Blog Post

SSAS Maestro - Redmond Recap


Well today was the last day for a while I would be greeted by this sign:


It was a pretty exciting week. Taking over a 500 level program and pulling it together from existing materials in a short time is a daunting task. I was SO lucky and glad to have such a talented partner in Stacia Misner (@StaciaMisner). Many of you have taken training (Free and otherwise) from Stacia and know what I mean. She really excels at taking those complicated concepts and making them real for the students.


So we jumped in and started slicing the decks, finding demos and looking for ways to improve the course in our limited ramp up time for this iteration. Well – it paid off. The class come off well since we were able to work through some great advanced material and lead discussions of some of the sharpest folks I know as they debate, argue, poke fun and other wise heckle us and each other. I poseted some interim posts during the week but I thought I would recap the week here in one post for those of you interested in how the week works etc..

Day 1

Day 1 was an optional Lab day for folks to come in and begin working through the class labs to get more familiar with the concepts and processes we would be discussing. This was a great day of meeting folks and seeing their background and strengths.

Day 2

Day 2 was the first day of Lecture and Stacia kicked us off talking about advanced dimension design. I took over and covered partitioning, data internals, and processing for large cube environments. Then Stacia finished up talking about Aggregation design and internals and I rounded out the day with ROLAP and how it can be a great asset in a large scale Tier 1 environment. This included some query internals around what you can do to make ROLAP a better option in your environment.

Day 3

Day 3 was a long day. We had so much great information to cover but the major topics for today were Threading and threading architecture, memory usage and architecture, I/O Subsystems for SSAS (Bow did I miss Wes Brown (@WesBrownSQL) for this section but Denny Lee filled in some awesome specifics around some special situations with certain storage vendors and we had some great discussion here. I never knew we could take for 30 minutes about the difference between 32K and 64K block sizes and how that relates to the Striping and block size on the SAN vs. windows cluster size, SAN driver compatibility etc.. Stacia then took us through the Part I of the underlying command execution and query architecture engine. That is some deep stuff! the coolest part of the day was when the SSAS dev team came in and did “Stump the Chump” around the command and query architecture, threading and memory. There were some Myths the got BUSTED. Some Egos deflated, and lots of smiles and pride when students were told their understanding was correct!

Day 4

Day 4 started with Stacia and part deaux of Command and query execution architecture and internals, then she went right into Tuning MDX. Some poor guy’s head exploded in the back (we’re not getting our deposit back on the room) but everyone else was eating out of her hand. Then (as happened plenty during the week) someone asked a question we didn’t know the answer to and someone in the middle of the room stood up and it was a gentleman who is in charge of development for the formula engine in SSAS! I thought “You have got to be kidding me” We have this guy in here?” AWESOME! So he spoke extemporaneously for about 45 minutes about the undercarriage of the formula engine and taking the hundred questions from the students. It was like watching a development superhero casually answer some of the most complicated questions I have ever heard including specifics about cell by cell vs. lock calculations, which for those of you who work with MDX a lot know this is a huge topic! I had a tough act to follow but since they were all worn out I was good to go. We finished the day with my sessions on scale out deployment strategies and best practices and near real time cube and infrastructure techniques. That night we all had a nice dinner out as part of the course and got to know some of the great students in the course. Everyone was nice and relaxed since this was our last day of lecture.

Day 5

Well as I write this sitting in the Delta Sky club in SeaTac airport waiting on my red-eye flight home, today was a pretty calm day mostly spent helping the students with the labs and answering final questions. Most of the students staying through today to get the head start on the labs. It was an afternoon of goodbyes and thanks for a great week.

So What’s Next?

Next We get to take all the feedback and continue to improve the course and figure out the next schedule. While we’re thinking about that, Marco Russo and Chris Webb will be teaching the Euro-Trip version of the course in Madrid in July. Those of you taking that get ready for the ride. Those guys are SHARP! That will be another tremendous week. The students from Redmond have more work to do , exams, and the rest of the evaluation process to complete so they can be graded! I have heard from so many of you interested in the course. Please hit up Stacia or I if you have questions and keep your eyes peeled for the next round of schedules to be published.

Final Thoughts

I wonder if the bartender in here is staring at me for my laptop on the bar or because I’m singing along with the counting crows in my headphones Smile?

See you all out there! – @Adam_Jorgensen


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