Monthly Archives: September 2013

Webcast: What to Expect at the PASS Summit 2013 – Oct 3, 2013 @ 12:30pm EDT

It has been confirmed that I will be delivering a webcast on “What to Expect at the PASS SUmmit 2013” on Oct 3, 2013 at 12:30pm ET. Here is the link to register for the event. This is targeted at First Time Attendees of the summit, but all are welcome to join. This webcast will go over items such as: How to Decode the Session Code Meal Planning Seating and Summit Ambassadors Other Offerings : SQL Clinic, Labs, Community Zone, Luncheons,…(read more)

Drum Roll Please! Announcing the Winner of the 2013 Tweet for the Summit Challenge!

Here we are — another week closer to the SQL Server event of the year, PASS Summit, and the buzz continues to grow! Last week, we had the opportunity to share the excitement of the Summit with you in our Tweet for the Summit Challenge, in which we asked:

Answer in RHYME + tell us why a trip to #SQLPASS would be valuable to you?

We received a number of clever replies and the laughs were free-flowing! In the end, however, although it was a difficult decision to make, we are pleased to send our sincerest congratulations and the ticket to PASS Summit 2013 to @MelikaNoKaOi for her winning tweet:

@SQLServer There once was a geeky lass equipped with wit & sass, she wanted DBA skills to help pay her bills, and she found them at #SQLPASS

@MelikaNoKaOiPlease join us in congratulating @MelikaNoKaOi on her win, and thanks to all for participating in this year’s Tweet for the Summit Challenge! We hope you had as much fun as we did, and we hope to see you in Charlotte, North Carolina later this month for the Summit. You can still register for this event here.

In the meantime, please enjoy this sampling of some of the witty Challenge entries we received below!

  • @jasonFreier: @@SQLServer #sqlpass To the summit I’d like to return, to continue to learn. Last year was a last, I’d like to make this tradition last.
  • @gawainthestout: @SQLServer I asked my daughter 9who one day will speak SQL) to answer for you, her reply has no equal:
  • @PowerBIRanger: @SQLServer when sky is blue and cows go moo when night is dark and dogs go bark, when all is black and ducks go quack, I think of #SQLPASS
  • @RickSawtell: @SQLServer What must one do to become a SQL guru. I will get my answers fast by attending SQL PASS. #SQLPASS
  • @DonaldRJonesJr: @SQLServer like catching a large bass, I’d like to hook a trip to #SQLPASS, a DBMS is best relational, a convention could be inspirational!
  • @jacobbc71183: @SQLServer As the company grows globally, the DB needs to be in memory. SQL 2014 is the class of #SQLPASS

Improve your knowledge by attending PASS Summit

Nobody knows everything about SQL Server. There are plenty of folks who know a whole lot, and there are even some who only pretend they do; however, no matter your skill level, there is always something more to learn and there is always someone you can learn from. But how do you arrange for this to happen?

Custom Attribute Names in Role Playing Dimensions for SSAS

SQL Server introduced a great feature for improving the processing time and reducing storage requirements in the form of Role Playing Dimensions. Unfortunately one of the drawbacks is that those dimensions do not support custom attribute names for different roles. Often the business requirement is to use custom attribute names, but many reporting solutions (including Excel) use only the attribute names for column names. In this tip we look at how this can be achieved using hierarchies.

Lastest Azure updates related to SQL (and Oracle)

Azure updates continue to come thick and fast.

Scott Guthrie has posted again today about a number of enhancements just released. From these, I think the following are the most interesting for SQL Server devotees:

1. I posted last week about the new A5 size Azure VMs. These will be a good option for many SQL VMs, particularly those based on tabular data models.

2. Microsoft continues their partnership with Oracle by providing VM templates with Oracle software preinstalled. This is by far the quickest way to try any of this software, particularly for SQL Server folk that just want to try something on Oracle versions. Versions supported are:

  • Weblogic Server 12c and 11g
  • Database 12c and 11g
  • Java Platform Standard Edition 6

3. You can now also modify VMs that are stopped, for operations like adding disks.

4. A single Azure subscription can now deal with multiple Active Directories. This is really helpful if you need to extend your on-premises AD to the cloud, particularly if you’re starting to investigate the hybrid SQL Server scenarios such as using Azure for a DR site with Availability Group replicas.

5. Subscription suspension no longer deletes virtual machines either.

This is another great set of updates. I’m truly impressed by the speed that these are appearing at.


What to Expect at the PASS Summit 2013

Next week, I am tentatively planning a webcast on Oct 3, 2013 @ 12:30pm ET as I have done over the past couple of years aimed at First Time Attendees. Once I get things confirmed, I will post a link for registration. I updated my PPT Deck with the new information and realized that most of the message and events / timings are similar to the past two years. I first did this webcast in 2011 and created a series of companion blog posts that are still very relevant for this year. Naturally, some references…(read more)

Determining who is viewing reports in SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services

Much time, effort and money can be spent on providing reports to end users, so frustration can ensue when the intended audience doesn’t bother to view the reports. Also, for security purposes it is a good practice to review who is looking at reports in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) in case the user no longer has a need to know the information contained in the reports. How can we find out who has accessed SSRS reports? Check out this tip to learn more.

SSAS Tabular Workshop in 3 days with hands-on-labs #ssas #tabular #dax

I and Alberto Ferrari delivered many SSAS Tabular Workshops in the last 18 months and based on the feedback we received, we are moving toward a renewed edition. Instead of a 2-day seminar, we will run a 3-day course including hands-on-labs. We didn’t change the content (after all, the product is still the same), but it is a common request having time for making practice with the product, creating tabular models and solving DAX problems.

We will deliver the first 3-day edition in Milan on October 29-31, 2013 and the course will be in Italian language, but we are working on delivering the workshop in English in other countries. You can contact me if you are interested in attending the course in particular countries or on-site at your company.

Microsoft Updates Power BI for Office 365 Preview with New Natural Language Search, Mapping Capabilities

Today we’re pleased to announce the addition of significant new features to the Power BI for Office 365 preview, including natural language search with Q&A and improved experiences in two preview add-ins for Excel with 3D mapping visualizations through Power Map and improved data search in Power Query.

Introduced in July and currently in preview, Power BI for Office 365 is a self-service business intelligence (BI) service delivered through Office 365. Complementing Excel, it arms information workers with data analysis and visualization capabilities, enabling them to identify deeper business insights either on premises or within a trusted cloud environment. With Power BI for Office 365, customers can connect to data in the cloud or extend their existing on premises data sources and systems to quickly build and deploy self-service BI solutions hosted in Microsoft’s enterprise cloud. You can sign up to register for the preview here.

We’ve had the preview open to an initial wave of customers for the past month and are encouraged by the enthusiastic response we’ve received. Today we’re excited to share some of the new features we’ve added recently to both Excel and the Power BI for Office 365 service.

Search-driven data visualization with Q&A

One of the Power BI features users have been most interested in is Q&A, which takes enterprise data search and exploration to a whole new level. With Q&A, we looked at how consumers experienced Bing search and used that knowledge to enable customers to query their enterprise data and generate stunning visual results. The search experience is instantaneous and uses natural language query – Q&A interprets the question the user is asking and serves up the correct interactive chart or graph. We’ve received great responses from customers who have tested this capability and look forward to hearing what you think. To see Q&A in action, check out this video:

Storytelling through 3D mapping with Power Map

First previewed a few months ago, Power Map (formerly GeoFlow) is an add-in for Excel which gives users the ability to plot geographic and temporal data visually on Bing Maps, analyze that data in 3D, and create interactive tours to share with others. This month, we made some significant updates to Power Map on the Download Center including immediate geo-coding of geospatial elements of data coupled with new region-based visualization that color-codes these geo-political areas: zip code, county, state, country/region. Users can also take the interactive tours designed in Power Map to create videos optimized for mobile, tablets/computer, and HD displays. These videos can be shared anywhere, including social media, PowerPoint slides, and Office 365. To read more about the new features if Power Map, check out the Excel blog.

Power Map

Simplifying data discovery with Power Query

We’ve also updated Power Query an add-in to Excel which helps customers easily discover, combine and transform their data. We have improved the online search experience and expanded the number of available datasets including popular datasets from and the Windows Azure Marketplace, in addition to Wikipedia. We’ve also improved the external data import for SQL Server/Windows Azure SQL Database, as well as the overall filter capabilities across all supported data sources. Additionally, Power Query now supports different merge options for more flexibility in building your queries. We’re offering better integration with Excel so users can share queries with others in their organizations.

Power Query

These new features compliment the current capabilities already included in the Power BI preview, such as:

  • Power BI Sites – Quickly create collaborative BI sites in Office 365 for teams to share reports and data views. Larger workbook viewing is now supported (up to 250MB) so users can view and interact with larger workbooks through the browser.
  • Data Stewardship – Users can now not only share their workbooks but also the data queries they create in Excel.
  • Data Catalog – IT departments now have a new way to provision users by enabling data search. IT departments can register corporate data with the Data Catalog so that users can discover this data with the new online search feature introduced with Power Query for Excel.
  • Mobile Access – Mobile BI access to reports in Office 365 is provided through new HTML 5 support and a native mobile application for Windows 8 tablets available in the Windows Store.

Bringing big data to a billion users

Power BI for Office 365 is just one way we are delivering on our vision to enable the broadest set of people to gain actionable insights from big data, at any time and from anywhere. With Power BI we are providing access to powerful business analytics tools, built into our existing products including Excel and Office 365 to make data analysis engaging and impactful.

To learn more and register for the preview visit You can also download Power Map and Power Query along with sample datasets on the Power BI add-in Getting Started page. To see Power BI for Office 365 in action, check out this demonstration. Tell us what you think by posting in the comments below or tweeting us at @SQLServer #MSBI #PowerBI. And check out the Power BI blog for more detailed information on the features and functionality in Power BI.

Power BI for Office 365