Day 1 at SQL PASS Summit - SQL 11.0 “Denali” is now officially SQL Server 2012

First day in Seattle starts with a big announcement

Once again we find ourselves Sleepless in Seattle. Déjà vu all over again. We would be excused for feeling a little too comfortable with the Seattle Convention Center but the SQL PASS Summit is simply the best Microsoft SQL Server conference there is – it really doesn’t matter where it is. Any feeling of the “same old, same old” was quickly dispelled at the Key Note speech. Yes, the worldwide announcement of the release date of “Denali” was made here today – SQL Server 2012 will be released in the first half of 2012. Ted Kummet, Senior VP at Microsoft made the announcement, ending months of speculation after the latest Beta software, aka CTP3, was released in the summer. I, for one, was relieved that Microsoft was not being rushed into a premature release. Taking the time to make a quality release is always a good strategy in my book. SQL Server 2012 has huge potential and it will now be worth waiting for. So why Seattle again? This independently run conference is co- sponsored by Microsoft and located just around the corner from Redmond, Microsoft’s Campus. That way, Microsoft can send literally hundreds of SQL Developers to the conference wearing bright green shirts so we can tell them what we really think about the product. Don’t worry; it actually promotes a positive dialog between DBA’s and SQL Engineers. Another announcement made, was the new partnership with Hortonworks to bring Apache Hadoop to the Windows Azure cloud-based platform – “Partnering with the Ecosystem”. Apache Hadoop, an open source project, apparently has evolved as a leading platform for storing, processing and analyzing “big” data over the web. We were told that every click at Yahoo! uses Hadoop to store Petabytes of data for trend analysis. This will tie into Microsoft’s StreamInsight high-volume event-processing framework and will support the “Cloud on your terms” theme of Denali. Denny Lee, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, did a demo of how billions of rows of unstructured data could be extracted from the web via the ODBC Driver for Hadoop using “HiveQL”. Denny brought this data into PowerPivot and quickly developed an application that apparently uncovered that millions of Brazilians were claiming they were from the Falkland Isles. Not sure what the message was, but the technology was impressive. Tim Mallalieu, Principal Group Manager and Nino Bice, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft then took the stage to demo the new SQL Azure feature named Data Explorer which allows joins of disparate data within the cloud. They showed joining an Excel workbook, an Azure database along with a Bing data feed using OData service calls. The 5-way join or “Mash Up” was captured within PowerPivot and the results showed us how Self Service BI can be used to tell where to open a Self Service Frozen Yoghurt shop. Obviously, not in the Falklands. Amir Netz, newly promoted to Technical Fellow at Microsoft was next up, showed us the latest on Project Crescent, for ad hoc reporting using SSRS. The tool is now going to be named PowerView in SQL Server 2012. Amir showed us how to develop animated reports to find out the biggest box office actors and their movies. Apparently: Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy and Alan Rickman in that order. Aka: Woody, Donkey and Snape. Ted Kummet noted that Amir was spending way too much time with his data. The reports were also shown to run on multiple devices including an iPad, an Android tablet, a Windows tablet and a Windows7.5 Phone. Onto the conference proper. 5000+ attendees, 189 sessions, 5 tracks, 204 speakers including 93 MVP’s. The announcements and demos had me excited for the new release so I spent the day following “Denali”, sorry, new SQL Server 2012 sessions. All these presentations were standing room only. Conference tip: there’s always room up front; kind of like the Blue Man Group. Nobody wants to sit in the front row without a poncho. “Denali - AlwaysOn Solution Overview” with Santosh Balasubramanian. Excellent HADR technology affectionately known as Mirroring++. Now you can have up to 4 secondaries with automatic failover and load balancing built in. And you don’t need a Witness. Great session. “Denali – Analysis Services” with Ashvini Sharma and John Hancock. A great overview of the new BI Semantic Model support in SSAS using Tabular Models with PowerPivot style tools in BIDS/Visual Studio. Included a demo of the new improved PowerPivot and reverse engineering up to Visual Studio as a Tabular Model including VertiPaq compression technology. We were also reassured that the classic MultiDimensional Cube and MDX would continue to be supported and enhanced in 2012 also. “End User Alerting in Denali SSRS” with Lukasz Pawlowski. An exciting new feature for end-users to define alerts based on report data in a self-service environment within Sharepoint. Once again, a comprehensive overview including demo. Very cool for the users. Excellent presentation. “What’s new in Denali Engine and Tools” with Aaron Bertrand. A collection of new DB Engine features in SQL Server 2012. Big cheers for new “Contained Databases” that have authentication information stored against Users so no need for logins. This enables easy transport of databases without orphaned users. Also cheers for new SSMS features such as powerful Region editing, multi-monitor support, intellisense improvements, clipboard cycle and zoom built-in. Also included: “Project Apollo” for column-based storage making star-joins much more efficient. Great session. I then headed up to the “Hands On Lab” room sponsored by Microsoft and HP. I tested out the “AlwaysOn” Lab in SQL Server 2012 using 5 VMs with Hyper-V and Windows 2008 R2. The lab machines used multi-monitor technology so no need for books. Instructions on one monitor; VMs on the other. Very Green. That’s the way to go. I finished up a great day at the Exhibitor Reception sponsored by 3rd party vendors with a bite to eat and a couple drinks with friends new and old. You can’t touch this conference! More tomorrow, Cheers Brian

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