SQL

SlashDB Helps Aruba Win #1 Spot in Digital Marketing Index

SlashDB Helps Aruba Win #1 Spot in Digital Marketing Index

Together with ConceptFarm, a leading digital marketing agency in New York, we are delighted to share with you the recent success of our client, Aruba.com.

Caribbean & Co. reports that the happy island of Aruba ranks No. 1 out of 35 Caribbean islands for overall “destination marketing index 2015.” Aruba also ranks No. 1 out of 10 Caribbean islands for Instagram reach, boasting an impressive 23,000 followers, double the number of the runner up. The marketing index ranking was derived by a proprietary weighing of various data, including social media followings, website inbound links, 3rd party rankings, and more (…)

Solidifying its position as the most digitally innovative DMMO, the ATA recently launched The Happiness Builder – a content-rich planning experience (…)

Quick Start With SlashDB

SlashDB connects website to databaseWhen the design team at ConceptFarm outlined their ideas for Aruba’s Happiness Builder it quickly became evident that such an innovative site would need to be custom built. Featuring video clips of nearly 100 attractions housed under six categories, the site allows visitors to create and share custom video “itineraries” of their Aruba vacation, complete with personalized messages and a choice of sound tracks.

The honor of programming of the site was awarded to VT Enterprise (the company that created SlashDB) after a highly competitive Request for Proposal process. Victor Olex, founder and CEO commented:

The sheer scope of the project and the need to launch the site in time for the contest was not a job your neighborhood web developer or digital marketing agency could do by themselves. We took the challenge and delivered on every idea the creative team threw at us.

VTE’s team utilized database design methodologies found in professional enterprise information systems and coupled that with API automation from SlashDB. SlashDB provided an instant API gateway to MySQL, which was the database already in use at Aruba.com. This combination formed the bedrock of the solution and the back-end for the web application.

Focus on User Experience

Once an API layer was in place, the development team focused on delivering the rich interactive features and stunning visuals conceptualized by the creative team. HTML5, advanced Cascading Stylesheets (CSS), and the JavaScript library, AngularJS, were key components in the front-end development process. OpenStreetMap combined with styling from Stamen and Leaflet library rounded off the technology stack and allowed for the innovative special effects on the map of the island. Adds Olex:

Every time our back-end team needed to make a change to the database, SlashDB instantly provided our front-end developers with an API ready for use. In the end we found that the entire site required literally ZERO lines of code in the back-end. SlashDB truly surpassed our own expectations.

At VTE, we view the finished product as one our greatest accomplishments in digital marketing production. This project was richly rewarding as it allowed our developers to explore new concepts and deliver a product that is truly remarkable for both its visuals and dynamic use of technology. We are happy to share the finished product on behalf of our client and hope that this new site will help to inspire plans for your next vacation.

Aruba Happiness Builder - Explore by Map

Flashback Friday: Computer Scientist Who Invented Debugging

Flashback Friday: Computer Scientist Who Invented Debugging

This week at SlashDB we honor Grace Hopper as our Flashback Friday forebear. Hopper is one of the most accomplished and well-known computer scientists in history – having famously popularized the terms “bug” and “debugging” 1 we so often use today.

While many remember Hopper only for her association with these terms, her accomplishments in the field of computer science are equally memorable. Hopper was one of the first programmers in history – a singular distinction that makes her worthy of our attention.

So let’s flashback and remember the many amazing achievements of Hopper – sometimes known by the nickname “Amazing Grace” 2 for her remarkable contributions to computer science.

Hopper began her career as a mathematics professor at Vassar, having earned her PhD in mathematics at Yale.3 In 1943, during World War II, she joined the United States Naval Reserve and was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University. While there she worked on one of the first computers, Mark I, which computed mathematical tables used for the Manhattan Project.4

Hopper's logbook with the moth ("bug") displayed.

Hopper’s logbook with the moth (“bug”) displayed.

After WWII Hopper remained at Harvard as a research fellow and worked extensively with the Mark II and Mark III computers. It was while working on Mark II that Hopper popularized the term “bug.” Hopper reportedly loved recounting the story of the night the computer stopped working and after much troubleshooting it was discovered that a moth caught in one of the relays was the cause of the problem5 – an actual bug in the system – and presto our favorite computer term was born. Had Hopper not felt the patriotic duty to serve her country, we may not be bandying about the term “bug” in reference to computer glitches – which we can all agree would diminish our lives.

Hopper’s most lasting contribution to computer science (other than the anecdotal hilarity of the origin of “bug”) was made later in her career while working at Remington Rand, where in 1952 she developed the first compiler.6 Two years later her team delivered the first compiler-based programming languages, FLOW – MATIC and MATH – MATIC. Hopper’s FLOW – MATIC language was later extended and re-developed into COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language).7 While many have never heard of COBOL, it is the forebear of English-like syntax programming languages like SQL.

Hopper had a strong belief that programming languages should be as easy to read as English. Her efforts to make this a reality are truly outstanding. Hopper’s leadership in developing programming languages like COBOL is the reason why programmers now use if/then statements in place of the 0s and 1s in binary code.8 This influence paved the way for highly readable programming languages like Python and Ruby that we use today.

Hopper was all about simplicity and efficiency, qualities that we work to achieve at SlashDB. Like Hopper we want not only solutions and results, but the simplest solutions and the most dynamic results. That’s why we spend so much time listening to our customers’ views and ideas – tracking down and “debugging” any imperfections to meet the needs of our users. At SlashDB we deeply admire Hopper’s pioneering work and strive to emulate her visionary leadership.

The USS Hopper at sea.

The USS Hopper at sea.

We can’t claim to be the only ones to admire and applaud Hopper for her contributions. Hopper retired from the Navy for the final time in 1986, at the age of 80 (YOLO and Hopper was truly determined to make the most of her time – she went on to work at Digital Equipment Corporation until her death in 19929). At her retirement ceremony she was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-combat award given by the Department of Defense.10 In addition to this Hopper has a U.S. Military vessel named after her, the USS Hopper,11 a distinction held by very few women. She is also a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (the second woman to be given this award) and is the first ever recipient of the Computer History Museum Fellow Award.12

Hopper’s contributions and memory remain very much alive today, despite her death more than 20 years ago. We continually evoke her lively spirit whenever we claim that there’s a “bug” in the system. Let’s hope that in another 20 years this small part of Hopper is still alive.

 


  1. “The Queen of Code,” NPR, accessed October 7, 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/03/07/390247203/grace-hopper-the- queen-of-code-would-have-hated-that-title.
  1. KeriLynn Engel, “Admiral “Amazing Grace” Hopper, Pioneering Computer Programmer,”Amazing Women in History, accessed October 7, 2015. http://www.amazingwomeninhistory.com/amazing-grace-hopper-computer-programmer/.
  1. “Grace Hopper Biography” Biography.com, accessed October 4, 2015. http://www.biography.com/people/grace-hopper-21406809#later-years-and-legacy.
  1. Cohen, Bernard (2000). Howard Aiken, Portrait of a Computer Pioneer. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
  1. KeriLynn Engel, “Admiral “Amazing Grace” Hopper, Pioneering Computer Programmer,”Amazing Women in History, accessed October 7, 2015.  http://www.amazingwomeninhistory.com/amazing-grace-hopper-computer-programmer/.
  1. Ogilvie, Marilyn and Joy Harvey (2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science:  Pioneering Lives from Ancient Times to the Mid- 20th Century. New York: Routledge.
  1. Ibid.
  1. KeriLynn Engel, “Admiral “Amazing Grace” Hopper, Pioneering Computer Programmer, Amazing Women in History, accessed October 7, 2015. http://www.amazingwomeninhistory.com/amazing-grace-hopper-computer-programmer/
  1. Ibid.
  1. Ibid.
  1. “Grace Hopper Biography” Biography.com, accessed October 4, 2015.  http://www.biography.com/people/grace-hopper-21406809#later-years-and-legacy.
  1. “Grace Hopper – Computer History Museum Fellow Award Recipient”. Computerhistory.org, accessed October 4, 2015.

 

Flashback Friday: Charles Bachman

Flashback Friday: Charles Bachman

We currently live in a world filled with technological possibilities. Computers and software like SlashDB help us in our daily lives by providing us with information, helping us track information, and storing information – streamlining our lives, allowing us to work smarter, not harder. Flashback Friday is about acknowledging our computer science forebears, remembering their innovation and leadership, and honoring them for their accomplishments.

So let’s flashback and remember the contributions of Charles Bachman – inventor of the first database management system, an achievement that makes him uniquely qualified to be our first Flashback Friday forebear.

Charles Bachman, while not as well-known as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs (whose death has done nothing to diminish his media presence), is still a true leader in the field of computer science. Bachman was developing software before developers were a thing. In fact he is credited with creating the first database management system ever in 1963 while working at General Electric.1

Bachman created the Integrated Data Store (IDS), a database management system that is still influential today. One of the most striking facts about Bachman is that his ideas about databases, now more than 50 years old, are conceptually similar to today’s API and linked data. In fact SlashDB implements his concept, albeit using modern technology (SQL database for a backend and HTTP for transport protocol).

Bachman’s visionary database management system allowed files to be located and modified without the need for the programs to be rewritten when accessing files. IDS accomplished this feat by using a separate data dictionary which allowed users to track data and study relationships between data in different records. 2 For example data on clients and data on manufacturing orders could be easily compared and tracked. This was an innovative movement toward integrating varied types of data that allowed the computer to become a tool for managing information.

Interestingly enough, SlashDB is not the only one making use of Bachman’s ideas today. Database designers even now rely on graphical tools or data structure diagrams to illustrate the complex data structures they use.3 These diagrams are called Bachman diagrams as he was the first to use this method.

An example of a Bachman diagram.

An example of a Bachman diagram.

So after his amazing contribution to the field of computer science, why hasn’t a film about Bachman been made – a tale of the strikingly innovative computer geek in the tradition of The Social Network and the soon to be released Steve Jobs film? There’s no clear answer to this. We can only hope that Bachman has a sufficiently emotionally complicated backstory to warrant such a film – fingers crossed.

So let’s take a moment to examine the man behind this huge contribution to computer science.

Charles Bachman was an engineer rather than a computer scientist, although his greatest contribution is to computer science rather than engineering. Bachman’s exceptional contribution to database technology hasn’t gone completely unnoticed (despite the absence of a film chronicling his invention). In 1973 Bachman became the 8th recipient of the A.M. Turing Award 4– the highest honor in the field of computer science, and doubly appropriate as an homage to Turing himself (an undoubtedly influential computer scientist – who incidentally has three films, a documentary, a play, and a novel based on him) and for its closeness to the word turning, as recipients’ work represents a specific turning point in the field of computer science.

While a film on Bachman has not yet been made, he is far from being forgotten. In 2014 President Barack Obama awarded Bachman the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.5 Let’s hope that a movie is soon to follow this huge honor.


  1. Thomas Haigh, “Fifty Years of Databases,” ACM SIGMOD Blog, December 11, 2012. http://wp.sigmod.org/?p=688.
  2. Thomas Haigh, “A.M. Turing Award Winners,” ACM, accessed September 17, 2015. http://amturing.acm.org/award_winners/bachman_1896680.cfm.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Thomas Haigh, “Fifty Years of Databases,” ACM SIGMOD Blog, December 11, 2012. http://wp.sigmod.org/?p=688.
  5. “Charles W. Bachman,” Computer History Museum, accessed September 17, 2015. http://www.computerhistory.org/fellowawards/hall/bios/Charles,Bachman/.
Databases at Scale Part Three: The Reality of Transactional Apps – The New Stack

Databases at Scale Part Three: The Reality of Transactional Apps – The New Stack

The growth of cloud computing, the transformative potential of hyperlocal and contextual products […], and the growth of mobile apps in the enterprise and beyond are all driving a need for robust database architecture that can manage real-time data transactions and analysis from high-volumes of simultaneous users accessing data around the globe. […]

“Traditional databases such as Oracle, MS SQL Server and DB2 are the cornerstone of business data management infrastructure: the so-called stores of record,” explains Victor Olex, Founder of VT Enterprise which runs SlashDB. “But in today’s world, data management has to extend beyond enterprise walls and those systems do not always work as well at web scale. While NoSQL databases offer a scalable substitute, they come with a hidden cost: time and expense required to rewrite existing business applications or at the very least to feed those new Big Data stores with important enterprise data from the stores of record.

“When it comes to leveraging investments already made in traditional databases for the purposes of web and mobile, or to connect with NoSQL, SlashDB offers a thin API facade that instantly turns SQL databases into HTTP resources, complete with authorization, search, data format conversion and caching features. As a result, previously siloed SQL data can now be obtained in JSON, XML and other formats that both NoSQL and web applications can seamlessly work with.” […]

Source: Databases at Scale Part Three: The Reality of Transactional Apps – The New Stack by Mark Boyd.

Is Software as a Service a Good Choice for Your Business?

Is Software as a Service a Good Choice for Your Business?

Does your business utilize online tools to increase productivity or access functionality not easily available from desktop software? Chances are the answer is yes and that you have heard of SaaS, but are you aware of risks and dangers associated with it and how to avoid them?

SaaS is the acronym for “software as a service” and it has exploded in popularity as Internet speeds increase and data sharing booms. Businesses have become reliant on web applications and services for various aspects of their business from operations to marketing, to R&D and even finance. There are pros and cons to this type of relationship and its best to have an understanding of that balance in order to make an informed decision.

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

SaaS illustration - cloud with lighting.SaaS companies usually bill on a monthly basis and strive to keep clients dependent on their service. This can be a cost effective option to reduce capital outlays, but keep in mind that the SaaS provider is constantly changing their software or can shut down without warning.

In the case of Repost.us, this company was launched and closed so fast users were left scrambling. Repost developed a business model that strived to increase exposure for publishers that are faced with the challenge to increase exposure for their content. This launch sounded great and filled a gap in the industry, so businesses shifted their strategy to include Repost.us and allocated a lot of time, money and resources only discover that the doors were going to shut down within a year of the launch. This demonstrates an inherent risk, but it is generally less expensive for a business to take this risk than to develop their own syndication software from scratch. The key is to be aware of this risk and make sure your business can quickly absorb any change.

Wait for It

Even when dealing with stable SaaS companies the relationship is not without issues. Successful SaaS startups are often challenged by providing consistent performance as the service grows in popularity. It has been proven much harder to develop truly scalable, multi-tenant distributed software for third party’s use than even a large enterprise-scale system for internal use, where many issues such as security, feature adoption and business process integration typically are well defined by existing solutions and established best practices.

Data Silos

Because SaaS products generally tend to serve only a single purpose, a business that utilizes many of these services is not only paying multiple subscription fees on a recurring basis, but also ends up with its mission critical data segmented across the web on various platforms. REST API integration services such as Zapier and IFTTT can be used to mitigate that problem to some degree, but again a business would be adding another service provider to the mix and another layer of complexity to its technology operations. It is evident that flexibility of keeping data in the cloud has proven to be valuable. That being said, it is worth taking time to review where your business’ potential liabilities and exposures exist so you make the right decisions.

Custom Tailored Solutions in the Cloud

The flip side is cloud services that actually bring amazing advances to a business and reduce costs, allowing for things never before possible. Let’s take a look at Amazon Web Services,  a reputable and stable platform that offers scalable computing infrastructure. While technically an Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), AWS has a gamut of add-on services, which put it way ahead of traditional web hosting and co-location facilities.

One such service is the Amazon Web Services Marketplace. AWS Marketplace is an online store that helps customers find, buy, and immediately start using the software and services that run in Amazon EC2 cloud. Many businesses leverage AWS Marketplace to receive the benefits of SaaS without relinquishing control over the software upgrade cycle, security setup, and integration capabilities. Enterprise quality software from established providers such as Oracle and Microsoft can be used together with bleeding edge solutions from smaller independent software vendors and Amazon’s own web services.

Customers of SlashDB have taken advantage of its availability in AWS Marketplace knowing that the underpinning computing infrastructure will allow for massive scalability and robustness.  At the same time those customers retain full control over software upgrades and have an option to migrate and/or integrate with internal data center, if required. SlashDB instantly adds a REST API to traditional SQL databases for reading and writing in JSON, XML, CSV and HTML formats. It has found applications in enterprise data integration, syncing internal databases with their cloud replicas and as a data gateway for web and mobile enterprise applications.

Survival of the Fittest

Taking into account all the factors will help create a business environment that uses the latest technologies while balancing their own data security needs. As time passes and more businesses continue to embrace software as a service the strongest providers will prevail, making the overall system increasingly more secure and reliable. At the same time the need for API integration will only increase. This dance between business and technology is the driving force behind all the latest innovations, so stay informed and good luck with your next SaaS choice.

SlashDB API for Data Science vs. Tools Like Oracle BI

SlashDB API for Data Science vs. Tools Like Oracle BI

We are often asked how SlashDB compares to Oracle BI or other business intelligence software.

Well, the main difference is that SlashDB provides unobstructed access to data for reading and writing, while those tools can only display data already nicely formatted for end users.

In addition to that SlashDB works both internally and does not require you to send data to a third party storage to make it available on the Internet. Oracle BI generally only works on the inside, and cloud-based SaaS products generally require you to upload your data to their storage in a format that fits their systems.

SlashDB is an instant web API shell over traditional databases. Unlike data warehouses and ETL, it does not copy the data form their source systems so the data is always up to date. Oracle BI requires setting up complicated ETL processes, which only run periodically and create copies of data.

Transparency of Research Matters

SlashDB is an excellent gateway to data for downstream analytics systems and self-service reporting in Excel, R, Python and more.

Fragment of the Research DocumentOur friends at PyStreet have recently conducted a survey on Python developers salary. The response data resides in an MS SQL Server database, but they wanted to publish the results online. They also wanted to demonstrate Python’s capability in data analysis.

Using SlashDB they made the database publicly accessible for reading via HTTP.

Then using IPhython Notebook and pandas data analysis library they produced a fully transparent research document, which was later shared online.

The notebook can not only be viewed, but also downloaded and modified.

Both the raw data and their transformations can be scrutinized and/or modified. For example, certain data points were removed from the study, but one can change those criteria or skip that step entirely. BI tools typically do not offer that degree of transparency.

SlashDB is industry independent. At last, your data scientists and business analysts will be empowered to leverage investments made in database systems. Use it with sales records, marketing campaign data, financial data or any other key performance indicator data to derive insights that matter.

Database Gateway for Mobile and Web Apps

Many organizations are now building dedicated mobile solutions and most of them will face a dilemma of how to access internal databases on those devices. Direct connection is not an option due to firewalls and neither is VPN because phones can go out of network coverage at any moment. Some fall back on periodic synchronization when the device is back in office but that is like going back 20 years to the old PDA days. In order to access the data in real time a web service needs to be developed. That has proven to be neither easy nor cheap nor fast to accomplish.

It all changes with SlashDB.

Once installed next to a web server, SlashDB connects internal databases to authorized mobile and web applications. Technically speaking, it automatically constructs a REST/HTTP web service, which makes database content accessible by URLs for reading and writing, under compatible data formats.

Using SlashDB, enterprises can create meaningful systems of engagements themselves or in partnerships with clients or 3rd party developers.

Diagram depicts SlashDB installed in DMZ

SlashDB as a Data Gateway (click to enlarge)

The benefits of HTTP APIs go beyond just modernizing the technology infrastructure and translate to competitive advantage for one’s business.

For example, an executive could negotiate a better deal by having an up to date inventory data on hand. The inventory itself could be accurately calculated because purchase orders were captured on the fly from distributor’s outside salesperson’s device into company’s database.

Systems or engagement are about interaction, in the moment updates and sharing but they make business sense only if they can work with and leverage prior investments made into the systems of record. SlashDB makes the connection.

Avoid VPN for Database Applications

That something can be done it doesn’t mean you should do it. Sharing a database server over VPN using public Internet is ripe with problems.

SQL database servers are designed for fast and reliable local area networks where constant connection between client and server can be maintained. VPN tunnels often shut down when there is no traffic, which can break existing connections. Further, the performance leaves a lot to be desired due to encryption and other overheads. People complain – a Google search for “database over VPN problem” yields almost 8.5 million references.

When database content needs to be accessed by remote clients over the Internet, an HTTP(S) web service is most likely the best solution. HTTP was designed for wide area networks and automatically comes with benefits of efficient caching, easy content sharing and is accessible from virtually all programming environments.

SlashDB Applauded at PyData Conference

SlashDB lightning talk at the PyData conference was received with a round of applause. Please contact us to discuss /db features in context of your work or to schedule a dedicated presentation.

Turn any Database into an Online Resource with Assetcloud Powered by /db

Turn any Database into an Online Resource with Assetcloud Powered by /db

The news is outNovember, 14-15 we will be exhibiting /db at the NY Business Expo, booth #66 at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. Come join us, see /db in action.

Turn Any Database into an Online Resource with VT Enterprise Assetcloud Powered By /db

Financial industry first to adopt Assetcloud powered by /db to cope with data silos, become cloud-ready. Automatically generated REST API streamlines enterprise data management and paves the way for mobile enterprise applications.

Jersey City, NJ (PRWEB) November 06, 2012

VT Enterprise announces the immediate availability of Assetcloud powered by /db, a solution to the growing data access problem in financial industry. As institutions become increasingly information-driven, databases play a crucial role in driving critical business processes. However, organizations often encounter multiple databases in different departments that are hard to access. Assetcloud powered by /db solves this data management problem by instantly turning any group of databases into a “cloud” of online data resources that are easily searchable and accessible by authorized users and applications. [Read more]