Calvin Fern's Blog

SQL PASS Summit 2012

Having just returned from SQL PASS I thought I would blog a few highlights about the conference and some of the things I came across and am looking forward to.  I went over to Seattle with two of my colleagues and we started with a little sight-seeing to get our body clocks back in sync and I would thoroughly recommend it.  The jetlag from the UK gets to you for the first couple of days and you get to see things like this:

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The Adatis SQLPass team: Myself, Neil Dobner, Tim Kent

This was my first time at PASS and I was not disappointed.  The first couple of evenings in Seattle were spent catching up with some people I have met at SQL Bits.  The SQL community being what it is I was quickly introduced to more people and making new connections.  The #SQLfamily on twitter are a welcoming bunch and really add a lot to the atmosphere of a friendly conference.  I would strongly recommend using twitter for both connecting with people and using the #SQLHelp hash tag to ask questions.  I had come across a number of the speakers at SQL Bits and they were all very good quality and I heard very little negative comment on the sessions across the 3 days. 

There were a good number of highlights for me that I would like to pass on in case they are as relevant to you as they are to me.  I've split them down into a few areas, firstly Powerview:

  1. PowerView coming to SSAS Multidimensional
  2. PowerView in Excel
  3. Powerview on Multidimensional will come to Sharepoint well before it gets into the Office Excel release cycle
  4. Image Urls and geospatial reports are also particularly easy

Some brilliant stuff in a Tabular internals stuff given by Akshai Mirchandani and Allan Folting, DAX queries by Alberto Ferrari and 2012 SSAS by Chris Webb:

  1. Insights into value encoding and hash encoding compression which makes sense of guidance such as
  2. Don't bring in any row level identifier or document numbers etc unless you really have to
  3. Use a process defrag as maintenance when doing updates and deletes
  4. Lower end hardware can be quicker, ie go for less but faster procs
  5. Profile you DAX queries to look out for formula engine calls using: CallBackDataId
  6. Partitions are not eliminated by the query optimiser they only help you manage processing, this is particularly impressive because the engine is so fast it didn't need this!
  7. Direct query really is unusable given the limitations and the awful SQL it generates
  8. Two thirds of the SSAS multidimensional codebase is there to deal with M2M correctly

Finally some database engine stuff:

  1. Windowing functions in 2012 really will be a lifesaver for complex queries, especially lag and lead for those moments where your user thinks you work in Excel
  2. Updatable columns store indexes!
  3. Licencing can be a nightmare of Cores, processors and virtualisation but the key way to keep it sensible on the new model is to keep you core density at 4 cores per processor.

I met loads of fantastic interesting people and have picked up some great contacts.  The conference has also had the added side affect of getting me excited about SQL Server again.  It is easy to get caught in the day job and forget what a brilliant product we work with and what hard work goes on at Microsoft to keep it that way.

Thanks everyone

See you Next Year? or maybe SQL Bits a bit closer to home.

@CalvinFerns