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Richard Hackathorn

Welcome to my blog stream. I am focusing on the business value of low latency data, real-time business intelligence (BI), data warehouse (DW) appliances, use of virtual world technology, ethics of business intelligence and globalization of business intelligence. However, my blog entries may range widely depending on current industry events and personal life changes. So, readers beware!

Please comment on my blogs and share your opinions with the BI/DW community.

About the author >

Dr. Richard Hackathorn is founder and president of Bolder Technology, Inc. He has more than thirty years of experience in the information technology industry as a well-known industry analyst, technology innovator and international educator. He has pioneered many innovations in database management, decision support, client-server computing, database connectivity, associative link analysis, data warehousing, and web farming. Focus areas are: business value of timely data, real-time business intelligence (BI), data warehouse appliances, ethics of business intelligence and globalization of BI.

Richard has published numerous articles in trade and academic publications, presented regularly at leading industry conferences and conducted professional seminars in eighteen countries. He writes regularly for the BeyeNETWORK.com and has a channel for his blog, articles and research studies. He is a member of the IBM Gold Consultants since its inception, the Boulder BI Brain Trust and the Independent Analyst Platform.

Dr. Hackathorn has written three professional texts, entitled Enterprise Database Connectivity, Using the Data Warehouse (with William H. Inmon), and Web Farming for the Data Warehouse.

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

NOTE: Beginning of a blog stream, with related items here.

This week I am attending the Microsoft BI Conference in Seattle. With a single focus on business intelligence, it is a surprising popular conference attracting over 3,000 attendees from a broad spectrum. I sense that the majority are BI newbies who are just getting into data warehousing. However, it is a high energy, motivated, smart crowd, as are most Microsoft events.

I am particularly looking forward to an update on BI advances by Microsoft. I have phased out my coverage of Microsoft over the past 3-4 years, focusing more on enterprise-level data warehousing. With their acquisition of DATAllegro, Microsoft is filling in their enterprise-level DW offerings.

The morning keynotes are hosted by an old colleague Guy Weismantel who transitioned from Business Objects to Microsoft over the past year. The theme is to think bigger about BI. In other words, take all the things that we think about BI today and then extend BI to embedding smart information everywhere throughout the enterprise. Guy even mentioned embedding BI in the Xbox. "If you play Halo3, then you are using BI." I need to ponder a bit about that one...

The first keynote is by Stephen Elop, president of the business division, representing the office and productivity products. He reinforced the bigger vision for BI, which he summarized as providing the democractization of information across the enterprise. The goal is to have comprehensive solutions, familiar experiences (as in Excel), and high value. He cited four aspects to his inside perspective on Microsoft: strength of their ecosystem, intellectual integrity (high self-criticism with a willingness to fix problems), tenacity (investing for the long term), and opportunity for impact (making a difference).

Ted Kummert, VP data/storage platform division, set his mission to support ALL types of data and to provide enriched services for people-ready BI and SQL Server for data warehousing. The four pillars are: enterprise data, beyond relational (from facts and figures to sights and sounds), dynamic development (minimizing time to solution), and pervasive insight (brief mention of visualization).

Ted gave an overview of the Madison project that is the integration of DATAllegro technologies with SQL Server. The goal is to scale SQL Server into 100s of terabytes. Product delivery is scheduled for first quarter of 2010. Jesse Fountain gave a demo of the preliminary integration of DATAllegro and SQL Server. Jesse shows the MPP architecture with 24 instances of SQL Server 2008 supporting a 150 TB database. He proudly pointed out that the fact table of sales transactions having over one trillion rows. Three queries were run against the database the loading across the various processors and I/O buses was shown graphically. Cute!

Ted then introduced the Gemini project for self-managed services. The two stars of Gemini represented power users (who create and shared business analytics) and IT professionals (who manage the analytics from the enterprise perspective). Donald Farmer gave a demo of Gemini alpha code as an Excel add-in, against 20M rows with sorting and filtering, smashed it into nice pivot tables and then used smart slicers to drawn insights from the data. Impressive!

Microsoft has released SQL Server 2008 and plans normal versions to be released every 24-36 months. During the first part of 2010, they will release products from the Madison and Gemini projects. I am not sure how the Kilimanjaro project (next version of SQL Server) fits with the Gemini project.

My take so far... I do not understand how Microsoft is providing (or will provide) people-ready and IT-friendly solutions that are fundamentally different than other major BI/DW vendors. Is this the same as BI for the masses, which we have been discussing for several years? It seems to me that most of the marketplace is say the same thing. The Gemini Project is very intriguing and has promise; however, it facing a huge challenge.

I have another day and a half to go, with several interviews and podcasts. I am curious to see how my feelings toward Microsoft BI will change.

Posted October 6, 2008 1:00 PM
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