Friday, 22 November 2013

SQL Server 2014 Event at Microsoft Redmond - Final Day

Today is my last day at Microsoft, flight this evening at 6:10pm back into Heathrow.

It has been a busy week and my plans to blog every day just didn't happen so here is a final update on my week at the SQL Server 2014 TTT.

Seattle is a cosmopolitan and vibrant city and evenings after class have been filled with taking in the atmosphere and the many retail experiences on offer in downtown Bellevue, so yes after class I have been "out & about" soaking up the local attractions!!

That is not to say that I didn't forget to visit the on-campus shop at Redmond to see what "geek-gifts" were on offer, ofcause I purchased many items that I don't really require but "hey" its all about capturing memories of an iconic visit, and you can never have too many pens!



I couldn't quite believe how large Microsofts Campus at Redmond actually was, it's a town in its own rights and getting from 1 building to the next can be quite a long walk so being able to catch one of the Shuttle Connect taxis to take you to your destination whether that be on campus or downtown Bellevue and even into Seattle itself was a blessing, and what a great service for the 60,000 Microsoft employees who work on campus for getting to and from work.


For me the highlight of the week was Day 3 focusing on the Self-Service BI tools and services for discovery, analysis and visualisations of on-premises and cloud based data.

Our presenter was a "SQL BI God" Peter Myers and for me this was a moment of being totally "Star Struck" as for many years I have followed and read Peters blogs and to finally attend an event where he was presenting was true "SQL Momemt" for me.

We started the BI story looking at PowerPivot in Excel 2013 which was an refresher on skills and to set the starting point before our dive into the realm of Power BI, Power Query and Power Map.
Power Query was previously known as Codename “Data Explorer”. Similarly, Power Map was previously known as Project codename “GeoFlow”.

Available as an add-in for both Microsoft Excel 2013 and Excel 2010, Power Query makes it easy to discover, combine, and refine data from both public and private data sources, including HDInsight.

Being able to pull in any public dataset from the internet, such as census information, geographic data  or anything that is of interest to an organisation opens up the possibilities of analytical and data mining queries outside of organisational data. Ofcause IT can still have an involvement publishing their own organisational datasets and providing a controlled gateway with security and scheduled data refreshes to provide a more managed way of making data available.


The last 2 days were all about HDInsight and Big Data using tools such as MapReduce, Hive and Sqoop, Bill Ramos was the presenter for these 2 days.

HDInsight is a Hadoop-based service from Microsoft that brings a 100 percent Apache Hadoop solution to the cloud. A modern, cloud-based data platform that manages data of any type, whether structured or unstructured, and of any size, HDInsight makes it possible for you to gain the full value of big data. And running up a HDInsight Cluster couldn't be easier taking less than 45minutes to run up a 4 node cluster with 25 cores. At the moment only 4 of the Azure Datacentre locations support storage for HDInsight. 
This was a tough 2 days as the realms of Big Data was relatively new to the whole class and after the first 1 hour session my head was pounding with so much information. HDInsight and it's possibilities are going to take some time to digest and get my head around and at the moment I can only see large multi-national corporations utilizing such technologies to crunch data.

Our fun using HDInsight came to a crashing end when a gremlin popped up and brought down the internet and our access into the Windows Azure Portal. Questions were flying around the class had we brought down Microsoft Datacentres, or was it the Windows Azure team performing updates or was it even the millions of new Xbox1 customers somewhere in the world registering their new accounts and brining down Microsoft Cloud Services. My bet was on the Xbox1 customers!

Gradually the class came back online and we were to some point able to carry on with our HDInsight Clusters, unfortunately this was only for a small percentage of the class, myself not having the opportunity to complete my hands-on labs.

My week in downtown Bellevue, Seattle attending the SQL Server 2014 TTT Enablement Program has been an interesting one and I am sad to be leaving hoping that I will get another chance soon to return to Microsoft.

About the Author:

Angela works for Firebrand Training as a subject matter expert and instructor for SQL Server and System Centre. For over 10 years Angela specialized in SQL Server, delivering training and consultancy services to a number of companies throughout the UK and Europe guiding and mentoring customers to follow Microsoft Best Practice and assist in their understanding and adoption of SQL innovative features.