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Live from the 1st Annual World Wide Data Vault Consortium: Day 3

Well it was the last day of the 1st annual WWDVC. What an event is has been. (See recap of Day 1 and Day 2, here and here)

The sign outside the meeting room

The sign outside the meeting room

Don’t forget you can see all the action by searching on #WWDVC on twitter.

Agility and Data Vault

Long time data vault advocate Tom Breur opened our closing day with a talk about how we should strive to build the right product and build it right without creating more technical debt in the process.

He said agile is about taking small steps not about being faster. If we do this right, the solution we deliver should generate more legitimate business requirements.

He encouraged us all to read the Theory of Constraints and The Goal (I have), and to learn about lean delivery. Our goal should be to deliver continuously and consistently. The shorter the sprint, the better.

Next he went on to tell us his conclusion that while building a Kimball based solution may appear to deliver more value to the business, it takes too long. And in the end it is a fragile and rigid solution subject to major re-work when requirements change after deployment.

We can deliver value, quicker, using the data vault method. And what we deliver can be done incrementally and more easily added to without re-work.

Tom drew this to show how much quicker we can deliver some value sooner

Tom drew this to show how much quicker we can deliver some value sooner

Data Vault Case Studies

John Sells and Josh Bartells from Data Blueprint shared with us their experiences implementing data vault solutions for their clients.

John and Josh several successful DV projects

John and Josh share several successful DV projects

Why Data Blueprint decided to use DV as their consulting

Why Data Blueprint decided to use DV as their consulting

The gujys from DataBlueprint discuss hurdles and objections they encountered selling DV to clients

The guys from DataBlueprint discuss hurdles and objections they encountered selling DV to clients

It was great to hear about their success stories from the field and see how they addressed the challenges many of us have faced.

Data Vault Modeling Tool

MID GmbH from Germany has a pretty nice modeling tool with built in capabilities to support modeling a data vault solution from stage tables through reporting (including using the new DV icons).

Nice ability to visually show relationships across diagram types

Nice ability to visually show relationships across diagram types

MID's modeler has nice diagram to show all sorts of metadata relationships

MID’s modeler has nice diagram to show all sorts of metadata relationships

This is a tool worth checking out if you are doing a lot of data vault modeling.

Concluding Remarks

Dan closed out this inaugural event with a few remarks, some memories, thanks, and talk about plans for doing this again next year.

Dan closes out the 1st Annual WWDVC and asks about next year - where and when?

Dan closes out the 1st Annual WWDVC and asks about next year – where and when?

Guess I need to be careful what I say! :-)

Guess I need to be careful what I say! 🙂

One last time I have to say I am glad I came and can’t wait to do it again next year!

Snowy St Albans

Snowy St Albans

So long for now from Vermont.

Don’t forget to check out LearnDataVault.com and get ready to join us next year!

Kent

East Coast Oracle Users Conference (#ECOracle13) Review

This week I did a little travel and went to Durham, North Carolina to present at the 2013 East Coast Oracle Users Conference (aka ECO). While I have been aware of this event for over 20 years, it is the first time I have attended.

It was worth the trip. (Thanks to Jeff Smith at Oracle for alerting me to the event and encouraging me to submit). He actually sent me, Danny and Sarah (The EPM Queen). It was great to have members of the ODTUG clan together.

The gang of three - ODTUGers at ECO13 thanks to That Jeff Smith guy. Yea - he sent us!

The gang of three – ODTUGers at ECO13 thanks to That Jeff Smith guy. Yea – he sent us!

Overall a well run event held at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Conference Center. It drew over 300 attendees and a large list of Oracle ACE and ACE Directors were there to present to a crowd very eager to learn and network.

Fun and Games: The Keynote

Our opening keynote from Steven Feuerstein (inventor of the PL/SQL Challenge)  was a fun take on different types of therapy and how they might be applied to software developers.

PL/SQL Evangelist Steven Feuerstein discusses Coding Therapy for Software Developers

PL/SQL Evangelist Steven Feuerstein discusses Coding Therapy for Software Developers

His discussed the use of:

  • Game therapy (try out mastermind or setgame.com)
  • Dream Therapy
  • Confessional Therapy
  • Shock Therapy
  • Couples Therapy
    • For DBA & Developers
    • For Developers & Their Managers

It was a fun, light way to start the conference with some very valuable advice.

Heavy Duty DBA-type Tuning Talks

Oracle ACE Director, author, and trainer Craig Shallahamer did two deep dive tuning sessions that I attended. In the first one, Introduction to Time-based Performance Analysis: Stop the Guessing, Craig gave us his four point framework for Holistic Performance Analysis. The points were:

  1. The Three Circles to consider (OS, Database, Application)
  2. Be Quantitative (i.e., trust the numbers not a hunch)
  3. Serialization is death, Parallel is life
  4. Tell a story (make the explanation of the issue understandable to managers)

With that he got into all sorts of v$ view stuff that went mostly over my head. Needless to say I will have to download the slides from his site (orapub.com) and give them to someone more attuned to this kind of tuning than I!

Oracle ACE Director, Craig Shallahamer discusses low level details for understanding Oracle CPU consumption

Oracle ACE Director, Craig Shallahamer discusses low level details for understanding Oracle CPU consumption

The second presentation Craig gave was called Understanding Oracle CPU Consumption: The Missing Link. Again lots of views and some Linux OS utilities (e.g., perf) and lots of numbers were displayed and discussed to try to ferret out how to determine what Oracle functions were actually taking up CPU time.

Even though I don’t really understand a lot of this (hey, I am a data modeler, not a dba right?) I like to go to sessions like this as I enjoy listening to smart people talk passionately about the things they do, and I figure I might retain just enough to point someone else in the right direction in the future, even if it is only to give them a copy of these slides!

Lovely Southern Style Lunch

ECO had one of the nicest little lunch buffets I have eaten in a while. Very simple southern food that included cole slaw, potato salad, baked chicken, fried chicken, pulled port (with N. Carolina bbq sauce), hush puppies and apple cobbler. (I did not say it was a light lunch right?)

I love all kinds of BBQ and the pulled pork did not disappoint. I do not usually like fried chicken but figured I should try it and was pleasantly surprised. Crisp and moist. Very nice.

Traditional Southern Fare for Lunch

Traditional Southern Fare for Lunch

My 1st Session – Making Data Modeling Fun

I had the best turnout ever for this topic with over 40 people in the session most of whom were game to try my gamification of data model review sessions.

Session attendees developing Haiku poems based on a Data Model

Session attendees developing Haiku poems based on a Data Model

One of the tasks was to translate relationship sentences and model descriptions into Haiku (or another form). There were prizes as an incentive to play along.

Some of the prizes for participants at my talk

Some of the prizes for participants at my talk

The winner by general acclamation was Edie Waite from Raleigh, NC with this little limerick:

There once was a country named France
Which had many regions for dance
The locations they chose to dance on their toes
Made employees all look askance.

The data model we used had the entities: Country, Region, Employee, Locations, and a few others.

Another Haiku from Sarah Zumbrum (a noted non-data modeler) went like this:

More than one region
Can reside in a country
Like the USA
The session was really a lot of fun thanks to everyone being open minded and being willing to try some unconventional approaches to gathering data model requirements. (There was one other Haiku in French which I will add as soon as the author sends it to me!)

ECO 13 – Day 2

Keynote today was about eBusiness suite stuff. I sat there after breakfast mostly not listening as I started to put this blog post together.

Then I did my 2nd talk.

Agile Data Warehouse Modeling

I had a somewhat disappointing turnout (only 5 people, sigh) but it was a great exchange with those 5 people. We had a very good discussion about applying agile techniques to building a data warehouse and I was able to introduce them to some of the details of Data Vault Data Modeling. None of them knew much about data vault, but some had heard the term.

One attendee did tell me he was skeptical about the approach when he came in as he was a traditional Kimball dimensional data warehouse guy. But after the session he was willing to concede there was some merit and ideas he had not seen before and he was going to take those into consideration as he embarked on a new phase of his project where there were some complex problems to solve. He could see that data vault might just help.

Really can’t ask for more than that!

Embedded Analytics

So my last session for the event was to attend Craig Warman’s talk on embedded analytics. It was a good discussion about how BI and analytics have evolved, Craig presented a simple maturity model as part of the talk:

Level 0: BI reporting and analytic applications are completely seperate from other applications
Level 1: Gateway Analytics – Operational applications have a report tab or menu item to launch the BI reporting tool interface. Maybe there is a login pass through.
Level 2: Inline Analytics – at this level, the analytics and BI tool has been incorporated into the operational application interface to the point it has the same look and feel and you can’t tell it is a separate product or tool. This where many organizations are today.
Level 3: Infused Analytics – this is the goal. At this level the analytics are truly part of the application and provide core functionality. Examples of this are the recommendations you get on Amazon as you check out or the movie suggestions you get on Netflix based on your prior movie choices. If the analytic pieces were removed the application would not function correctly.
Craig Warman (ECO13 conference chair) talks about what embedded analytics is (and is not)

Craig Warman (ECO13 conference chair) talks about what embedded analytics is (and is not)

Well that’s it for this conference.

Put ECO on your radar for 2014.

See you around.

Kent

P.S. Next conference on my agenda is RMOUG TD 2014. Let me know if you will be there.

Better Data Modeling: New and Improved Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler (#SQLDevModeler)

Yup, my friends at Oracle have been hard at working enhancing what was already the best FREE data modeling tool out there.

They just released SDDM R4 EA3! You can go get it right now: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/developer-tools/datamodeler/downloads/datamodeler-4ea-downloads-1988443.html

As always there are both new features and bug fixes.

One of the coolest new features is the ability to show entity (or table) comments right on the diagram in the object. This will be very useful for enabling data model reviews with the business users.

Product manager Ashley tweeted and example the other day:

 

For even more details and ideas how to use this feature check out Jeff Smith’s post on the feature here.

So what are you waiting for? Go get it today!

Data Modeling is Fun!

Later

Kent
The Oracle Data Warrior

Better Data Modeling: Are you making these 3 beginner mistakes in your data models?

There are lots of people in the database industry that end up building data models.

Some of them are very educated and well trained and are professional data modelers and data architects. (If that is you, you can probably skip this article)

Others have learned on-the-job with little or no training or education on modeling concepts or techniques. They may be database administrators or even programmers that got asked to produce a model diagram by their boss or project manager, after the project was delivered (but there was no data modeler on the project ever).

This article is for this last group of folks who may want to improve their knowledge or skill in data modeling.

So here are three of the most common mistakes I have seen over the years:

1. Only defining surrogate keys

Do all your tables have a primary key defined and that primary key is a single column integer generated by the system? That is a surrogate key.

Instead of that, you should be defining a natural, or business, key for every table in your system. A natural key is a an attribute or set of attributes (that occur naturally in the data set) required to uniquely identify a row in that table. In addition you should define a Unique Key Constraint on those attributes in the database. Then you can be sure you will not get any duplicate data into the tables.

CLARIFICATION: This point has caused a lot of questions and comments. To be clear, the mistake here is to have ONLY defined a surrogate key. i believe that even if using surrogate keys is the best solution for your design, you should ALSO define an alternate unique natural key.

2. Using Visio or PowerPoint to draw your data model diagrams

This is all too common when no data modeler has been hired for a project or there is a really tight (as in NO) budget. The result is a pretty picture that gets out of date very quickly and can’t help you generate DDL code to build (or rebuild) the database.

Instead of that, you should either invest in a real data modeling tool (like ERWin), or better still, get Oracle’s totally free SQL Developer Data Modeler (my favorite!). The point being with a real data modeling  tool, you can forward and reverse engineer your database tables, make changes, review them, generate DDL, etc.

3. Not reviewing the model with real business people

Build it and they will come does not work!  How do you even know you are using the right terminology or have defined the relationships correctly if you have not talked to a business person about their data and data needs?

Instead of that, you need to involve business users from the very beginning of the project. You need to either set up 1:1 interviews with key stake holders or better yet have group JAD sessions to discuss the project and have them help you define the data model. That is the best way to get buy in to the end result.

Just avoiding these three rookie mistakes can greatly improve your chance of success.

Bonus Tip:  The best way to avoid these and other common rookie mistakes is to use a pre-defined data model review checklist.

You can get a jump-start on your own check list by downloading  my Kindle book A Checklist for Doing Data Model Design Reviews on Amazon.com.

Get it here: http://www.amazon.com/Check-Doing-Design-Reviews-ebook/dp/B008RG9L5E/, or just search Amazon for author Kent Graziano.

Here’s to building better data models! Are you with me?

Kent Graziano

The Data Warrior

See you at KScope13!

Are you ready?

It is almost time for the annual ODTUG KScope conference in New Orleans. It starts with the Community Service Day on Saturday June 22nd and runs through Thursday June 27th at the Sheraton Hotel right on the edge of the French Quarter.

For my readers that are attending, I will be giving three talks this year, leading morning Chi Gung classes,  as well as sitting on the BI Lunch and Learn Panel.

My talks will be:

Five Ways to Make Data Modeling Fun – Monday at 9:45 AM

Using OBIEE and Data Vault to Virtualize Your BI Environment: An Agile Approach – Monday at 3 PM (with Stewart Bryson)

Top Ten Cool Features in Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler – Tuesday at 12:15 PM

And on Wednesday at 10:45 AM you will find me in Social Media Lounge getting interviewed about Data Modeling, ODTUG, and KScope.

If you are joining me for Morning Chi Gung, I believe we will meet in the hotel lobby at 6:45 AM so we can walk to the river front park where we will hold our class. It is only a 30 minute class right before breakfast so please give it a try and get energized for a long day of learning and networking! Follow me on twitter @KentGraziano for any updates to the location and meeting time.

Don’t forget to download the new KScope Mobile App so you can keep track of your schedule and not miss any of these sessions.

See you in New Orleans!

Kent

The Oracle Data Warrior

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