Session recordings from SQLBits 8 and TechEd

The recordings of the sessions from the SQLBits 8 in Brighton are just starting to come online, so if you’re bored at work you may want to take a look at them here:

We’ve now got over 200 hours of great SQL Server video content on the site, including lots of SSAS-related sessions. It is, of course, free to view and download with no registration required…

Similarly, the session recordings for TechEd are also available, and again there’s lots of interesting BI content there too. If you’re interested in learning more about the future of SSAS and BISM, the session on “What’s new in Denali for Analysis Services and PowerPivot” is a must-see.

Microsoft BI Labs

Hmm, look at this – a new Microsoft BI site called “BI Labs”:

The welcome video explains it’s a home for experimental or internal tools that aren’t supported products but still good enough to share. There’s some stuff on there that I’ve seen before, such as the Pivot Viewer control, but also an MDX and DAX formatter:

BI Survey 10

The fieldwork for the BI Survey 10 (the world’s largest survey of BI and performance management users) is kicking off, and you can take part by clicking on this link:

Business and technical users, as well as vendors and consultants, are welcome to take part; you’ll get the chance to win one of 10 $50 Amazon vouchers if you do.

UPDATE: the deadline has now been extended to June 18th.

Microsoft Technical Computing Initiative

An interesting announcement here from Microsoft about its new Technical Computing Initiative:

Lots of the usual PR-speak and vagueness, but from the post above here are the main points:

In terms of technology, the initiative will focus on three key areas:

  1. Technical computing to the cloud: Microsoft will help lead the way in giving scientists, engineers and analysts the computing power of the cloud.  We’re also working to give existing high-performance computing users the ability to augment their on-premises systems with cloud resources that enable ‘just-in-time’ processing. This platform will help ensure processing resources are available whenever they are needed—reliably, consistently and quickly. 
  2. Simplify parallel development: Today, computers are shipping with more processing power than ever, including multiple cores. But most modern software only uses a small amount of the available processing power. Parallel programs are extremely difficult to write, test, and troubleshoot.  We know that a consistent model for parallel programming can help more developers unlock the tremendous power in today’s computers and enable a new generation of technical computing. We’re focused on delivering new tools to automate and simplify writing software through parallel processing from the desktop… to the cluster… to the cloud.    
  3. Develop powerful new technical computing tools and applications: Scientists, engineers and analysts are pushing common tools (i.e., spreadsheets and databases) to the limits with complex, data-intensive models. They need easy access to more computing power using simpler tools to increase the speed of their work, and we’re building a platform with this objective in mind. We expect that these efforts will yield new, easy-to-use tools and applications that automate data acquisition, modeling, simulation, visualization, workflow and collaboration.

And from this article on the Wall Street Journal, here’s a practical example of what will be delivered:

Muglia offers an example of how Microsoft plans to make high-performance computing more accessible: Today many financial services firms use the company’s Excel spreadsheet application to develop financial models, but if the firms need the power of a supercomputer to crunch numbers, they often have to write specialized applications in programming languages like Fortran that a much smaller group of users are fluent in.

Microsoft’s Technical Computing group is working on software that will allow a program like Excel to run in parallel on thousands of machines so the application can be used to tackle monster financial computing chores on its own, Muglia says.

It’s been a while since there was any wild speculation on this blog but I can’t resist it – all this talk of running Excel in parallel on multiple machines and the cloud makes me wonder if this is going to work with PowerPivot too? Or rather, will this work with whatever PowerPivot/Vertipaq becomes when it grows up into a corporate BI tool?

Microsoft BI Indexing Connector

Just seen this on the Sharepoint BI blog, the Microsoft BI Indexing Connector:

From the blog post:

With this new Indexing connector, users have a dedicated Report tab where they can find the reports they are looking for, use refiners to further narrow their searches, and even get a preview of the report before opening it in the browser or client…

…In addition to discovering the documents, the MSBIIC will also crawl the data sources revealing items that are not necessary in the report itself but critical to the user’s discovery and as part of the refiners.

BI Survey 9 – Invitation to Participate

I’ve just been told that fieldwork has begun on the BI Survey 9; if you’d like to participate you can find all the details below.

Full disclosure: by posting this here I’ve been promised a free copy of the research when it’s published – and I promise to blog the juicy details (as I have done in the past) when I get it.

The BI Survey 9: The Customer Verdict

We would very much welcome your participation in ‘The BI Survey 9: The Customer Verdict’, the world’s largest survey of business intelligence (BI) and performance management (PM) users (formerly known as The OLAP Survey).

As a participant, you will:

Receive a summary of the results from the full survey

Be entered into a draw to win one of ten $50 Amazon vouchers

Ensure that your experiences are included in the final analyses.

To take part in the survey on-line, visit:

BARC’s annual survey obtains input from a large number of organizations in order to better understand their buying decisions, the implementation cycle and the business benefits achieved.

Both business and technical users, as well as vendors and consultants, are welcome to participate. If you are answering as a consultant, please answer the questions (including the demographic questions) from your client’s perspective; we will ask you separately about your own firm.

The BI Survey has always adopted a vendor-independent stance. While vendors assist by inviting users to participate in the Survey, Business Application Research Center (BARC) – the publisher – does not accept vendor sponsorship of the Survey, and the results are analyzed and published without any vendor involvement.

You will be able to answer questions on your usage of a BI product from any vendor. Your answers will only be used anonymously, and your personal details will never be passed on to vendors or other third parties.

* BARC (Business Application Research Center) is a leading independent software industry analyst specializing in Data Management and Business Intelligence. For more information on BARC please visit The BARC website and

Google Squared

Today Google announced an interesting new product: Google Squared. Here are some links:
Basically it will return data from search results in spreadsheet format. And of course, when you’ve got data in Google spreadsheet format you can do all kinds of cool stuff with it, like stick Panorama’s pivot table gadget on top of it.

This, plus moves towards support of RDFa also announced today:
means that there’s going to be some really interesting possibilities for doing BI direct from data sourced from the web.

Oh, and let’s not forget about Wolfram Alpha, also coming soon and equally exciting from a web/data/BI point of view. Imagine, instead of it being able to tell you things like the distance between the Earth and the Moon right now, having your business modelled in it and then letting end users query this model using a search-engine interface.