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.
This book is a must ready for anyone who is interested in using Power View or anyone who wants to make their analysis and reports interactive with Power View (well that was straight to the point, now lets get into some detail).
A current trend in the business intelligence landscape is a shift in focus from an IT user to the business user. That is, the person asking questions needs to interact with the data rather than specify report requirements to a technical user. Power View is Microsoft’s offering in this area and empowers the end user through an interactive environment for visualising data (whether it is creation, alteration or manipulation). In-fact, many organisations can take advantage of this product without cost. “Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power View” is a step by step guide which not only shows the end user how to use the Power View product but also get the most benefit out of their visualizations.
Written for the Business User
“Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power View” is well targeted at the business user and written in a context that does not alienate a non-technical user. The structure of the book builds on prior learning and reinforces sound business scenarios with practical examples. Every scenario has a “Learn by Doing” exercise which gives a practical, easy to follow example of how to apply the discussed content. The examples are applicable, easy to follow and relevant.
Included Data and Additional Media
In addition to the book content, there is a range of downloadable content (or installable if the book is purchased as a hardcopy) which includes videos (over 4 hours) and the data that is used in the examples. The videos reinforce the lessons, highlighting applicable areas of the screen and the commands used. The appendices go into the steps required to install the data in your own environment.
Discarding the appendixes, the book is broken down into two parts (the chapter outlines for the book are below). Part I deals with Power View and how to use it in an existing environment. If you were only interested in creating, viewing and using visualizations, Part I would be enough (say for example, managers and sales people). Part II extends the offering by diving into model creation (the data that Power View uses). This is more applicable to a savvy business user, power user (and so on). Notwithstanding the likely audience for Part II, it is very easy to follow with plenty of practical examples and exercises.
The structure of the book is outlined as;
Part I – Power View
• Chapter 1 – Getting Started
• Chapter 2 – The Table Visualization
• Chapter 3 – Additional Visualizations
• Chapter 4 – Charting
• Chapter 5 – Bringing Your Data to Life
• Chapter 6 – Sharing Reports
Part II – Creating a BI Semantic Model (BISM)
• Chapter 7 – BISM: Getting Started
• Chapter 8 – Basic BI Semantic Model Design
• Chapter 9 – BI Semantic Model: Additional Model Features
• Chapter 10 – Using DAX Expressions
• Chapter 11 – Deploying Tabular BI Semantic Models
Part III – Appendixes
• Appendix A – Installing and Configuring the Sample Data
• Appendix B – Creating a Virtual Learning Environment
You can get “Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power View” at http://mhprofessional.com/product.php?isbn=0071780823
If your interested in trying powerview (the new MS data exploration tool), checkout http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oneclickbi/archive/2011/12/27/more-demos-of-power-view-available.aspx .
The site has a quick tutorial on getting started, some datasets to explore and (of course) a cloud version of powerview to play with.