Notes from the Oct 23, 2013 oPASS Meeting

I drove up to Sanford after work on Thursday for the oPASS meeting to see Mark Kromer present Big Data and SQL Server in the Real World. It was interesting, even intriguing. Definitely worth looking at the deck. He had a couple of interesting tips too. One was that if you have an MSDN account use some of your free Azure hours to try out HDInsight (essentially Hadoop on Windows). The other was to download PowerQuery for Excel, let’s you pull data in from various big data sources fairly easily (I think Office 2013 only, worth taking a look at – has a nice AD connector too).

I think the meeting just reinforced again for me how hard it is as an IT professional to know where and when to invest time if you want to be on top or ahead of the curve. Do I invest time in MongoDB, etc, in case I’m asked? Is that part of a deliberate transformation of skill sets or a broadening of the one I have? Can I learn enough about it in a reasonable time – say 8 or 16  hours – to at least see the possibilities, or is it a deeper dive? HDInsight seems closer to the core I maintain, but will the average company have a use case for it? Is it because they don’t have it that they don’t use it?

It was interesting to hear Mark talk about the differences between key/value stores (we do this within SQL at times, easy enough) versus the JSON/whatever stores. It bothers me to talk of ‘unstructured data’, but maybe it is just a matter of degree. Logs for example, from whatever app, have a known structure. That’s different than parsing the body of an email to pull out something. The body is part of a structure, but within in, who knows.

I was also struck that while I could immediate see uses for predictive analytics from the last oPASS meeting with Jen Underwood, it is harder for me to see immediate uses for big data.

It was interesting and positive that we had a meeting that wasn’t even close to 100% Microsoft. I don’t think that indicates anything except an interest and willingness to consider new points of view.

One thought on “Notes from the Oct 23, 2013 oPASS Meeting

  1. I often have the same struggles with where to focus my learning energy. I am a hands on guy, and I want demos and walk-throughs, something I can play with, and because of this, I’ve found ‘BigData’ is not the easiest to download and play with the way I need, which has left a gap in my knowledge.

    We are fortunate at my employer to have Horton Works coming in to the office in the next few weeks to lead us through a deep dive into the Hadoop platform, use cases, and general information. We’re not even sure if we have a use case for it, but we know enough to know that we don’t know enough to say anything about it one way or the other. I hope I might be able to speak more intelligently about BigData in the very near future.


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