Self-service ETL with Data Explorer

One of the most interesting things I saw last week at the PASS Summit was Data Explorer, the cloud-based data transformation and publishing tool that was demoed in the keynote on day 1. While it was roundly dismissed as ‘yet more Excel’ by the disgruntled DBA faction I thought it showed some potential (you can see a walkthrough of what was shown here) – even if the fact that it was a SQL Azure Labs project suggested it was not destined to be a real product.

Today, however, I came across this post on Tim Mallalieu’s blog with a 10 minute video demo of an Excel addin version of Data Explorer, made earlier this year. Tim notes in his blog that:

We still have both the client and the cloud service but we only showed the cloud bits at PASS last week.

I would urge you to go and watch the video, because what’s shown is a very substantial, capable tool: an Excel addin for doing self-service ETL. Tellingly the name of the tool in the demo is “PowerImport” – and although Tim suggests in his blog that “some names and concepts have evolved quite a bit since March”, the choice of name speaks volumes. It looks like this could be to SSIS what PowerPivot is to SSAS, and a big selling point for Microsoft’s self-service BI story if it does get released.

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