Tag Archives: DonaldFarmer

SQLBits 2009: Keynote by Donald Farmer – PowerPivot

First time attending www.sqlbits.com (thanks to my kiwi bud Don for sorting out tickets) and have to say, very impressed.

The conference was held at the glorious surroundings of the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport which is famed for it’s hosting of the Ryder Cup and, in the surroundings of such sporting pedigree, a more than apt location to entertain a few hundred SQL DBA and developer types!

The conference is held over three days and I was able to attend Friday and Saturday.  They were 4 time slots each day where you had the choice of 5 different topics. Deciding which session to attend was a nightmare as all looked fantastic but I focused on BI or Performance tuning topics.

As I sieve through the notes I took at each session I will knock up a supporting blog but first up is the keynote speech:-

Keynote by Donald Farmer (Microsoft BI Guru) SQL Server 2008 R2 and Power Pivot.

An excellent, entertaining lecture where Donald introduced PowerPivot (formerly known as Project Gemini).  This is Microsofts future of BI and provides the end user with access to potentially enormous amounts of data.  The tool is delivered as an Excel 2010 add on and Donald demoed working with a worksheet with over 101 million rows, browsing the data, filtering and sorting in real time with no performance impact – all from a laptop !  Pretty impressive.  The secret we were told is in its compression mechanics where it focuses on column based compression.

The time taken to get the data and perform the compression was not covered so a big question mark there.

To work with the data MS have provided a load of functions – taken from Cube function space.  This provides the end user with yet more analysis power.

Once the user has consumed, analysed and produced something great they then share this via Sharepoint 2010.  Again this comes as an add on.

Donald moved on the talk to show us how data can be consumed via RSS.  He very quickly targeted an existing sharepoint report, exported the data to Excel PowerPivot via Excel services and played with the data in PowerPivot. He then demonstrated how this would then be deployed back to Sharepoint.  The hosted reports were navigated to with some funky looking screens (carousel animation in abundance).  Not knowing Sharepoint that well I’m not sure whether this is already built in function, something with 2010 or comes with PowerPivot.

Donald kicked of the conference is superb style.  He’s a funny guy and his presentation theme (comparing modern day data issues with that of a bygone age – pre computers) was very entertaining – some great slides so hope the presentation is made available.

Working in the finance sector, where Excel huggers thrive and getting the data to them is always an issue, this new technology is of great interest and one in which I plan to keep an eye on.

Find out more here:- www.powerpivot.com

Other initial conference highlights…   15 pens, 2 t-shirts, 4 usb pens and a SQLBits mug!