Power BI Public Preview now available worldwide

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that the Power BI Public Preview is now available worldwide. Until now only US based users could access the preview. Not anymore, so you can checked out all the great new stuff right now on http://www.powerbi.com.

See http://blogs.msdn.com/b/powerbi/archive/2015/03/16/power-bi-preview-now-available-worldwide.aspx

Happy Power BI-ing!

New Power Query update

Recently a Power Query update was released (see http://blogs.office.com/2015/03/05/3-updates-excel-power-query/). Mayor updates: performance on load, Dynamics CRM Online connector and new transformations, most notably advanced date/time calculations. Personally I enjoy the CRM Online connector, but I am most fond of the ‘Age’ transformation; it makes it very easy to do the typical ‘number of days since this order was entered’ type of calculations, since it compares the date in the column with today.

The update to Power Query is available here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39379&WT.mc_id=Blog_PBI_Announce_DI

Enjoy!

 

In memory technology in SQL Server

Everybody noticed the increase in technology using in memory techniques. At SAP they fully go for Hana, Oracle just started last year with in-memory database. At Microsoft we started in 2012 with in memory analytics and added OLPT in memory April 2014. The buzz is high with big marketing events, lots of whitepapers and broad press coverage.

So, but what about the real life practice?

When I visit my customers (top-50 in The Netherlands) I rarely see in memory databases used. So I always ask why they don’t make use of it. This resulted in the following reasons:

  1. I didn’t know I could run in memory with my databases.
    The marketing engine could be hitting the wrong people. Lots of database administrators are not up to speed.
  2. We don’t do it because it must be very difficult.
    True – if you use SAP then it’s common knowledge that implementing SAP Hana is not very easy. And you have to rewrite some of your programs. False – if you use Microsoft SQL Server. To start using in memory you can switch it on for certain tables (or part of tables) and without any change to the application it will work.
  3. The power of our servers is high enough. We don’t need the power.
    This is of course a compliment that our SQL Servers run so smoothly (-:

But still I think that by using in memory technology you can achieve the following:

  • Prevent hardware refresh. If servers run out of performance, moving to in memory the speeds increases again by 5x – 10x. Thus the servers can remain the same.
  • Run more VM’s on a host. By using in memory technology the number of cores can be less because of the more economic processing in memory. Thus more core’s for new VM’s on the same host.
  • Increase processing to reduce wait time for your users

So my advice: Start experimenting with the technology and look for those business cases.

My ask: anyone who has experience with the practical implementation: please reply with your live experience!

Maiden blog post

Hi all,

Today I joined my colleague Jeroen in this Blogsite about Data.
Where Jeroen is the expert in BI, Big Data & Data warehousing I tend to focus on applications, databases, development & integration. And off course with a main focus on the Cloud with Azure.

I will try to keep you posted on all new developments with my personal view on it combined with my 25 years+ experience and day to day work at my customers.
So keep posted for my new posts!

Greets, Harry

Power BI trial for non-US customers

We are currently running a preview in the US of the new Power BI experience. This experience is not available yet to customers outside of the US. If you are outside of the US and want to get a trial of Power BI right now, you can set up a trial account for the “old” experience here. The new experience will be available outside of the US as well later.

R Plotting using Azure Machine Learning

Azure Machine Learning is Microsoft’s cloud data mining and machine learning solution. It features a studio that is fully web based. One of the best features is integration with R through the ‘Execute R Script’ component. One of the best things of R is the plotting capability and I recently decided to try to make R plots from Azure ML studio. It is amazing how easy this works and it really brings the power of Azure ML together with the great exploration, plotting and data manipulation capabilities of R.

Here is a very simple sample I made:

I used to Flight Delays sample dataset from Azure ML to make this. In the ML Studio you will need to create a new experiment and drag the ‘Flight Delays Data’ component to the canvas. The only other component you will need to drop on the canvas is ‘Execute R Script’ (I told you this was a very simple example). Drag a line from the data to the left most input port of the R script container like so:

Click on the R script component and edit the R script on the right. Here is my script:

 

This script gets the data from the input port and rbinds it into data.set. Then I executed a very simple plot using the plot base R package to create the plot shown above. The last line of this code is not even necessary but it was there by default.

After running the experiment the plot can be seen by selecting the right output port of the ‘Execute R Script’ container and selecting ‘Visualize’:

The plot will be at the bottom of this page.

Pretty cool huh? Stay tuned for more as I will continue experimenting with R integration in Azure ML as well as other ML things.

Master Data Services 2014 Add-in for Excel published

Just a bit over a week ago a new version of the Master Data Services Add-in for Excel was released. It is the 2014 release, which will also work for SQL Server 2012. Main benefit is up to 4x performance improvement without any server configuration changes. If you need extra performance you can get 2x extra by enabling Dynamic Content Compression in IIS on your MDS server.

Here is the download page: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42298.

Happy new year!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and data-filled 2015. Thanks for visiting my blog this past year!
Data nerd as I am, I could not resist sharing with you this blogs annual stats report:
http://jetpack.me/annual-report/53080601/2014/

Enjoy!

Power BI learning resources – follow up 2

Looking to get up to speed with Power BI in limited time? You might be interested in this. “Power BI fundamentals” is a new course published to Microsoft Virtual Academy:

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/excel-2013-power-bi-fundamentals

Enjoy!

Power BI connectivity to Salesforce.com

Here is a short video on how to connect to Salesforce.com from Power BI:

You can now easily get data from Salesforce.com into your Excel / Power BI solution. Enjoy!

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