I am currently preparing a few presentations on using Data Mining in business intelligence. These will be at the Brisbane SQL Server user group (this month) and SQL Rally Amsterdam (in Nov). I am especially looking forward to Amsterdam because this will be my first trip to the Netherlands.
The application of data mining within an organisation is an interesting topic for me which I liken to a milestone in organisational maturity. When most people discuss business intelligence (and analytics), they are talking about the production of a system so that the and end user can either get canned reports quickly or (more importantly) interrogate data in a real time manner. After all, this was the intent of OLAP! – the idea that the end user can drive data in real time so that once they think of a problem and a potential solution, they can verify their thoughts against data.
However, as good as this type of system is (compared to the starting base), this can be one of the short comings of stoping the BI journey here. That is, the user needs to think of a solution to a problem, and then verify against it. But what do we verify against? – and when do we stop investigating? This is one of the major benefits of data mining. It allows a scientific analysis at a targeted problem without the limitations of our dimensional thought (after all we can only think in a relatively small number of dimensions & attributes at a time).
Just a short note to advise that SQL Saturday will be held in Brisbane on 27th April 2013 at the Microsoft offices in George St.
For those that don’t know, these are free community training days and are hugely successful (yes that’s free to attend and you even get lunch, prize draws etc). The last one we had in April 2012 was a huge success.
The space at Microsoft is limited so in order to avoid disappointment, register your attendance as soon as possible.
Checkout the site at http://www.sqlsaturday.com/210/eventhome.aspx
Today at PASS Microsoft announces three initiatives for SQL Server. These are;
- Project Hekaton
- Support for BIG Data
- and the integration of self-service BI in office
For those that are actively engaged in Business Intelligence the integration of the xVelocity engine and PowerView into Excel is not surprising, it’s been on the road map for some time and has previously been available through CTP (Excel 2013). There is also the shift to less pervasive BI through additional functionality that is offered in Excel (for example chart prompting and data learning for lists). I think that a lot of analysts or users that are involved in data manipulation will also enjoy using PowerView visualisations and the ability to interact with data in real time will improve data competencies. Clearly Microsoft is delivering on its goal of bringing ‘BI to the masses’ and its flagship is Excel (with inbuilt PowerView for visualisation). Most Importantly the Excel 2013 PowerView SUPPORTS visualisations against OLAP databases so most companies investment in OLAP technologies can be utilised with PowerView in Excel. The update to the OLAP SSAS engine will occur at some date in the future
For those that are engaged with SQL server, Project Hekaton is an in memory improvement to SQL server objects. The ability to hold these objects in memory will give massive improvements in performance and is targeted towards OLTP environments. The impressive thing about Hekaton is that the technology is embedded into the SQL Server engine and so will become part of core functionality. Additionally the in-memory component (load) can be customised to the database (and workload) so that there is complete control over the workload. In-fact, the engine suggests objects (tables and stored procedures) that should have in memory storage applied. There is no doubt that this will have a major impact on the performance of OLTP systems and reduce reliance on hardware based solutions (albeit the engine consumes CPU).
Finally it has been announced that, in a move to support big data Microsoft it will support its own HADOOP type instance through HDInsight. This is not really surprising given the industries direction at big data (it seems that all vendors have some big data solution). What is interesting from a Microsoft point of view is that the big data component of the engine will support SQL queries. This technology (PolyBase) allows the PDW (Parallel Data Warehouse) relational and big data components to be combined in a single SQL Query.
One noticeable exclusion from today’s keynote was the lack of clarity (or any announcement) around Microsoft’s mobile BI strategy. At last year’s summit, it was announced it would support mobile BI and demonstrated it on an IPad. A similar announcement was not given today, however there are sessions in the summit that specifically address a mobile solution (from MS personnel) and so will be interesting to see this content.
The SQL Saturday tour of Australia and New Zealand has now gone live on the SQL Saturday website. You can check out each cities part of the tour out at the following sites;
Following from my previous post about the upcoming SQL Saturday events around Australia, the tentative dates for the events across Australia and New Zealand will be;
Brisbane (AU) – April 12
Wellington (NZ) – April 14
Canberra (AU) – April 19
Sydney (AU) – April 21
Adelaide (AU) – April 24
Perth (AU) – April 27 or 28
These dates are fairly fixed and, any changes will only be by 1 or 2 days at most.
As part of a teaser campaign, it is good to hint that SQL Saturdays will run in Australia this year. This is a great opportunity to get in on some free training on SQL Server and the BI stack and catch up with your or just catch up with your peers.
The events will run across most Australian capital cities from mid to end April . Can’t make it on the week end? Don’t worry, they will be run on week days.
A quick note from PASS on the mobile direction of BI. Project cresent (the new silver light data exploration tool) will be marketed under the name `power viewer`. Theres nothing really ground breaking in this. What is ground breaking is the mobile support. Power viewer will be supported in mobile devices that include ios. This is going to be very nice for ipad\iphone users. The ability to easily build mobile bi apps will be met with enthusiasm.