#msteched TechEd 2012 Conference Highlights

Last week I was in Orlando at Microsoft TechEd 2012. It was a great conference, especially for me, since I am all over the place with technology. There was DBA, SysAdmin, Developer, etc sessions.

What did I take away? Here is a quick overview.

Azure. The cloud. It is here (well it already was) but now with IaaS and persistent VMs, the game is changed for Azure. Also with websites and media streaming and other stuff Azure is becoming *the* platform.

SQL 2012 – While I was away, the BI team upgraded to 2012 at work. While I have been playing with 2012 for a while, it just got real. BISM stuff and SharePoint/Kerberos stuff came to light this week. Good stuff

System Center while I didn’t focus much on this, System Center is where it is at. You can now monitor your Azure cloud, your on-prem VM (HyperV or VMWare) and do tons of other stuff. Sky is the limit with this product.

There is so much more but it was a great time. Good people, good sessions, smart presenters, and just information oozing out of every room. Orlando in early June is like a sauna though 🙂

I am really pumped to get back in the saddle and start implementing some of this stuff in day to day solutions. Was so excited I actually moved my blog to an Azure website this weekend. It moved fine and I had to do some MySQL stuff to get my content moved, but it is basically sitting there idle as I can’t change the DNS over without pay more than I am willing to. More to come in this arena though.

To the cloud! (and the Tabular cube, and the System Center, and so on and so forth)…

Cool Things I Have Been Doing On the Computer Lately

In the past couple of months, weeks, whatever (time flies) I have been doing some pretty cool things on the computer, in a wide range of areas. Just want to get them down on paper (you know what I mean)…

1. Yammer – working hard on growing Yammer community, external networks, just getting engagement and showing the benefits. It’s fun.

2. Kinect – did some Kinect hacking. On my own then with the group, got some cool stuff to show. It is crazy how easy it is to get something up and running with Kinect and the SDK. I see this stuff taking off in the coming months/years.

3. Azure – dorking around with Azure, looking at what it can and can’t do, what it could do well, how it would fit in with everything.

4. SQL 2012/Power View – been playing around with SQL 2012 since “Denali”, but now its got an official launch date (March 7th) and things are getting real. Power View demos online, trying to figure out how SQL 2012 is going to fit into our infrastructure and just learning as much as I can about it.

5. Ruby – been getting into Ruby and Ruby on Rails on my Mac, git, sqlite3, heroku, etc. Trying to learn more things that just the .NET ecosystem.

6. Ubuntu – same here, set up a VM, been trying to use it consistently, trying to get the other viewpoints from Windows and Mac and where things are at. Keep up with the joneses so to speak.

7. Android – I picked up a Samsung Galaxy (Verizon 4G) a few weeks ago and have been using it. I still love my iPhone, but getting more into Android. Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is a pretty good OS, there are still quirks, but its better. Verizon sucks around where I live btw.

8. Google+/Picasa Web Albums – been getting this into my photo workflow, for sharing and backup. Liking it so far.

9. SharePoint 2010/FAST – been researching and reading FAST server like crazy trying to see how it will fit in with a potential project. I think it could be amazing. more to come.

10. SMS – been playing around with different frameworks, and seeing how they compare, trying things out. Using Voice and SMS is all the rage these days. (Hall and Oates thing anyone?)

Bonus: Nothing with computers, but I have been really getting into brewing beer/homebrewing. I think we have made 5 batches now, and the ones I have tasted so far are really good. It is a fun hobby and breaks up the constant technology I am involved in. More to come here too.

And much much more. Time is limited, time to post is limited. Getting out there and doing cool things is fun, and sharing them is fun too. Gotta find the right balance. I hope everyone is having a cool 2012 so far.

Selling Management on SQL 2012

2012 is going to be a big year in the SQL world. No, the world isn’t going to end. SQL 2012 should get released by Microsoft, hopefully in the first half (cross your fingers for the first quarter!) of the year. Great! But many out there are now on SQL 2005, or 2008, or 2008 R2, some even on SQL 2000 (SP4 – still get support?) but you want to get to SQL 2012. What can you do to make that transition easier? You need to sell the features and benefits, just like anything else.

Clustering

If you have any kind of clustering environment, or mirroring, or are even thinking about doing clustering, then SQL 2012 is going to be what you want to do. With AlwaysOn, it makes it dead simple to create and manage clusters. If you look back over the versions of SQL, and think clustering, you might shutter. With 2012, things become much easier and management has to see this benefit, as with anything, to make your systems more available with the new AlwaysOn

Master Data Services and Data Quality Services

Microsoft came out with their first round of Master Data Services (MDS) in SQL 2008 R2, but it was lackluster. The interface is clunky, weird, and hard to use. Most “end users” of MDS aren’t going to be that technical. You need something simple, like SharePoint, or Excel. MDS is neither (even though its a weird version of SharePoint). With 2012, MDS is vastly improved and actually something viable where an Enterprise could use it for a Master Data Management (MDM) solution. Couple that with Data Quality Services (DQS) and you get tons of bang for your buck. with MDS and the excel add on, this will be just what the doctor ordered for MDM groups in businesses.

Business Intelligence

Near and dear to my heart of course, is Business Intelligence. What a huge release for BI folks in 2012. First off, a whole new analysis services type, Tabular. Columnar Vertipaq type cubes. Reverse engineer PowerPivots right into SSAS Tabular and then tweak to release out to the Enterprise.

Then the enhanced SSIS stuff, better IDE, better management of packages, and more. Of course the integration with the Visual Studio 2010 IDE is a welcome feature, especially for those of us that also need to work on C# and .NET 4.0 stuff!

But don’t forget the potential biggest thing yet out of the BI tools for 2012 – Power View (yes the space is intentional, not sure why.. but now we have PowerPoint, PowerPivot and Power View). Naming aside, Power View could be a HUGE analytics tool to get more BI out to the people in an Enterprise. First off, they plan on making it work on iOS! Power View works on tabular cubes, so you see the tie in there. The one big thing with Power View, is it just works inside of SharePoint. No stand alone editor. You better have SharePoint 2010 and a pretty good SharePoint admin along side your BI team to get all this stuff working. Some of the enhanced end user alerting in SSRS integrated mode looks nice as well. But once again, you need SharePoint! DON’T for get the SharePoint!

There is much more in SQL 2012 that will make DBA’s lives easier, and BI pros development streamlined. Too much to outline in just one post. But if you are trying to sell SQL 2012 upgrade to management, the “big three” things I outlined above are a good starting point. One thing to be aware of though is that the licensing model has changed in SQL 2012 to core based, so you would want to read up on that.

I’m excited for SQL 2012 bits to hit and I hope you are too!