Day 1 at the BI conference

So here we are in Seattle at the BI conference.  Day 1 and it’s been great to catch up with some old faces and meet some new ones.  We were promised some big news today and as is being reported by Chris, Mosha, Marco and all, we weren’t disappointed.  Both “Kilimanjaro” and “Gemini” look super-exciting for all of us in the MS BI world.  The former is the evolution of the DatAllegro acquisition  – we saw an SSRS report that ran in 10-15 seconds against (hold little finger to corner of mouth) one trillion relational records in a 150 terabyte database – impressive.

Equally impressive is 20 million rows sorting and filtering in the blink of an eye!  The Gemini project (self-service BI) had two key features for me;  Firstly the in-memory storage (think TM1) that allows that sort of performance and secondly, and something that hasn’t been widely commented on so far, the ability to publish your Excel reports to SharePoint/web (as XLCubed Web does now) at the click of a button.  The interface looked really good already and of course it’s generating AS cubes behind the scenes.  It did raise the question of how it’s all going to fit in with PPS V2 – hopefully the Office and SQL teams have been talking!

I think that a lot of BI professionals were probably initially thinking (like me) that this could be bad news for their careers but having taken it all in, I don’t think that’s the case.   Although it’s going to have data cleansing abilities, this isn’t going to be a replacement for data warehouses/marts.  In fact for the whole self-service BI thing to really take off, it’s going to need really good data underneath it.   Microsoft’s intention with the Gemini release is to “democratise” BI; The more people who get to use this type of concept, the better the data quality will have to be – you can’t expect every department to have to clean their own data.

Allowing users to create and publish their own cubes and reports has a few warning signs as well – isn’t this just excel hell without excel? Every department can create their own calculations, reports, cubes etc; We’ve been telling our clients for years that they really need one version of the truth – but now we’re going to let each user make his own truth? It will certainly need some thought.

As Chris W mentions, it’s likely to also still need technical resource to help users create complex calculations so we won’t be out of a job just yet 😉

As for the rest of the day, some interesting sessions around PPS and SSRS were the order of the day for me.  Though disappointment in one respect as I found out that the PPS monitoring SDK would definitely not allow you to build a custom cascading filter – something that I was going to investigate.

More later this week….