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PASS Business Analytics Conference 2014

2014 March 27
by Brian Mitchell

Last year the Professional Association of 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 where some of the best I’ve seen in years with Ariel Netz rocking PowerBI presentations and Stephen 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

SQL Server Data Tools Updated for PDW

2014 February 26
tags: , , , ,
by Brian Mitchell

The January 2014 SQL Server Data Tools update has some specific PDW updates to it to make it SQL Server 2012 PDW Appliance Update 1 (AU1) aware.  AU1 is coming in the near future and you should update your tools to be ready for it.  You can go ahead and update now as this update will make SSDT PDW version aware and you will get a different experience depending on whether or not you are on AU1 or not.  I’ve updated my SSDT and connected just fine to my previous AU 0.5 appliance and I’m looking forward to checking out the differences once I have access to a AU1 appliance.

Windows Azure HDInsight Thoughts

2013 November 14
by Brian Mitchell

It’s been a bit over a week since the general availability of HDInsight Service.   I’ve been kicking the tires and thought I would share some thoughts.  Right off the bat I can tell you that PowerShell integration with HDInsight is going to be a huge hit!  The ease of use and the responsiveness of the PowerShell environment is absolutely awesome.

What is HDInsight?

HDInsight is the 100% Apache compatible Hadoop version that runs on Microsoft technology in Windows Azure.

Why use HDInsight Service?

First and foremost, there is a deep integration between the Microsoft BI tools that your users are already used to and HDInsight Service.  Second, the PowerShell extensibility makes creating, managing, and shutting down a HDInsight Service cluster so easy a caveman can do it.   Third, the development experience with HDInsight means that your developers can reuse their existing .NET skill set in addition to using Java.

Microsoft BI Integration

Need to do some post map-reduce mashing up of your data?  Bring it into Microsoft Excel with Power Query (ETL for the BI Masses).  In two steps, you’ll be choosing the data from HDInsight that you want to bring into excel.  This just works.


Here are the instructions on connecting Excel to Windows Azure HDInsight with Power Query.

PowerShell Management

After you install and configure PowerShell for HDInsight, you can manage your Windows Azure HDInsight environment from your desktop.   This means that you can configure an HDInsight cluster, submit Hive and Pig queries, and extract the data to your BI environment all from the comfort of your corporate environment.  This means that you can use the tools you use today to manage schedules and handle your operations.   The PowerShell toolset surprised me with its ease of use.  Here is an example of configuring a cluster.


Awesome feedback in PowerShell about the state of your commands:



Richer Development Experience

Want to have more control over your environment and use Visual Studio at the same time?  Check out this tutorial Submit Hive Jobs using HDInsight .NET SDK.  Below is a snippet of what I have going on in my VS environment with a MapReduce Job being submitted.  I’ll do some additional posts about some of the pros and cons of the .NET development experience soon.



SQL Server to PDW Migration Whitepaper

2013 November 6
by Brian Mitchell

Looking for guidance around migration from SQL Server to PDW?  Microsoft has provided a new migration white paper for your guidance.

In this migration guide you will learn the differences between the SQL Server and Parallel Data Warehouse database platforms, and the steps necessary to convert a SQL Server database to Parallel Data Warehouse.

Big Data Analytics Videos on Channel 9

2013 October 25
by Brian Mitchell

Channel 9 has an amazing abundance of informative material around SQL Server, Microsoft BI, and Big Data.  Saptak Sen (Microsoft) and Bill Ramos (Advaiya) have produced the newest offering of videos that cover Microsoft’s Azure and HDInsight offerings and most importantly how they integrate with Microsoft’s Business Intelligence stack.  I’ve watched three of the videos so far and really enjoyed the #4 Mahout video.

Check out the entire Big Data Analytics course here:

If you want to go directly to any of the videos, here you go:

Big Data Analytics: (01) Data Mash-Ups with Power Query and PowerPivot

In this module, you will learn how to use Microsoft Excel Power Query with PowerPivot to mash up data from a variety of sources including Hive tables, Windows Azure Data Marketplace, and web sources. [01:45] – Power Query Excel Add-In [04:21] – Excel Power Pivot Add-In [06:01] – Demo Big Data

Big Data Analytics: (02) Data Visualizations with Power View and Power Map

This module explains how to use Microsoft Excel Power View and Power Map add-ins to visualize data mash-ups from a PowerPivot model to create charts and map-based analysis. [01:36] – Excel Power View Add-In [07:31] – Demo Creating Power View Reports [12:38] – Power Map Excel Add-In [13:52] – Demo…

Big Data Analytics: (03) Using SQOOP and Windows Azure Reporting Services

In this module, you will find out how to use SQOOP to perform high-speed data transfers from a Hive table on an HDInsight cluster to a Windows Azure SQL database. You will then see how create and deploy reports on Windows Azure Reporting Services. [01:11] – Working with SQOOP in Microsoft HDInsight…

Big Data Analytics: (04) Data Mining and Predictive Analytics Including Mahout

This module shows how to use the Microsoft Excel Data Mining add-in along with SQL Server Analysis Services to perform key influencers and categorization data mining techniques. You’ll learn how to install and use Apache Mahout on HDInsight. [01:02] – Data Mining [07:00] – Demo Excel Data Mining…

Big Data Analytics: (05) Working with Windows Azure Tables and MongoDB

In this module, you will learn how to use Windows Azure tables and MongoDB as NoSQL technologies for your Big Data solutions. You’ll see how to create a .Net application for accessing Azure tables. You’ll also learn how to install and use MongoDB on a server. [00:54] – Windows Azure Table Storage…