Dan English's BI Blog

Welcome to my random thoughts in regards to Business Intelligence, databases, and other technologies

MS BI Conference Day 1 follow-up

Posted by denglishbi on October 7, 2008

So the first day of the conference has come and gone.  So the big theme is ‘Thinking Bigger about BI’.  We want to be able to put information at people’s fingertips and minimize the amount of data across the enterprise.  We can make the impact through software to empower information workers providing them the necessary data to make decisions.  User adoption rate is very high using the Microsoft products because people have been using these tools for two decades now, so integrating BI products with the Office suite makes sense.  Reducing the amount of effort required to produce reports in order to make decisions is key.

Everyone that attended the keynote presentations this morning got the first public preview of Microsoft’s self-service business intelligence code named ‘Gemini’.  This is going to be what they called ‘people ready BI’ – BI that works for everyone and allows users to make decisions more quickly.  So when will we see these new changes?  Well they stated that a CTP would be available in the next 12 months.  In the first half of 2010 Microsoft is going to be releasing data warehousing enhancements code named ‘Madision’ which incorporates DATAllegro with SQL Server.  They will also release self-service BI ‘Gemini’ enabling people ready BI.

So the new release of SQL Server in the first half of 2010 code named ‘Kilimanjaro’ will be once again focusing on new BI capabilities and apparently the next release of Analysis Services which is ‘Gemini’ according to Mosha’s posting So what is exactly “Project Gemini”.  Project ‘Madison’ will allow companies to scale-out their data warehouses and enable SQL Server data warehouses of all sizes.  With SQL Server and DATAllegro this will provide massive scale (hundreds of TBs) with low TCO.  There was a demonstration of 24 instances of SQL Server with the controlling component monitoring the processing with a visual display of the core utilization of each processor along with the disk IO.  A query was run against a 150 TB data warehouse with MPP (massively parallel processing) that had a fact table (1 trillion rows) that was equally spread across the instances with the dimension tables replicated in each instance.  The query was able to process extremely quickly to generate the SSRS report performing the aggregation (not utilizing SSAS).

Donald Farmer did a presentation with the ‘Gemini’ Excel add-in.  He showed how you could pull data in from a source (data warehouse) and some of the tables had 20+ M rows into Excel which could quickly be sorted in sub-second response time.  He then added in some additional data that he added into a new worksheet to perform a mashup of data to analyze.  A PivotTable was then generated and it was actually able to create a model that inferred relationships between data with intelligent slicers for filtering.  Donald also added a theme to the spreadsheet and published to SharePoint.  The data could then be scheduled to be refreshed through SharePoint, there was a new operations dashboard that IT could reference in SharePoint Application Management, and based on usage could perform an upgrade of the ‘Gemini’ solution to PerformancePoint.  This new ‘Gemini’ technology was using column based in-memory storage.

For the rest of the day I focused on dashboards and PerformancePoint Server attending the designing effective dashboards, creating richly formatted reports, advanced dashboard and scorecard design, and the PerformancePoint SDK sessions.  Talked about Stephen Few’s visualization concepts (download the articles here – Common Pitfalls in Dashboard Design and Effectively Communicating Numbers: Selecting the Best Means and Manner of Display), about creating sparkline and bullet charts in SSRS, Soft Artisan Office components being integrated into the ‘Kilimanjaro’ release with SSRS, Alyson Powell Erwin went over quite a few of the blog entries that have been posted on The Microsoft PerformancePoint Team Blog, and Stephen Handy talked about all of the options that you could do with the PPS SDK (creating templates, wizards, data sources, filters, reports, etc.).

All-in-all a great first day and looking forward to day number two.  Stay tuned.

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