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(below COMMENTARY)

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July 18, 2002—In this issue:

1. COMMENTARY

  • SQL Server Accelerator for BI Jump-Starts Business Analytics

2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS

  • Multiple Vulnerabilities in SQL Server 2000 and MSDE
  • Oracle Apes Microsoft Strategy
  • Results of Previous Instant Poll: MSDE
  • New Instant Poll: Business Intelligence Tools

3. READER CHALLENGE

  • July Reader Challenge Winners and August Challenge

4. ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Get Kudos & a Free Trip to SQL Server Magazine LIVE! in Orlando!
  • New Ideas, Tips, and Advice You Need to Know

5. HOT RELEASES (ADVERTISEMENTS)

  • Making Your Data a Strategic Asset
  • Free SQL Training
  • XML Web Services One Conf — Boston — Aug 26-30
  • Precise/Indepth for SQL Server

6. RESOURCES

  • What's New in SQL Server Magazine: Visual Studio .NET FAQs
  • Hot Thread: DTS Process Hangs
  • Tip: Dynamic Port Detection

7. NEW AND IMPROVED

  • Secure Your E-Business Data
  • Encrypt Rows and Columns

8. CONTACT US

  • See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

1. COMMENTARY


(contributed by Brian Moran, news editor, brianm@sqlmag.com)

  • SQL SERVER ACCELERATOR FOR BI JUMP-STARTS BUSINESS ANALYTICS

  • Would you and others in your company like to make better decisions faster? Would your company like to capitalize on information assets to thrive in a competitive marketplace? The Microsoft SQL Server Accelerator for Business Intelligence (BI), a free tool that helps you quickly get BI solutions in production, might be just the ticket for your company.

    Microsoft released the SQL Server Accelerator for BI about 2 months ago. I encourage you to peruse the information available at the SQL Server Accelerator for BI home page. In particular, the fast-fact data sheet provides a short but comprehensive introduction to the product.

    Microsoft designed Accelerator for BI to help customers get real-world, production BI solutions to market faster. Think of Accelerator as a rapid application development (RAD) tool for BI. In designing the tool, Microsoft has determined that BI solutions must include business-level domain knowledge in addition to supporting technical data. This philosophy is 100 percent accurate. You can't create decision-support systems unless you understand the decisions and analysis you're trying to influence.

    Microsoft attempted to make Accelerator for BI more than "just another tool for techies" by including reasonable real-world data models and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for two business scenarios. The Retail Analytics model provides data models and KPIs that support analysis of topics such as sales, sales representative performance, fraud detection, store performance, and marketing campaigns. The Sales and Marketing model supports analysis of topics such as orders and backlogs, sales and shipments, returns by customer type, sales force performance, and marketing campaigns. These two models cover a tiny percentage of real-world BI needs, so Microsoft ensured that third-party providers could add models. Also, you can use the existing models as templates to build custom solutions.

    Accelerator for BI represents a combination of business-model knowledge, data-warehousing best practices summarized in a prescriptive architecture guide, and a series of technical components that you access through the Analytics Builder Workbook. The workbook is a Microsoft Excel-based tool that lets you capture metadata and business data to describe a data mart for a particular business scenario. The Analytics Builder Workbook provides much of the infrastructure plumbing you need to build a production-quality data warehouse, including a staging database, relational star schema, an OLAP cube, Data Transformation Services (DTS) packages designed to move data through the pipeline, and a set of preconfigured client views of the data.

    Microsoft is a plumbing company. Many of its most successful initiatives are platforms that provide the plumbing and infrastructure customers and third-party vendors need to build solutions quickly and inexpensively. Businesses have struggled—more than Microsoft anticipated—to build high-quality BI solutions, and this difficulty has slowed Microsoft's vision of "BI for the masses." Simply put, BI for the masses will never be reality until customers can easily, quickly, and inexpensively build production-quality data warehouses based on business analysis needs. Accelerator for BI is a handy tool, but don't be mistaken: the tool doesn't let BI novices with zero experience build robust solutions. Accelerator makes delivering projects quicker and easier for skilled BI professionals.

    By the way, the prescriptive architecture guides included with Accelerator provide great value as standalone guides. They encapsulate a wealth of BI best-practices information, and you should read the guide even if you don't plan to use Accelerator in your next BI project.

    Accelerator for BI is available for free download, although you must run it on SQL Server Enterprise Edition. To find the download, go to the SQL Server Accelerator for BI Partner Overview page at http://www.microsoft.com/solutions/BI/partners/overview.asp and click the "Register to download the SQL Server Accelerator for BI" option You need to log on with a Microsoft .NET Passport account, then the interface will take you through the process of registering your intent to apply as an Accelerator partner. There's no cost to apply, and you don't have to become a partner. But following these steps is the only way I know to download the software for free.

    Why the obscure route? Accelerator is a power tool for skilled users. Power saws are great tools in the hands of skilled users but can cut off the hand of a careless and untrained user. Accelerator won't cut off your hand if you don't use it properly. But users with no BI skills might not get the results they want, and they might conclude that the tool is useless. Microsoft hopes to avoid that scenario by driving tool usage through a trained partner community. However, you can download the software and legally use it even if you're not a partner. Just don't get mad at Microsoft if you accidentally cut off your hand.


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    2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS

  • MULTIPLE VULNERABILITIES IN SQL SERVER 2000 AND MSDE

  • Cesar Cerrudo and Mark Litchfield of Next Generation Security Software discovered multiple vulnerabilities in SQL Server 2000 and Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) 2000, the most severe of which can lead to remote compromise of the vulnerable server. Microsoft has released Security Bulletin MS02-034 (Cumulative Patch for SQL Server) to address these vulnerabilities and recommends that affected users download and apply the appropriate patch mentioned in the bulletin. These patches are cumulative and address all previously discovered vulnerabilities in the affected product.
    http://www.secadministrator.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=25868

  • ORACLE APES MICROSOFT STRATEGY

  • (contributed by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@winnetmag.com)

    Speaking recently at Oracle's semiannual analyst day, CEO Larry Ellison uttered words many people never thought they'd hear: Oracle will adopt many of the strategies that made arch-enemy Microsoft successful and will focus on inexpensive, integrated software suites. "The suites always win," Ellison said. "The specialty guys can never survive for long." Later this year, Oracle will release a set of products, including the Oracle Collaboration Suite (OCS) that will compete with core Microsoft infrastructure software such as Microsoft Exchange Server.

    As usual, the volatile Ellison spent much of his time good-naturedly poking fun at Microsoft; Ellison's company has long been the number-two software maker behind Microsoft. "Bill \[Gates is\] a genius," Ellison joked. "We don't need him working here. We just read what he says: It's cheaper." Ellison said that the Oracle Collaboration Suite will integrate with Microsoft Outlook and let users store email, voicemail, documents, and group calendars in an Oracle database. The software will be more secure and less expensive than Microsoft's solutions, he said.

    The Oracle Collaboration Suite will contain a bit of technology I've been wondering about recently—the Internet File System (iFS) software that Oracle announced more than 2 years ago. As you might recall, iFS was going to enable "no-OS" hardware that would run only on Oracle's database, making Windows unnecessary. And if Microsoft's plans to move SQL Server 2003 (code-named Yukon) into the Windows file system sounds suspiciously similar to iFS, remember that Microsoft has been working on this plan (once called Storage+) for years; indeed, database file systems have been part of the holy grail of computing for decades. In the Oracle Collaboration Suite, Oracle customers might finally see the fulfillment of the iFS vision. "It took us a long time to get the pieces together," Ellison said, "so we think we've gone down the road to solve all these problems. It was not easy."

    Oracle's desktop play mirrors moves by other server companies such as Sun Microsystems, which recently released a new version of its StarOffice office productivity suite to good reviews. Interestingly, as Oracle and Sun tentatively reach into the desktop market for growth, Microsoft is moving upscale with more scalable server products and services.

  • RESULTS OF PREVIOUS INSTANT POLL: MSDE

  • The voting has closed in SQL Server Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Are you using MSDE?" Here are the results (+/- 1 percent) from the 343 votes:
    • 9% Yes, for my Web applications
    • 40% Yes, as a desktop database
    • 15% No, but I plan to
    • 36% No, and I don't plan to
    • NEW INSTANT POLL: BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE TOOLS

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      The next Instant Poll question is, "Which SQL Server Business Intelligence (BI) tools are you using?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine Web site and submit your vote for 1) OLAP, 2) Data mining, 3) SQL Server Accelerator for Business Intelligence, 4) More than one of the above, or 5) None of the above.
      http://www.sqlmag.com


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      3. READER CHALLENGE


      (contributed by SQL Server MVP Umachandar Jayachandran,challenge@sqlmag.com)

    • JULY READER CHALLENGE WINNERS AND AUGUST CHALLENGE

    • Congratulations to Charles Johnson, senior programmer and analyst at Parmed Pharmaceutical in Niagara Falls, New York, and Andrew Leighton-Sims, analyst and programmer at igroup in Watford, UK. Charles won first prize of $100 for the best solution to the July Reader Challenge, "Quickening the Query." Andrew won second prize of $50. You can find a recap of the problem and the solution to the July Reader Challenge at
      http://www.sqlmag.com/articles/index.cfm?ArticleID=25908.

      Now, test your SQL Server savvy in the August Reader Challenge, "Synchronizing Logins" (below). Submit your solution in an email message to challenge@sqlmag.com by July 24. SQL Server MVP 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: Ray's company runs SQL Server 7.0 on its production servers and SQL Server 2000 on its staging servers. Ray needs to build a script that can synchronize logins between the production and staging servers (i.e., add missing logins from the production servers to the staging servers). Synchronized logins will let him create an identical environment for testing application upgrades and for testing SQL Server and the OS on a different server. When a staging server is configured identically to a production server and holds the same data, he can also test service-pack upgrades on the staging server. Then, after the upgrade is finished, he can switch the server roles.

      The production servers are configured for mixed authentication, which means that users can connect to a SQL Server instance by using either Windows authentication or SQL Server authentication. Help Ray write a script that can synchronize the logins between the servers while preserving all login properties.

      4. ANNOUNCEMENTS


      (brought to you by SQL Server Magazine and its partners)

    • GET KUDOS & A FREE TRIP TO SQL SERVER MAGAZINE LIVE! IN ORLANDO!

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    • NEW IDEAS, TIPS, AND ADVICE YOU NEED TO KNOW

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      5. HOT RELEASES (ADVERTISEMENTS)


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      6. RESOURCES

    • WHAT'S NEW IN SQL SERVER MAGAZINE: VISUAL STUDIO .NET FAQs

    • TDevelopers are learning how important Visual Studio .NET will be to Yukon, the next release of SQL Server. Are you ready to begin testing Visual Studio .NET? Michael Otey provides answers to seven common questions that you might ask about the latest Visual Studio release in "Visual Studio .NET FAQs," which appears in the July 2002 issue of SQL Server Magazine and is available online at the following URL:
      http://www.sqlmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=25109

    • HOT THREAD: DTS PROCESS HANGS

    • JCM is trying to update a Microsoft Excel worksheet with SQL Server data, but when he executes the Data Transformation Services (DTS) package from within the spreadsheet, the process hangs. Offer your advice and read other users' suggestions on the SQL Server Magazine forums at the following URL:
      http://www.sqlmag.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=11&threadid=6717

    • TIP: DYNAMIC PORT DETECTION

    • (contributed by Brian Moran, brianm@sqlmag.com)

      Q. I'm having trouble getting my SQL Server client tools to connect to a default instance of SQL Server 2000 through a dynamically determined TCP/IP port. The SQL Server has the TCP/IP Net-Library enabled. I installed SQL Server 2000 using the default port 1433, then changed the port number to 15000. I restarted my SQL Server and used the SQL Server 2000 Client Network Utility to set up an alias on my client. For my alias settings, I selected the TCP/IP Net-Library and specified the SQL Server name. Finally, I selected "Dynamically determine port" rather than entering 15000 as the port number. With this configuration, I can't get a connection through Query Analyzer. I've tried specifying the actual IP address of the server from within the Client Network Utility rather than the NetBIOS name of the server, which doesn't work either. When I add the port number and clear the "Dynamically determine port" check box, I can connect to the default instance of SQL Server. However, I can connect to other instances of SQL Server 2000 only when the "Dynamically determine port" option is selected. How can I connect to my default instance using the same configuration that I use for other instances?

      A. The short answer is that dynamic port detection is available only for named instances of SQL Server 2000. The behavior of default instances for SQL Server 2000 is the same as it is for earlier SQL Server releases, so earlier versions of the client tools reliably connect to the default instance. If the default instance is listening on a port other than 1433, you must create an alias that includes the port number, change the global default port specified in the TCP/IP Properties tab of the Client Configuration Utility, or create an alias that specifically references the port number. You could search SQL Server Books Online (BOL) indefinitely without finding the answer to this question. However, the Microsoft article "INF: Behavior of SQL Server 2000 Network Library During Dynamic Port Detection" ( http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;q286303 ) clearly explains the behavior.

      Send your technical questions to questions@sqlmag.com.

      7. NEW AND IMPROVED


      (contributed by Carolyn Mader, products@sqlmag.com)

    • SECURE YOUR E-BUSINESS DATA

    • Protegrity announced Secure.Data, an e-business application for SQL Server 2000 that protects credit-card, PIN, and patient record data. To ensure performance, the software can encrypt and secure database information at the data-item level. The software features Role Based Access Control (RBAC) to facilitate granular access to sensitive data. The software also features an audit trail that tracks all activity associated with confidential data and provides information for security-compliance reviews. For pricing, contact Protegrity at 203-326-7200.
      http://www.protegrity.com

    • ENCRYPT ROWS AND COLUMNS

    • Application Security announced DbEncrypt for Microsoft SQL Server, software that lets you encrypt rows and columns in your database. You can use various encryption algorithms and a point-and-click interface to install and manage encryption. DbEncrypt for Microsoft SQL Server provides an interface to generate secure random numbers, strong encryption keys, and initialization vectors. For pricing, contact Application Security at 212-490-6022 or 866-927-7732.
      http://www.appsecinc.com

      8. CONTACT US


      Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:

      • ABOUT THE COMMENTARY — brianm@sqlmag.com
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      • PRODUCT NEWS — products@sqlmag.com
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