Monthly Archives: March, 2012

SQL Saturday returns to Orange County

I’m speaking at SQL Saturday #120 this weekend in Orange County, CA and it’s the 3rd straight year for me at this event.  It’s also the first SQL Saturday I presented at two years ago, so I have a soft spot in my heart for this one.  Andrew Karcher, Marlon Ribunal, Thomas Mueller and the rest of the volunteers do a great job putting this one together, and this year they have an all-star lineup of speakers.  They have 8 tracks scheduled with 6 sessions per track so there’s going to be a lot of content delivered in a short time frame, with a number of SQL Server 2012 sessions so you can learn more about the new release.  There’s also a Women in Technology panel at lunch that I highly recommend, especially to the men.   A small fringe benefit of attending is that the conference is held in a junior college with classrooms around a courtyard, registration is outside, and going from session to session means a breath of fresh air in the coastal weather of Huntington Beach.  I’m presenting two sessions, the first at 11am on Tabular Models, a hot new SQL Server 2012 topic.  The second is right after lunch at 1:30 on real-time data warehousing.  Here’s the title and abstract of my sessions.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Preparing Data for Analysis as Tabular Models

The new Tabular Model in SQL Server 2012 is being touted as a powerful analytic engine that is faster and easier to implement than traditional cubes using Analysis Service. In this session Carlos Bossy will demonstrate how to develop analytic models using your existing data sources and will discuss best practices for preparing data so that it can be effectively used as a Tabular database. In addition to creating the model, Carlos will show you how to quickly add measures, hierarchies, and calculated columns to provide a rich user experience.

Real-time Data Warehouse and Reporting

This session will present a Database and ETL Architecture that allows you to smoothly move data from your application databases across the enterprise in real-time to your data warehouse. Carlos Bossy will show you how to use SQL Server features such as Replication, Change Data Capture, SSIS and other techniques to extract, transform and load data fast and dependably and view a real demonstration of the system in action. Finally, Carlos will show how to use Reporting Services to present data with a minimum amount of latency.

T-SQL Tuesday #028 – Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

Argenis Fernandez put forth the T-SQL Tuesday challenge this month with the topic being specialization.  He asked us to write about specialization in our own jobs and careers, and asked if we should specialize, or why we don’t.

My answer in regards to my own career is the same as the advice I would give someone else.  Do indeed specialize in technologies you have a passion for and that you want to work with most of the time.  Become ‘the expert’ that we go to when we need a solution in you area of expertise.  It will make you more valuable and it’s satisfying to be able to make the most of that knowledge in a useful way.  However, be flexible and change the specialty often since some things we do in this business disappear (they’re destroyed by newer technology), while new things become viable and mainstream.  And finally, don’t specialize at the expense of being a knowledgeable generalist.

When I started my career in the mid-80s I worked on IBM mainframes and IDMS databases.  That’s when I first acquired an interest in database architecture, performance, and data mining.  I liked the work and it was challenging, but even then I immediately started doing what I could to move myself away from that technology because I knew it wasn’t the future.  I know someone who still works in that same environment.  He’s always employed because nobody wants to work on old technology, but I wouldn’t want to be him.

I’ve changed the technology specialty I work in at least 4-5 times throughout my career.  Personally it’s important for me to stay close to the leading edge no matter what role I’m in, whether it be consultant, manager, architect, or coder.  It’s what keeps things interesting.  In the SQL Server world I’m glad that we haven’t yet hit the ceiling with the product and there’s still room to grow.  It will continue to grow and mature for the foreseeable future, but we have to be vigilant as technologists who work with it.  There are specialties we’ve developed in using SQL Server that will be retired and/or replaced in the future, which is the natural life cycle of such a product.  Also, we have to be aware of what’s going on outside the SQL Server arena so that we don’t become obsolete, and so we know when alternative solutions are better for the task at hand.  I wrote another post several days ago after the launch of SQL Server 2012 that made a reference to the revolution that’s already taking place in the world of data and that it will continue to be in a rapid state of change for years to come.  I’m committed to staying ahead of the curve so that in the year 2015 and beyond, I’m not that guy working on the old, outdated technology.

How important is the release of SQL Server 2012?

Yesterday I attended the Microsoft Special Ops Tour highlighting the launch of SQL Server 2012.  Much of what was presented were things I had already seen since I attend a lot of Microsoft events, but it was interesting to see who was there and talk to people about the features that interested them.  It also made me give more thought as to where Microsoft Business Intelligence solutions stand in the industry, how well Microsoft is keeping up (or leading) in this fast-moving sector, and the importance of this release of SQL Server.

Competing Technology

At the Strata conference last week I saw a lot of technology that’s very appealing and it’s going to be asked for by my customers, much of it introducing a new paradigm for BI data architecture.  I had also taken a look at the Gartner Business Intelligence Magic Quadrant for 2012 a few weeks ago and noticed that Microsoft dropped slightly from the stellar position it held in 2011.  Compare the 2011 version on the left to 2012:

Why did Microsoft make a small move downward?  Based on the comments made by Gartner, for the first time they scored below average on their survey results for ‘Ability to Execute’. They also have a lot of multiproduct complexity (Office, SQL Server, Sharepoint), not much in the way of Mobile BI, they don’t have a comprehensive Big Data strategy, and are missing a single business metadata layer.

With the release of SQL Server 2012 it’s interesting to see how much Microsoft is relying on this release to fill some of these gaps.  Gartner states that just the addition of the Business Intelligence Semantic Model (BISM) will improve the Magic Quadrant ranking.

Strengths

Of course there are many strengths, many of them coming out in SQL Server 2012.  Adding the Tabular model with the success of OLAP and Analysis Services, Powerview, low-cost bundling, Visual Studio, and Cloud capabilities were all cited as strengths.  I’m already preparing for opportunities to implement some of the great new features.

Everything Changes

It’s difficult to stay on top.  In my view BI in the year 2015 won’t look very much like BI did  in 2010.  It’s a great opportunity for those of use who work in the business, but it means we will be more challenged than ever to stay current with the latest in data architectures, modeling, analytics, visualization and other database technology.  And Microsoft will be challenged to continue enhancing and improving SQL Server and it’s associated BI products on an ongoing basis, so expect change to be the norm.