Chris Webb's BI Blog

Analysis Services, MDX, PowerPivot, DAX and anything BI-related

Self-service ETL with Data Explorer

with 4 comments

One of the most interesting things I saw last week at the PASS Summit was Data Explorer, the cloud-based data transformation and publishing tool that was demoed in the keynote on day 1. While it was roundly dismissed as ‘yet more Excel’ by the disgruntled DBA faction I thought it showed some potential (you can see a walkthrough of what was shown here) – even if the fact that it was a SQL Azure Labs project suggested it was not destined to be a real product.

Today, however, I came across this post on Tim Mallalieu’s blog with a 10 minute video demo of an Excel addin version of Data Explorer, made earlier this year. Tim notes in his blog that:

We still have both the client and the cloud service but we only showed the cloud bits at PASS last week.

I would urge you to go and watch the video, because what’s shown is a very substantial, capable tool: an Excel addin for doing self-service ETL. Tellingly the name of the tool in the demo is “PowerImport” – and although Tim suggests in his blog that “some names and concepts have evolved quite a bit since March”, the choice of name speaks volumes. It looks like this could be to SSIS what PowerPivot is to SSAS, and a big selling point for Microsoft’s self-service BI story if it does get released.

Written by Chris Webb

October 20, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Posted in ETL, PowerPivot

4 Responses

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  1. How cool is this demo? I’m wondering how much effort they are able to put in a prototype. Hope to see it as a product very soon. Maybe Office 15?

    Marco Russo

    October 20, 2011 at 10:39 pm

  2. [...] | twitter) has already blogged about Data Explorer at  Pass Summit 2011 – Day 1 Keynote and Self-Service ETL with Data Explorer in which he came out with a very telling observation:It allows you to mash up data from various [...]

  3. […] saw Data Explorer (as Power Query used to be called), I immediately started thinking of it as a self-service ETL tool; indeed, it’s how Microsoft itself is positioning it. However I suspect that a lot of Power Query […]

  4. […] saw Data Explorer (as Power Query used to be called), I immediately started thinking of it as a self-service ETL tool; indeed, it’s how Microsoft itself is positioning it. However I suspect that a lot of Power Query […]


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