Dan English's BI Blog

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

Archive for May, 2012

TDWI Minneapolis Chapter Event: The Future of IT – June 12

Posted by denglishbi on May 24, 2012

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The next TDWI Minneapolis Chapter meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 12 and it will take place in Minneapolis at the University of St. Thomas. The meeting will be talking about the future of IT.
http://tdwichapters.org/Minneapolis (or http://www.tdwimpls.org/)

Here are all of the details:

When: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Where:  University of St. Thomas – Minneapolis Campus, Opus Hall 201, 1000 LaSalle Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Use this interactive map the St. Thomas campus to locate Opus Hall and nearby parking.

Parking tip: Use the city-owned parking lot adjoining the campus by entering on Hennepin Ave at 10th. The elevator can bring you directly to the second level where our meeting room is located.
Thanks to Jim O’Connor and the University of St. Thomas for hosting this event.

Click here to register for the next upcoming event


  • 7:45 – 8:15 a.m. – Networking and Registration
  • 8:15 – 8:30 a.m. – Introduction and Chapter Business
  • 8:30 – 9:45 a.m. – The Future of IT: Radical Changes Ahead – David Wells
  • 10:00 – 10:15 a.m. – Break and Networking
  • 10:15 – 11:30 a.m. – The Future of IT: Radical Changes Ahead – David Wells (Part II)
  • 11:30 – 11:45 p.m. – Q&A and Collaboration
  • 11:45 – 12:00 p.m. – Closing Comments & Wrap-Up

Click here to register for the next upcoming event


A lasting effect of the recession economy is radical change for information technology organizations and IT professionals.  When the economic recovery occurs, many things will to return to pre-recession conditions. But information technology has been forever changed. Financially driven changes (“we can’t afford it”) quickly led to discovery driven changes (“we can live without it” and “we’ve found a better way”) that foretell a substantial IT shift. The change affects organizations, individuals, programs, and careers. With cloud computing, the need for large data centers is reduced. Software as a Service (SaaS) changes the developer role, and Data as a Service (DaaS) changes the DBA role. Social networking and collaboration tools redefine the nature of teamwork.  Data and technology savvy business managers change relationships and expectations.

The next generation of IT must be lean, agile, and responsive. Expect to see many traditional IT responsibilities spin off to business units, and many IT jobs absorbed into business roles. Not just another cycle of decentralization, this is a fundamental change in the positioning of IT – a convergence where Business/IT alignment is no longer enough and Business/IT integration is the new goal. This change raises many big questions and many hard questions. What does it mean for your organization, for your BI and MDM programs, for data governance and for IT governance? These are but a few of the critical questions. Perhaps most importantly you need to know what it means for you and your IT career.

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Microsoft BI VHD XII – SQL 2012

Posted by denglishbi on May 23, 2012

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Update 5/25/2012: Just had someone reach out to me today in regards to a file size issue with the extract.  They were stating that it required 6PB instead of 60GB of space.  When doing the extract they were using the built-in extracting within Windows 7.  I had used WinRAR without any issues.  They downloaded that tool and successfully extracted the files.  Just wanted to make mention of this in case anyone else runs into an issue like this.

After I heard that the new version of the Microsoft Business Intelligence VHD was available I downloaded it to check it out.  The major change was that it now had the RTM release of SQL Server 2012 all setup on it.  You can check out the new demo solution in the catalog here http://mssalesdemos.com and you can download it from here http://www.microsoft.com/betaexperience/pd/BIVHD/enus/.

You can download the VHD Hyper-V image, the zip file is 21.6GB and when you extract out the contents you will need approximately 58GB of space (and you will also want some free space as well because the image is setup to grow out to 250GB if needed).  The recommended memory to run this is 8GB, but unfortunately I don’t have that available, so I tested it out with only around 4.5GB of RAM and devoted 2 processors to try and run it with VirtualBox.

The password for the image is the typical pass@word1 for the contoso\Administrator user.  The name of the server is SQLIMAGE2012.

Now since I am using VirtualBox I disabled all of the Hyper-V services along with some additional ones that are not needed to save on some RAM like Remote Desktop services and Windows Defender.  I then took a look at the SQL Services setup and … grrrr … noticed that there are just a few, like three instances.  By this I mean there are three instances of the DB engine (which are definitely not needed), none of the SQL Agent services are running, all three of the SSAS services are running which is good, and they also have two instances of SSRS running (no idea why, similar to the DB engine setup).


So here is the breakdown on the three DB engine instances, the default is for all of the sample databases for the demos along with the MDS database:


The multidimensional instance is where the DQS databases reside:


And the PowerPivot instance is where the SharePoint databases reside:


Wow, let’s see how they are doing on memory with all three of them running:


If you are not going to be doing any DQS you can safely shutdown the Multidimensional instance until you are ready to do so (free up a little more memory).  In looking at the database names I don’t see the SSISDB catalog, so I guess there are probably no demos of any Integration Services.

So along with this I also have to watch out for the other SQL services like Analysis Services (SSAS) that needs a bit of memory:


The top one is the Multidimensional instance, the second one is the PowerPivot, and the third instance (the default) is Tabular SSAS.  So the majority of the data and memory consumption is happening in the PowerPivot and Tabular databases which makes since with the xVelocity in-memory database technology at work here.

Then don’t forget about the two Native instances of SSRS running:


Probably don’t need either of these running and by looking at the database names I only see the databases setup for the new SharePoint Integrated mode setup as the Shared Service Application.  So you could safely shut both of these down for the time being as well.

Well how about we take a look at the SharePoint setup and some of the demos.  In attempting to go to the SQL Image 2012 home page (http://intranet.contoso.com/SitePages/Home.aspx) I got that the page could not be displayed.  So I went to the localhost or server name page instead and it worked just fine (http://sqlimage2012/SitePages/Home.aspx).  Without troubleshooting this further I went with the server name setup and had to modify my connection and URL references for the Power View reports.


We can see a few minor typos with the Power View name not including the space.  The scripts for each of the demos is provided in the Shared Documents library:


All of the images that will be used for the demos have been setup on a separate website instead of being stored in SharePoint:


Here are the examples of the Power View reports:






And there is a nice home page setup for the Contoso Telco company as well (this uses the Multidimensional instance of SSAS, so if you shut that down you will need to start it back up).  You might need to refresh it a few times to get the site and data warmed up a bit so that everything gets displayed:


Well that is the quick overview of the new XII image.  There is plenty more and I will keep exploring and leave some for you to check out as well, enjoy!

Posted in Business Intelligence, SQL Server | Tagged: , | 25 Comments »

Upgrade PowerPivot SharePoint from SQL 2012 RC0 to RTM

Posted by denglishbi on May 21, 2012

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So last week I was doing a presentation on Self-Service BI with SQL Server 2012 at the TechFuse MN technical conference and I realized that my demo virtual machine was still running SQL Server 2012 RC0.  I was thinking that I shouldn’t do my presentation and demos using RC0, so why not upgrade.  Probably not the best idea to do this just a few days out from a presentation, but I had my fingers cross and just went for it.

I found some guidance from a thread in the forums by Jen Underwood here Upgrade in place RC0 to RTM and decided to go for it.  I did the in-place upgrade and my SharePoint virtual machine with SQL 2012 was still functioning after I completed all of the steps.  Then I moved on to testing my integrated SSRS setup and realized that the Power View reports were not working and neither were my data sources.  The quick fix for that was to go into Central Administration and go into the properties of the Reporting Services application and click OK.  That completed the upgrade process for my shared service and my Power View reports functioned properly after that.

Next was to verify my PowerPivot was still working.  I opened up my PowerPivot files and uploaded them to SharePoint.  The snapshots appeared in the PowerPivot Gallery just fine, but I was unable to work with the files (the slicers did not work, I received error messages as shown below).  I also went into Central Administration and tried to checkout the PowerPivot management dashboard.  In doing this I received the same error message below:


An error occurred during an attempt to establish a connection to the external data source. The following connection failed to refresh: PowerPivot Data

I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed, but after the fix for the SSRS shared service I was thinking that maybe I needed to do the same for the PowerPivot application.  SO I decided that I would try to re-run the PowerPivot configuration tool which is new with the SQL Server 2012 installation.PowerPivot Configuration Tool

The following are the screenshots of running the PowerPivot Configuration Tool with the SQL Server 2012 RTM installation software against my virtual machine that was RC0:








Once that was done I went back into Central Administration and checked out the PowerPivot Management Dashboard again:


Everything was working as expected again and no more error messages! Victory!

That was quite the relief and I was able to do my presentation with my newly upgraded RTM release of SQL Server 2012, not bad for doing an in-place upgrade just a few days prior to the big event.  This included three instances of SSAS (multidimensional, tabular, and PowerPivot), the SQL database engine, SSRS, SSRS SharePoint integrated, SSIS, and DQS as well.

Here is some additional information if you are looking to do the upgrade for DQS – Upgrade DQS: SQL Server 2012 RC0 to SQL Server 2012 RTM.

Posted in PowerPivot, SharePoint | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Minnesota TechFuse 2012 Follow-up

Posted by denglishbi on May 18, 2012

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Yesterday was the final day of the Minnesota TechFuse technical conference.  I presented after Jason Strate and presented on Self-Service BI with SQL Server 2012.  Overall I think the presentation went well and the demo gods were watching out for me and everything went very smoothly.  I even finished early and I think that is a first.  There were some excellent questions asked in regards to the use of PowerPivot within an organization.  I completely understand the concerns and I think it is just inevitable the business and IT will need to work together to make it a success.  Excel is definitely not going away and is one of the #1 client based tools, so we need to figure out how this fits and works within our organizations and develop a strategy around it.TechFuse

I thought it was interesting in the lunch keynote by Peter High when he made a statement saying that IT should not consider the different departments within their organization as internal customers, they should see them as colleagues.  I really never thought about it, but I guess being in IT I have felt that not only are there the external customers we serve but there is also internal customers.  Viewing everyone within our organization as colleagues makes a lot of sense and I thought that was a very good point.

The SQL/BI tracked ended on a great note with Brian Larson providing a great introduction to Data Mining within SQL Server.  He went over, as he stated, one of the less commonly used features of SQL Server.  There is a lot of potential and insights that data mining can provide us not only in making predictions, but also with data validation to perform sanity checks.


I did setup some resource links in my presentation and I have included them below as well with some tiny URL references that I setup ahead of time:


– Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power View (book) – http://tinyurl.com/powerviewbook

– Microsoft Business Intelligence http://tinyurl.com/msftbi

– PowerPivot http://tinyurl.com/msftpowerpivot
– PowerPivotPro (Rob Collie) Blog http://www.powerpivotpro.com

– Power View Overview http://tinyurl.com/mspowerview
– Power View Samples – 6 samples to test out http://tinyurl.com/msbitryit

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Minnesota Microsoft BI User Group 2012 Q2 Meeting–June 5

Posted by denglishbi on May 10, 2012

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The next MN Microsoft Business Intelligence User Group has been scheduled and the agenda is set. This meeting we will have two sessions starting out with an adventure into MDX with the Star Trek experience and then a presentation about agile business intelligence with SQL Server 2012. Just a reminder that the location for this event has now moved to the Microsoft Technology Center location in Edina.
MN Microsoft BI User Group 2012 Q2 Meeting image

Sponsored by:

Microsoft - Annual Sponsor

Date: Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Check In: 2:30 PM Event Time: 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Location: Microsoft Technology Center – 3601 76th St W, Suite 600 Edina MN 55435 (in LOW 1, 2, and 3)
To join via Live Meeting: Click Here

Please Register Now


  • 2:30-3:00 : Registration
  • 3:00-3:15 : Microsoft BI User Group Updates & Announcements
  • 3:15-4:30 : MDX Trek: First Contact
  • 4:30-4:45 : Break
  • 4:45-5:30 : Agile BI with SQL Server 2012
  • 5:30-6:00 : Social and Networking


MDX Trek: First Contact (by Mark Vaillancourt, Digineer) – Cube space; the final frontier. In this Star Trek themed introduction to MDX, we will discuss the fundamentals of cube structure and vocabulary, including tuples, members, sets, hierarchies, and more. We will introduce and demonstrate the basic syntax of MDX with queries that include navigating hierarchies and even some time-based expressions. This session will give you the tools you need to write simple, yet meaningful, MDX queries in your own environment.

Agile BI with SQL Server 2012 (by Neelesh Raheja, GNet Group and Terry McDonald, Pentair) – There is always pressure from business users to deliver flexible, fast, self-service and cost effective BI/Data Warehouse solutions. Going into a BI project, we expect that business requirements will evolve and change; one business question will lead to another, creating challenges in managing scope, iterations, timelines and costs. With a traditional waterfall BI project execution approach it can take several months to incorporate new functionality in a data warehouse and update reports, creating a backlog and falling short of users’ expectations.

In this session we will show how agile BI project execution can be implemented using Microsoft SQL Server 2012. We will explore how PowerPivot and Analysis Services 2012 enable additional flexibility; accelerating the time it takes to deliver value with BI projects. Agile techniques along with self-service tools offer an opportunity to transform traditional BI project development methods to fit dynamic user requirements and accelerate development, testing and deployment. We will also present a strategy, process and key considerations for using Agile techniques to promote ad-hoc self service reports to a corporate BI solution.

Please Register Now

Hope to see you there!

Posted in Business Intelligence, Training | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Minnesota TechFuse 2012 Technical Conference

Posted by denglishbi on May 8, 2012

Update (3/16/2013): here is the follow up link from this TechFuse event – https://denglishbi.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/minnesota-techfuse-2012-follow-up/

Are you ready for some training? Well you are in luck because next week is the Minnesota TechFuse event which is a 2-day event of jam packed learning.  Day 1 kicks off on Wed, May 16 and is focused on the cloud and then Day 2 is on Thu, May 17 and contains information in regards to the latest trends and developments with technology.  Right now you can attend both days of the event for $549 or a single day for only $399.  There are 48 sessions, 12 tracks, 35 presenters, 7 Microsoft MVPs, and 2 keynotes lined up for this technical conference.TechFuse

I will be speaking on Day 2 in the SQL Server/Business Intelligence track.  I will be presenting after Jason Strate and my topic is “Self-Service BI with SQL Server 2012”.  Brian Larson from Superior Consulting Services will also be presenting in the afternoon on Data Mining with SQL Server.

Self-Service BI with SQL Server 2012
Time: 10:00 – 11:15Power ViewPowerPivot
Dan English, Superior Consulting Services
Session Level: 200-Intermediate
Audience: IT Pros and Information Workers

This session will cover the enhancements and new features in SQL Server 2012 as Microsoft continues its roadmap with self-service BI. Topics include the changes that have been made to PowerPivot in Excel, as well as the new features. There will be a demo showing how PowerPivot models can be used in SharePoint along with Power View to provide self-service reporting capabilities to end-users. This session will also cover what Power View is, how it works, and what you can do with this new reporting feature that is part of SharePoint SSRS 2012 Integrated Mode.

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PASSMN May 2012 Meeting

Posted by denglishbi on May 7, 2012

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The next Minnesota SQL Server User Group meeting is coming up next week. This month Lara Rubbelke will be talking about Big Data and leveraging Hadoop to gain additional insights.  Don’t forget the new meeting location which is at the Minneapolis Microsoft Technology Center in Edina.

Minnesota SQL Server Users Group

The sponsor for this month’s meeting is Emergent Networks.

Location: 3601 West 76th Street, Suite 600 Edina, MN 55437

Date/Time: Tuesday, May 15 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Live Meeting:


  • 4:00-4:15 : Registration / hospitality / networking
  • 4:15-4:30 : Quick Start for Basic Presentations
  • 4:30-5:45 : Introducing Microsoft’s Big Data Solution
  • 5:45-6:00 : Closing comments/prize giveaways

Please click here for meeting details and to RSVP for the event

Quick Start for Basic Presentations (Jason Strate, Digineer) – This presentation will cover two areas.  First, talk about how terrible of a speaker I was, and how I’m not that much better now.  Then outline a “basic” presentation format – like a quick start.

Introducing Microsoft’s Big Data Solution (Lara Rubbelke, Microsoft) – Welcome to the world of Big Data! Hive, Pig, Sqoop, HDFS, MapReduce… Discover how to gain new insight from your data by integrating Hadoop with SQL Server. Join this introduction to fundamental Big Data concepts and terms. Learn how others are leveraging Hadoop and how the Microsoft Big Data Solution fits within the data platform ecosystem.

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