Hadoop and Big Data Tonight with Atlanta BI Group

Atlanta BI Group is meeting tonight. The Topic is Hadoop and Big Data by Ketan Dave and our sponsor is Enterprise Software Solutions.

With wide acceptance of open source technologies , Hadoop/Map Reduce has become a viable option when it comes implementing the 100 of Terabytes to Petabytes of Data solutions. Scalability, Reliability , Versatility and Cost benefits of Hadoop based system is replacing traditional approach of data solutions. Microsoft has partnered with Hadoop vendors, have recently made announcements to make data on Hadoop accessible by Excel, easily linked to SQL Server and its business intelligence, analytical and reporting tools for business intelligence and managed through Active Directory.

I hope you can make it!

SharePoint 2013 and SQL Server 2012

As I mentioned before, Microsoft released SharePoint 2013 and Office 2013 and the bits are now available on MSDN Subscriber Downloads. I am sure you are eager to try the new BI features. One thing that you need to be aware of though is that you need SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 in order to integrate the BI features (PowerPivot for SharePoint and SSRS) with SharePoint 2013. If you run the RTM version of SQL Server 2012 setup, you won’t get too far because it will fail the installation rule that SharePoint 2010 is required. That’s because the setup doesn’t know anything about SharePoint 2013 and the latest release includes major architectural changes.

Then the logical question is where is SQL Server 2012 SP1 now that is a prerequisite for SharePoint 2013 BI? As far as I know there isn’t a confirmed ship date yet but it should arrive soon. I’d suspect Microsoft to announce it at PASS.

Business Intelligence on Surface

Microsoft has started shipping the cool Surface RT tablets this week with Surface Pro to follow in January. Naturally, a BI person would attempt BI in Excel only to find that BI and Power View (no Silverlight support) are not there as Kasper explains. It’s important to know that the RT version of Surface is limited to native Windows 8 applications only, it comes preinstalled with Office 2013, and you can’t install non-Windows 8 applications. If you are interested in BI or running non-Windows 8 apps, you need the Pro version. This means that you and I need to wait until January next year so no Surface for Christmas.

Windows 8 Hyper-V Support

I installed Windows 8 shortly it was released and I’ve been running it for almost two months now. I’m still in a learning mode to teach old dog new tricks. I have a few gripes here and there, such as the need for two screens (start screen and desktop), the absence of the start button and its search, the quest for dumbing down the OS, and the fact that my Quickbooks PDF converter doesn’t work anymore.

However, I do like the performance boost (Windows 8 really flies on a solid state disk). I also discover gems here and there and one of them is the Hyper-V support. For those of you who need to run virtual machines, such as to test prerelease bits or run other guest operating systems, you know that in the pre-Windows 8 era you had to rely on either VirtualBox or VMWare because Virtual PC wasn’t capable of running 64-bit guest Windows (required for SharePoint for example). Now, Hyper-V is built in Windows 8 and installing it is a snap. Steven Sinofsky wrote a nice coverage of Windows 8 Hyper-V in his blog “Bringing Hyper-V to Windows 8” which includes also a short video of how to install it. Trust me, you’ll really appreciate how simple the install process is.

Anticipating the forthcoming release of SharePoint 2013, today I stood up a Windows Server 2012 VM using Hyper-V on a Windows 8 host and I loved the experience. There is no need to install extensions to enable keyboard and mouse integration, or to go through bizarre steps to resize the virtual disk in order to free up more space. For example, expanding the disk to free up more space is a simple two-step procedure:

  1. Use the Hyper-V manager to edit and expand the virtual disk.
  2. Start the VM. Assuming a Windows guest OS, use the Disk Manager to extend the volume to include the newly allocated space.

Tip If you plan to stood up a VM for BI testing, plan for at least 40 GB virtual disk to install Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, and SharePoint. This is where a second disk (I highly recommend a solid state disk) comes handy.

Your Data Warehouse in the Cloud?

I spoke with a customer today that has implemented Salesforce.com. For those who are not familiar with Salesforce, it’s a popular cloud-based, customer relationship management (CRM) product. As it usually happens, just when you’re done with the Salesforce implementation, you’re immediately faced with the challenge of consolidated reporting. It won’t be long before the Vice President of Sales asks you to integrate sales data residing in Salesforce.com and your on-premise data sources. In this case, the customer went to Dreamforce (the Salesforce premier conference) in search for integration options and was advised to solve the report consolidation issue by … migrating their multi-terabyte data warehouse to Salesforce.com!

I’m sure that this approach makes perfect sense to Salesforce.com, but it’s hardly in the customer’s best interest. First, although Salesforce is extensible and you can add custom objects (tables), Salesforce.com is not designed to host relational databases. As far as I know, it doesn’t have ETL tools, an analytical layer, and comprehensive reporting capabilities. Second, even with the enormous recent strides in cloud computing and ever decreasing storage prices, it’s hard to imagine anyone moving a data warehouse to the cloud. It’s just cost-prohibitive to do so. Third, there are data logistics challenges to populate a cloud-based data warehouse, such as to upload gigabytes of data from on-premises databases to the cloud over Internet.

At Prologika, we advise our customers to keep data where it belongs: operational data in the on-premise data warehouse and sales data in the Salesforce.com cloud. By design, the data warehouse is an enterprise repository for storing and consolidating data from operational data sources. We design Integration Services packages to retrieve data by integrating with the Salesforce.com web service and importing the data into the data warehouse. This opens all kinds of interesting data analytical possibilities, such as implementing forecasting reports that combine actual and opportunity revenue.

When the customer requires reports that source data from the data warehouse, we implement a web service end point residing on the customer’s premises that allows Salesforce.com to pull data from the data warehouse and cubes. Or, if it’s acceptable for the sales people to be logged to the customer’s network, we extend Salesforce to pass parameters to operational reports hosted on premise, such in SharePoint. This bi-directional integration allows our customers to keep data where it belongs but allows each system to obtain data from the other system.

Sometimes, it’s better to keep your head and data out of the cloud no matter how modern and exciting this might sound.