#SQLPASS Keynote Day 2

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Howdy, folks! I’m back at it for Day Two of the SQLPASS Summit in Seattle.  Refresh this page in your browser every couple of minutes if you’d like to see the latest additions.  No pictures today – I left my camera at the hotel.

8:42AM – Rushabh Mehta, the next PASS President, is getting things started by talking about the 2009 financials by saying, “Let’s talk about why you didn’t get free drinks.”  You can log into sqlpass.org/governance to review the past revenue & expenses and the future budgets.

8:44 – Projected revenues in FY 2010 are $3.2 million, a 15% drop in revenues, while doing a 40% increase in community spending.  67% reduction in IT expenses.  The European PASSCamp is projected to be profitable on its own.

8:48 – Rushabh is encouraging attendees to speak at local events and volunteer for your local chapter.

8:50 – Wayne Snyder coming onstage to announce the PASSion award winner for this year.  He asked for Tim Ford (Blog@SQLAgentMan) and he’s not in the room, hahaha.

8:54 – Now recognizing Grant Fritchey (Blog@GFritchey), who’s wearing a skirt kilt, and Amy Lewis, but I can’t see if she’s wearing a skirt from here.  Recognizing Jacob Sebastian, the PASS Outreach Program leader in India who’s helped start 5-6 chapters.

8:59 – The PASSion award is broken up into 2 categories this year. The International winner is Charley Hanania (@CharleyHanania)!  Congrats, man.  You totally deserve it!

9:01 – The North American PASSion Award winner is Allen Kinsel (@SQLInsaneO)!  He had to review over 150 PowerPoints as part of his work on the Program Committee.  What a great pick.

9:06 – Tom Casey of Microsoft coming onstage.  He’ll be doing a Q&A afterwards through Twitter.  Address your questions to @MS_SQL_Server.

9:11 – Tom’s recapping the MS Information Platform Vision slide that they recapped last year and yesterday to bring folks up to speed.  Initially I cringed, but given yesterday’s stat that 42% of attendees are first-timers, it makes sense.

9:13 – Tom’s selling optimism for DBAs: we need to be optimistic about our future career prospects because BI will be adopted by more users, and we can manage it with the skills we already have.  He’s bullish on the gains caused by commodity hardware, yet saying our skills won’t be commodities.

9:15 – Introducing Ron VanZanten of First Premier to tell his success story.  They consider their 25 terabytes of customer data helps differentiate their business.  They’re having to find new income streams, and their BI stack was the engine where it all comes from.  Every single employee (of their few thousand) gets some kind of information from their data warehouse.  Nice.

9:19 – With Madison, some of First Premier’s hour-long queries run in under a minute.

9:23 – Tom’s discussing a similar theme from last year’s keynote – the skunkworks BI projects.  Superhero power users go grab the data they need without IT’s help.  They grab a connection string and make magic happen with Excel (or Access, but Tom didn’t say that.)  Sorry I don’t have more frequent updates here – it’s just all marketing stuff you don’t really want to read.

9:29 – Amir Netz of Microsoft coming onstage to demo PowerPivot.  Querying millions of rows in Excel and it returns super-fast even on a laptop.  The demo is using a 133 meg Excel file.  It’s stored compressed, and it’s sliced and diced in memory in columnar format.

9:35 – Amir’s adding his own user data via a linked table.  Whenever he updates his Excel data and his source data, they all hold hands and walk down the beach with happy music in the background.  Always live data.

9:38 – Amir’s explaining joins to us.  Joins.  To database administrators.  On the bright side, he’s also showing us a new language we have to learn in Excel.  “All these things that you’re used to doing in MDX, you can now do in Excel!”  Of course, the language is different, but…

9:41 – Demoing Excel 2010’s new slicers feature.  It lets Excel power users create dashboard-style reports that are extremely interactive and easy to use.  Part of me is glad I didn’t dive too deeply into SSRS, because I’d much rather play with this.  Very cool stuff.

9:44 – Demoing SharePoint 2010’s new PowerPivot gallery.  Extremely attractive report gallery.  Tom’s walking over to “his office” – a different desktop, a Win7 touchscreen machine.  Very attractive.

9:45 – The touchscreen Win7 machine doesn’t have Excel, only a browser.  Showing how you get beautiful Silverlight user experience of flipping through a Rolodex of reports like an iPod scrolling through reports.  Looks like it was Bogdan, one of the guys behind the cloud-based data mining add-in for Excel.  I gotta buy that guy a beer.

9:48 – Tom did a great segue into explaining why we need to focus on the experience of interacting with our data.  That demo was extremely captivating – and our reports can be too.  This is the key to making SQL Server sexy to C-level executives.

9:49 – Showing how IT can manage the data refreshes.  When the documents are moved into SharePoint 2010 in the gallery, the IT staff can control when the workbooks refresh their source data.  I’m very interested to see how this scales – IT folks don’t want to click one at a time per PowerPivot document.  We need to schedule documents to refresh sequentially so they don’t all overwhelm the servers at once.

9:53 – Showing motion bubble charts.  I love this stuff.  Extremely attractive.  It works like Google Analytics’ motion charts.

9:55 – The detail of a particular PowerPivot report shows who wrote it, what data sources they used, AND, more interestingly, who’s USING it.  You can see who else finds a particular report interesting, and interact with them.  Making BI more social.

9:56 – Everything shown requires Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2.  That’s quite a leap for implementation.  I know a lot of people still struggling on old versions of Office.

9:57 – Demo over.  Today’s keynote flowed much better than yesterday, especially since it focused on telling a couple of stories start to finish.

10:01 – Showing customer-submitted PowerPivot reports. They look pretty impressive.  They look pretty, period.

10:04 – Tom’s announcing a PowerPivot Tweet-to-Win contest for an XBox.  Follow @PowerPivot and tweet this:

RT@powerpivot: Want to learn more, go to www.powerpivot.com and sign up for CTP#powerpivot

10:06 – First time in 10 years they’ve simultaneously shipped a version of Office and SQL Server.

10:07 – Tom wrapped up by saying it’s up to us to build new experiences with our data.  To some extent that’s true, but it’s also up to the C-level executives who will authorize us to implement Office 2010 on the client side.  That’s one heck of a project in big companies.

All done!  Meeting with Andy Warren next….

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