TechEd 2010 – Tuesday Morning

Leisurely morning, leaving for the convention center about 8 am. Bus service has been great, they have a staff person at each stop managing things, very short wait for a bus. Light breakfast again in the press room while reviewing plans for the day, asked if I could interview Torsten Grab from the StreamInsight presentation.

Next stop is the BI keynote in Auditorium B. Quick look at map and head to 3rd floor, only to find out that you can only enter from the second floor. Good crowd already. Skipped the press session to sit on the upper deck. While I’m waiting for things to start, some more notes from yesterday:

  • They had popcorn yesterday afternoon, literally lines of people waiting for it. We should do this at PASS and SQLSaturday (especially the latter, one time investment for popcorn machine) (get sponsor logo printed on popcorn bags!)
  • Cookies went out for the afternoon snack too, and I heard a few people complain that they were gone by the time they got there. My last Teched – 2005 or 2006? – never saw anything run out.
  • Less junk food this time, no ice cream/twinkies/etc. Not a bad thing.
  • Had a traffic jam in the convention center yesterday afternoon. Couple of places on 2nd floor where hallway narrows plus there were tables placed there. Took maybe 5 minutes to transit 100 feet to get through the bottleneck.
  • PASS has a minor presence in the central area of the Expo. Minor = almost invisible. Lots of SQL people here, not sure we’ve done enough to reach them while here.

Keynote start, Ted Kummert SVP speaking. Says no announcements or features announced today, just ideas on future. Focus on end user access to BI, self service scenarios. Intro not very interesting. First demo publishing report into Sharepoint, emphasis on using one set of data, not having external/unsync’d source. Reports can be tagged/commented/ranked – interesting? Not sure it works better than putting most often used reports on top of list. Watching Twitter, interesting that Donald Farmer is mirroring the demo backstage in case something goes wrong, that’s the kind of effort I like to see! BI Indexing Connector is part of that.

Customer demo from CareGroup Healthcare. PowerPivot dashboard type view, said it took 6 hours to build, also has some mapping built in. The demo is ok, I think it’s one of the times when you look at it and can easily forget how hard it can be to get something like that done against a non trivial amount of data. Said the report saves 2 days per month. Always cynical about those kinds of stated savings, find that savings is more often from workflow/automation – same thing here?? Also thinking how would I (or you) fare demo’ing a solution we’ve built at work when you’ve got 5 minutes to do it.

Now talking about the Alpha Geek Challenge, Donald Farmer. Contest last year to send in workbooks built using PowerPivot. Dan English one of the winners, analyzed flight information to last BI conference in Seattle. Great visualization by Brian Fosse. Donald pranking Ted now with an extra winner, slide that shows changes of promotion tied to amount of applause during demo. Great stuff. Need to see if these are downloadable. Now showing the one by Brian Fosse. That’s what you want in a keynote!

Back to Ted. Thinks they can make some leaps on data cleansing, no details yet. What is the lineage of this data, what breaks if we change this? Metadata strategy. Now up Amir Netz, looking at possible changes in PowerPivot related to data visualization.Some nice visualizations with photos of people, fun demo, zooming in to see if one guy shaved well, color coding based on performance/attributes.Downloadable in next 30 days. Lots of attendees have tried PowerPivot, maybe 40%. More demo, doing filtering/color coding with sliders, easy for end users to apply. Looked good, obvious, just like regular Excel kinda formatting. Showing a form type view of data instead of rows.Showing a demo against 2 billion (2,000,000,007) rows from a cube (pretty sure data not local), sorting just like it was a few hundred rows in Excel. Same engine as PowerPivot. Really liking the stronger use of Excel for reporting, good fit for almost all businesses.

Good demos, felt like a better keynote than Monday – little more fun, not quite as long.

Time to finish up notes, get lunch.