The Modern Analytics Architecture — My PASS BA Conference Session

By Joey D’Antoni
(Cross-posted from The SQL Herald

In a couple of weeks, I will be presenting The Modern Analytics Architecture at the PASS Business Analytics Conference in San Jose, CA (and this weekend at SQLSaturday Chicago). This topic feels like it has been a couple of years in the making—I got into “big data” when I was at Comcast, where we had a large number of effectively append-only applications that were running on very expensive relational database engines on top of a lot of equally as expensive enterprise SAN space. Even as recently as 2 years ago, the solutions weren’t fully enterprise ready, unless you had a really specialized team of engineers.

However, now that Hadoop is much easier to build and manage, there are SQL and other tools that make connecting to the data very easy. I had been wanting to build this session since I started with it to illustrate from an infrastructure, application, and business perspective of why the tool sets are changing and how you can use these new tool sets to gain richer analysis of your data.

This session isn’t just going to be about Hadoop. You will learn about how SQL Server (and other platforms) can be used as a very powerful analytics platform across large volumes of data. You will learn the infrastructure that drives big data and analytical solutions, and how to decide on whether to deploy on-premises or to the cloud. You will learn about the skills needed to work on Hadoop and some of other tool sets, and I might even crack a few jokes about Oracle.

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PASS Business Analytics Conference 2014

by Brian Mitchell
(Cross-posted from his Big Data and Business Analytics blog)

Last year, the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) tried something new with the Business Analytics Conference. I was lucky enough to attend, and I thought it was a hit. There was a diverse set of sessions ranging from traditional Microsoft BI to where open source solutions such as R can fit in an organization. Also, the keynotes were some of the best I’ve seen in years, with Amir Netz rocking PowerBI presentations and Steven Levitt absolutely killing it with his take on analytics. I’m expecting the PASS BA Conference of 2014 to be even better. If you haven’t registered and would like to spend some time in Northern California in May, register here.

I’m very excited about presenting at the PASS Business Analytics Conference with one of my teammates from the Big Data Center of Expertise – Tammy Richter Jones. Our session will focus on the Role of PDW (AU1) & Polybase in the Modern Data Warehouse. If you are interested in PDW and are wondering what Microsoft’s story is for integrating it into the larger ecosystem of Big Data and a modern data warehouse, I suggest you attend our session. This session is something we’ve been working on for a while, and we know you will come away from the session not only informed about the technicalities of how SQL Server PDW works but also be better prepared to utilize all of its new features in your environment.

The Abstract:
In this session, we’ll introduce and discuss the architecture of SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse and the new Appliance Update 1. Specifically, we’ll dig into Transparent Data Encryption, Integrated Authentication, the new HDInsight Region, and functionality for adding capacity to an appliance. We’ll also discuss Polybase in depth. This session will not only discuss the technical details of the new features, but also the use cases for this technology, by examining how Polybase can help you:

  • Streamline your ETL process by using Hadoop as the staging area of the backroom
  • Export to your Hadoop environment your Enterprise Data Warehouse conformed dimensions
  • Use Hadoop as a low cost, online data archive
  • Enrich your relational data with ambient data resident in Hadoop

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Whatcha Bringin' to the PASS BA Conference?

By Melissa Coates
(cross-posted from the SQL Chick blog)

I'm seriously super excited for the PASS BA Conference coming up the first week of May. Last year I wasn't able to go, and I was a very sad girl. So instead of living vicariously through tweets and blog posts, this time I'll be there. Here's my quick list of what to bring with ya...

Enthusiasm and energy. If you're traveling far, the time change is harder on some of us weaklings. I know I'm not flying halfway across the world like some people, but since I'm an early-to-bed person anyway, that means I'll want to go to bed at dinnertime while in California. So for me, this means consciously focusing on eating well and sleeping just enough to keep the energy level up throughout.

Guts. Don't be shy to walk up to someone you recognize and say "Hi." It doesn't come naturally for most of us, but the effort is worth it. I know SQL people from all around the world now because I've met them at conferences like this - that is just truly incredible when I think about it.

Learning objective(s). I like to give a bit of thought as to which sessions I'll attend ahead of time - it helps me think through what I want to learn more about.

Tablet. Electronic or paper, if you're the type who likes to take notes. I do like to jot down notes. I've read some notes of mine that I just don't remember taking - and learned something all over again! Since we can't actually retain everything we hear over the course of 2+ days, it just makes sense for me. I like OneNote for this purpose - usually I'll type, but sometimes I'll also draw with a stylus. Don't forget the plug-in for it, too, if you're going electronic.

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My Session Picks for the PASS BA Conference

By Excel MVP Henk Vlootman

As I look over the packed PASS Business Analytics Conference program, I wish I could clone myself several times over so I could attend more sessions!

With less than a month until we meet in San Jose, I have been reviewing the agenda and planning my schedule. It has been almost impossible to choose – so many great analytics speakers and topics. In the Thursday 4:00pm slot alone, there are three sessions I would love to attend. But I have made my selections, which you can see below, and you can build your own customized itinerary by logging into the handy Schedule Builder.

I can’t wait to see everyone there. If you haven’t registered yet, sign up soon – and save $150 by using discount code BABT9G.

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From the BA/BI Blogosphere: Catch Up in 10 Minutes

Have 10 minutes? Take a reading break and catch up with these blog posts from around the world of analytics and business intelligence, including some free, on-demand webinars and podcasts for a great lunch-and-learn with your team:

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Going to the PASS Business Analytics Conference

By John Welch
(Cross-posted from BI Thoughts and Theories)

I found out recently that I’ll be able to attend the PASS Business Analytics Conference this year, which I’m pretty excited about. Also, I’m not presenting at this conference, so I will actually get to relax and enjoy the sessions by other speakers. If you haven’t registered yet, now’s a good time*.

There’s a lot of great content at this conference, and it’s a bit challenging in some time slots to decide on exactly what I want to see most. However, there are three sessions that I will definitely be attending:

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PASS Business Analytics Conference

By Zack Barresse
(Cross-posted from Excel & Access Experts blog)

So, what is it?
The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) is an independent, non-profit organization, which is free to register with, committed to helping deliver high quality content and professional development. One of the great features of this conference is what you are paying for. The registration fee actually stays in the community and supports business analytics programs and events.

They are putting on a BA/BI conference in San Jose, CA, this year on May 7-9, 2014. Last year’s conference was a big hit, with some well-known names in attendance, including Bob Phillips, Rob Collie, Chris Webb, and many, many more. A lot of them are reprising their speaking roles again this year as well. In fact, Rob Collie is “doubling down,” as he puts it, delivering two speaking sessions. (May even do a third!)

Even though the organization is SQL-based, there are many things about this conference geared towards the Excel pro. With Microsoft’s new BI offerings in Excel (i.e. Power Pivot, Power Query, etc.), business intelligence has come full force into the Excel world.

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Don't Miss a Thing at the BA Conference – Get the Session Recordings

Can’t possibly attend all the sessions on your PASS Business Analytics Conference must-see list? You can catch those you miss and relive your favorites by ordering the session recordings at the special pre-event attendee rate of $295*.

Including over 70 breakout sessions across five comprehensive topic tracks – plus the Microsoft and David McCandless keynotes – the session recordings come on a convenient USB flash drive. Not only are the recordings a valuable resource as you continue your training throughout the year, but they are a great way to share the conference with your teammates.

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From the BA/BI Blogosphere: Spring Refresh

Spring has finally sprung! Celebrate the new season and warm up your analytics learning with these fresh posts from top BA/BI community bloggers.

Who Are the Power Users?

By Chris Webb
Director, Crossjoin Consulting Limited

Nowadays, some people would have you think that the business intelligence world (BI) is divided between the dinosaurs in the IT department on one hand and the hot-shot power users from the business side on the other. The distinction between these groups is supposedly mirrored by the types of software they use: The IT guys use old, expensive, slow, ugly, “corporate” BI tools, while the power users are agile and responsive and create beautiful data visualisations with the fancy new breed of self-service BI tools.

This separation is convenient from a marketing point of view because it draws a line between the past, with all its harsh realities, failures and compromises, and a new generation of software, which like every new generation of software will magically solve all your problems and allow you to be hundreds of times more productive. The problem is I don't believe any of this stands up to scrutiny.

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