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Packt Publishing Celebrates 2000th title with big sale


I’ve used technical books from Packt Publishing for years and they are always a great asset.   I’ve also served as technical editor for the book “IBM Cognos BI v10.2 Administration Essentials“.

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The following is a quote of their special offer:

 

Packt Publishing celebrates their 2000th title with an exclusive offer – We’ve got IT covered!

Known for their extensive range of pragmatic IT ebooks, Packt Publishing are celebrating their 2000th book title `Learning Dart’– they want their customers to celebrate too.

To mark this milestone Packt Publishing will launch a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ offer across all eBooks on March 18th – for a limited period only.

`Learning Dart’ was selected as a title and published by Packt earlier this year. As a project that aims to revolutionise a language as crucial as JavaScript, Dart is a great example of an emerging technology which aims to support the community and their requirement for constant improvement. The content itself explains how to develop apps using Dart and HTML5 in a model-driven and fast-paced approach, enabling developers to build more complex and high-performing web apps.

David Maclean, Managing Director explains `It’s not by chance that this book is our 2000th title. Our customers and community drive demand and it is our job to ensure that whatever they’re working on, Packt provides practical help and support.

At Packt we understand that sometimes our customers want to learn a new programming language pretty much from scratch, with little knowledge of similar language concepts. Other times our customers know a related language fairly well and therefore want a fast-paced primer that brings them up to a competent professional level quickly.

That’s what makes Packt different: all our books are specifically commissioned by category experts, based on intensive research of the technology and the key tasks.’

Since 2004, Packt Publishing has been providing practical IT-related information that enables everyone to learn and develop their IT knowledge, from novice to expert.

Packt is one of the most prolific and fast-growing tech book publishers in the world. Originally focused on open source software, Packt contributes back into the community paying a royalty on relevant books directly to open source projects. These projects have received over $400,000 as part of Packt’s Open Source Royalty Scheme to date.

Their books focus on practicality, recognising that readers are ultimately concerned with getting the job done. Packt’s digitally-focused business model allows them to quickly publish up-to-date books in very specific areas across a range of key categories – web development, game development, big data, application development, and more. Their commitment to providing a comprehensive range of titles has seen Packt publish 1054% more titles in 2013 than in 2006.

Erol Staveley, Publisher, says `Recent research shows that 88% of our customers are very satisfied with the service knowing that we offer a wide breadth of titles in a timely manner, and owing to the quality of service that they receive 94% of customers are willing to recommend Packt to friends and family. It’s great that we’ve hit such a significant milestone, and we want to continue delivering this fantastic content to our customers.’

Here are some of the best titles across Packt’s main categories – but Buy One, Get One Free will apply across all 2000 titles:

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Microsoft Changes Certification Titles … Again


Microsoft has overhauled the levels of certifications to meet their perceived changes in the skill sets of developers.  There will be four levels of certification in the Microsoft Solutions Expert program

  1. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) – core skills and a prerequisite for further levels
  2. Microsoft Solutions Expert (MCSE) – relevant and up-to-date skills for IT professionals working with the solutions
  3. Microsoft Solutions Developer (MCSD) – Like MCSE, but geared toward developers, rather than IT professionals (not to imply that developers are unprofessional).
  4. Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) — Beyond expert level, the highest level of skills are validated by this rigorous testing process.

Microsoft has also integrated Cloud Computing concepts into many of the exams to reflect the changing environments that are emerging.

A track that has been changed, probably relevant to the readers of this article is MCSE Business Intelligence: http://aka.ms/MCSEBI

FYI, there’s a 2-for-1 offer by Prometric at this time: http://aka.ms/Prometric241

Opinion:  I like the clarification of levels of skill proficiency and the distinguishing of breadth versus depth with IT Professional and Developer, but MCSE has long been associated with Microsoft Certified System Engineer and this could cause confusion with older managers.

Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference 2010


I’m getting excited about the Microsoft BI Conference coming up in New Orléans.  I scheduled all of my sessions with a heavy emphasis on very technical deep dives into PowerPivot and PerformancePoint Services.  I am also looking forward to learning more about Master Data Services.

Here’s a link: http://bi2010.eventpoint.com/default.aspx

I hope to see you there.  Tweet me.

Which OLAP cube should I use, Microsoft SSAS or IBM Cognos PowerCube (Powerplay)?


An Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) cube is a powerful tool to analyze large amounts of data quickly. There are a number of products available that can create an OLAP cube. This article will discuss some of the factors that should be considered in choosing an OLAP technology and evaluate two major vendors’ products – Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2008 (SSAS) and IBM Cognos PowerCube.
Three factors that are important in considering OLAP technologies are:
1. Your existing database and reporting technologies.
2. The amount of data that will be brought into the cube.
3. The skill set of workers that will design and create cubes.

Microsoft SQL Server

If your data warehouse platform is based on Microsoft SQL Server, especially if you are also using SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), then SSAS is a natural extension of the architecture. SSIS can used to load and process the SSAS cube. SQL Server data will be optimized for loading into the SSAS cube. (It is important to note that SSAS can also source from Oracle, DB2, Access and Teradata data sources.) This Microsoft database environment can also be used as source data for an IBM Cognos cube, but the Cognos cube cannot be used with Microsoft reporting tools such as Reporting Services. IBM Cognos does have a software product that allows Powercube browsing with Excel; Microsoft SSAS cubes can be browsed natively with Excel pivot tables.

SharePoint
If your portal and collaboration solution is Microsoft SharePoint there, are exciting features in SharePoint 2010 that combines PerformancePoint and new PowerPivot software. These will leverage SSAS cubes and will not support IBM Cognos Powercubes.

IBM Cognos environment
If your database platform is not Microsoft and your reporting environment is purely IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, then using Powercubes is a natural extension. Analysis Services cubes may also be used in this environment if other considerations make this desirable, but all things being equal, Cognos is a better fit.

Size of data
The size of the source data and resulting cube is of paramount importance in your choice. Cognos Powercubes have an inherent limit of 2 Gb, although there are workaround techniques. Microsoft SSAS cubes are commonly 300-400 Gb in size with source data measured in terabytes. Multi-terabyte SSAS cubes are in use today. SSAS also gives the ability to use relational tables for aggregation (known as ROLAP) or a hybrid (known as HOLAP). This allows for even more scalability. For large amounts of data, Microsoft is a clear winner.

Learning Curve
Microsoft SSAS requires a more technical skill set for developers than IBM Cognos Powercubes. Microsoft cubes will require a working knowledge of the multi-dimensional language, MDX. For developers that know SQL it will look similar, but is a paradigm shift analogous to moving from procedural languages to object oriented languages. There will be a learning curve. The return for that investment is much more flexibility, programmability and extensibility.
IBM Cognos Transformer, the software used to design a Powercube, was designed with the developer or power user in mind. IBM envisions strong financial analysts creating their own cubes. The result is simpler and easier to use but lacks the rich capabilities present in SSAS. Organizations with a medium amount of data and limited technical resources can build solutions quicker using IBM Cognos cubes.

Conclusion
In conclusion, Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services will provide more scalability, extensibility and functionality with a cost of complexity and learning curve. This makes it a more strategic choice and IBM Cognos Powercubes a tactical choice in the appropriate situations. Powercubes are best used with smaller sets of data in an existing Cognos environment and when a less advanced technical skill set is required by the designers.