Adatis BI Blogs

Microsoft Tech-Ed 2010 BI Conference, New Orleans Day 2 (Tuesday 8th June 2010)

Day 2 and the BI Keynote. Announcements? Only two, although actually, old news: - They announced the availability of the MS BI Indexing Connector. Originally announced back in May - They got their story straight(er) with regard to the release of what will be called Pivot Viewer Extensions for Reporting Services. It will be available in 30 days. The session took more of a “look where we’ve come since the Seattle BI Conference” and, as Ted Kummert described, it’s Microsoft’s BI [School] Report Card. Interesting change in semantics for their BI strap line; no longer do they spout “BI for the Masses”, now it’s “BI for Everyone”. Although they admitted they, along with the rest of the industry are falling well short at only a current average of 20% ‘reach’. With the recent delivery of SQL Server 2008 R2, Sharepoint 2010 and Office 2010 the BI Integration story is significantly more complete. A large focus on PowerPivot and how it has helped customer quickly deliver fast, available reporting ‘applications’. Although I know a few people that would object to simply describing DAX purely as a familiar extension to the Excel formula engine. Following the look back, a brief look forward: - Cloud Computing will pay a part, Reporting and Analytics will be coming, when combined with Windows AppFabric, described yesterday this is a closer reality. - Consumerisation enhancements, with better search and improved social media integration BI will move towards becoming a utility. - Compliance: Several plans; Improved Data Quality, Data Cleaning and Machine Learning and strong meta data strategy support to deliver lineage and provide change impact analysis. - Data Volumes. SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse Edition has completed CTP2, this will open up high performance datawarehousing to data volumes that exceed 100TB. Dallas, the data marketplace will be better integrated to development and reporting tools. Then tempted us with some previews of what *could* make a future version of SQL Server. Essentially, the theme for the future is to join the dots between Self Service BI and the Enterprise BI Platform and focussed on plans around PowerPivot: - KPI creation Essentially they are exposing (yet another) way to create (SSAS based) KPI’s through a neat, slider based GUI directly from within the PowerPivot Client. - Wide Table Support To help with cumbersome wide PowerPivot tables, they have introduced a ‘Record View’ to help see all the fields on one screen, all appropriately grouped with edit/add/delete support for new fields, calculations etc. - Multi Developer Support They plan to integrate the PowerPivot client into BIDS. This will facilitate integration with Visual SourceSafe for controlled multi developer support, they also plan to provide a lineage visualisation to help with audit and impact change analysis. - Data Volumes Following on from the BIDS integration, plans surrounding deployment to server based versions of SSAS to allow increased performance for higher data volumes. They replayed the demo of the 2m row data set from Seattle where we first saw almost instant sort and filtering, but this time applied it (with equally impressive performance) to a data set of more than 2bn records!  It was described by Amir Netz as “The engine of the devil!” ;)

Microsoft Tech-Ed 2010 BI Conference, New Orleans Day 1 (Monday 7th June 2010)

The Tech-Ed 2010 Conference kicked off today with the Keynote session.  The BI Keynote session is tomorrow but today's keynote did incorporate a small BI Element.  No huge announcements, but some announcements all the same. - Unsuprisingly, Cloud computing dominated the keynote.  Highlighting application Integration of Cloud apps & data with on-premise data e.g. Active Directory and business operational systems data to demonstrate "real-world" cloud computing solutions. - July will see a release of Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 - Windows Server AppFabric, Application Role Extensions to, for example, faciliate Cloud to on premise integration capability is now RTM - Windows Intune, Cloud based PC management environment - No date set, but Internet Explorer 9 will focus on performance (Graphics accelleration) and new web standards, and is probably a response to Google speedy Chrome claims - The Microsoft Live Labs "Pivot" research project, is to hit the mainstream.  They were a little cagey around dates, but possibly this month. Maybe some more BI specific announcements tomorrow...        

Microsoft BI Conference - Day 3 - 8th October 2008

The last day of the conference came round quickly and due to my relatively early flight I only attended a couple of sessions and spent most of the day meeting more people in and around the BI community.  Shout out to Peter Eberhardy (PeterEb), a real highlight.  Barry Tousley, Test Dev on the PPS Server; thanks for listening to my grumbles about the PPS Data Migration Tool and explaining why it does what it does.  Norm Warren of NormBI fame.  Patrick Husting, who I actually met on Day 2 and Brian Berry of BlumShapiro, who I met on Day 1 and reportedly follows this blog ! I thought the conference was great.  The organisation was slick and right on the button, from registration, meals, session offerings right up to the party.  I think last year, the main criticism was the sessions were not technical enough, they appear to have raised the technical level of some of the sessions but I still found most of them to be a bit dated and apart from a couple of choice sessions most BI people wouldn't have learnt a great deal - Nothing official at all about PPS v2 :o(  Also, a couple of the sessions I wanted to attend clashed so I'll have to find the time to watch them on the reported DVD containing a video of every session.  However, I did the feel the standard of presentation was excellent, well practiced, clear, funny and engaging. I'll definitely be vying for a place at next years, where they really should have lots to show off!

Microsoft BI Conference - Day 2 - 7th October 2008

Day 2 kicked off with some good key notes and still full of steak from day 1 I hauled myself to TK Anand and Akshai Mirchandani's session on Optimising Query Performance in AS 2008.  For me this was one of the best sessions of the conference as I do spend a fair bit of trying to tune and optimise MDX queries.  They gave a really good explanation of the difference between cell-by-cell calculation and the subspace calculation (or block computation) methods - the latter relies on a sparse cube - the most important aspect of speeding up queries using subspace calculations. Another point they raised, particularly from an AS2008 perspective is that "Non Empty Behaviour is Evil!" - their words! There was a good set of tips and tricks, some of which can also be applied and adopted to AS2005. The afternoon started with what I thought would be the busiest session of the conference - New Horizons for BI with Self Service Analysis technologies.  Effectively the deep dive presentation on Project 'Gemini'.  It really is impressive, not only the tool and the capability of the tool, but the supporting framework.  They have implemented an extremely rich administration console that keeps track of user created models on the server and a history of it's usage, query time etc etc.  It allows IT to see who is using what, by how much and what impact it is having on servers, other models etc and allows them to take appropriate action by, for example, bringing it in house into IT by upgrading to PerformancePoint.  We've got a few clients that would just go nuts for this stuff ! That evening, the Attendee Appreciation Party was held at Qwest Field stadium where I have to say, they put on a great party.  I've never been on the field of a huge stadium like that, most impressive, and I've never eaten so many chocolate covered marshmallows, cookies or brownies in my life! Da Boyz !  Jeremy and Tim

Microsoft BI Conference - Day 1 - 6th October 2008

So, although later than the trail blazers, I thought I'd write up a brief note about day one of the Microsoft BI Conference.  The 'Kilimanjaro' announcements have been done to death although I've noticed a couple of crossed wires.  Kilimanjaro is NOT the next version of SQL Server - it sounds more like an interim release, whether that comes as part of a service pack or a new type of feature pack delivery method I guess we'll have to wait and see.  However it arrives, we have to wait until the first half of calendar year 2010. With regard to 'Gemini' I'm hoping they make the in-memory (column based storage?) engine part of the SQL Server engine proper, as this can then benefit PPS and any SQL Server dependent app, not just the 'Gemini' framework.  Imagine PPS-P data entry/reporting running in memory !  It's certainly a game-changer and it will be interesting to see where and how it's positioned.  I can't help thinking that it's verging on promoting data silos and 'multiple versions of the truth' and it wouldn't surprise me if it's misused by some customers.  "We don't need a data-warehouse, we'll just use Gemini".. Although Tim did quiz the team on this.   Having said all that, it's pretty damn exciting and will change the face of BI for both customers and BI implementers. The first breakout session I attended was a Chalk and Talk by the engaging Peter Bull on moving from the spreadsheet world to PerformancePoint Planning.  He outlined a suggested method for converting existing excel based 'business applications' into PerformancePoint models, he was open and honest about some of the shortcomings of the product but also brought our attention to the the built-in features that aid design and productivity. The following tips were core to the session: - Don't replicate the current Excel 'models'. - Use filters to reduce scope and size of input matrices. - Limit definition rules (Don't build cell by cell calculations) - Don't use flat hierarchies. - Don't assume all calculations need to be real time. - Performance test by cut and pasting MDX. Another Chalk and Talk followed, held by Michael Bower and Scott Sebelsky on using PPS-P for Financial Consolidation.  They discussed the consolidation functionality available in PPS-P and using a two model site application, walked us through the implementation using US GAAP (Corporate Model Site) and IFRS (EMEA Model Site). The demo, supporting white-paper, and a new planning demo will be available shortly and was shown off in the hands on labs at the conference.  I'll shortly be able to post more information on these new demos... My third session of the day effectively covered some elements, mainly Report Builder 2.0, of the SQL 2008 feature pack that is out later this month.  One of the features demonstrated Component Based Report building from a self-service perspective and did look quite slick.  The session was presented by the SSRS PM team and they had a clever way of obtaining feedback from the audience on what features they would like to see the most.  They handed out a crib sheet of features and asked us to allocate a $100 budget to each feature - they collected in the sheets and will use this as a basis on what features to focus on.  In addition to Component based self-service reporting, features such as Office Integration using the acquired Software Artisans technology, Notify Me, Interactive Reports and Rich Presentation were shown off to good effect. Steve Hoberecht and Srini Nallapareddy were next on my list, taking us through Advanced PPS Planning rules and calculations.  There was some good stuff - I always thought the fact the ALLOCATE statement appended data was a bug, but now I know why it does what it does and warrants a separate post.  Some other tips, particularly for definition rules, some new some old, were also presented: - Reduce Scope - Avoid Hard-coded member labels to avoid security restriction errors - Consider automatic rules/ scheduled assignments. - Rule order is important / Avoid infinite loops - Consider moving calcs to Excel - Consider input/Reporting models - Locate bad performing rules by commenting out the rules in BIDS and introducing the rules on by one (from within BIDS) rather than setting the active flag from within PBM as that is more tedious. The day was rounded off by a great steak, with the other UK BI partners at Ruths and Chris Steakhouse.

The Second Annual Microsoft BI Conference, 6th-8th October 2008 - Seattle

I was unable to make the first Microsoft BI Conference in Seattle last year but Tim made it, and reported that it was a great excuse for an extended weekend of partying and snowboarding in Whistler way to meet like minded people, learn the latest buzz and feel part of the BI Community. Well, this year I can make it and I will be joining Tim and Jeremy for the duration.  Bad luck for me though, it's too early for snow ! ;o) I've checked out the Tracks and Sessions and there is quite a few I'm up for.  They haven't published the schedules yet so whether I can jump tracks and still fit everything will remain to be seen but here are my picks: Business Value - Emerging Trends and Technologies in the Business Intelligence Market - The Path to Pervasive Performance Management - The ROI of Performance Management Clients and Applications Track - Advanced Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 Planning Business Rules and Calculations - Integrating Microsoft Dynamics Data for Planning, Analysis and Reporting in Office PerformancePoint Server 2007  - The 4th Annual BI Power Hour Customer Track - Master Data Management (MDM) Customer Roundtable - Successfully Implementing the Complete Microsoft BI Stack - The Evolution of “Difference Makers” at Energizer Holdings, Inc. Using Microsoft Business Intelligence Deployment & Best Practices Track - Designing High Performance Cubes in SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services - Mastering Master Data Management - Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 Planning - Implementation Tips And Tricks Partner Track - BI Unplugged - a Panel Discussion Platforms and Infrastructure Track - Optimizing Query Performance in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services - SQL Server 2008 & Beyond - SQL Server 2008 Integration Services New Features and Enhancements Phew!  Well, after that lot I'm definitely gonna need a drink, so if you fancy a bevvy, hunt me down, be great to hook up !