It's SQL Server Geek Week once again! Every year at the PASS Summit the SQL Server faithful descend on the city of choice for the annual Summit, and this year it's Charlotte, North Carolina. Once again I've been given the privilege of sitting at the bloggers table, so my laptop is on a table!
So far this week it's been great seeing people I get to see just once a year. I attended Red Gate's SQL in the City event on Monday, and saw some great sessions from Grant Fritchey, Steve Jones and Nigel Sammy. On Tuesday I was invited to attend the Biml Workshop, put on by Varigence, and you'll see a lot of great things happening in the BI space in the near future from them.
This morning started off with a 3.3 mile run, organized by Jes Borland, and sponsored by SQL Sentry, called #sqlrun, and that was a great way to start off the event.
Bill Graziano pointed out that over 700,000 technical training hours have been provided by the PASS organization, including chapters, virtual chapters, SQL Saturday, 24 Hours of PASS and SQL Rally events. Without the volunteers who make these events happen, we couldn't reach nearly as many people. He also introduced Amy Lewis as this year's PASSion award winner, for outstanding volunteer effort. Amy was one of the people recently elected to the PASS Board of Directors for the coming year. He also thanked Ryan Adams in a special "honorable mention" for his volunteer work, and thanked all the PASS volunteers for making these events happen.
The keynote speaker this year is Quentin Clark, Corporate VP at Microsoft for the Data Platform Group. He starts out by saying that today's talk is about "listening to you". Instead of everything being about "the cloud", they're now talking hybrid solutions, and that's great, because not everything should be pushed to cloud solutions. He announced the SQL Server 2014 CTP2 is now public and available for download. He also confirmed that these are the final "production ready" bits, so it should be feature-complete. (At last night's get-together I was told that it's "almost" ready, so I'm sure if there's anything glaring that's a problem, it's still fixable, but it better be critical.)
With the new features in SQL Server 2014, including the Hekaton bits, SQL Server can provide up to 30X OLTP performance gains, up to 100X faster star join queries, and up to 90% disk space savings over previous offerings. There's no need to rewrite existing apps, and it's incorporated into the core engine, not a special add-in.
Tracy Daugherty, Program Manager at Microsoft, came on stage to demonstrate some of the new in-memory features of SQL Server 2014. He built a demo that simulated 20,000 users simultaneously performing the same actions he's performing during the demo. The first steps is game recommendations generated in 6.2 seconds, and the purchase completed in 4.0 seconds. In converting to use in-memory features, he got a 9x performance boost doing the same exact activity. The recommendations came up in 0.7 seconds, and the purchase in 0.1 seconds. The hot list generation baseline took 26 minutes to build, and after conversion to in-memory technology, it took 0.4 minutes.
Quentin also announced the ability to back up SQL Server for all supported versions os SQL Server (2005-2014) to Windows Azure, so you've got instant off-site backup, without having to spin up your own off-site storage solution. AND they've added the ability to encrypt the backups when creating the backups! (This is really a great new feature, to protect your backups from unauthorized access.) Tracy demonstrated a feature called smart backup, which automatically figures out whether or not a "significant" amount of change has occurred, and if so, automatically kicks off a backup. They've provided a free download that allows you to backup databases in SQL 2005, 2008 and 2012 to Azure storage, with encryption. Yes!
Data warehousing and "big data" is also being targeted for hybrid solutions, with a focus on using HDInsight, data warehouse virtual machines and PDW spread across on-premises and in the cloud for better performance. Using the new technology, one company has reduced DW load times from days to hours.
The Power Suite (Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View and Power Map) provide "real-time" insights for everyone, according to Quentin. He said that "everyone can ask the question", so they're trying to simplify the ability to get answers to those questions. Kamal Hathi, Program Manager, came out to demonstrate the Power BI features. The simplicity of the way he pulled data from the source with simple questions reminds me of what they tried to do with "English Query" in SQL Server 2000 days, but it looks effective.
If you go to www.facebook.com/microsoftbi, you can participate in a Power BI contest, to show how you are pushing boundaries with Power BI. Top ten winners get the new XBox One.
Allen White is a consultant and mentor for Upsearch Technology Services in Northeast Ohio. He has worked as a Database Administrator, Architect and Developer for over 30 years, supporting both the Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server platforms over that period.