Tech Ed US (Day 2)

First, I went to see the Paul Flessner’s keynote. I learned that Reporting Services will be available in all editions of Yukon, including Express! And, custom security will be available in RS Standard Edition as well! Now, we are talking! For more information about how different versions of Yukon will stack against each other, read this comparison document.

Next, I went to see Brian Welcker’s presentation about the new report viewer controls in RS 2005. The presentation was in one of the biggest conference halls and it was almost full (with perhaps some 600 people). This speaks by itself about the traction RS is getting. Brian actually wrote a whitepaper about the new features in RS 2005. It is nice to see Reporting Services evolving!

Next, I went to see the real-time OLAP presentation from the Analysis Services Team and shake hands with Amir Netz and Richard Tkatchuk. The presentation made a great case for real-time OLAP with proactive caching. The motto was “no more explicit cube processing!”. In my opinion though (my sole opinion, mind you), pro-active caching may not be that useful with data warehousing where data is loaded in a deterministic fashion. In this case, it may be more appropriate to process cubes explicitly, once ETL processes are done. That said, I can see real-time OLAP being really useful if the cube is built on top of the OLTP database. Something to think about…

Tech Ed US (Day 1)

Everyone was rushing in the morning to see Steve Ballmer’s keynote. He said there are some 11,000 folks at the conference. No wonder, all ice creams would disappear even before arrival! Here is some statistics that got posted on the TechEd site:


Feeding the Masses What does it take to feed 13,000 people at Tech·Ed?

  • 117,000 bottles of water
  • 14,300 lattes
  • 15,600 ice cream bars (it’s HOT out there)
  • 4,000 pounds of chips and snack mix
  • 2,300 dozen eggs
  • 8,000 pounds of chicken
  • 52,000 servings of juice

You get dizzy if you stay more than 10 minutes in the exhibitor hall area, so I decided to avoid at all cost, or cross it as fast as I can. Otherwise, people will run over me in an endless pursuit to get every possible t-shirt that has been handed out. I got only two but I didn’t have to fight. They were given to me by the Analysis Services and Reporting Services team. The RS one is kind of cool, with a “Got spinny?” logo. Perhaps, I can sell it on e-Bay and make a fortune one day…

I expected Steve to do a few stunts on the stage, but I guess he wasn’t in the mood. Business Intelligence was everywhere in Steve’s speech. So, were mobile technologies. I start spotting a trend here. Every show would tout mobile and smart devices as the next pervasive technology. I’ve been waiting for years to find out if the “we are here yet”, but alas… Perhaps, 2005 will be the year of wireless, who knows.

In the afternoon, I went to see Jamie MacLennan’s (Product Manager of SSAS Data Mining) presentation about building intelligent application. He demonstrated how data mining can be used for data validation. Cool stuff! Who know, one day I may actually write such an application.

Tech Ed US 2005 (Arrival)

Well, here are my “reports” from Tech Ed with some delay thanks to the sporadic internet access.


I arrived in Orlando on Sunday. The flight went fine. I got a bit surprised when I had to wait for a half an hour at the airport to get a shuttle to the hotel. The hotel was Peabody, very close to the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) where the Tech Ed is hosted. I got a room on the 9th floor.

The second surprise was when I discovered that for almost $200 a night in the hotel, I would have no Internet access. To get it, I have to pay only $7 a day J Breakfast wasn’t included too. Common folks, I used to stay in a hotel in Orlando for $80 and it had wireless, plus continental breakfast! Isn’t this America? The hotel didn’t even have a proper desk to do some work in a civilized manner. They had to fancy glass tables which I had to convert to a working area… and use an extra pillow for back support. Something is wrong here… perhaps, it is me – “the alien”, who’s too picky.

I went to register late at evening at the convention center. This turned out to be a great idea. The next day (Monday), the lines were huge. I think about 6 lines total with hundreds of people waiting. Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for an event of such a magnitude, as the Donkey would say (see Shrek).

A must-read RS blog

Brian Welcker, Group Program Manager for SQL Server Reporting Services, has started a blog. Join me to welcome Brian to the blog community and for giving us a chance to get the news directly from the source.  

Generate Ad-hoc Reports with Microsoft Reporting Services 2005

If you have followed the RS 2005 roadmap, you have undoubtedly noticed that among the many new features in Microsoft Reporting Services 2005 is one that can truly help reduce the workload for developers—the ability to give end users the power to generate their own ad-hoc reports. My article explains the major components of Microsoft Reporting Services’ ad-hoc architecture and semantic model, and walks you through an end-to-end example that demonstrates how to author, manage, and deliver ad-hoc reports.

Happy ad-hoc reporting!

My next book

I have to admit that I haven’t been very prolific lately on the blog arena. The reason for my extensive absence has been that all of my free time (what’s that?) has been spent writing my forthcoming book. That’s right, let’s blame it all on the book

Ladies and gentlemen, I am very excited to announce my next book – “Applied Microsoft Analysis Services 2005 and the Microsoft Business Intelligence Platform”! As the book name suggests, the focus on the book is Analysis Services 2005 (SSAS). Besides Reporting Services and Integration Services, Analysis Services is the third pillar of the Microsoft Business Intelligence Platform. For those of you following this initiative know that there are exciting changes happening in Yukon…at least enough to pick up my interest. I will disclose more details about the book as the project unfolds. I hope the book will hit the retail channels around the SQL Server 2005 release timeframe.

And here is a great chance for those of you who want to help me out with the book. To improve the book quality, I am looking for a few peer reviewers who are willing to read the raw manuscript of my book as the chapters come along, and let me know their sincere opinion. What’s not clear, what could be improved, what is missing, what you like, and more importantly dislike about the book. In other words, you will be providing feedback from a reader standpoint. It is great if you have a prior Analysis Services experience but it is not required. It is enough to have a strong desire to learn Analysis Services and have some free time. I won’t even ask you to run the samples (you are more than welcome if you want to).

If you are willing to help me as a peer reviewer, use the Contact page to drop me an e-mail and mention your SQL Server-related experience. As an expression of my gratitude, I will send you a copy of my book when it is published!  Hurry up, while the promotion lasts :-)

SP2 is here

The much anticipated and long-delayed RS Service Pack 2 is here! Download it from from the Microsoft Download Center: The list of changes and bug fixes can be found here. The SP 2 is cummulative and it includes the SP1 changes. Therefore, you don’t need to apply SP1 before installing SP2.

Join me to give credit to the RS team for their heroic effort. For little more than a year they managed to release two service packs (with numerious enhancements), merge the RS 2000 codebase into Yukon, implement the new Yukon feature set, and meanwhile address hundreds of questions on the RS newsgroup (which by the way is one of the most active discussion lists). I personally know of a few “enterprise” shops that couldn’t complete the design phase for this period of time. Well done for a team of about 30 people!

SQL Server 2005 March Community Technical Preview (CTP)

Today, Microsoft released the third Community Technical Preview (CTP) for SQL Server 2005. The latest CTP includes a number of new features, such as enhanced integration with Visual Studio 2005, performance improvements in Management Studio, a SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005 upgrade tool, and 64-bit support for Reporting Services, Notification Services and the management, development and configuration tools.

In addition, this CTP includes Report Builder, a new component of SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition and based on the technology acquired from ActiveViews. Because the new self-service, ad hoc report building client is built upon SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services, the tool will make enterprise reporting easy, scalable, and reliable for end users. This CTP includes model files that can be used with Report Builder. These model files are available as separate downloads from the Beta Download Page.

The SQL Server 2005 CTP is now available to all MSDN and Betaplace subscribers.