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Jill Dyché

There you are! What took you so long? This is my blog and it's about YOU.

Yes, you. Or at least it's about your company. Or people you work with in your company. Or people at other companies that are a lot like you. Or people at other companies that you'd rather not resemble at all. Or it's about your competitors and what they're doing, and whether you're doing it better. You get the idea. There's a swarm of swamis, shrinks, and gurus out there already, but I'm just a consultant who works with lots of clients, and the dirty little secret - shhh! - is my clients share a lot of the same challenges around data management, data governance, and data integration. Many of their stories are universal, and that's where you come in.

I'm hoping you'll pour a cup of tea (if this were another Web site, it would be a tumbler of single-malt, but never mind), open the blog, read a little bit and go, "Jeez, that sounds just like me." Or not. Either way, welcome on in. It really is all about you.

About the author >

Jill is a partner co-founder of Baseline Consulting, a technology and management consulting firm specializing in data integration and business analytics. Jill is the author of three acclaimed business books, the latest of which is Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth, co-authored with Evan Levy. Her blog, Inside the Biz, focuses on the business value of IT.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Jill's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

In which the new and the old converge in Seattle.

At this week's Microsoft BI Conference, everything old was new again, and vice versa. The conference was a lesson in dichotomy, which might have been the plan all along.

The faces have certainly changed from last year's conference. There's a new crop of executives running the BI show, and the Monday morning keynote sessions emphasized BI as a thread interwoven throughout the Microsoft tapestry of products. Stephen Elop, President of Microsoft's Business Division--which includes BI--put his finger on it when he said, "The Microsoft experience is familiar, which will alleviate the barriers to adoption."

Fresh execs notwithstanding, the conference veered into platform discussions that have been well-trodden by other vendors. With the July acquisition of data warehouse appliance vendor DATAllegro, topics like scalability, shared-nothing, reliability, scalability, and star-join performance, changed data capture, and scalability made the event sound more like a Teradata reunion.

Did I mention scalability? Microsoft announced that it could load a terabyte of data in under thirty minutes (which raises a lot of questions about both the format of the source data and the destination on the platform, but why quibble when larger MPP competitors don't come close?). Unveiling Project Madison, DATAllegro alum Jesse Fountain demoed live queries against a 150-terabyte database, complete with flashing processor indicators, leaving attendees to consider the prospect of a single integrated platform for cross-functional, enterprise data. It's been done. But never by Microsoft, and that may be the only thing that matters to the 2000 people who watched.

The venerable and prolific Donald Farmer introduced Project Gemini, deftly explaining functionality that had people leaning forward in their chairs. Using a standard desktop server, Farmer opened an Excel spreadsheet containing 20 million rows, busting established paradigms wide open. (On Tuesday he and his team showed 101 million rows in the same client on the same machine.) Farmer sorted, filtered, and mashed up data from inside and outside Excel, referenced in-line data cleansing and data mining, and showed embedded social tools for collaboration. This was self-service BI writ large and validated by delighted applause. (Note to unwitting Microsoft BI executives: You're new, so you might not know that Farmer is the de-facto Face of BI for Microsoft. Change that at your peril.)

Given the new scale discussions you certainly can't argue with Microsoft's pricing. SQL Server 2008 provides business performance management, drill-down, trending, and collaboration capabilities, among other functions, for hundreds--not thousands--of dollars per user. Microsoft announcing no price hikes was a subtle swipe at Oracle, which announced price increases at its OpenWorld conference and earlier this summer.

Microsoft's subsequent track sessions were largely developer-focused and demo-heavy. In one session, when asked how many attendees had a data quality tool, three people out of a good two hundred raised their hands. Later, half raised their hands when asked if they were interested in predictive analytics, suggesting that SQL Server 2008 has earned all the attention after all.

Technorati tags: Microsoft BI 2008 conference, Microsoft BI, SQL Server 2008, DATAllegro, Donald Farmer

Posted October 8, 2008 1:31 PM
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