PASS Business Analytics Day, Jan 11, Chicago

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PASS’ first Business Analytics Day, which will be held in Chicago on January 11, 2017. You can choose one of two full-day, in-depth sessions for $595: In-Database Analytics with R and SQL Server 2016 and Mastering Power BI Solutions.

These are unique learning opportunities to get more advanced in R or data visualization with Power BI. And as with other PASS events, the goal is to allow you to walk away with real-world analytics knowledge that you can use immediately!

PASS Business Analytics Day

You have two great choices: In-Database Analytics with R and SQL Server 2016 and Mastering Power BI Solutions.

In-Database Analytics with R and SQL Server 2016

With Microsoft SQL Server 2016, data scientists can run in-database analytics using R. This is a “best of both worlds” scenario: delegate database management to SQL Server whilst you create analytics and visualisations in R and Power BI. In this session, we will cover the overall architecture of SQL R Services and go over some best practices. We will look at best practices in analytics and visualisations with a focus on R, and then we delve more in-depth into some practical common use-cases.

Speakers:
David Smith, R Community Lead at Revolution Analytics, a Microsoft Company
Seth Mottaghinejad, Data Scientist, Microsoft

Mastering Power BI Solutions

In this Power BI hands-on Workshop, you will master the “power” of Power BI. Learn to use self-service and enterprise-scale Power BI capabilities; gain valuable skills to integrate, wrangle, shape and visualize data for analysis. Beginning and intermediate level users will learn to address data and reporting challenges with advanced design techniques.

Speaker:
Paul Turley, Mentor with SolidQ, BI Architect, and Microsoft Data Platform MVP

Date: January 11, 2017

Location: Microsoft Technology Center, #200 – 200 East Randolph Drive, Chicago, IL.

We hope you’ll join us!

Business Analytics Webinar Marathon announced!

31060117291_46e25da6d4_kJoin PASS on 14th December for our next bumper edition of the Business Analytics (BA) Marathon on Wednesday, December 14. We have six back-to-back sessions, all about analytics. Why not challenge yourself to attend all six?

If you want to learn R, predictive analytics, or learn about business analytics generally, then join our industry experts for six back-to-back webinars.

Each webinar lasts for an hour, and they start at 17:00 GMT. Check the time in your own timezone here

Webinar Date: Wed December 14, 2016

Start time: 17:00 GMT ¦ Check the time in your own timezone here

Session 1: Analyzing Healthcare Open Data with Power BI
Dan English, Senior Data Warehouse Architect, Constellation

Session 2: Big Data Analytics with SparkR
Jen Underwood, Founder of Impact Analytix, LLC

Session 3: Disrupt the Static Nature of BI with Predictive Anomaly Detection
Uri Maoz, Vice President of US business, Anodot

Session 4: Using R to Clean and Transform Small Data
Mark Wilcock, Technical Delivery Manager, ‎Credit Suisse

Session 5: Visualizing Multiple Time Series with R in Power BI
Bill McLellan, BI Team Lead and Sr. BI Solutions Specialist, TKC Holdings

Session 6: Real-World Predictive Analytics
Miguel Molina-Cosculluela, Managing Partner & Analytics Evangelist, Analytikus
Diwakar Rajagopal, Senior Director of Partnerships, Pyramid Analytics

See you there!

How Microsoft can help join the Open Data dots

In one of the industry’s best known volte-face, Microsoft have warmly embraced Open Source. As announced at Microsoft’s Connect() conference earlier this week, Microsoft is pleased to become a Linux Foundation Platinum Member. We also saw a quieter announcement; the Azure DataMarket is being decommissioned.

Now that Microsoft are ecstatically adopting Open Source Software, I’d love to see Microsoft adopt Open Data too. I’d love to see an Open Data platform on Azure, which is easy-to-use, aimed at business users, data scientists and even consumers in the form of data citizens.

If you look up Open Data, you’ll see that there are open data ‘puddles’ everywhere. So we have the London Data Store, SF Open Data, and the Azure DataMarket already has some Open Data, for example, the UK Met Office Weather Open Data. Why not have all of these data puddles joined up in a new, Azure-based, Open Data store?

There is no joined up thinking in the world that would constitute an Open Data Lake. I’d love Microsoft to adopt this on behalf of, and for, the data community worldwide.

30293196663_f55039a144I’d like to see the Azure DataMarket rebooted to be a home for an Open Data platform. Perhaps it could be called Azure Open Data, or even simply Azure Open, or something simple like that.

Microsoft can join the Open Data dots for the community, and that’s a real democratization of data for us all.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s next after Azure DataMarket?

Microsoft are retiring Azure DataMarket due to a lack of sustained customer interest in DataMarket. Why is that, and where do we go from here?

High Hopes

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Credit: Stocksnap.io

I hoped the Azure DataMarket might become a cloud-based Master Data Solution for people building data warehouses. So, for example, people would download a Geography dimension, or a Date Dimension, which was pretty robust and clean. Users could then change it to meet their needs, and it would form a ‘Master’ within their organisation. Your single version of the truth.

 

 

If your data is in silos, so is your analytics

Organisations don’t seem to consider Master Data Management very much. What is Master Data Management, anyway? Master data management (MDM) provides a trusted view of critical business entities, in data, which are stored, probably duplicated, in siloed applications – customers, suppliers, partners, products, materials, accounts, etc.
Master Data Management (MDM) solutions provide a simple and trusted view of your data to allow you to think horizontally about your data, across your business. This is in contrast with thinking vertically about your data, in data silos which usually match LOBs. Horizontal and vertical thinking helps achieve customer centric objectives and business results.

Wrong Problem, Wrong Audience

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Credit: Stocksnap.io

Why did Azure DataMarket fail? It seemed to be aimed primarily at IT people, not business people. Now, IT folks are usually pretty good at searching. A contact of mine bemoaned a Kibana implementation I’d done for his organisation, stating that I’d taken grep away from him and he’d worked so hard to teach everyone grep for the last two years and now it was all visual fluffy stuff. (Suck it up, princess. Kibana rocks and everyone is using it.).

Business people don’t rock grep, regex or any other greppy like tool. They want easy-to-use, easy-to-find solutions.

A Solution Looking for a Problem

Let’s hope Microsoft will do a DataMarket again, which aimed at the right business people to find things quickly. I don’t want something that is a solution looking for a problem.

The right problem: make search easy for the folks who need it most. Not for the IT folks, but the less well defined Information Worker who actually struggles with data. Let them access it very simply, and soon you’ll have Azure data being mashed with other data sources and it’s a step in the journey of getting users familiar with Azure.

And if we can get folks to think about proper Master Data Management based in the cloud, that’s easy to navigate, then that’s got to be a good thing.

The Prodigal Developers Return: SQL Server 2016 SP1 brings consistent programming surface to Developers and ISVs

Big news from Microsoft Connect() 2016 online developer conference. SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 1 is dropping. Download SQL Server 2016 SP 1 here.

SQL Server 2016 SP1  means lots of wider features for lower editions. Most importantly, developers and partners can now build to a single application programming surface to create or upgrade new intelligent applications and use the edition which scales to the application’s needs.

The long version and my ‘take’ on this news:

I’m incredibly impressed with Microsoft right now. I think it’s incredibly smart, actually, because they are bringing developers and ISVs back into SQL Server Land again. So, developers, ISVs, go and grab yourself a coffee and let’s have a chat.

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Credit: stocksnap.io

SQL Server 2016 SP1 makes leading innovation available to any developer. Microsoft is making it easier for developers to benefit from the industry-leading innovations in SQL Server for more of their applications. With SQL Server 2016 SP1 is making key innovations more accessible to customers across editions. Developers and partners can now build to a single application programming surface to create or upgrade new intelligent applications and use the edition which scales to the application’s needs. SQL Server Enterprise continues to offer the highest levels of scale, performance and availability for enterprise workloads. For more information, please see the full press announcement on the SQL Server Blog. Visual Studio Code extension for SQL and updated connectors and tools are also exciting news, because it means that it’s easier to develop with other languages, in a more streamlined fashion.

What problem are Microsoft trying to fix?

stocksnap_vlhyvv3xu5Previously, the issue with developing applications for SQL Server is that there is a disparity across editions, which can affect how your application runs.  Until now, developers have used the SQL Server development version as it will allows them to develop with features that are available on all of the production versions.

Now, the problem is solved – developers can take advantage of the programmability feature by using the same code base, and things are simpler because the customer chooses which edition they use.

The problem was evident, when you use, say, an enterprise-only feature in development but have only a Standard-edition instance in Production. You can see the full list of features and editions published by Microsoft here ‘Features Supported by the Editions of SQL Server 2016’

If you had an app that can manage Enterprise edition then it can, in principle, also manage every other edition.  However, now the application would scale to the customer’s edition, thereby streamlining the whole process.

New Tools for the Toolbox, No Pricing Changes

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So, developers wouldn’t have to build complexity, but they’d have to create their app the right way. For example, there’s not always a need to scale out. Let’s take Stack Overflow, one of the top 50 busiest sites in the world.  Stack Overflow runs on Microsoft SQL Server.

Not many people know it, but there is a StackOverflow Enterprise Edition. It means that companies like StackOverflow can take advantage of the new programmability features, if they so wished. I wonder what ISVs will do?

Freedom from Constraints

Let’s examine the issue in more detail. Let’s take a look at the SQL Server editions that are available to us:

  • Azure database + Amazon RDS
  • Containerized version of any edition
  • Developer Edition
  • Express Edition
  • Enterprise Edition
  • LocalDb
  • Standard Edition
  • Web Edition

You can see why it starts to get confusing, and developers might start to look at MySQL or Postgres as alternatives.

How can you get SQL Server 2016 SP1?

I believe that this will be a primary driver for SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 1, Download SQL Server 2016 SP 1 here.

Why are Microsoft doing this?

stocksnap_kikhw5nc6yIt’s a huge benefit for ISVs. It’s my opinion that Microsoft had lost the way with their partners. Customers started to look sideways at other vendors to fulfil their needs, such as Tableau. In response, partners expanded their toolkit in order to include crème de la crème vendors such as Tableau in order to build solutions. I think that this move is a gesture to the ISVs, since it will remove friction when they choose to develop solutions.

Being pals with Open Source but better – you get what you pay for. With the advent of open source, developers have got  more choice than ever before. It’s good to bring them back to SQL Server. Postgres doesn’t have in-memory capability, for example – it has “running with scissors” mode whereby you switch off all the disk storage features. Sound scary? Yes… the clue is in the name. SQL Server brings this feature to the party, and more. ISVs can feel more confident developing on a robust solution.

Increased productivity – it removes an obstacle to development, support and deployment.

The Prodigal Developers Return

This solution means that Microsoft SQL Server is back on the table for many developers, who may have started eyeing MySQL and Postgres for this reason.

To summarise, I think that this is a smart move and I’m excited to see that the ‘voice of the developer’ has come back into SQL Server Land. It’s also a huge benefit for ISV partners, and let’s see how they democratize their data in new and exciting applications. Let’s look for more exciting things coming from Microsoft.