PASS Summit 2011–Day 2 Keynote

It’s only day 2 of the PASS Summit and I’m already feeling conferenced-out, although that might have something to do with my alcohol consumption over the last few days, the jetlag, and the early starts. I saw a few good sessions yesterday, although for some reason all the BI talks were allotted ridiculously small rooms so I had to stand or sit on the floor for them. Probably the most impressive from my point of view was a talk I saw yesterday afternoon about Power View (Crescent). Now, I’ve seen a lot of Power View demos over the last year or so but it seems to me that over the last few months since CTP3 the product has turned a corner and gone from being something that was kind-of-good-but-I’ll-wait-for-the-next-release to something that is genuinely worth getting excited about. I can’t really put my finger on what has happened – maybe it’s just reached a critical mass in terms of functionality and it doesn’t seem like a typical Microsoft Version 1.0 any more; certainly it was the first time that I’d seen it and thought that I’d be willing to take the pain of installing Sharepoint to use it.

Anyway, back to the stuff I picked up from the keynote…

  • Some nice demos of SSRS, DQS, column store indexes and other non-BI-related stuff, but nothing new and interesting (at least from my point of view)
  • Appliances. There’s now a Dell version of PDW, but in general big boxes with flashing lights don’t get me all that excited.
  • More on PDW and its roadmap. The next update (pre SQL2012) will get various enhancements including a distributed cost-based query optimiser and limited support for stored procedures. I suspect this time next year I’ll be watching a demo of Tabular in DirectQuery mode working on the next full version of PDW and we’ll have a great story for ad-hoc BI on truly large data volumes.
  • Semantic search. Looks very cool; I wonder how this can be integrated into the wider BI stack beyond a few basic SSRS reports? I’ll have to take a closer look at this…
  • An announcement !? It seems like BIDS, ie BI Development Studio, is no longer a separate thing but should be thought of as part of SQL Server Data Tools (aka Juneau). Wonder what this means for the BIDS Helper guys? Somehow “BI bits of SQL Server Data Tools Helper” isn’t such a catchy name.
  • SQL Azure. The Azure Management Portal is getting a Metro UI; there’ll be a new max size for a SQL Azure DB of 150GB.

So nothing massively exciting here from a BI point of view – clearly all the good stuff was announced yesterday. I’ll be back tomorrow; in the meantime, if you’re at PASS make sure you come to my lightning talk this afternoon because I’m doing some MDX and it would be nice to have some people in the audience who have a clue what I’m talking about!

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