Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New version of ECMa available

I know this is blatant advertising, but I am pretty proud of this product… This announcement went out to our customers this morning..

Product Updates



Dear Ted,
We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of ECM Analytics, which delivers executive dashboards, automates Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), provides drill down reports and offers proven IT analytics based on ECM's audit quality data. ECM Analytics helps improve the IT processes managed with ECM by observing the patterns, behavior and measuring against KPIs, helping to achieve continual service improvement, a key requirement for IT organizations today.
ECM Analytics provides an at a glance view of the IT processes such as change management, compliance, and patch effectiveness through executive dashboards and KPIs based on the industry knowledge gained from hundreds of IT organizations. A library of customizable reports are included as part of ECM Analytics providing an "out of the box" understanding of how change, compliance and patch processes are working over time and across the IT silos and business units. These dashboards, KPIs and reports are based solely on the granular, forensic level data collected and maintained by ECM ensuring that the information is accurate and aligned directly with the day to day operational, security and compliance activities driven through ECM.
ECM Analytics also delivers powerful analytical capabilities that guide drill down to isolate problems, and provide the visibility into ECMs data from multiple dimensions enabling you to ask and answer questions that had been previously difficult or impossible to resolve without days and weeks of manual effort.

Report on compliance over time
Key Performance Indicators
Assess patch deployment
and effectiveness

Understand change and
optimize IT process

Compliance - the ECM Analytics Compliance dashboard features "Odometer" graphics of compliance attainment across the enterprise, or to specific regulatory standards and best practices. These dashboards can be customized to automatically detail compliance from business units, applications or geographic locations. Trend reports are also available that present granular compliance over time clearly showing continuous improvement and indentifying hot spots that require attention. Powerful analytics can then be used to quickly investigate and better understand the compliance problem and determine an action plan.
Patch Effectiveness - KPIs are integrated into the Patch Management dashboard and provide visibility into patch effectiveness that can be measured across the enterprise by machine type, location, criticality, business unit, patch severity, etc. Detailed reports can then be accessed that provide both the summary and detailed information to understand the ongoing status of patches and report on effectiveness. For example ECM Analytics can automatically present the success of a specific patch template as Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-051 is rolled out. As anomalies are seen, the analytics functions can be used to quickly assess the anomaly and determine resolution options saving hours in manual investigation. The end result being significantly higher patch success rates and shortened patch deployment time.
Change Management - ECM Analytics breaks through the mass of changes captured across the infrastructure and presents a coherent dashboard that presents the KPIs of change, identifying normal state and potential areas of concern using standard and extraordinary deviations from the norm. Detailed reports then provide the information required to identify a potential problem that needs to be addressed from an opportunity for process improvement. Analytics can then be used to explore the problem, for example the rate of change has suddenly increased in London when no new applications or devices have been added - what caused the changes? For process improvement, change has increased across a specific group of devices at different Service Pack levels, with a rationalization of Service Packs could support costs be reduced?
ECM Analytics is available to current ECM customers as an introductory package. We have also designed a standard service offering to accelerate deployment and deliver value to your organization in days. This deployment and training package is specifically designed to make the benefits of ECM Analytics available fast, with minimal resource commitments from your team. Ongoing training is also included to provide knowledge transfer over time.
Please contact your Account Manager for more information or to schedule a demonstration.
Our Technical Support Group is available 6AM - 6PM MST to answer questions about ECM and ECM Analytics. Please email or call 1.877.676.4960.
Configuresoft Customer Care
Need some help from the experts? Configuresoft offers a full range of services and training packages to meet your organizational needs. Please contact your account team or Customer First Portal to schedule. CP&C also offers free advice on how compliance mandates and security directives impact your organization. For more information, go to Ask the Experts.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Microsoft Press & Books 24x7

One of the things that I like about working on bleeding edge technology is the constant need to research new things. I am a geek and I admit it. :)

I like reading online. I’m one of the weird types that only likes physical books for “fun” reading. Serious reading should all be online, indexed for quick searching, and modular enough that you can pick/choose what you need.

When I discovered Books 24x7 and the technical reference library, I snatched that up as quickly as I could. I just LOVE the ability to open up my “library” and find whatever I need right away..

Well, now there’s some really good news for people who, like me, want access to this incredibly cool tool. Books 24x7 in conjunction with the Microsoft MVP program is making what I think is a fantastic offer:

For $149.99 per year, you can have access to the entire library of MSPress books online. Or, if you prefer to limit your choices, for $89.99 you can have access to either the developer or IT Professional library. The entire library contains hundreds of books, and through this offer you can read them all online, or download a limited number of chapters in .PDF format (I believe you’re limited to 5 chapters per month under this offer, but I don’t know for sure)

To gain access to this offer, use this URL:

To check it out free of charge, use this URL:

This offer expires on Sept 30, 2008.


For what it’s worth I don’t get any credit or compensation for passing this along. It’s a generic promo code URL. I do, however, think this is an incredible offer.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Microsoft Data Centers

I found this article thanks to my colleague and friend Chris Randall. It is a very cool article discussing how Microsoft adds servers to their data centers... I can't even imagine....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New CTP for “Data Dude” (Visual Studio Team System for Database Professionals)

Just got the word today that the latest GDR release of the Visual Studio Team System for Database Professionals is available for download!! (Links below)

There are a number of new features in this CTP (Read the list on Gerts Blog) but by far the most anticipated for me is the new VSDBCMD.EXE command line utility. This will become a part of our field toolkit for sure! The tool allows you to generate .dbschema files that can be used in schema compares, as well as supplying many of the deployment features as well. I can’t wait to start really testing this utility!

Download the GDR here:


Download the documentation here: 2008 Database Edition GDR



SSWUG - SharePoint Virtual Conference

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I am the chair for the upcoming SQL Server Worldwide Users Group SharePoint Virtual Conference. The conference runs from October 15-17. There will be more than 17 unique sessions spread out over 3 days, giving attendees the capability to see everything they need to see to get up to speed on SharePoint.

The list of speakers is pretty impressive for this conference. There will be a great mix of technical deep dive as well as introductory topics on both SharePoint administration and development. This conference is going to be great if I do say so myself!

It will be the best $100 you ever spent, so check it out!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why software estimation is hard

I was catching up on some reading today (I am SO far behind) and came across this blog entry from fellow VSTS MVP Martin Woodward. 

This article is probably one of the best explanations of the problems with software estimation that I have ever seen.

Good job Martin!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SQL Server 2008 RTM & Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite SP1

As I mentioned in the previous entry, I have been having some difficulties in my environment with respect to DataDude (Visual Studio Team System for Database Professionals) and SQL Server 2008.

As it turns out (and by the way, this is not a criticism, it’s just the result of me not reading and following directions) the SP1 bits of Visual Studio Team System will not support Schema compares against the RTM release of SQL Server 2008. if you try, you get the following dialog message:


Fortunately, there is a very easy fix for this, but at the same time you need to be very careful. The fix involves installing a small bit of unreleased “CTP” (I guess we can’t call it Beta anymore) code for the DataDude extension. The current (as of this posting, however I’m hearing rumors that a new one is out soon!) CTP of DataDude is CTP15 and it can be downloaded here: but be very careful and check to see if a newer version is out before you simply take my word for this one being the latest.

My experience with the Datadude CTP15 GDR (General Distribution Release) has been pretty positive (I’ve been using it for some time now, it’s only been since upgrading VS 2008 to SP1 that I’ve had “issues”) so I don’t think you’ll have much to worry about if you place it on your workstation, but please keep in mind that it is unreleased code and therefore you are flying at your own risk.

The "DataDude" GDR and Visual Studio 2008 SP1

If you're like me and tend to push the envelope in terms of what you install on your development machine, you probably have installed the GDR update for Visual Studio Team System Database Professionals aka "DataDude".

One thing I learned about this (and it really should be obvious, but for some reason it wasn't) is that even though the installation of Visual Studio Service Pack 1 seems to go fine, realize that the DataDude GDR is actually not updated with this SP. So, in order to get things in true working order (Able to use the RTM features of SQL Server 2008) you'll need to uninstall (not repair) the DataDude GDR release, then install SP1, then reinstall the DataDude GDR.

In my case, I installed SP1, then tried to use the Schema Compare function within DataDude against an RTM SQL 2008 instance. This failed, and after a bit of whining to various people, I learned that the GDR needed to be reinstalled. After learning that the repair function didn't work to solve the problem, I uninstalled the GDR and reinstalled it. This seemed to work, but I don't *really* know what state my environment is in.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Visual Studio 2008 & .NET Framework 3.5 SP1

Both have now been officially released. This is important news because SQL Server 2008 cannot be installed on a machine without the above if Visual Studio 2008 is installed. (Which is of course the boat many developers are in)

See the following links:

Team Foundation Server 2008 SP1

.NET Framework 3.5 SP1

Visual Studio 2008 SP1 (full ISO) or (bootstrapper exe)

By the way, if you’ve previously installed a beta copy of SP1 for any of the above, you’ll need the cleanup utility that can be found here: Visual Studio 2008 Hotfix Cleanup Utility for Installing Visual Studio 2008 SP1

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

SQL Server 2008 is done!

Well, this is old news by now, but I’ve noticed that there still hasn’t been an official announcement from MS other than the keynote at TechEd South Africa. At any rate, SQL Server 2008 has been released!! It can be found on subscriber downloads at MSDN or Technet, or, if you want an evaluation copy, it can be found here: 

Congrats to the SQL Team for getting it out the door. There’s a lot to look forward to in this release of SQL Server!!



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

PDC PreCon – Agile Perspectives – The Industry and Microsoft

Mary Poppendieck and Grigori Melnick will be presenting a pre conference session on Agile software development at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles. This session should be an interesting one as it will discuss several real-world Agile projects and the processes that worked. Check out the abstract here:,-industry-and-microsoft 

This is a session that I hope to be able to attend.