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Microsoft BI Conference 2007


Microsoft BI Conference 2007

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Steve Jones
Steve Jones
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Steve -

I appreciate the vicarious trip through the conference. As a standard DBA who would prefer to work more on the BI side than he does, I'm very interested in gauging the BI momentum out there.

I must admit that I am suprised by your skepticisim to a degree. Sure, you can be skeptical of the marketplace's capacity and willingness to adopt BI, but surely you can't be skeptical of the power/potential of the technology itself. To me, OLAP is a no brainer in terms of it's power to solve certain types of problems and Analysis Services is a great OLAP engine.



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David Reed-223505
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As one of those who "lives his life in BI" (to use Steve's words), I wish I was there! I'm learning a lot about the storage engine, SQLOS and Service Broker locked away in a Building 40 classroom, but MDX and DMX are some of my favoritest tools... [I'm hoping to get a bootleg copy of that DVD so that I can watch the PerformancePoint presentations.]

Even though you can do time series analysis more easily now in T-SQL with CTEs in Yukon (SQL Server 2005), it's still so much faster and more powerful in MDX. I shudder to think what regression analysis queries would do to my precious SQL Server data warehouse if I tried to do them in T-SQL!

(Steve, if you're listening before you pick your sessions for the day, be sure to sit in on one of Donald Farmer's presentations on data mining with the Excel Add-ins and one of the ProClarity sessions on PAS visualizations of your SSAS cubes.)

Once "the suits" see what they can do with Excel 2007 and the Data Mining Add-ins, there will be much more buzz (and pressure on dbas to get with the program ).

I'm glad that Steve's having fun. Enjoy the sunny side of Seattle while lasts!


Steve Jones
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I think I've done a poor job of stating my BI position, so let me clarify a bit. I don't believe that BI will widely catch on because of the complexity and change required by many people and organizations. It's hard to implement, it's hard to get companies to buy in and retool their culture to deal with it and it's hard technology to understand.

I do think that BI, OLAP, mining, etc. can work great and do some amazing things when it's done well. I've seen it done well in some places and it can work great in the financial industries, in retail, etc. It's very, very cool stuff and it can be incredibly useful.

But it's hard to do right and it's been very expensive. So it's hard to widely deploy. 20-30 years ago I would have said the same thing of ERP systems. They were big, expensive, complex systems and weren't widely implemented. Sure the large organizations could do it, but most small and even medium companies wouldn't undertake it. SAPs vision early on of getting into all sizes of companies took a long time to develop.

I think BI is similar. I've heard for over a decade that it would be the next big thing. Even before XML. It's still a nichy technology, existing in pockets, and not widely implemented. It's definitely growing, but I'm just not sure it's growing at the rate that the press and vendors hype it.

One of the updates from the conference is that for the organizations and people that buy in, they love it. They want to do more. I was very interested to hear a few CTO/CIOs, including one from Energizer, talk that with SQL Server and the MS BI platform, the cost wasn't an issue. They easily see an ROI and it's definitely worth the cost. There was a caveat that people were expensive for the BI skills, but the software and tools weren't.

Michael Treacy talked about BI being almost a religon in some companies. I'll try to better write some thoughts on this over the weekend, but it seems to be true here. The Believers believe. But they caution it's a hard road and they're glad they're past it. I'm not sure how many people are willing to commit to the long road. At least in the US we're too next-quarter-ROI focused in too many places.

That's a generalization and without a doubt lots of you understand the OLAP and mining technologies and without a doubt there are more companies trying new projects. But I'm not sure if the new push by Microsoft and the lower cost will result in a great many more projects. I suspect it might bring about more failed projects than successful ones.

Follow me on Twitter: @way0utwest
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