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PASS Summit 2011–Day 2 Keynote

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It’s only day 2 of the PASS Summit and I’m already feeling conferenced-out, although that might have something to do with my alcohol consumption over the last few days, the jetlag, and the early starts. I saw a few good sessions yesterday, although for some reason all the BI talks were allotted ridiculously small rooms so I had to stand or sit on the floor for them. Probably the most impressive from my point of view was a talk I saw yesterday afternoon about Power View (Crescent). Now, I’ve seen a lot of Power View demos over the last year or so but it seems to me that over the last few months since CTP3 the product has turned a corner and gone from being something that was kind-of-good-but-I’ll-wait-for-the-next-release to something that is genuinely worth getting excited about. I can’t really put my finger on what has happened – maybe it’s just reached a critical mass in terms of functionality and it doesn’t seem like a typical Microsoft Version 1.0 any more; certainly it was the first time that I’d seen it and thought that I’d be willing to take the pain of installing Sharepoint to use it.

Anyway, back to the stuff I picked up from the keynote…

  • Some nice demos of SSRS, DQS, column store indexes and other non-BI-related stuff, but nothing new and interesting (at least from my point of view)
  • Appliances. There’s now a Dell version of PDW, but in general big boxes with flashing lights don’t get me all that excited.
  • More on PDW and its roadmap. The next update (pre SQL2012) will get various enhancements including a distributed cost-based query optimiser and limited support for stored procedures. I suspect this time next year I’ll be watching a demo of Tabular in DirectQuery mode working on the next full version of PDW and we’ll have a great story for ad-hoc BI on truly large data volumes.
  • Semantic search. Looks very cool; I wonder how this can be integrated into the wider BI stack beyond a few basic SSRS reports? I’ll have to take a closer look at this…
  • An announcement !? It seems like BIDS, ie BI Development Studio, is no longer a separate thing but should be thought of as part of SQL Server Data Tools (aka Juneau). Wonder what this means for the BIDS Helper guys? Somehow “BI bits of SQL Server Data Tools Helper” isn’t such a catchy name.
  • SQL Azure. The Azure Management Portal is getting a Metro UI; there’ll be a new max size for a SQL Azure DB of 150GB.

So nothing massively exciting here from a BI point of view – clearly all the good stuff was announced yesterday. I’ll be back tomorrow; in the meantime, if you’re at PASS make sure you come to my lightning talk this afternoon because I’m doing some MDX and it would be nice to have some people in the audience who have a clue what I’m talking about!

Written by Chris Webb

October 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Posted in Events

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PASS Summit 2011- Day 1 Keynote

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So, here we are again in Seattle. I’ve been here for a couple of days already and only just over my jetlag – spending all day inside in the convention centre and meeting rooms is not the best way to adjust to a new time zone. Anyway, there are a lot of cool BI-related announcements coming over the next few days so I thought I’d live blog the keynotes over the next few days; today it’s the turn of Ted Kummert, so let’s see what he’s got to say…

  • The official name of Project Crescent is going to be called “Power View”. I like this name – it has echoes of PowerPivot and (ahem) QlikView.
  • Denali will be known as SQL Server 2012 and will release in the first half of next year
  • Microsoft will be offering its own Hadoop distribution on Windows; MS have forged a partnership with HortonWorks to do this. I guess this means the end for Dryad/LINQ to HPC as a product, but it’s a good decision – the market doesn’t want another MS me-too product, it wants Hadoop. There will also be an ODBC driver and addin for Excel for Apache Hive, so you will be able to get data from Hadoop directly into PowerPivot and SSAS Tabular without having to stage it in a relational database. It’ll be available as an on-premises solution and also there’ll be a CTP of an Azure-based solution by the end of the year. This is today’s first big announcement, clearly. I have a few customers with the kind of data volumes that mean they’ll be interested in this, especially now it’s coming in a friendly, MS-packaged format. Denny Lee has more details on all this here.
  • There’s a new thing coming from SQL Azure Labs called Data Explorer that will be available at the end of this year. This is a web-based data integration tool for working with data from a number of sources: I can see SQL Azure, Excel, Access and the usual sources are supported, and it also generates recommendations of data from the Azure Datamarket that you might be interested in. It allows you to mash up data from various different sources then publish the result as an OData feed – very similar to Yahoo Pipes, as far as I can see, but the cool thing is that there’s only one type of (very PowerPivot friendly) end point. Can’t wait to play with this but, however cool it looks, you have to remember that this is coming from SQL Azure Labs so it’s not going to be a real product any time soon.
  • Amir Netz (just promoted to be a Technical Fellow at MS – a very prestigious role, and great for the profile of BI inside the company I think) is now on stage for a Crescent demo. He confirmed that export to PowerPoint will make it into RTM.
  • …and now Amir moves onto mobile BI. He shows Power View on Windows Mobile and… an IPad and an Android phone! Hurray! It seems like, at last, we might have a credible mobile BI strategy from Microsoft. He spends a lot of time demoing on a Windows tablet as well – I wonder why? The audience wants to see the iPad again; maybe the iPad stuff isn’t quite ready yet, but if you remember that Power View is a Silverlight app then you can imagine that this must have involved quite a lot of hard work to do.

Overall, some very exciting news. The Hadoop and mobile BI announcements fill some glaring gaps in the MS BI story, and I’m certainly a lot happier than I was this time last year..! The DBA crowd here, though, are a bit grumpy because all the announcements have been BI related – my heart bleeds for them, truly.

One last thing: I’ve finally started using Twitter, and if you want more up-to-date news of what’s happening at PASS then I’ll be tweeting throughout the conference. I’m @Technitrain

UPDATE: all references to PowerView changed to “Power View” with a space. That’s the official name.

Written by Chris Webb

October 12, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Events

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