Tuesday, February 24, 2009

poem Over Cocktails


Kim the marketer
swears she hasn’t made her mark
but I’m a marked man.

Amber has numbered
the years of her career for
only me to hear.

As for poor Pauli
currently between jobs I’ll
listen but I’m male.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

poem Depletionary Stakes


Among elements
humanity’s hope may well
be molybdenum.

Upon this orb we’ll
scratch it out or, resourceful,
maybe mine the moon.

Scout it. Blast that ore.
As we’ve done petroleum
and uranium.

poem Lax


Dial back the blood and
dilate those capillaries.
You’ll see some results.

Oxygenate your
outlook. Let lax the vex and
laborious breath.

Feel the infusion.
Fill with enthusiasm
gods in your temple.

poem Recessionary Gold


When the water fled
the dead rested. Mummified.
Secure till the flood.

While the money runs
we’re liquid as hell, floating our
hardboiled nest eggs.

Waxing nostalgic
for those dear days when happy
days were here again.

poem Slinky


Spry and springy odd
cylinder thingy.

Swings end over end
with a gentle bend.

This spirally band
uncertainly lands.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

poem 1967


Blissed as twittering
Cowsills in trees. "The Rain The
Park And Other Things."

Nonplussed as post "Wild
Thing" Troggs boldly croaking that
"Love Is All Around."

Weighty as Yardbirds'
"Shapes of Things" anchored by pre
Zeppelin Jimmy.

poem A Marital Vinyasa


"We've saluted so
many suns. Numb, we gasp from
their sheer sunniness."

"We sweat. We struggle
to hold our focal points on
some middle distance."

"Some perturbation
in Bally's stained ceiling tiles
does it for me, dear."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

poem A Marital Valentine


"A tiny candy
under your pillow...could have
easily been crushed."

"The message on it
was even teenier...an
eyestrain...sorry, luv."

"As insubstantial
a confection as can be
imagined...my sweet."

Friday, February 13, 2009

fyi Pull Wii Games Off Shelves, Says Radio Pundit


Stimulus: http://blogs.computerworld.com/pull_wii_from_shelves?source=NLT_BLOG

Response: I wouldn’t recommend pulling Wii off store shelves. It’s more of a caveat emptor situation. My primary problem with Wii--which I used at friends' parties a few times over the holiday season--is that many games require you to lunge, repeatedly, intensely, mindlessly, asymmetrically, herky-jerkily, into bare air, flailing any and all appendages, without any counter-resistance. That felt to my 50-year-old body like a surefire prescription for throwing everything out of joint. Oh yeah...the carpal tunnel potential on handling the controller...that too, but that’s the least of it. I do powerflex twice a week in a class/instructor setting. Every lunge we do has the resistance of weights that we balance on our shoulder blades--plus the slow controlled, balanced movements that systematically work the micro-fibers of our muscles, never relying on pure inertia or momentum to move the weights up and down, side to side. Wii’s not my style, because I prefer to strengthen and calm my body--with images and rhythms generated by my mind, breathing, and muscle memory--not cartoon avatars and idiotic synth-ditties yanking me around on some TV screen.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

poems 4 pastorals from various years


Sheepdogs shear the air
with their bark, prepare

the perimeter
beyond which white flocks

never tend, inside
which grow whole bubble

edens, clusters of
friends and familiar

foe to guide us by,
pastures that glide and

deliver us back
miraculous yields.


a religious man
i love our lemon

green ancient forebear
two eyes fixed on

phantoms, the rumored
earth, hands ready to

pull her tender frame
toward uppermost

reaches in a
branching bouquet of

sheltering blossoms
one of which, or so

the story goes, was
large, could

take families whole
into a supple

recess and mothers
needn't worry that

little hands
could ever attract

he of the curvy
claws and the piercing



Lord, shepherd, my sufficiency
softly sustains me in green sleep,

walks me along the cool currents
into the awakening day

upon paths brightened in splendor
of his most sheltering essence.

Even in deepest depression
your presence abides me, fearless,

strong as your hand holds the crook-stick,
secure as your feasts from the foe.

You bless me with gracious perfume.
You overfill my meek chalice.

Surely, sweet fortune will trail me
Lord, dwelling here day without end.


I’ll take a meadow
wherever nature’s chosen
to happily jam.

Medians wild and
rioting, freeways redeemed
in numberless weeds.

Old federations of
fresh bees and blooms
wherever wasteland resumes.

FORRESTER blog repost What, If Anything, is a “Niche Vendor,” Where Enterprise Data Warehousing is Concerned?

What, If Anything, is a “Niche Vendor,” Where Enterprise Data Warehousing is Concerned?


By James Kobielus

Now that we’ve published my Forrester Wave for Enterprise Data Warehousing (EDW) Platforms, you’d think I can breathe easier. Far from it. No matter how carefully one words a report, there is always the potential for misunderstanding. I’m already seeing some of that surrounding the notion of what, exactly, constitutes an EDW “niche vendor.”

For starters, that term--“niche vendor”--is not in my vocabulary, and not in my Wave. In the Wave, I used the standard Forrester methodology, which, based on transparent criteria and evaluation scores, distinguishes among “Leaders,” “Strong Performers,” “Contenders,” and “Risky Bets.” Rest assured that all seven of the vendors I evaluated--Teradata, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Netezza, and Sybase, are either “Leaders” or “Strong Performers.”

We have no formalized definition of “niche vendors” in the Wave.Instead, all of the vendors in my Wave should be understood as “enterprise” data warehousing platform providers. The qualifier “enterprise” indicates that they are all addressing a wide range of enterprise Information and Knowledge Management (I&KM) requirements for data warehousing. However, some of them are better positioned at this time to target a broader addressable market than are others, as evidenced by the details of their current offerings, strategies, and market presence. The vendors that are addressing the widest range of EDW marketplace requirements and opportunities scored higher in the Wave.

I think the crux of the misunderstanding lies in my acknowledgement that there in fact “niche” segments of the EDW platforms market, and that some vendors have differentiated themselves well in those niches without, necessarily, being locked into them permanently. I refer to “niche markets,” “niche solutions,” and “niche deployments,” but never “niche vendors.” I do use “niche player” at one point, but that’s to reflect a vendor’s strategy, not its destiny.

To reflect that nuanced understanding, I placed the following qualifying language at the intro to the “Strong Performers” section:

“Strong Performers have proven themselves in particular niches, primarily among large enterprises but also in a growing range of midmarket deployments. These vendors’ substantial, loyal, and longtime customer bases suggest plenty of opportunity for well-differentiated niche products in the multifaceted and innovative EDW platforms market. I&KM professionals can rest assured that these and other substantial EDW platform vendors have the staying power, resources, and vision to weather the ups and downs in today’s turbulent IT market.”

What exactly, then, is an EDW “niche solution”? Actually, before I answer that, let’s discuss what’s not a niche solution? Essentially, any solution portfolio that is well-suited to addressing the broadest range of EDW requirements--and in fact has production customers to demonstrate a vendor’s success at doing just that--is the polar opposite of a niche solution.

In order to be “well-suited” in this regard, an EDW solution portfolio should have the comprehensive functionality, flexibility, scalability, and affordability to qualify for short-listing by I&KM professionals with the broadest range of requirements. More than that, the vendors should demonstrate considerable success in selling their solutions into the full range of customer size classes, verticals, and geographies.

It’s one thing to state, in the abstract, that one’s EDW solution portfolio has universal appeal, but quite another to demonstrate that a critical mass of real customers across all segments have found it appealing enough to put their money down and standardize on it. A vendor's pricing, licensing, packaging, sales, marketing, distribution, support, and professional services are critically important for them to achieve this degree of universal--or at least widespread--adoption. Also, sometimes, what holds a vendor back from broad appeal is a marketplace perception issue that may be several years out of date, but is still a tangible competitive handicap.

One way of interpreting the Wave is that the higher-scoring vendors have the least “niche-y” solutions on the market. Of course, a niche may be a large one, as measured by the number of actual or potential customers, but it’s still a potential competitive handicap if a vendor is having difficulty breaking out of it--or doesn't realize it hampers their growth prospects. And a niche may be a matter of a vendor’s sales strategy--e.g., selling their DW appliance primarily as an OLAP data-mart accelerator--that has paid off in sales momentum but is becoming a confining pigeonhole. Or the niche may be an architectural specialty--such as a columnar database--that has great strengths for particular EDW-node deployment roles but may be suboptimal for other roles.

Sometimes, vendors position their niche approach as the future of the market as a whole, and as the answer to every EDW requirement that every user might have. And, sometimes, the market disagrees, as expressed through customer demand, or the lack thereof, leaving vendors mystified as to why they're not becoming the pre-eminent market leader.

And sometimes, an emerging niche (i.e., vendor growth-potential-limiting constraint) may not be apparent to the vendors that, heretofore, have assumed that it constitutes the entire EDW market. One such emerging niche is for EDW solutions that have not yet attained petabyte-scale in production customer deployments, in demo environments, or in the lab. In fact, that niche includes the majority of today’s EDW solutions, and the vast majority of I&KM requirements. Some vendors (read the Wave to see who) have moved beyond that sub-petabyte niche, or are just now traversing that threshold, or are soon likely to. Interestingly, most vendors in the EDW Platforms Wave offer a credible case that they’ll soon attain full petabyte-scalability, but only a few had actual customer deployments showing that they’re already there.

But none of this is to be read as vendor destiny. The Wave also scores the vendor’s corporate and product directions, and their momentum in selling into customer-size, vertical, and geographic segments outside their installed base. All of this is to be understood as a vendor attempting to break out of whatever niche(s) its solutions may be concentrated in.

And, indeed, that’s a key take-away from the Forrester Wave for EDW Platforms. All seven of these vendors are rapidly evolving out of the various niches in which their solutions have been deployed. That includes petabyte-scalability. Consequently, you shouldn’t assume--simply because a vendor didn’t demonstrate “well-beyond” one-petabyte scalability for the purpose of gaining a “5” on that Wave criterion in Q1 09--that the vendor won’t able to demonstrate that capability for you, in their lab, next week.

The EDW market is evolving extraordinarily fast. Clearly, we’ll need to update the EDW Platforms Wave in the coming year or so to keep pace.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

poem We Test Positive


That athletes abuse
our trust ain’t news. They’ll smash and
snort any substance.

That we’ll indulge them
their little lies. No surprise.
The shame’s also ours.

We place our faith in
the stupendous. Superstars
and hidden magic.

Friday, February 06, 2009

FORRESTER blog repost The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Data Warehousing (EDW) Platforms Q1 2009: The Key Takeaway

The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Data Warehousing (EDW) Platforms Q1 2009: The Key Takeaway


By James Kobielus

Today we published the first Forrester Wave™ specifically focused on Enterprise Data Warehousing (EDW) Platforms. The final published report is now available on Forrester’s website to clients. Information and Knowledge Management (I&KM) professionals will find it a timely and actionable study of the leading EDW platform vendors: Teradata, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Sybase, and Netezza. I urge you to download and read it, and then engage me, the author-analyst, in inquiries and advisories to help you apply it to your EDW initiatives.

The key takeaway from this Wave is that scalability, flexibility, and affordability are the dominant requirements in today’s budget-stressed EDW platforms market. I&KM professionals are under the gun, trying to keep EDW and business intelligence (BI) costs under tight control while preserving the flexibility to grow and repurpose these investments to support an ever-changing array of decision-support requirements. Hence, an EDW platform--to score well in the Wave--should address the following high-bar requirements:

Extremely scalable: The EDW platform should be scalable to support petabytes of usable data; thousand-plus distributed compute/storage nodes; tens of thousands of concurrent users and queries; many terabytes of daily or continuous data loads; and expanding mixed workloads of reporting, query, OLAP, in-database analytics, real-time analytics, ETL, data cleansing, and other transactions. It should support this extreme scalability through scale-out, shared-nothing MPP, optimized appliances, optimized storage, dynamic query optimization, and mixed workload management technologies.

Extremely flexible: The EDW platform should be flexible to support diverse applications, including business intelligence, online analytical processing, data mining, predictive analytics, text analytics, closed-loop business process management, and complex event processing; and various deployment roles, including multi-domain data hubs, subject-specific data marts; operational data stores, master data management hubs, staging nodes, analytic data marts, multi-temperature hierarchical storage management and archiving, and source and/or target repository in data federation environments. It should support this extreme flexibility by being fluid, adaptive, and virtualized; enabling data to be transparently persisted, in diverse physical and logical formats, to an abstract, seamless grid of interconnected memory and disk resources; and delivered with subsecond delay to consuming applications; and ensuring application service levels through an end-to-end, policy-driven, latency-agile, distributed-caching and dynamic query-optimization memory grid.

Extremely affordable: The EDW platform should be affordable for all customer segments and use cases. It should support this extreme affordability through flexible packaging/pricing, including licensed software, modular appliances, and “pay as you go” subscription-based SaaS/cloud offerings.

EDW platforms vendors that can’t address these key requirements--now or in their enhancement roadmaps over the coming 2-3 years--will not survive in this very competitive arena.

As noted above and in my blogpost last week, scalability, performance, and optimization are perhaps the most important criteria in today’s EDW market. And, of course, they are quite difficult to nail down into a single yardstick that does justice to different vendors’ approaches. Nevertheless, I believe this Wave accomplishes that. I have boiled down “scalability, performance, and optimization” (SPO) into a single criterion that defines five profiles (from 5= most scalable to 1 = least scalable), focusing on the degree of parallelism in the underlying architecture.

For each of the vendors in this Wave, I got a deep dive on their SPO architecture, but I didn’t stop there. I asked each vendor for reference customers, and conducted a structured interview with each. I asked each for a list and description of their largest production customer deployments. And I asked each for published benchmarks, plus all the supporting info on how the test environments, scenarios, and criteria. In other words, I applied the standard Forrester Wave methodology.

Essentially, the customer deployment and benchmark data corroborated whether a vendor in fact earned the particular SPO score associated with their architectural approach. Clearly, there were plenty of gray areas. Also, quite clearly, vendors had plenty of comments on the definitions of the SPO scales, and on where they fell on this spectrum. And, of course, many pointed out that being scored, say, a “2” rather than a “4” or “5” didn’t necessarily mean they were slower, less efficient, or incapable of processing various EDW and BI workloads. It also didn’t mean that they couldn’t, in practice and in customer deployments, push the scalability and speed envelope that one would associate with their architecture. Architecture isn’t destiny, but it definitely sets SPO constraints, which is the whole point of the scoring on this criterion in this Wave.

All the vendor feedback was excellent and helped me tweak and tune the scale to fit the EDW market’s current and emerging state of the art. With that said, here are the final SPO scales in this Wave:

5 = scale out through shared-nothing massively parallel processing (MPP), up to 100-1000+ storage/compute nodes in single-tier grid of compute/storage nodes, and well beyond 1000s of terabytes (TBs) of online, usable production data across distributed deployment

4 = scale out in the storage tier to 100-1000+ nodes and/or up to around 1000 TBs of online, usable production data, but lacking support for single-tier-grid shared-nothing MPP and/or lacking the ability to scale out to 100-1000+ nodes in the compute tier

3 = scale-out through shared-nothing MPP and/or clustering, up to 2-100 storage and/or compute nodes and up to 100s of TBs of online, usable production data across distributed deployment

2 = scale-up through symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), and up to 10s of TBs of online, usable production data, and scale-out in a clustered deployment of 2-99 compute nodes

1 = scale-up through SMP and up to 10s of TBs of online, usable production data on a single-node deployment

To see how the vendors ranked, you’ll need to read the Wave. Or engage me in an inquiry or advisory. Or, preferably, both.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

FORRESTER blog repost Is BI Recession-Proof...or Are We Just Bracing for the Next Shoe to Drop?

Is BI Recession-Proof...or Are We Just Bracing for the Next Shoe to Drop?


By James Kobielus

The economic outlook isn’t all gloom and doom. Bright spots remain in some substantial IT growth sectors--most important, in the sprawling business intelligence (BI) market.

In the past month, we’ve seen solid financials--in some cases, record growth and profitability numbers--from leading BI vendors, including SAP (Business Objects), IBM (Cognos), and privately held SAS Institute. Oracle and Microsoft also seem to be doing fairly well with BI-related revenues. Even vendors that only participate in BI environments as a provider of data warehousing (DW) solutions (e.g., Sybase) or data integration (DI) middleware (e.g., Informatica) are reporting outstanding financials all the way through year-end 2008. That includes the period just passed when the world economy began to spiral wildly out of control.

What’s going on here? Is the BI industry recession proof, or is the next soft-economy shoe--or heavy hammer--poised to drop on this segment’s unsuspecting heads? To some extent, I suspect that BI’s relative, perhaps short-lived, immunity from tough times is due to its use as a “recession-busting” tool for identifying areas to cut costs, consolidate operations, and boost revenues. SAS CEO Jim Goodnight articulated this view in his recent statement: “In tough times, companies focus on optimizing their businesses.”

But excuse me if I take a slightly cynical perspective on any sector’s claim to be recession proof. I take issue with the notion that people have no choice but to use one particular vendor’s or sector’s product, no matter how bad the economy gets. For example, the “people gotta eat” argument didn’t translate into general prosperity in the agricultural sector during the Great Depression. People found ways to survive on less store-bought food--or less meats and sweets--or larger backyard gardens--or handouts.

As regards the indispensability of BI, I suspect the actual market dynamic is bit more nuanced than we’ve been led to believe. What’s interesting about the latest round of BI vendor earnings numbers is that some are lackluster and/or declining. Case in point: MicroStrategy’s recent report of a 12 percent decline in BI license revenues in Q4 2008, compared to the same quarter a year earlier (bear in mind that the vendor’s product licensing revenues grew by 5 percent for the year as a whole, due to a strong start).

Why is MicroStrategy reporting flaccid Q4 numbers but SAP, IBM, SAS, and others are doing OK? I suspect that one of the key factors is the encroaching commoditization of “core BI” stacks, with concomitant declines in prices. Forrester defines “core BI” as solutions that incorporate any or all of the following features for information access, delivery, presentation, and user-side sharing: reporting, query, OLAP, dashboarding, Microsoft Office integration, portal integration, alerting/notification, and interactive visualization. Clearly, this particular segment is overcrowded, with dozens of vendors--including open-source and software-as-a-service providers--that are becoming as indistinguishable as polar bears in a blizzard. Though MicroStrategy is a well-established, widely adopted core-BI vendor, it does not have much beyond that common denominator feature set.

Another trend that’s making it more difficult for MicroStrategy and similar vendors to grow is enterprise information managers’ desire to consolidate their analytics environments down to a few core vendors--which, more often than not, provide data warehousing (DW), data mining, data quality, and other solutions in addition to core BI. MicroStrategy is mostly missing from those other markets, so it may be experiencing problems growing its footprint among existing customers.

Yet another trend that explains the soft MicroStrategy numbers may be enterprises’ preference for BI vendors that can offer a full range of prepackaged “business content”--such as analytics tailored to specific vertical and horizontal requirements--to extend and leverage the core BI platform. That’s where the likes of SAP/Business Objects, IBM/Cognos, Oracle/Hyperion, and SAS come into the picture--and the MicroStrategies of the BI market are mostly absent.

Just as important to these latter vendors’ ongoing success are strong professional services organizations, partnerships, and customer relationships. Only by deepening their domain expertise and customer intimacy--and pouring this new “business content” into packaged applications and solution accelerators--can BI vendors realize healthy margins going forward. Forrester refers to these packaged domain analytics applications as “business performance solutions” (BPS).

SAS’ Goodnight alluded to this key BI-vendor success imperative in his recent press release: “We achieved our 33rd year of revenue growth in the worst economy most can remember. This growth is a direct result of being a stable privately held company, which allows us to invest in long-term relationships with employees and customers.”

Where SAS and some other vendors are concerned, another key differentiator that’s helping them stay strong is emphasis on BI’s chief growth segments: most notably, advanced analytics, which encompasses predictive analytics (PA), data mining (DM), and text mining/analytics. Deep domain expertise and customer intimacy are also keys to vendor growth in advanced analytics. Indeed, the range of tailored analytic applications that leverage advanced analytics features continues to grow, though the number of PA/DM “workbench” providers on the market remains fairly stable.

At heart, BI is a relationship business. The BI solution provider should be a committed partner helping customers to address their most burning success imperatives. Customers won’t forget if you helped them out of a tight situation, such as nasty patch of sluggish economy. They’ll keep coming back to you time and again.

Steady repeat business--loyal customers--indispensable brands--that’s the best business model--just ask Warren Buffett.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

poem Irr


Scars are weeks to heal.
Cold sores a matter of days.
Sunburns forever.

Imprints of ancient
days out, life indelible,
this solar tattoo.

Dust are damage. A
matter of maintenance. All
coughing and sweeping.

poem That'll or This'll


I can't remember
if I cried. Was eighty-one
days the day they died.

And the three men I
admittedly'd never heard.
Not yet into rock.

Long long time ago.
Still hadn't acquired Don's sense
of foreshadowing.