Thursday, 8 December 2011

Free Webinar

Just to let you all know that I’ll be hosting a free webinar on December 15th that will demonstrate the capabilities of Microgen DBClarity Developer, and I’ll be discussing how it can be used to overcome many of the challenges faced by reporting teams, database developers, analysts and business insight professionals.

I'll touch on some of my past experiences managing Business Intelligence teams and involvement in large change programmes, and consider how DBClarity Developer would be beneficial in these situations.

I’ll be including a Q&A session at the end, so if you have any questions about the product or how it could be used to benefit your team, then this is a perfect opportunity to throw them at me!

For more details and to register, please follow the link:

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Beta 2 is Coming...

Firstly I’d like to thank everyone who has provided us with feedback on the first beta of Microgen DBClarity Developer.  This is what I love about, and where we see the real benefits of running beta programs, as you get to influence the things we need to improve on.

So, we’re almost there with Beta 2, and we’ll obviously be posting it up on the web site for download as soon as it’s ready.  If you’re a Beta 1 user and have come to the end of your 30 day trial, don’t fret, as the new beta will start your 30 days again.

So what have we done?

·         A number of great improvements to the debugger, particularly for Teradata.  The ability to visually debug and step through stored procedures has got to be a bonus to any SQL developer!
·         Improved database deployment process particularly with the Create or Replace options
·         Usability enhancements, including:
o Improved output display when executing procedures from with Microgen DBClarity Developer
o Cascading deletes on when removing database entities from the Workspace
o Improved Insert One Row with parameters in SQL Rules
·         A range of enhancements to Expressions in Procedures Parameters, SQL Procedures and Block Inputs

We hope these improvements will keep you all happy for the time being.  We’re obviously working on the product roadmap, and we have taken on board some of the bigger ideas that have been suggested.

I’ll let you all know as soon as the update is available for download, and please keep the feedback coming.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Set SQL - Exploiting the power of a database

I have just read a great blog post from George Coleman, the much respected Teradata engineer and Set SQL guru, reflecting on the history of database programming culminating in the Set SQL we all know and love today.

What I found particularly interesting were the origins of programming with flowcharts, and how this visual representation of process and logic is easy to understand and remains an excellent way of documenting procedural systems.  Obviously database programming has evolved into a textual language, and enables us to fully exploit advances in RDBMS technologies and massively parallel processing - rather fortunate given the significant increases in data volumes and our unabated appetite for insight!

But wait, haven’t we lost something along the way? 

Database programming, in the form of SQL, has become so advanced and so functionally rich that is its use, beyond the basics at least, is now restricted to the realm of us technical folk.  So now those poor business users and subject matter experts who could once work with a flowchart to define and implement their requirements have to rely on the interpretation of a developer to deliver their data needs, and then have no way of checking whether the results reflect what they actually wanted.

So wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow combine the power of Set SQL and the usability and intuitiveness of a visual diagram.  Not only for basic data retrieval, but as a way of developing comprehensive database procedures that can combine, transform, aggregate and analyse large data sets.  Just think of the increased collaboration, accuracy and productivity gains that could be achieved with an environment that can graphically generate complex Set SQL and deploy it straight to the database.

Well, now this is all possible - with Microgen DBClarity Developer.  In Microgen's quest to simplify the complex when it comes to developing enterprise applications, it saw the challenges normally associated with the definition and implementation of business logic extend into the data space.  Exacerbated by the growth in data volumes, with typical work around solutions like data manipulation within Excel becoming unworkable, Microgen decided to tackle this head on.  Leveraging years of experience crafting and refining a graphical environment for developing business processes and rules, Microgen have created a completely graphical approach for developing Set SQL.

So as George encourages you to migrate your old database code into Set SQL, why not simplify the process and reduce your learning curve by taking the graphical approach.  Give it a try at

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Why Microgen DBClarity Developer?

Some of you, particularly the SQL gurus amongst you, may be asking why you need Microgen DBClarity Developer.  So here are my thoughts.

I’ve lost track of the number of programmes, projects and initiatives I’ve worked on, but consistent throughout was a hunger for data to support the definition of requirements, business processes, success criteria, ROI, etc.  I’ve seen Business Analysts spending too much of their time writing SQL queries to get a better understanding of how a company’s product data is structured, or how their customer hierarchies are modelled, only for another BA to repeat the same process whilst on another project three months down the line.  Development resources are typically stacked trying to deliver the 50+ projects that are currently in-flight, and even if they did have a small window to help, they need briefing, and then the logic implemented need to be checked and validated.  It all takes valuable time.

I’ve seen BI teams, both developers and analysts, writing endless SQL queries and procedures to support the business’ need for insight – and that’s even when there is a full complement of BI reporting and visualisation tools available.  Indeed many large financial institutes have many hundreds of people developing SQL queries on behalf of the business, all without any real structure or control.

Then, to make matters worse, in a typical enterprise that has many flavours of database, the poor business analyst who’s just about become familiar with the Microsoft SQL syntax now has to go interrogate some data on an Oracle or Teradata platform!  I can hear the screams now… why does this date function not work, why is this join different…

The scenarios are endless, but take a step back and ask how many of these queries and procedures are inconsistent, how many versions of the truth are being reported out there, how many development briefs are misinterpreted and subsequent business decisions made on invalid logic?

And this seems to be the story wherever you go, whether on a large scale or pocketed away in small teams, the fact is every company has some level of SQL development that is going on in an inconsistent and uncontrolled manner.

So why Microgen DBClarity Developer?  Well we’ve addressed these and many other issues by developing a product that enables the visual creation and maintenance of SQL views, functions, triggers and procedures so that you don’t need to know database specific SQL.  A product that has a repository with full version management and security so that you can collaborate and gain control of your procedures, and one that I really love is the ability to define SQL expressions (e.g. a KPI calculation) once and re-use them across multiple queries.  With a fully featured visual debugger and features such as a “where used” report for impact analysis, Microgen DBClarity Developer really is an enterprise level SQL development tool.

So next time you’re trying to explain to a business user what your 200 line SQL query does, just think how much easier it would be talking through a visual diagram.

Don't forget you can download a free trial version from

Friday, 14 October 2011

Launch Fanfare

Last week was a very exciting one; not only was Microgen a gold sponsor at the Teradata Partners event in San Diego, but we launched a beta release of our new product Microgen DBClarity Developer.  

It offers an innovative way of developing SQL views and procedures through graphical representation.  Designed to provide transparency and control over in-database processes, and help bridge the gap between business and IT through its visual environment.

We handed out many copies of a trial version of our beta release at the Partners event, and you can now download a 30-day trial version from the Microgen website.  If you’d like to get a feel for the product first, why not watch the introductory video at

We have also posted a series of tutorials on the website that help you get to grips with the product.  They are based on the sample projects that are shipped with the software, so you can follow each tutorial step by step, and see the completed article in the sample project.

I’d love to get your thoughts and feedback on the product and how you think it could help your organisation, so please have a look and post your feedback.

More about Microgen DBClarity Developer coming soon.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A New Chapter

After many years of architecting, designing and developing business focused technology solutions, I am really excited that I am now Product Manager for Microgen Aptitude.  Microgen have a powerful technology platform that enables organisations to develop enterprise class applications that can leverage existing systems and data assets.  I was particularly drawn to this role as I can see how the product could have added huge value in past roles, and helped overcome a number of the challenges we faced.

During my career I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in both business and technology transformation initiatives, and have seen first-hand the challenges faced by organisations trying to respond quickly to changing market conditions.

From implementing SOA, sales automation, legacy integration and migration programmes through to enterprise wide adoption of agile methodologies, they all challenge us in the way we work together, what technologies we use and how they integrate, and the end results typically dictate significant change to business processes.

So it is with this in mind that I get animated about Microgen Aptitude, my company’s flagship product.  Microgen Aptitude provides an end-to-end visual approach to application development that breaks down traditional barriers, enabling true collaboration amongst business and IT folk.  The platform includes all the technology elements one needs to develop applications including BPM, business rules, integration, ETL, and web applications.  These elements were designed from the ground up as a single integrated product, which is based on a service orientated architecture with full orchestration capabilities.  This enables fast development of enterprise scale solutions without the challenges of a mixed toolset with proprietary languages (as is offered by some of the mega vendors).  Finally, the Aptitude solution is resilient and scalable and has the ability to process hundreds of millions of transactions per hour.  This all adds up to a platform that happily powers applications at some of the world’s largest investment banks and digital media providers.  

In this blog, I hope to discuss the challenges faced by companies today, and how they can rapidly develop applications to gain competitive advantage, whether they’re to improve operations, launch new products, or leverage existing data.

Next; the Teradata Partners event where we launched a new product.