I had too little time to blog as much as I wanted. The one about SSAS evaluation nodes was the one that took me a lot of time to write and it should have a second part with more practical stuff but there was simply no time for that in 2013.
So what happened then? I can mention the word certification. I took both the 70-463, implementing a data warehouse with SQL Server 2012, and the 70-461, querying MS SQL Server 2012 and I am currently preparing for the 70-462, administering MS SQL Server 2012 databases. The two last ones, from my point of view as a BI consultant, are a waste of time. I am very happy to have passed the 70-463, because it is very useful in my daily work. Parts of the TSQL certification are useful, like 30-40 percent but I would like to see a more BI-focused database engine part with admin and TSQL parts in one exam. Right know both exams are too developer and DBA focused. The goal is to get the MCSA title, since it is mandatory in the company that I work for. It will not make me better as a BI-consultant since I never do cluster installations, Always On installation or set up replication of the database engine. Most of my customers either has outsourced maintenance of hardware and software or would never let me play with their IT-infrastructure. I have colleagues that have these skills and do this work daily.
The parts of BI that have have spent most of my time on, the last ten years, like Reporting Services and BISM MD/Tabular come in the second certification step, to be a “MS Certified Solutions Expert.
Now to the other parts. The year was mostly spent on the ETL or ELT part of BI. I have been involved in name standard document for BI like clening up that the same term applies to different objects or different terms apply to the same object. I was also invloved in discussions with customers about ETL or ELT strategies.
I attended a 5 day long course on the new PDW V2 and that hardware and software solution really can compete on the high data volume scenarios of BI. Do not think about it as only a part of the BIG Data scenarios because it can integrate well with SQL Server environments without the BIG data part. My personal opinion is why you should invest in more than 4 socket CPU system because on the declining return on adding more CPU power. This also questions the Fast Track part of MSBI offerings since PDW V2 gives much better value for money.
I also worked with a POC for a customer that included SQL Server 2012, BISM Tabular, SharePoint 2013 and Excel 2013. The fun part was to load a 340 million record fact table in to a dedicated tabular server and see that it worked very well and that compression worked to shrink data to 15 percent of the original size.
I met a very smart customer that maintain their own business catalog with product and customer definitions outside of their ERP system. When they upgrade their ERP system they use this business catalog with cleaned product- and customer keys. That is what I call true master data management.
Slowly the interst for more self service is riising here in Sweden. Since Power Pivot requires quite capable hardware like 64 bit laptops with 8 GB RAM and SSD and Office 2013 that will be an investment for most organizations that requires approval since most laptops are still 32 bit with 2-4 GB RAM. On top of that a SharePoint infrastructure is also needed. Still the idea that IT provides datasets to users that then use Excel 2013 with Power Pivot and perhaps Power Query is attractive since it will reduce pressure on IT to help with data mash up.