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Book: Microsoft Big Data Solutions

2014 March 28

I was lucky enough to be included as part of the author team for Microsoft Big Data Solutions from Wiley Press.  I would like to thank Adam Jorgensen (@AJbigdata) for including me.  Other members of the writing team included James Rowland-Jones (@jrowlandjones), John Welch (@john_welch), Dan Clark, and Chris Price (@BluewaterSQL).  This was a labor of love for all involved as it explores Big Data through the Microsoft Solution stack specifically either with HDInsight or with their partner Hortenworks distribution of Hadoop known as Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP).  If you are interested in getting started with Big Data and Hadoop and come from a background of using the Microsoft Data Platform, then this book is a good place to get started.


The Book in Parts:

Part I: What is Big Data

Part II: Setting Up Your First Big Data Environment

Part III: Storing and Managing Big Data

Part IV: Working with Your Big Data

Part V: Big Data and SQL Server Together


You can find more details about Microsoft Big Data Solutions from Wiley here:

If you are addicted to Amazon and want to go straight there and purchase, you can find Microsoft Big Data Solutions here:

Kindle Version


Monitoring HDP with System Center

One of the things I am most proud of was getting System Center Operations Manager set up and configured to monitor an HDP cluster.  For those companies that use System Center, being able to monitor your Hadoop solution with SCOM is a game changer when it comes to integrating Hadoop into your existing monitoring and alerting solutions.  I know I had to be one of the first to get this configured and provide documentation on the process as I literally picked up the bits the week they were available.  I’m looking forward to any feedback anyone has on the process.

Final Thoughts

So my wife asked me once it was complete whether or not I would ever do another book.  Halfway through the process, I would have said no.  This was the first time I had ever been part of a team writing a book and I was not very good at it at all.  I’m sure my editors would agree.  But towards the end, I started getting a feel that writing a book is like eating an elephant.  You have to do it one bit at a time and do a couple pages a day, about 5 days a week.  If you do that, you can keep up and even get ahead depending on your schedule.  So yes, if I’m lucky enough to be asked to join another team, I’ll happily do it and hopefully do it with much less stress.

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
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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.