to read about the right skills for a truly great WebFOCUS BI Consultant, read this article.)

Contact Us
If you are interested, please contact me.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

WebFOCUS BI Summit 2013 Update

If you had planned to meet up with me at Summit 2013 in Orlando, I apologize.

Trying to juggle several BI projects in the US and Europe, I decided to cancel my conference trip and work instead. 

Somebody else will take my place at the joint presentation for Hercules Tires, where they will show how they used WebFOCUS dashboards to enable dynamic BI for their mobile sales force. 

I cancelled my other presentation on BI buzzwords, however, although Information Builders has asked me to convert it into a webinar and run it as soon as possible. 

Eric Bulmahn, General Manager of Partner Intelligence, will be there along with several WebFOCUS consultants so please stop by the booth and say hello. Eric plans to give away an iPad Mini. 

Contact me if you have an important topic that you still want to discuss. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Partner Intelligence has Split!

When you think of BI, think of PI!
Partner Intelligence recently split from its previous owners, a local staffing and recruiting firm. We wish them the best after their decision to focus on Healthcare IT.

In the process of leaving the original parent organization, Partner Intelligence itself split.

I now operate Kencura Systems, which owns and maintains the software products and methodologies used within our large BI engagements. For example, we utilize the BI Modernization Workbench suite of software to automate the conversion of legacy reporting tools into web-based BI products. Kencura Systems is a formal provider of software and services to Partner Intelligence.

Eric Bulmahn, who joined me in 2009, now runs the Partner Intelligence services group. He provides our clients with a team of great people to perform complex BI engagements such as: strategic advice, dashboard application development, and automated legacy modernizations.

I should mention one other change. The Partner Intelligence e-mails had used the domain name of the staffing firm, so we needed to get new addresses. You can now reach Eric at EBulmahn at PIforBI dot com. You can reach me at DLautzenheiser at Kencura dot com.

If you are one of our thirty-plus happy Partner Intelligence clients, this split should not be of any concern to you. Other than a new corporate address and e-mail addresses, not much has changed. What is important to you has stayed the same: we are still here to provide you with quality BI services at a fair Midwest price.

About Me

My Photo

Summary:

With over 20 years of industry experience, Doug Lautzenheiser has provided business intelligence services for well-known organizations such as Procter & Gamble, JPMorgan Chase, Omnicare, Wendy’s International, the State of Indiana, and the State of Oklahoma. ComputerWorld recognized one of Doug's projects with honors for innovative use of technology.  Doug is a featured blogger on BI software at Smart Data Collective.

With his broad knowledge of technologies, business processes, and industry best practices, Doug provides client value by performing strategic advisory services; leading tactical BI application development projects; and enabling dramatic reductions in time, cost, and risks through his unique automated BI consolidation application.

Doug has hands-on experience with a variety of enterprise applications. He is degreed summa cum laude in Information Systems from the University of Cincinnati. An experienced trainer and mentor, Doug has provided educational services to organizations such as National Semiconductor, Ford Motor Company, Northwest Airlines, Principal Financial Group, and Target Stores. Doug is the owner of Kencura Systems.

Talk to Doug before manually performing a large BI initiative. Doug will show you how other smart companies saved time and money by following proven methodologies and automating BI processes instead of letting somebody "wing it" with a manual approach.

Specialties:

B2B software vendor leadership. BI implementations, standardization, and consolidation; data warehousing; WebFOCUS; iWay; BI vendors (Cognos, SAP Business Objects/Crystal Reports, Microstrategy, Actuate, Hyperion/Brio, SAS, Tableau Software); ERP; and full SDLC.