Questions About the GDPR That You Were Too Shy to Ask

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will affect organisations in countries around the world, not just those in Europe. The GDPR regulates how personal data is stored, moved, handled, and destroyed. Not following the regulation will lead to dire consequences for your organisation. As a data professional or developer, you may have many questions and might be wondering how it will affect the way you will do your job. William Brewer answers common questions about the GDPR that you were too shy to ask. … Read more

Even More SQL Server Features that Time Forgot

SQL Server works well, and Microsoft does everything it can to keep it relevant and competitive: As with everything in real life, it doesn't don't always get it completely right, and Rob Sheldon continues his quest through the jungle of past features to rediscover and explore the ones that time forgot. Here, he comes across Lightweight Pooling, XML Indexes, Stretch Databases, SQL Variants, Transaction Savepoints and In-Memory OLTP.… Read more

How Can DevOps Concepts Provide Value in Digital Transformation Projects?

For some of us, DevOps means startups, cloud, fast-moving social media applications and Extreme Programming (XP). What about large corporate IT initiatives, Digital Transformation projects, and business process re-engineering? Can DevOps be relevant and appropriate? Mohammad Rizvi argues from experience that it most certainly can be.… Read more

Missing Data

In the real world of business or scientific reporting and analysis, data can prove to be awkward. It can be plain wrong or it can be altogether missing. Sure, we have the NULL to signify unknown, but that doesn't play well with regular business reporting. There are a number of ways of dealing with missing information, and methods of estimating data from existing data has a long and respectable history. Joe Celko gets to grips with a data topic that is often treated with some trepidation. … Read more

Providing the Necessary Tools and Reports for Very Large IT Projects

For the larger development project using Agile/DevOps, there will always be the problem of comprehensive tooling and reporting. An all-encompassing ALM Integrated Development Environment will have some of what you need but is unlikely to meet your special requirements; Neither will a DevOps toolchain. Where do you start? You'll need to specify up-front what those requirements are, as Mohammad Rizvi explains.… Read more

Mixing MongoDB and Relational Databases in the Enterprise

Your Agile developers want MongoDB, or a similar document database: your Ops people are concerned about security and backup, and Governance are muttering about transactionality and data transfer between systems. Do you restrict your developers from rapidly-evolving the data design for their domain or do you embrace the joys of NoSQL unconditionally? If you accept a polyglot database environment, where the NoSQL lambs coexist with the relational lions, how do you provide tools and common database concepts that everyone can use and understand?… Read more

The SQL Server Features that Time Forgot

Every new release of SQL Server comes with new features that cause a ripple of excitement within the industry: well, amongst the marketing people anyway. What happens to all the exciting TLAs that are bandied about when a new version launches? It's mixed, it seems. Adam Machanic's classic post, The SQL Hall of Shame, has inspired Rob Sheldon to look back at some of the features that, though worthy, have may have failed to hit the mainstream.… Read more

Should You Consider Agile for Very Large IT Projects?

Many large organisations are compelled to embark on wide-ranging business-transformation IT projects. They are difficult to manage because, in the intervening months before the end of the project, the changing business environment will have forced further changes on the business. Agile holds out the promise of managing these changes more easily. Mohammad Rizvi explains, from experience, some of the the issues you are likely to face, and how you can solve them.… Read more

Pseudonymization and the Inference Attack

It is surprising that so much can be identified by deduction from data. You may assume that you can safely distribute partially masked data for reporting, development or testing when the original data contains personal information. Without this sort of information, much medical or scientific research would be vastly more difficult. However, the more useful the data is, the easier it is to mount an inference attack on it to identify personal information. Phil Factor explains.… Read more

SQL Data Aggregation Aggravation

When we have to deal with and store a lot of data, it makes sense to aggregate it so that we store only the information we actually need. If we get this right, this works well, but the design of the system takes care and thought because the problems can be subtle and various. Joe Celko describes some of the ways that things can go wrong and end up providing incorrect, inaccurate or misleading results.… Read more

Fighting Evil in Your Code: Comments on Comments

One of the most glib generalisations you can make about development work is to say that code should be liberally commented, or conversely that it should never be commented. As always, the truth is more complicated. There are many different types of comment and some types are best treated firmly with the delete key, where others are to be cherished and maintained assiduously. Even though it is hard to find two developers who agree on the topic of commenting, Michael Sorens warily sketches out the issues and the battleground.… Read more

Personal Data, Privacy, and the GDPR

Now that there have been well-publicised examples of the awful consequences of data breaches and data misuse, there is increasing public pressure for legislation on privacy and personal data that has enough clout to prosecute serious offenders. In the vanguard has been the EU data protection regulation, soon to be succeeded by the GDPR. It defines IT practices for data that are likely to extend worldwide. William Brewer gives a rundown of what he sees as the implication for IT practice.… Read more

Development Delusions: That it is Enough to Build a Better Mousetrap

You've written a superb, clever, application that you are trying to encourage your colleagues to use. They're not interested. Why? You've neglected the documentation. Surely, the saying goes 'Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door'? Nope, not without comprehensive and complete documentation and marketing, it won't. Documentation is the secret of ensuring that good software will succeed. … Read more

Your Professional Development and the PASS Organization

There are so many ways of keeping your technical skills and knowledge up-to-date. There are books, articles, conferences, video courses and so on, but nothing beats discussion and debate with professional people in other organisations facing a similar range of technical challenges, some of which you share, and others you maybe haven't yet. PASS is unique in providing just this vital ingredient for database professionals using the Microsoft Data Stack.… Read more

Which Edition of SQL Server is Best for Development Work?

You might think, as a developer, that nothing but the best is good enough as a development database. You might be mistaken. There is a lot to be said for LocalDB, but Ed Elliott argues that every edition has its pros and cons, and you need to consider Cloud-based resources, VMs and Containerised databases too. There is a whole range of alternatives and how you choose depends on the type of database you are developing, but for Ed, LocalDB gets the five-star accolad… Read more

Strengthening the Foundations of Software Architecture

The term 'Architecture' seems to imply a plan that you can't easily subsequently deviate from. It's true that, if you abandon software architecture, you end up with a big ball of mud, but maybe the art of software is to make change much easier by planning how to implement each feature, tackling dependency issues, splitting functionality into small discrete components and considering how they should interact with each other.… Read more

The IT Manager’s perspective: People as an Asset

Information Technology is fast-changing, but the people who work in IT need to have a good chance of a long-term career. That means keeping up to date, not only in their current speciality, but in the wider sphere of the technology they work with. IT managers must make sure that keeping up to date with technology is part of the day to day activity of their people. How should they make sure it happens?… Read more