SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, July 20, 2006--Data Mining: Big Brother or Big Business?

SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, July 20, 2006--Data Mining: Big Brother or Big Business?

In This Issue:
Data mining has received lots of press because of political and privacy concerns. But, Orwellian possibilities aside, businesses are using data analysis more, and the demand for data-mining professionals will only grow over the next decade.

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July 20, 2006

1. Perspectives

  • Data Mining: Big Brother or Big Business?

2. SQL Server Watch

  • Generate Memory Dump Files for Analysis Services 2005
  • Calling All SQL Server Innovators!
  • Product Watch: DataDirect Technologies and ScaleOut Software

3. Hot Articles

  • Q&A: Configuration Manager or Surface Area Configuration Tool
  • Editorial: A Tale of Two Architectures
  • In a Nutshell: Troubleshooting Parallel Queries on SQL Server 2005
  • Hot Threads: Performance and OLAP/Data Warehousing

4. Events and Resources

  • Disaster Recovery E-Book
  • Test the State-of-the-Art Scanning Engine
  • Lower Operational Costs, Simply Management, and Increase SQL Server Availability
  • Get Essential SQL Server 2005 Management Tools

5. Featured White Paper

  • Make Email Truly Available

6. Announcements

  • SQL Server Performance Tips, Articles, and Forums
  • Save $80 On the Windows Scripting Solutions Newsletter

7. Web Community

  • http://www.sqlmag.com

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1. Perspectives

Data Mining: Big Brother or Big Business?
by Brian Moran, [email protected]

It's not every day that a particularly sexy piece of database technology winds up on the front pages of national papers or becomes integral to national and international policy and political debates. But that's exactly what's happening with data mining and related technology.

Most people in the United States, and many folks in the international community are aware of the press surrounding the analysis of phone records in the United States and abroad to search for potential terrorists. I won't state my political opinion here. Instead, I want to focus on the fact that the approach wouldn't be possible without vast data warehouses and data mining.

On the front page of the Washington Post, I've seen several recent articles related to data mining, and USA Today ran the front-page story "Data Miners Dig a Little Deeper" on July 12. The USA Today business section that day was devoted to issues surrounding data mining and privacy. It was an interesting read; I encourage you to check it out if you can find an issue or happen to have a subscription for viewing the article. I'm not singling out Microsoft, but the USA Today article began by using an example based on Hotmail and explained that Microsoft's analysis of Hotmail activity includes the time of day that emails are referenced as well as salary ranges for the ZIP code in question. The article said that Microsoft "knows a florist will pay a premium to have a coupon for roses reach males 30-40, earning good wages, who check their e-mail during lunch hours on Valentines Day."

I don't consider myself a data-mining expert, but I think the technology is exciting and holds huge potential to shape data management over the next decade. So, my first reaction to this news is, "That's really cool! I wish I had more time to become an expert in SQL Server-based data-mining technology." I also tend to be pretty conservative and pro-business, so my second reaction runs along the lines of "That's a really smart thing for Microsoft to do and they have every right to do it."

But I have to admit that the part of me that read "1984" in high school can't help but wonder what the natural evolution of this technology will be. Maybe opt-in clauses in the future will be written in a way that allows "Microsoft Flowers" to pre-ship the $500 Hawaiian orchid that Microsoft knows my wife admired because it's scanning our email and cell-phone traffic. (You've read about Microsoft's "Unified Communications" roadmap, right? Check it out at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/jun06/06-25UCGRoadmapPR.mspx .) Microsoft also knows that I haven't bought her a present yet based on a study of credit-card charges it has access to through a data-sharing agreement with ReallyBigCreditCo. Of course, the opt-in agreement will grant me permission to send the orchid back, but Microsoft's data-mining skills will indicate that I'm much too lazy to actually do so, so pre-shipping is a good investment for them.

Ok, enough with the Orwellian postulations. Data mining does raise some interesting privacy concerns that I suspect will be debated broadly over the next few years. What's in data mining for you today? Data-mining is a part of the data-management world that's poised for huge growth. SQL Server is becoming an increasingly compelling platform for data mining, and I'm sure the SQL Server team understands the importance of continuing this trend over the next decade. And only a relatively small number of people have any significant amount of expertise with Microsoft or any other vendor's data-mining tools today. You don't need data-mining analysis to recognize that this trend should create high demand for skilled data-mining professionals over the next decade.

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2. SQL Server Watch

Generate Memory Dump Files for Analysis Services 2005
By default, SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services automatically generates minidump files when an exception occurs. For the default installation, the minidump files are written to the %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft SQL Server\\MSSQL.x\OLAP\Log folder and include all thread stacks, second-order memory that's referenced by pointers on the stack, information about the Process Environment Block (PEB), information about the Thread Environment Block (TEB), information about recently unloaded modules, and thread state information. The Microsoft article "How to configure SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services to generate memory dump files" describes how to configure Analysis Services 2005 to automatically generate different types of memory dump files when it encounters exceptions. The article also outlines how to use the Sqldumper.exe utility to manually obtain a memory dump file for the SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services process. The article outlines the steps for how to disable the automatic memory dump file for Analysis Services, configure SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services to automatically generate a full dump file, and manually generate a full dump file that includes handle information. You can read the full article at

Calling All SQL Server Innovators!
Have you developed a solution that uses SQL Server technology to solve a business problem in an innovative way? Enter your solution in the 2006 SQL Server Magazine Innovators Contest! Grand-prize winners will receive airfare and a conference pass to SQL Server Magazine Connections in Las Vegas, November 6-9, 2006, plus more great prizes. We'll showcase the winning solutions in a feature article in the January 2007 issue of SQL Server Magazine. Contest runs through September 1, 2006. To enter, click here:

Product Watch
by Blake Eno, [email protected]

Integrate Relational, XML, and Legacy Data
DataDirect Technologies announced DataDirect XQuery 2.0, a Java component for processing and aggregating XML, relational, and legacy data formats into your applications. Users can now configure new performance optimizations, which provide more control for tuning specific environments. Also featured in this release is XML streaming, which reduces the amount of memory required when processing large XML documents. The product also integrates with Stylus Studio XML Deployment Components. For more information, contact DataDirect Technologies at 919-461-4200 or 800-876-3101.

Ensure Continuous Uptime to Server Farms
ScaleOut Software announced updates to its flagship product, ScaleOut StateServer, which provides workload data storage for Microsoft .NET server farms. New enhancements ensure continuous uptime in difficult conditions such as server failures and eliminate the need to trade performance for high availability. The product also handles multiple failures, so when hosts recover from failure and come back online, they automatically rejoin the store. For more information, contact ScaleOut Software at 503-643-3422, [email protected], or [email protected]

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3. Hot Articles

Q&A: Configuration Manager or Surface Area Configuration Tool
by Brian Moran, [email protected]

Q: SQL Server 2005 has SQL Server Configuration Manager and SQL Server Surface Area Configuration tool. Both tools let you control properties of SQL Server services, and I understand that tasks that you can perform with each tool overlap. How should I decide which tool to use and why?

Read the answer to this question today at

Editorial: A Tale of Two Architectures
Both the AMD Opteron and the Intel EM64T processors are x64 compatible and capable of running 32-bit x86 and 64-bit x64 applications at full speed. In his July Editorial "A Tale of Two Architectures," Michael Otey explains the significant differences between the processors and the system architectures they use. Read this article today and post your comments at

In a Nutshell: Troubleshooting Parallel Queries on SQL Server 2005
In this week's blog, Kevin Kline gives some useful tips for simulating and tuning parallel queries on SQL Server 2005. Read up on the techniques and let Kevin know what you think today at

Hot Threads:
Performance: Inexplicable Database Size
OLAP/Data Warehousing: Need Documents That Describe Data Warehousing Best Practices

4. Events and Resources

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Get the essential tools you need to manage a SQL Server 2005 system, SQL Server security essentials, and database backup and recovery. Download this exclusive guide today!

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

5. Featured White Paper

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6. Announcements

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7. Web Community


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