Webinar: Leveraging Data Governance to Align and Operationalize Business Policies

Thu, 21-Jan-2016

Help yourself to a free webinar on Data Governance from The Data Warehousing Institute (free registration required).

There is growing awareness that for practitioners to effectively manage data as an asset to the business, that data must not be simply collected and moved between systems, but must be validated to ensure the level of trust that the data is fit for its various downstream purposes. This demands conformance to business rules that accurately reflect meeting the needs of defined business policies. Understanding business policies, transforming them into data rules, and implementing those rules is the process of data governance. Organizations whose understanding enables their ability to effectively govern their data are gaining business advantage as they leverage data quality, metadata, and data governance tools to translate business policies into consistent, useful data.

Source: Leveraging Data Governance to Align and Operationalize Business Policies

Enterprise Integration: Behind the Scenes Integration with Rational Team Concert (RTC)

Mon, 14-Dec-2015

The last few weeks have been one of those periods where I went heads down to breakdown barriers between systems. This time, it is HP’s Application Lifecycle Management (easy) and IBM’s Rational Team Concert (hard!).

ALM has a decent ad hoc query tool built into its Web interface. It is totally dependent on Internet Explorer, but it gets the job done. The good news is the reporting tool allows you to write any SQL you want, and the tables and relationships are helpfully and thoroughly documented.

RTC is a system of a different colour. Let’s start with the XML that is stored as a compressed, binary stream in BLOB columns. It gets more complex from there. RTC has a built-in data warehouse export capability, but it is only snapped every two weeks at my site, and not completely at that. 

I have zero control over either system, but have the ability to query all of the data. That’s a decent place to start, but it just scratches the surface.

Tonight I finally closed the loop on a few major obstacles (enumerations!) and tomorrow I can start providing reports out of ALM that unify the ALM test data with the RTC project data. It’s been a tough slog, but when I compare the few weeks I’ve spent getting this ready to the enormous amount of time people have spent manually extracting and combining data from both of these systems, it is totally worth it.

Building solutions is nice, but building capabilities is even nicer. Making the complex simple is the real trick. I don’t want to build something that I have to keep supporting; all that remains are a few more database objects and then some documentation. After that, I can turn it over to the client to explore and build upon.

Photo Gallery: Annual Pilgramage to Oracle OpenWorld

Mon, 26-Oct-2015

If you’ve been to Oracle OpenWorld, you know there are really only two ways to attend: Full Conference and Discovery. The first gets you into the learning sessions and the second gets you into the exhibition halls.

Having done both, I can tell you either one will stuff your head for at least one day. The Full Conference will stuff it for at least four, and possibly five days. This is work.


Software Development Jobs – Broken Pipeline of Future Talent

Thu, 05-Feb-2015

I have been observing two trends in the tech industry for some time:

1. Outsourcing of so-called “low value” positions has eliminated entry-level positions that used to be a staging ground for future software developers.
2. The heavy use of “contractors” in the industry has created a situation where employers invest much less in skill development, if they spend anything at all.

These two forces combine to create a situation where demand remains strong for software developers and administrators (tech workers), but a huge barrier to entry has been created. Software Development is both a science and a craft, and while learning the science is relatively easy and can be picked up from a class or a book, the craft takes time to develop in a person. This time is an investment that used to mean you were hired to work on maintenance projects, which taught you about the business, the software, and exposed you to the code developed by senior developers.

In today’s paradigm, many large employers have outsourced their maintenance work to a tech services company, and divorced their software development from their business. Even if they have not outsourced their work, they are not hiring permanent employees. I don’t have any specific numbers, but from what I’ve seen at least 50% of tech employees are working as “contractors”, which is the tech industry’s version of a “temp” worker. Employers typically do not provide training or education to contractors because there is no incentive to, and contractor’s have no incentive to stick around after receiving expensive training or gaining experience working with a hot technology.

This trend has resulted in a situation that is good for experienced tech workers (programmers, architects, project managers) because they are able to find work fairly quickly, but also bad because they have no job security and benefits vary widely depending on the company they are working through to get the contract. Employers benefit because they can grow and shrink their workforce quickly without having to report layoffs. On paper this looks good to investors and shareholders, but there is a hidden cost that nobody is speaking about… the Leadership Pipeline.

In the old paradigm of tech worker employees, some employees eventually become senior developers. Some of these senior developers became architects or business analysts, and some of these tech leaders eventually became business leaders, who had a deep understanding of how technology supports their business. Many of these “old paradigm” tech leaders still exist within companies, but they are getting old fast and many have already retired.

In the new paradigm of tech worker contractors, individuals have no allegiance to an employer. They have a perverse incentive to only do exactly what they are asked to do, without an incentive to make sure what they are doing is good for the employer in the long term. Moreover, there is no incentive to succeed or complete a project because that often means the end of their contract. Under this paradigm, leaders who understand business and technology are increasingly rare and in most cases they must be hired from outside the company. Outside hires must spend time to create networks within the company, which old paradigm tech workers would already have.

This brings me back to my response to this article from Tech Republic. It is hard to get started in the tech industry largely because companies are only “hiring” contractors, who must already have experience in a given technology. How do you get the experience you need in a system that has broken the pipeline that trains future tech workers? How does a company develop its future tech leaders? When did loyalty and commitment become so devalued?

Apple Swift – New Programming Language

Mon, 02-Jun-2014

Wow! Watching the WWDC 2014 keynote demo of Apple’s new Swift programming language. This looks like a total candy language, meaning that writing code and developing apps for OS X and iOS is going to get as easy as writing VB was for Windows.

I wonder how it will tie in to enterprise data sources (i.e. Oracle Call Interface, ODBC, etc) and data visualisation.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the new OSX and XCode to start playing with this. Nice job Apple!

DRM Failure — This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Thu, 15-May-2014

The past 12 hours have been very enlightening (and frustrating) as we see the limits of DRM technology demonstrated all too well. It seems that the Adobe Digital Rights Management (DRM) servers are down or have some issue that prevents their own tool, Adobe Digital Editions, from being able to sign in.

The result has been frustrating, and I am simply unable to read any of my DRM-locked books on my computer. Basically, the books that I’ve paid for are locked and I cannot open them (on my computer). I cannot think of a better argument against DRM except Sony’s one-device movie lock-down for movies bought from their PS3 store, but that’s another post entirely.

Update, 12:20 PDT: Adobe has confirmed there is a sign-in outage via the @AdobeCares twitter account:

@AdobeCares Twitter Account Admits Sign-in Outage

Well this is embarrassing!

The message seems to indicate that this outage affects users of Adobe’s Creative Suite as well as those unlucky DRM users like your favourite author of tales of woe impacting technology consumers.


Adobe DRM Web Site Error Message

Adobe DRM Web Site Error Message

Adobe Digital Editions DRM Error Dialogue

Adobe Digital Editions DRM Error Dialogue

Are You Still Sending Your Email Without Encryption?

Tue, 04-Mar-2014

One of the easiest things you can do to protect your privacy is to encrypt your email using the Secure MIME (S/MIME) feature built into your desktop and mobile email applications.

Nothing you can do is 100% secure, but if you’re smart, you can at least make it difficult for hackers and unnamed government agencies from easily snooping on your email.

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