Archive for November, 2010
SO, what is BI?
Business Intelligence is all about making better decisions and improving your business by sharing the results of your analysis with others. Bi is the process of finding, transferring, formatting and studying business data, and includes the processes you use to make your results available to others.
A BI solution should do more than give you better access to data. It should specifically support your decision-making efforts. A BI solution should help you assess and respond to business conditions, whether you require an all-encompassing view of the entire organization or a narrow perspective of a department, workgroup, or even a team of one.
The goal of a BI solution is to let you spend your time analyzing the data and finding answers to questions rather than tracking down, consolidating, reformatting and reconciling the data itself.
The development of a BI solution goes more smoothly when you have a specific business problem to solve and approach the design by first considering how people need to interact with information.
The Microsoft Solution
SQL Server 2008 is the foundation of Microsoft’s BI stack; as the data platform hosting the data. SQL Server 2008 includes three key BI components: Integration Services (SSIS), Analysis Services (SSAS), and Reporting Services (SSRS). The best way to start learning about the Microsoft BI stack is to build a simple solution using SSIS, SSAS and SSRS.
Once you have an initial design you begin by creating and populating the BI solution’s data structures using SSIS. Once the data is in place, you continue to the next step by building a cube. After your development is complete, you process the cube to load it with data. You then use SSRS to develop a report that queries the cube and displays the query results in a report.
Adding an SSAS database to your BI solution allows you to support more sophisticated, high-performing interactive queries. You use SSAS to copy your relational data into a multidimensional database structure called a cube.
Whether you’re storing your data in a SQL Server data mart or an SSAS cube, you can add SSRS to your solution architecture to make the data available to users. SSRS is a reporting platform that includes tools to develop reports, to secure and manage published reports using a centralized administrative infrastructure and to support user access to reports. Sharepoint Server and Office 2010 can be used to view and analyze the data in a user friendly, familiar environment.
In summary the new Microsoft Technologies stack-up like so:
Data Storage and Management – SQL Server 2008
Information Delivery – Sharepoint Server
Query, Reporting and Analysis – SQL Server 2008 and Microsoft Office 2010
Download trial software from Microsoft today http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/trial-software.aspx
Once you start using BI, you’ll probably never look at data in quite the same way again.
CJ Systems is an I.T. Consultancy and Managed Service Provider based in Taunton, Somerset. For more information visit our website www.cjsystems.co.uk, contact us on 01823 478515 or email email@example.com
When talking to clients and fellow business owners we have found that there are a number of myths which seem to surround the area of employee use of the Internet and email and the consequent monitoring by employers. For example:
Personal use of IT systems is a must
Many employers seem to be under the impression that they have to allow employees to have personal use of work Internet and email systems. This is not in fact the case, although with the increasing flexibility demanded of employees in terms of their working hours, most employers accept that it is reasonable to allow at least limited personal use.
It’s a breach of my human rights!
Employees who find themselves in hot water as a result of misuse of the corporate IT systems may well argue that the employer has in some way breached their human rights by conducting monitoring. This is generally an argument that does not find much favour with courts or tribunals. In the first instance, direct claims for breach of the Human Rights Act can only be made by employees of public bodies such as NHS Trusts or Local Authorities. Private sector employees can only bring a claim for breach of the Human Rights Act if the employee can add this to another form of claim such as unfair dismissal or breach of contract; there is no free standing right for private sector employees to bring Human Rights Act claims.
We all need social networking
Access to social networking sites presents a dilemma for employers. Most employers do not allow access to these sites and there is certainly no law that insists that employees should have such access. Some organisations take the view that these types of sites actually assist employees in making social connections which can aid the business, but employers have to consider whether the benefits that might arise from such use are outweighed by the damage that might be done.
Employees must also be aware that their online profile may come back to haunt them, with a survey conducted by Microsoft in December 2009 suggesting that approximately 40% of UK recruiters had rejected candidates following searches against their online footprint.
All blogging is evil
The increase in blogging and micro-blogging is often a concern for employers, particularly those organisations with a public profile. However, just because a negative comment is made by an employee in their blog, this is not necessarily grounds for immediate dismissal by the employer. The question is whether the comments made by the employee amount to misconduct under the employer’s disciplinary procedure, for example, conduct which brings the employer into disrepute, and also the scale of the misconduct. There appears to be a recent trend of customer service operatives using blogs or social networking sites to be very critical of both their employers and also the customers that they serve. This can be highly embarrassing for the employer, but the organisation should not act in haste, but rather investigate the matter thoroughly before coming to a considered decision.
How to Maximise Compliance and Minimise Risk
- Conduct a thorough risk assessment, identifying the particular areas of concern to the specific organisation.
- Tailor any Acceptable Use Policy(AUP) to the specific risks identified by the assessment
- Distribute the AUP and educate employees as to why the particular AUP is being implemented, stressing the importance of the policy and also its role in protecting the employees and giving them appropriate guidance on how to utilise corporate IT systems.
- Ensure that any technical solution is also tailored to support the AUP that you have put in place.
- Enforce the AUP consistently – there is no point in having the policy if it is never used or is implemented in an inconsistent or unfair fashion.
- Review the AUP regularly to ensure that it remains relevant to the threats faced by the business.
If you require assistance in creating a bespoke Acceptable Use Policy for your organisation contact us now.
Scott Charney, a Microsoft Senior Executive, suggested that virus-infect PCs should be quarantined and denied access to the internet.
At the International Security Solutions Europe (ISSE) Conference in Berlin, Charney put forward this approach as a way to address botnets and other malware. The approach works much like a quarantine for infectious diseases would. In a company blog post Charney explains that automatic patches, AV, and firewalls just aren’t enough: “Despite our best efforts, many consumer computers are host to malware or are part of a botnet. “Bots,” networks of compromised computers controlled by hackers, can provide criminals with a relatively easy means to commit identity theft and also lead to much more devastating consequences if used for an attack on critical government infrastructure or financial systems.”
He uses Government schemes to vaccinate/quarantine people in order track and control the spread of infectious diseases as an example of a method that could be applied to PCs and viruses. “Simply put, we need to improve and maintain the health of consumer devices connected to the Internet in order to avoid greater societal risk. To realize this vision, there are steps that can be taken by governments, the IT industry, Internet access providers, users and others to evaluate the health of consumer devices before granting them unfettered access to the Internet or other critical resources.”
The main area of infection that Microsoft want to tackle is the growing army of robot PCs. Botnets are networks of infected PCs that “bot herders” or “bot masters” control. These networks can comprise of thousands and in some cases millions of compromised windows machines. these machines are used to distribute adware, spyware, spam emails and launch DDoS attacks. Microsoft announced earlier in the year that along with industry partners they successfully executed a take down of the waladec spambot. At the time Microsoft also stated that they intended to be “even more creative and aggressive in the fight against botnets and all forms of cybercrime.”
But the post has been met by a some what angry backlash. It seems that some people do not have much confidence in Microsoft’s proposal. With one commenter saying: “If Microsoft isn’t competent enough to make software that is safe, how are they going to be able to make an Internet quarantine that works?”.
From a business perspective I think Microsoft’s proposal is a good one, but implementing and making it an industry standard seems a long way off.
It think that the home user will be at the rough end of this stick, as they will be heavily reliant on ‘walk in’ fix it shops to clean their PCs as ironically most fix infections via the internet in one form or another.