SQLSoton – Southampton SQL Server User Group: December 2012 – User Group Information

I’m presenting next week at SQLSoton in Southampton on 5th December. The details are below, straight from the SQLSoton website.

Southampton have a great crowd and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again. Details below! Thanks to Spectrum IT for their sponsorship and pizza for the next 6 months, which is an amazing vote of confidence in the SQLSoton team and the attendees!

SQLSoton – Southampton SQL Server User Group: December 2012 – User Group Information: Can you believe it, there is only one user group meeting left in 2012 before we start again. Doesn’t time fly! Anyway, the December user gr…

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PASSion Award for me – and a little question for you!

I’m proud and hugely humbled to announce that I won the PASSion Award 2012, and received the Award at the SQLPass Summit 2012. here is a picture below, taken by Alberto Ferrari

I’m the small one on the right 🙂 The Award was presented to me at SQLPass Summit 2012 by Thomas LaRock, who you might know better as SQLRockStar.

I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness towards me, and I want to say ‘thank you’ to SQLPass for presenting me with this Award. I was stunned to receive it, and I still cannot quite believe it.

I want to say ‘Thank You’ to the SQLFamily community who congratulated me over Twitter at JenStirrup, or in person at SQLPass Summit. To everyone who sent a good wish my way: I am extremely grateful, and ‘thank you’ goes to you. Every tweet or ‘hey, congrats!’ was much appreciated, and I am humbled and touched by your kindness. It’s one of these things where people don’t realise what an impact they’ve had on me, and even the simplest ‘hey, congrats!’ has made me feel overwhelmed.

Sometimes folks ask me ‘what do you get out of helping the community?’ To me, this is the wrong question. I don’t do it to get anything out of it. You’ll find a lot of volunteers will say that, too. So why do something, if you don’t intend to get anything from it? The truth is, I’ve met so many great friends and smart SQL / Business Intelligence people from my connections to PASS, it’s my pleasure to help and to be involved with the community. Being involved is a good thing in itself.

I have met some of my deepest and greatest friends in the SQL Server community via PASS, and this has been life-changing for me. If you’re wondering whether you should take the plunge and become involved – even as an active member, turning up to meetings – I’d definitely encourage it.

I know that myself and other SQLFamily members will tell you that the community has kept them strong when times are hard. I’ve certainly been personally buoyed by the kind hearts in the community, a lot of whom make the days and nights brighter without even realising it.

I’m looking forward to 2013, with all the fun that PASS activities will bring. Let’s push forward and bring the sqlfamily to more folks across Europe, India and Africa, and reach out to ‘newbies’ in the US. Everyone has to start learning somewhere, and I’m not ashamed to say that I will never stop learning. You’ll touch lives – the PASS and SQLBits communities have certain touched mine.  In particular, we can welcome people from different backgrounds into the community.

Sitting over here in London, we talk a lot about diversity in one of the most proudly diverse, yet welcoming, places in the planet. Diversity brings inspiration and ideas from different perspectives and places and this is why the Women in Technology movement, in particular, is important to the community. We can learn from each other, and to do this better, it can mean that we understand each other better. The Women in Technology debates can foster discussion. I tend to find that the WIT events are attended by the nicest, nicest people since they care, and they’ve voted to learn more about different perspectives by turning up to the event. We don’t have all the answers, but the amazing insights from audience members really bring it home that we have so many smart men and women in our community.

Curious? Here’s a little question for you: Why don’t you to along to the next WIT event at your local SQLSaturday, and see what the fuss is about? You’ll be surprised by the insights and interesting discussions you’ll find. Try it, and blog! If you don’t blog, why don’t you email me at JenStirrup[at]copperblueconsulting[dot]com and I would love to hear from you!

Thank you to all at SQLPass for giving me such a special day, and I will never forget it. 


SQLPass Summit 2012 Interview with PASS Board

As part of the informal ‘Bloggers Pack’ for the SQLPass Summit 2012, I was privileged to get some time with PASS Board Members Bill Graziano and Douglas McDowell.

I’d like to start by thanking them both for their time. We had an early breakfast start, and it is testament to their commitment to PASS that they took time to speak with us. As you can imagine, Summit is a mad busy time for them both! However, this is demonstrative of their enthusiasm for the community, and I really hope that they both managed to squeeze in some breakfast.

My interest was about the global growth of PASS. This particular portfolio is spearheaded by James Rowland-Jones, and James’ vision for a global growth of PASS is well-documented here. I was interested in the opinions of the other Board members, and asked them about their priorities and focus regarding Europe in particular.

Global Vision – Describing the global growth of the community, the team described as a ‘dream’, and then talked about turning the global dream into a reality. As you may have noticed, PASS have put significant effort and investment into their website recently, and there is more work to come in order to support the nascent SQL Server community.  Specifically, there are plans in place to deliver better tools to support SQL Server community people to organise events. It is also anticipated that there will be a higher proportion of SQL Saturday events outside the US next year, and that the proportion of SQLSaturday events outside the US will increase over time. We can also see this happening with language-specific Virtual Chapters.

I was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm that they held for a global PASS. Bill discussed a PASS event which was held in London a few years back, and I remembered a PASS event which was held at Bank of America in London (IIRC). 

Global Action – Not stopping for a rest after Summit, PASS is rounding out 2012 with two 24 Hours of PASS virtual events, extending its reach to the Portuguese and Spanish SQL Server communities. Both events will feature 24 free, live, back-to-back technical webcasts. The Portuguese event takes place Nov. 26-27, with the Spanish edition on Dec. 5-6. For details, see http://www.sqlpass.org/Events/24HoursofPASS.aspx.

Global Execution – As the global vision moves towards execution, it is possible that the structure of the Board might change in order to cater for the new requirements. There are many different options, but this is something that the team could consider so that they can best help the SQLFamily community that they serve. There is no easy answer, and I suspect that these are the issues faced by many organisations as they expand into different regions. With the global events growing at a fast rate, it’s great to see the enthusiasm of the Board team as they discuss these issues, and these difficult issues are in good hands.

Women in Technology session – how the PASS team can help enthusiastic members of the SQL Server community to transition from active attendee to volunteer. The team recommended that the website is the best resource for information, since it isn’t just written by the PASS teams but also by the volunteers who have made achievements in contributing to the community. The team also recommended that people wishing to set up a SQLSaturday event get in touch with Karla and Nico, and this happens when you register your interest over at the SQLSaturday website.

To summarise, there has been a great deal going on in 2012, with more international events in 2013 to support the growing international SQLFamily within the US, as well as outside it. On a personal note, I’d urge you to read the emails that PASS send out. There are a ton of valuable resources on there, and it’s worthwhile keeping up with the news from PASS. If you need to sign up, here is the URL: www.sqlpass.org

I’d like to conclude by thanking Bill Graziano and Douglas McDowell again for their time and support in making themselves freely available for bloggers like me!

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Latest Announcements: Hekaton, Service Pack 1 and PDW

There are three main announcements for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 announced today at the SQLPass Summit 2012 in Seattle, Washington. These are being announced by Ted Kummert, Corporate Vice President, Business Platform Division, Microsoft. You can also see Doug Leland’s announcement from the Business Platform Group here.
The announcements focus on three areas:
Ted Kummert introduces Project codenamed Hekaton a new in-memory technology for transaction processing that is an integral part of the data platform. Hekaton will ship in the next major version of SQL Server, and is wholly a part of it. It’s fast because the

The next version of the Parallel Data Warehouse is announced. 

SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 will be released. This will have Business Intelligence features and features that are not contained within the Business Intelligence sphere. I will cover these items later on in this blog.

What makes these announcements interesting?

The Hekaton announcement is interesting since it shows that Microsoft are real contenders in the in-memory area. SAP have been doing some interesting things, but now it’s Microsoft’s turn to play.  Hekaton will be part of an end-to-end SQL Server solution with in-memory capabilities from streaming and caching workloads right through to analytics. This offers a complete portfolio for transactional processing – full circle.

Is it fast? You betcha! Based on private customer testing to date, Hekaton will offer performance gains of up to 10 times for existing apps and up to 50 times for new applications optimized for in-memory performance. This is significant, and watch this space for more details. 

Here are the main points:

  • High performance, in memory OLTP engine.
  • Full ACID support.
  • T-SQL compiled to native code.
  • Enables massive improvement in performance. This will allow you to onramp existing apps to give you integrated performance for data loading, updating. And reading throughput is increased comparing best cases, due to the lack of latching and locking contention on the table.

The Parallel Data Warehouse announcement is very interesting. It will be available in the first half of 2013. 

It will be powered by PolyBase, which allows you to process queries across using relational and non-relational Hadoop data – right from SQL Server Management Studio. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty awesome. The analytics that you’ll be able to do, right from good old familiar SSMS, will lead to breakthrough insights. You already know SSMS, and the query engine will translate the queries for you so you can focus on generating your data out for the insights. This will empower you to deal with big data and really use it, from an interface that you already know. It’s mixing HTFS nodes with SQL Server, which is incredibly powerful. It means that the PDW is a federated data processing engine, and very powerful.

The PWD is Built for big data. We have Next generation performance at scale. It uses the XVelocity column store. For big data, we start small with TBs and scale out to petabytes. This means that we can see a move away from SAN storage to reduce price. Hardware and software combined reduces the price. Since the hardware and the software are already aligned, this will help customers to reduce costs, since the hardware footprint will be reduced. 

Now for my favourite announcement – SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 will be announced, with a focus on Business Intelligence enhancements. It has new capabilities for Business Intelligence in Office 365. 

3. SQL Server Service Pack 1 Enhancements

This was announced back in June 2012. For Business Intelligence, there will be Power view enhancements. – Geographical mapping. Drill up and drill down. Hierarchies. Backgrounds. Oh, and pie charts 🙂

The significance is Excel 2013 – powerpivot and Powerview so everyone is now BI capable. This really offers a Data Democracy for every Excel user – we will all be data citizens.

Since powerpivot and powerview are natively into the product, everyone can use their data to make decisions, and even change the world around them. Look at the great work that the San Francisco and London data citizens are doing with their data. Excel can really help everyone – not just business users – to grab their data and use it to empower themselves.

To summarise, these announcements offer a full, rounded big picture – it will accelerate insights for all data. Big data crunching. Rapid, real time insights.This is the power of analytics, and means that the Microsoft Data Platform offers end-to-end from transactions right through to the business users and the insights that they can gain from their data. It’s not enough simply to own data; you have to use it. The new announcements from SQL Server are empowering for business users as well as technical DBAs.

New capabilities = in memory, big data, business analytics. It’s all there. Take a look at the earlier links, and watch the keynote from the SQLPass website.