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.