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BI in Action

Michael Dortch

Real-Time BI: No Longer a Dream with SQLstream?

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So here's a typical BI-related dilemma. By the time you get data into a warehouse or even a database, then analyze it, the information's old, and the decision you're trying to make is in danger of being out of date or irrelevant. You don't have time to turn real-time data into traditionally manageable forms. You've got to analyze and triage the data as it arrives.

That's what SQLstream, a company that just announced release 2.0 of its innovative solution, intends to help you do. The solution basically analyzes data as it streams into a business environment, using queries based on business rules and goals.

Previous approaches to this problem, including proprietary hardware and throwing lots of boxes at the problem, create their own challenges. SQLStream decided instead to apply SQL, the popular and well-understood Structured Query Language, to the problem. User-defined SQL queries continuously applied to data "on the wire," with results pushed to the information consumers as changes occur. It's basically querying data that's coming - "the future" - rather than the past.

This approach can triage the data and focus on information generating useful initial query results, instead of trying to capture everything and wade through it with analysis, as is done with most data warehouses. Also, the SQLstream approach does not remove the need for or value of a data warehouse. Where a warehouse exists, SQLstream helps to reduce volumes, and focus the warehouse on what it does well - historical analysis - while adding proactive/real-time data stream analysis features previously unavailable. And where no warehouse exists, SQLstream helps to translate high volumes of streaming data into information that can actually be used and acted upon by mere business mortals.

I've chatted with corporate management and seen a credible demo of the software. It has numerous applications, such as detection and prevention of fraudulent online transactions, for data-intensive businesses, and what business isn't data-intensive these days? It's native, standards-compliant SQL, which minimizes developer training (and, hopefully, whining). Also, the results of initial queries can help to refine and improve those very queries. Finally, queries and other application elements are reusable, to make new applications easier, faster, and more consistent to build. (There's even a Java interface that generates live code compliant with the Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) application programming interface (API).)

If your enterprise has challenges related to managing and leveraging high volumes of rapidly changing information, or to getting more business value out of database and data warehouse investments, you ought to check out SQLstream 2.0. Ditto if you are, say, attempting to map enterprise information resources and their interdependencies. Or perhaps to gain insight as to how users are using those resources and the effects of that use on business and IT infrastructures. Just thinking out loud, here...

(Oh, and by the way, if you do check out or have already checked out SQLstream, let me know your experiences and thoughts, please. After all, we now already know what I think...)

1 Comment

Good to see another choice for SQL-based continuous queries (and no, there isn't a ratified standard for the "continuous" piece): this area is normally termed "event stream processing", a subset of Complex Event Processing, used for Operational Intelligence applications.

Cheers

Globalization, shrinking business cycles, and increasing competitive pressures are placing demands on business managers to make faster and better decisions. Managers require both real-time visibility into their business operations and sophisticated analytical tools to help them navigate the increasingly fast paced and complex business environment.

Michael Dortch

Michael Dortch is a veteran information entrepreneur and information technology (IT) industry analyst, consultant, speaker, writer, evangelist and provocateur. He has been striving to empower buyers, sellers and users of IT solutions since 1979. Seriously! ;-)

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more

Madan Sheina

Madan Sheina is principal analyst within Ovum's Software Applications group and is based in Northern California.

Madan has fifteen years' experience working in the IT industry both as an analyst and a journalist. His research covers a range of information management technologies, with a sharp focus on business intelligence, knowledge management and data integration software.

Madan is well respected in the IT industry for his clear, incisive and no-nonsense analysis style. He has advised leading ISVs on market positioning and product development strategy, IT users on product evaluation and selection, and the financial investment community on technology trends. View more

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