Random Thoughts · Technitrain

Thirteenth Blog Birthday

Every year, on the anniversary of the first-ever post on this blog, I write a post summarising my thoughts on what’s happening in the world of Microsoft BI and what I’m up to professionally. Here I am thirteen years and 1232 posts on from where I started…

First of all, an announcement. For several years now I’ve owned and operated two companies: Crossjoin Consulting, which I use for my own SSAS and Power BI consultancy and private training activities, and from which I make most of my income; and the much smaller Technitrain, which I use for running public training courses in London taught by me and various other notable SQL Server and Microsoft BI trainers. After some deliberation I’ve decided to shut down Technitrain, stop running public courses taught by other people, and focus completely on delivering my own consultancy and training through Crossjoin. There are various reasons for doing this but mostly it’s because organising and marketing public courses is very time-consuming and I’d like to free up that time for other purposes. There’s one final public Power BI course on the Technitrain site and after that all public courses that I teach will appear on the Crossjoin site. I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has taught for Technitrain or who has attended a course over the years.

What do I want to do with the time this frees up? There’s so much Power BI work out there I don’t think I’ll have any trouble keeping myself busy, but I’d really like to build more Power BI custom data connectors. I’ve built a few already for my customers and published another one I built for fun here; when this functionality comes out of preview (which should be soon I hope) and gets added to SSAS and Excel I think there will be a lot of SaaS providers who will want custom data connectors built for their platforms.

One other side-effect of this change is that I have changed my Twitter username to @cwebb_bi. If you already follow me on Twitter then you won’t need to do anything except remember to use the new username when you mention or DM me. If you don’t already follow me, please do so!

Thinking about Microsoft BI as a whole, it’s been another massively successful year for Power BI. Its popularity has now extended beyond small/medium businesses attracted by the price and dyed-in-the-wool Microsoft shops and I have seen several cases where it has replaced Tableau and Qlik based on its features alone. Another few years of this kind of growth and Microsoft will have the kind of domination in BI that it has enjoyed with Windows and Office.

I’ve also been pleased to see how Azure Analysis Services has grown this year too. I particularly like how the dev team have focussed on adding new features that take advantage of the cloud to solve problems easily that are much harder to solve on-premises – the new auto scale-out feature is a great example of this. It will be interesting to see if we get a Multidimensional version of Azure Analysis Services in 2018 – if we do it will be a vote of confidence in a platform whose users are wondering whether it will every see any investment ever again.

Finally, thinking about my other great enthusiasm – Power Query – it seems like things have gone a bit quiet recently. Apart from custom data connectors there hasn’t been much in the way of new functionality added in 2017. I suppose it’s a mature platform now and to be honest I struggle to think how it could be improved; parameters need some work for sure and there are a lot of people complaining about performance in Excel, which can be awful if you’re working with lots of complex queries. Maybe also the web-based interface seen in the CDS preview will appear in other places?

Anyway, time to sign off and get back to enjoying a few more days of holiday before work starts again. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a great 2018!

PS For those of you looking for video training on Power BI, DAX, SSAS and MDX you can get 12% off all subscriptions at Project Botticelli by clicking here and using the discount code CHRIS12BYE2017

Azure Analysis Services · Events · Power BI · Technitrain

In-Person Power BI And Azure Analysis Services Training In London

I’m pleased to announce two in-person training dates in London next year.

First of all, I’ll be running a three-day “Introduction to Power BI” course from January 29th to January 31st 2018.  Suitable for BI pros, analysts and anyone who needs to use Power BI to build reports, I’ll be covering data loading, data modelling, a bit of M, a lot of DAX, report design, publishing, security and administration. Full details and registration can be found here:


Not long after, on February 22nd 2018, I’ll be teaching a full-day preconference seminar at SQLBits in London on Azure Analysis Services. The agenda can be found here:


…but, to be honest, there’s likely to be a lot of cool new functionality released for Azure SSAS between now and then so that will all have to be fitted in too. SQLBits is, of course, the biggest SQL Server/Microsoft data platform conference in Europe, ridiculously good value for money and loads of fun. Pricing and registration details can be found here:


UPDATE: the SQLBits team wanted me to make a video to promote my precon, so I outsourced the job to my daughter. Here’s the result:


Power BI, DAX, Data Science & DevOps Training In London This Autumn

If you’re looking for classroom-based training on Microsoft BI, data science or SQL Server then check out the list of courses I have coming up at Technitrain this autumn:

  • Introduction to Power BI, taught by me, September 25th-27th – a three day course covering the basics of Power BI suitable for BI pros and business analysts with no previous experience of the product.
  • Database DevOps, taught by Alex Yates, September 25th-27th – a course for DBAs, developers or anyone who plays a role in writing, testing or deploying changes to SQL Server.
  • Practical Data Science with Cortana Intelligence, taught by Rafal Lukawiecki, November 6th-10th – an introductory course for budding data scientists covering theory and how to apply it to Microsoft tools including Azure Machine Learning and SQL Server 2016 R Services.
  • Mastering DAX, taught by Alberto Ferrari, November 27th-29th – a three day introductory course that will teach you how to write DAX calculations and queries in Power BI, Power Pivot and Analysis Services Tabular.
  • Optimising DAX, taught by Alberto Ferrari, November 30th-1st December – learn about performance tuning DAX from one of the leading experts in the field!

All of the courses are in central London.


Technitrain SQL Server & Microsoft BI Training Course Schedule For 2017

If you’re looking for expert-led, classroom based training on SQL Server and Microsoft BI in London, check out the training courses we have coming up in 2017 at Technitrain:

Introduction to Power BI with Chris Webb, March 13-15 2017
A three-day introduction to building and managing a BI solution using Power BI, suitable for both analysts and BI developers.

Analysis Services Tabular Workshop with Alberto Ferrari, March 20-21 2017
A two-day course for BI developers who want to learn to build Analysis Services Tabular models.

Mastering DAX with Alberto Ferrari, March 22-24 2017
Learn DAX from the master! Suitable for anyone who needs to know how to write calculations and queries for Analysis Services Tabular, Power Pivot or Power BI.

Mission Critical SQL Server with Allan Hirt, March 27-30 2017
This advanced 4-day workshop, designed for SQL Server professionals and IT admins alike, will teach you how to build solid high availability and disaster recovery solutions for SQL Server.

Real-World Cube Design And Performance Tuning With Analysis Services Multidimensional with Chris Webb, May 8-10 2017
A course aimed at intermediate-to-experienced Analysis Services Multidimensional developers, looking at more advanced cube design topics and query performance tuning.

From Zero To BIML with Andy Leonard, June 19-22 2017
A four-day course aimed at BI developers who want to use Business Intelligence Markup Language (BIML) to generate SQL Server Integration Services packages.

Introduction To MDX with Chris Webb, September 25-27 2017
A three-day introduction to writing queries and calculations in MDX for Analysis Services Multidimensional developers and report writers.

Database DevOps with Alex Yates, September 25-27 2017
Aimed at anyone who is responsible for SQL Server schema changes, this course will teach you how to deliver more frequently and more reliably as well as how to solve common technical (and cultural) problems.


If you’d like to keep up-to-date with all our new course announcements, please join our mailing list!


MDX, DAX, Power BI, Cortana Intelligence And SQL Server HA Training Courses

If you’re looking for expert-led training courses in Microsoft BI and SQL Server, check out the courses we have coming up in London at Technitrain:

If you’d like to keep up-to-date with all our new course announcements, please join our mailing list!

Analysis Services · Power BI · Technitrain

New SSAS, Power BI And SQL Server Training Courses For 2016

I’ve just added a number of new 2016 training course dates to the Technitrain site. If you’re looking for Power BI, Analysis Services, SQL Server or Data Science training in London then please check them out! Also, if you’d like to sign up for the Technitrain newsletter to stay up-to-date with our news you can do so here.

Here are more details on the new courses:

SQL Server Performance Tuning and Internals Boot Camp, Bradley Ball, 15-19 February 2016, London
This 5-day hands-on course is designed to provide DBAs with the tools and knowledge that are required to keep their SQL Servers running efficiently and reliably.

Introduction To Power BI, Chris Webb, 22-23 February 2016, London
A two-day introduction to Microsoft’s exciting new BI tool suitable for BI professionals, analysts, report developers or anyone interested in using it to build reports or dashboards.
Real World Cube Design And Performance Tuning With SSAS Multidimensional,  Chris Webb, 11-13 April 2016, London
A course aimed at intermediate-to-experienced Analysis Services Multidimensional developers, looking at more advanced cube design topics and query performance tuning.

Mastering DAX, Marco Russo, 20-22 June 2016, London
A three-day introduction to the DAX language used by Power BI, Analysis Services Tabular models and Power Pivot.

Optimising DAX, Marco Russo, 23-24 June 2016, London
An advanced two-day course for experienced DAX developers who wish to learn how to optimise DAX calculations and queries for performance.

Introduction to MDX, Chris Webb, 4-6 July 2016, London
A three day course designed for those with little or no experience of MDX, this course will teach you how to write MDX queries and calculations for Analysis Services.
Practical Data Science with Cortana Analytics, Rafal Lukawiecki, 24-27 October 2016, London
This course is aimed at analysts, analytical power users, predictive developers, BI power users and developers, budding data scientists and consultants.


Technitrain Courses For The Rest Of 2015

We’re almost halfway though the year and so I would draw your attention to some of the training courses we have coming up at Technitrain. Since you are the the discerning sort of person who reads my blog, then you are probably also going to be the discerning sort of person who is interested in the kind of expert-led Microsoft BI and SQL Server training that Technitrain runs! To get regular updates on new courses, you can sign up for our mailing list here.

Introduction to Power BI with Chris Webb, June 12th, Edinburgh

I know this is only next Friday but there are still places available. It’s a one-day precon for SQL Saturday Edinburgh BI Edition, which is well worth attending too. On this course I’ll give you a full introduction to Power BI, what it is, when to use it, and where it’s going.

SSIS Design Patterns with Andy Leonard, September 7th-10th, London

If you’ve already got some SSIS experience but want to find out about design patterns, best practices, BIML and new features in SSIS 2012/2014, this is the course for you.

Mission Critical SQL Server with Allan Hirt, September 28th-October 1st, London

Allan (http://sqlha.com/) is probably the number 1 expert on high availability for SQL Server, and this course will cover features such as AlwaysOn Availability Groups, true multi-site failover clustering instances, support for Windows Server Core, and what’s new in SQL Server 2016.

Introduction to MDX with Chris Webb, October 12th-14th, London

Yes, MDX isn’t cool or fashionable any more, but if you’re working with SSAS Multidimensional you still need to know it. On this course I’ll teach you all you need to know about MDX queries and calculations.

Practical Data Science – Azure Machine Learning, SQL Data Mining and R with Rafal Lukawiecki, October 19th-22, London

I’m particularly excited about this course, in part because the subject matter is so interesting (and so now) and in part because Rafal has such an amazing reputation as a trainer and a speaker, so I know it will be great. You can see a very detailed course agenda here.

Video Training

If you can’t make it over to the UK, don’t forget that a lot of my training material on MDX and SSAS has been recorded and is available on subscription at Project Botticelli, along with videos from Rafal, Marco Russo, Alberto Ferrari and others. Register with the discount code TECHNITRAIN2015 for a 10% discount.


Microsoft BI and SQL Server Courses For 2015

The Technitrain course schedule for 2015 has now been finalised, so if you’re looking for top quality Microsoft BI and SQL Server classroom-based training in central London why not check out what we’ve got coming up?

Events · PASS · Technitrain

PASS Summit And Other Speaking And Training Dates

This is just a quick post to advertise some upcoming speaking and training dates…

PASS Summit

I’ll be at the PASS Summit in Seattle next week, and if you see me around be sure to say hello! I’ll be presenting a deep dive session on MDX scoped assignments at 9:45am on Friday November 7th, and I’ll be signing copies of my new Power Query book on the Apress stand in the exhibition hall at 1pm on Wednesday November 5th.

I will also be live-tweeting (I’m @technitrain on Twitter if you aren’t following me already) and blogging throughout the keynotes each day too. I suspect there will be some big announcements this year – Jen Underwood dropped some hints, and a list of interesting sessions to attend, on her blog last week.

Future Decoded

On Wednesday November 12th I’ll be speaking about Power BI at Microsoft’s Future Decoded event in London, alongside the likes of Jen Stirrup, James Rowland-Jones and assorted celebrities like Professor Brian Cox, Sir Nigel Shadbolt and David Braben (the guy who co-wrote Elite!)

Training in London

There are a whole bunch of new courses up on the Technitrain site, taught by me and various other SQL Server experts (such as James Rowland-Jones, Jamie Thomson, Klaus Aschenbrenner, Andy Leonard and Allan Hirt) from around the world, and covering a wide variety of SQL Server and Microsoft BI topics. There are still places available on my Power Query course on Thursday November 13th if you’re interested in attending.

Training in Aarhus, Denmark

In December I’ll be teaching two one-day courses with my friends at Orange Man in Aarhus in Denmark: an introduction to Power BI on December 3rd and my Power Query course again on December 4th.

Events · Technitrain

Technitrain Courses In London This Autumn

I’ve just put up a bunch of new courses (including a dedicated Power Query course!) on the Technitrain site that will be running this autumn in London. They are:

I hope to see some of you there! Don’t forget you can also get 10% off on my MDX training videos and lots of other great MS BI content at Project Botticelli using the discount code TECHNITRAIN2014.