SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, April 13, 2006--ProClarity: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Buy 'Em

In This Issue:
It's not clear yet how Microsoft will use ProClarity in its BI offerings, but the acquisition can only strengthen Microsoft's position in the BI market.

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April 13, 2006

1. Perspectives

  • ProClarity: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Buy 'Em
  • 2. News & Views

  • Registry Fix Corrects SQL Server 2000 SP3 Installation Error

  • Results of Previous Instant Poll: SQL Server Connections
  • New Instant Poll: Microsoft BI
  • 3. Reader Challenge

  • April Reader Challenge Solution: Querying Tables and Views on a Linked Server
  • May Reader Challenge: Running SQL Server 2000 Queries in SQL Server 2005
  • 4. Events and Resources

  • E-Book: Secure Communications
  • DevConnections Europe: Buy 1 Get 1 Free!
  • Make Full Use of Your VoIP Network
  • Learn SQL Server 2005 High-Availability Essentials
  • 5. Featured White Paper

  • A Multi-Tier Approach to Email Security
  • 6. Peer to Peer

  • Hot Tip: What's a Snapshot?
  • Hot Article: Brush Up on Design Essentials with the SQL Diagrammer
  • In a Nutshell: Industry Trends Watch
  • Hot Threads
  • 7. Announcements

  • Exclusive Spring Savings
  • Save 44% On Exchange & Outlook Administrator Newsletter
  • 8. New & Improved

  • Consolidate to Reduce SQL Server Sprawl
  • Learn How to Write Good SQL Code
  • Simplify XML Data Integration Tasks

  • Sponsor: Quest Software
    Hit your SQL Server 2005 performance target

    Aim for optimal SQL Server 2005 performance with solutions from Quest Software. Automate the time-intensive process of identifying, re-writing and benchmarking poor SQL with Toad(TM) for SQL Server Xpert. Isolate SQL Server stress factors with Benchmark Factory(R). Discover, diagnose and resolve performance issues and database bottlenecks in real time with Spotlight(R) on SQL Server. And forecast and trend storage requirements with Capacity Manager for SQL Server. Get the most out of your SQL Server 2005 platform with tools from Quest Software. Download one, or all, of our free trial products now: http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=2704D:285886

    1. Perspectives

    ProClarity: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Buy 'Em
    by Brian Moran, [email protected]

    Microsoft dramatically shook up the business intelligence (BI) market competitive landscape last week with the acquisition of ProClarity, one of the leading developers of third-party analysis and visualization tools for the Microsoft BI platform. The Microsoft press release (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/apr06/04-03ProClarityPR.mspx) emphasizes the compatibility of the two companies' visions. The release features a statement from Bill Baker, general manager of Microsoft Office Business Applications, who says the ProClarity acquisition will help Microsoft "build even more BI capabilities into the Microsoft Office system productivity tools people use every day." And ProClarity CEO Bob Lokken says his company shares "Microsoft's enthusiasm for making BI accessible to all decision maker's within an organization."

    Although I haven't reviewed ProClarity's latest market-share data, I know that the company was one of the first third-party providers of tools for the Microsoft BI space and is widely regarded as one of the best BI providers in the market. Microsoft regularly buys small software companies to roll into its own product suites, but it's rare for Microsoft to acquire such a visible, leading player. I've been following the SQL Server space since the product's beginnings (when SQL Server ran on LAN Manager and OS/2), and I can't recall Microsoft ever acquiring a product that has such a significant market share in a mature market segment—at least in the SQL Server space. (I'm sure someone will quickly point out some major event I've missed, and I'll be glad to pass that info along next week!)

    I worked with the first release of the ProClarity platform and attended one of the company's earliest partner-training events in the days of SQL Server 7.0. I remember joking with CEO Bob Lokken, "So, when is Microsoft going to buy you?" From the start, ProClarity's offering was strong, especially when compared to the weak Microsoft offerings of the time, which relied on Microsoft Office as a BI front end. In addition, the ProClarity platform did a great job of leveraging Microsoft technology.

    The move to acquire the mature ProClarity product raises some interesting questions:
    ―Will Microsoft integrate ProClarity into existing Microsoft tool offerings (i.e., Office), or will ProClarity become a standalone, high-end product?
    ―What does this acquisition mean for other third-party BI tool providers? Which companies will be able to compete, and which small tool companies may go out of business?

    Microsoft hasn't revealed whether ProClarity's platform will be integrated into the Microsoft BI stack or be consumed by the upcoming Office 2007. But ProClarity Analytics is a best-of-breed product, and Microsoft has made great BI-related strides in the upcoming Office release. So tool choices for Microsoft customers are bound to be varied and rich.

    I'm not sure I'd want to be a standalone-tool competitor in the Microsoft BI space. Competition in this arena will be tough given the massive upcoming BI improvements in Office 2007 and the acquisition of ProClarity. I'm sure BI competitors such as Cognos and Business Objects are also keenly interested in this acquisition. Microsoft BI has made enormous strides over the years, and the company has become recognized as a leading player in the BI space. The ProClarity acquisition can only make Microsoft an even stronger player.

    Are you using Microsoft BI? Enjoy! Your choice of tools that will be offered directly by Microsoft are bound to improve by leaps and bounds over the upcoming year. In next week's editorial, I'll examine how this acquisition fits into Microsoft's "Your Data, Any Place, Any Time" vision, which Paul Flessner described in an update last week (http://www.microsoft.com/sql/letter.mspx).

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    2. News & Views

    Registry Fix Corrects SQL Server 2000 SP3 Installation Error

    When you install SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3) on a computer that has Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) 2.6 or earlier installed, you might receive one of two error messages indicating that the SP3 installation failed. Microsoft provides two methods for changing the registry to work around the failure. Microsoft stresses the inherent dangers of working with the registry and warns that if you use the Registry Editor incorrectly, you might not be able to solve the problems you create. Thus, if you choose to use the methods in this article, you should have a backup of your registry before you start. You can read about the two workaround methods and link to information about working with the registry in the Microsoft article "You may receive the 'Setup was unable to validate the logged user' error message when you install SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3" at http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=kb;en-us;814844&spid=2852&sid=global

    Results of Previous Instant Poll: SQL Server Connections
    "Did you attend this week's Connections conference in Orlando, Florida?" Here are the results from the 59 votes:

  • 12% Yes, I always attend
  • 5% Yes, it was my first time
  • 12% No, but I plan to attend this fall
  • 2% No, but I plan to attend the Europe Connections show
  • 69% No, and I'm not planning to
  • New Instant Poll: Microsoft BI
    "Are you using Microsoft BI?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine home page ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=27060:285886 ) and submit your vote for

  • Yes, Microsoft BI is core to our business.
  • We use BI regularly, but we don't use Microsoft BI tools.
  • We've begun to roll out Microsoft BI solutions.
  • We'd love to start using BI, but don't know where to begin.
  • BI? What's BI?

  • 3. Reader Challenge

    April Reader Challenge Solution: Querying Tables and Views on a Linked Server
    by Umachandar Jayachandran, [email protected]

    Congratulations to Kenny and to Alejandro Mesa. Kenny won first prize of $100 for the best solution to the April Reader Challenge, "Querying Tables and Views on a Linked Server." Alejandro won second prize of $50. You can read a recap of the problem and the solution to the April Reader Challenge at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=2704C:285886

    May Reader Challenge: Running SQL Server 2000 Queries in SQL Server 2005
    Now, test your SQL Server savvy in the May Reader Challenge, " Running SQL Server 2000 Queries in SQL Server 2005" (below). Submit your solution in an email message to [email protected] by April 20. Umachandar Jayachandran, a SQL Server Magazine technical editor, will evaluate the responses. We'll announce the winner in an upcoming SQL Server Magazine UPDATE. The first-place winner will receive $100, and the second-place winner will receive $50.

    Here's the challenge:
    David is a DBA who manages several SQL Server 2000 database servers. His current project is to test his applications against a database server running SQL Server 2005. As part of the evaluation, David needs to verify queries and stored procedure calls made from some of the applications that collect various statistics in the production environment. One particular SQL Server 2000 database query produces an error on the SQL Server 2005 server. The following snippet shows the query and error:

    SELECT r.name, p.runid, p.attr, CAST(p.value AS int) AS measure
    FROM ProcStats AS p
    JOIN Runs AS r
    ON r.id = p.runid
    WHERE p.attr = r.primary_attr AND CAST(p.value AS int) > 20000
    Server: Msg 245, Level 16, State 1, Line 1
    Syntax error converting the varchar value '1/1/2000' to a column of 
    data type int.

    The query uses the sample data in the following code:

    id int NOT NULL identity primary key, name varchar(30) NOT NULL, 
    primary_attr varchar(30) NOT NULL
    CREATE TABLE ProcStats (
    id int NOT NULL identity primary key, runid int NOT NULL references 
    Runs(id), attr varchar(30) NOT NULL, value varchar(30) NOT NULL
    INSERT INTO Runs values ('r1', 'a2')
    INSERT INTO Runs values ('r2', 'a2')
    INSERT INTO ProcStats values( 1, 'a1', '1/1/2000' )
    INSERT INTO ProcStats values( 2, 'a1', '1/1/2000' )
    INSERT INTO ProcStats values( 1, 'a2', '8348' )
    INSERT INTO ProcStats values( 2, 'a2', '192487' ) 

    Without making any schema changes, help David to do the following:
    1. Identify the cause of the error.
    2. Rewrite the query so that he can eliminate the error and ensure that the query runs on both SQL Server 2005 and 2000.

    4. Events and Resources

    Get all you need to know about today's most popular security protocols, including SSL-TLS, for Web-based communications.

    DevConnections Europe: Buy 1 Get 1 Free!
    Time is running out to register for DevConnections Europe, 24-27 April 2006 in Nice, France, at the Nice-Acropolis Convention Center. Register today and get another registration free! Enter discount code 0410emailannc

    Learn the essentials of high availability for SQL Server 2005—including cluster services, replication, and log shipping.

    See the complete Windows IT Pro Network guide to Web and live events.

    5. Featured White Paper

    A multi-tier approach to email security prevents unauthorized access and can stop spam, viruses, and phishing attacks. Learn to implement this approach today, and protect your network security and business systems!

    6. Peer to Peer

    Hot Tip:
    What's a Snapshot?

    by Microsoft's SQL Server Development Team, [email protected]
    Q: What are snapshots, and what are their benefits and drawbacks?
    A: Read the answer to this question today at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=27051:285886

    Hot Article:
    Brush Up on Design Essentials with the SQL Diagrammer

    If you have SQL Server 2005 or 2000, you have a data-modeling tool in the box. The SQL Server Diagrammer will help you describe your existing database schemas and even give you a hand designing future databases. This article walks you through how to use the SQL Diagrammer, and shows how this basic tool can give you a good visual database representation that's easy to work with. Read this article today and post your comments at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=27050:285886

    In a Nutshell:
    Industry Trends Watch

    In this week's blog, Kevin Kline profiles some recent articles about the IT industry. The articles cover topics ranging from a recent surge in entry-level IT hiring to the shrinking world of software development. Read the blog today and contribute your thoughts at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=27052:285886

    Hot Threads:
    Check out the following hot threads, and see other discussions in our 30 SQL Server forums: http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=27056:285886

  • SQL Server General Discussion: SQL Server 2005 Uninstall Problem
  • T-SQL: Tough Distinct Count Question
  • Development: Query SQLEM Diagram Metadata
  • Database Design: Easy—Interview Question—Table Design

  • Hot Spot
    Hit Your SQL Server 2005 Performance Target

    Get the most from SQL Server 2005 with Quest Software. Identify, re-write and benchmark poor SQL. Isolate SQL Server stress factors. Discover, diagnose and resolve performance issues in real time. And forecast and trend storage requirements. All with Quest's solutions. Download our free trials now: http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=2704B:285886

    7. Announcements

    Exclusive Spring Savings
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    Save 44% On Exchange & Outlook Administrator Newsletter
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    8. New & Improved

    by Blake Eno, [email protected]

    Consolidate to Reduce SQL Server Sprawl
    PolyServe announced the PolyServe Database Utility for SQL Server, a consolidation solution for SQL Server applications. Because it's easy to deploy multiple SQL Servers on cost-effective, industry-standard servers, many companies have ended up with widespread SQL Server deployments that under-utlilize servers (often using as little as 5 to 15 percent of CPU capacity). These uncoordinated deployments create management, maintenance, and availability headaches. The Database Utility for SQL Server uses a shared data-clustering network to consolidate SQL Servers, delivering scalable capacity, guaranteed high availability, single-click maintenance, and simplified migration. In addition, the solution features full support for 64-bit computing and SQL Server 2005. For pricing and further information, contact PolyServe at 877-476-5973, 503-617-7574, or [email protected]

    Learn How to Write Good SQL Code
    O'Reilly released "The Art of SQL", a book that teaches you how to efficiently use the SQL language. Authors Stephane Faroult and Peter Robson teach you to focus on strategy rather than specifics by diving into topics including how to design databases for better performance, why and how to index, how to envision SQL statements, how physical implementation affects performance, and how to approach classic SQL patterns. "The Art of SQL" costs $44.99. For more information, contact O'Reilly at 707-827-7000 or 800-998-9938.

    Simplify XML Data Integration Tasks
    Stylus Studio announced Stylus Studio 2006 Release 2 XML Enterprise Edition, an XML IDE with new Java adapter components that give you easy access to relational databases, EDI, flat files, and other legacy data from your Extensible Style Language Transformations (XSLT) style sheets or XQuery expressions. You can also invoke Web Services from XQuery and generate XQuery library documentation. Enhanced EDI support is also available. Pricing for Stylus Studio 2006 Release 2 XML Enterprise Edition starts at $795 for a single-user license. For more information, contact Stylus Studio at 781-280-4488.

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