PASS Summit 2014 in Review

I’m finally completely recovered from a great week in Seattle last week for PASS Summit.  Now that it’s back to the grind of regular work I thought I’d put together some thoughts and tell you about my experiences from the week. 

You may have read others blogs about their experiences during the conference.  I always love how everyone may do very different things while at this conference but still have a great time!

My week started early as I arrived in Seattle on Saturday to prepare for MVP Summit that was going on at the same time.  There were some mixed opinions about these events going on at the same time but I liked it.  I think this helped many that are from out of the country justify coming to both events in a single trip rather then making two expensive and time consuming trips to Seattle.  MVP Summit started Sunday for SQL Server MVPs and ended a bit early for me, on Monday, because I delivered a Pre-Con on Tuesday.  Once our day in Redmond was done on Monday I went and registered for the PASS Summit in Seattle and called it an early night, knowing that I had a full day of talking during my Pre-Con coming up the next day.

Tuesday

This was a very full day as Brian Knight (Blog | Twitter) and myself taught a full day of SSIS: Problem, Design, Solution in our Pre-Con.  The Pre-Con was well attended with about 140 attendees.  I really enjoyed teaching and even attending sessions like these that focus on solving problems.  There’s many reasons why I attend PASS Summit but one of the biggest is that I want to learn things that I can immediately go use to help me solve problems when I get back to work.  I think we accomplished that with this session.  It’s was very focused on problems and different ways to solve them using SSIS.

Brian and I have done many presentations together over time but we’re always learning still.  One of the things we learned from feedback last year was to provide a PowerPoint deck with a little more substance.  PASS prints these decks for attendees to keep and take notes on.  While a single image slide with verbal discussion comes across great in a presentation it’s not effective when the slides are printed.  By the way, I still like the single image slide for presentations but not when you know the slides are printed for attendees.

Feedback on the session this year seemed to be pretty good but I’ll know for sure when the reviews are released.

Once the Pre-con was done I dropped my things off at the hotel and came back to the conference for the Welcome Reception.

Later that night I went to the Networking Party that was moved to Yard House.  I stayed and talked for a bit and meet some new people.  Unfortunately it looked like they weren’t ready to handle that volume of people at once so I ordered a meal from somewhere else to end my night.

Wednesday

On Wednesday I started my morning after breakfast by attending the Keynote feature T.K. “Ranga” Rengarajan, James Phillips, and Joseph Sirosh from Microsoft.  Definitely some interesting things announced during the this Keynote including Power BI Dashboard Preview coming soon.  You can watch the Keynote still on PASStv

Wednesday I had to deliver my session towards the end of the day so I wasn’t able to attend as many sessions as I would have liked, as I did some practice runs of my session. I did however attend Bradley Balls (Blog | Twitter) session on Using PowerShell to Manage Cloud Integrated Data Platforms. Brad always does a great job and shows his passion for the technology.  He showed many of the capabilities that PowerShell has for integrating into Azure.

Towards the end of the conference day I sat in the session that was prior to mine because I was a bit worried that there would be a lot of cross over with my topic because it was Power View related too.  Luckily there was very little that was the same.  I did my session on Creating and End to End Reporting Solution with Power View.  I think it went pretty well, even with Excel crashing on me.  I always have a back up ready :).  There was a lot of interest in Power View with SharePoint and how Multidimensional cubes interact with Power View so I saved some time towards the end for that discussion.

Immediately after my session I ran down to the Expo Hall for the Exhibitor Party where I was doing a book signing for Pragmatic Works.  We do this every year and it’s always a blast to meet so many people and give away free books!

Here’s a video Jeremy from our team who took showing the line that built up.

After the Exhibitor Party Pragmatic Works hosted our annual karaoke party at the Hard Rock with a live band.  I always have fun here and was able to catch up with friends.

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Thursday

I started my day by attending the Keynote by Dr Rimma Nehme. This was possibly one of the best Keynotes I’ve attended.  Her explanation of cloud computing was done in a way that I think my sales team would be comfortable with.  You can watch the Keynote still on PASStv.

You can watch the Keynote here or read Steve Jones’ (Blog | Twitter) summary here.

In between networking with a few new folks I also attended two session: The BI Power Hour and Top Five Power Query M Functions That You Don’t Know.

The BI Power Hour is always a fun “infotainment” type session with many of the members of the Power BI product team.

I also really enjoyed the Top Five Power Query M Functions session.  I’ve always really liked Power Query but Reza Rad (Blog | Twitter) showed me a few new tricks!

I ended my day by attending the PASS Community Appreciation Party at the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum.  This place is always fun and of course they had live band lead karaoke.

Friday

This was my day to work the Pragmatic Works booth so my morning was eaten up by that. To end the day I sat in on the Speaker Idol competition. The winner of the last round would be guaranteed a session at PASS Summit 2015. I was curious to watch this because we do a version of this locally for the user group in Jacksonville. Here’s Jason Carter (Blog | Twitter) doing his presentation

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I had a late flight home and actually didn’t end up back in Jacksonville until 11 AM Saturday morning… Long day!

If you’ve never been to a PASS Summit before I highly recommend it.  It is an event run by the community, which makes it unique.  While there are sponsorships and partnerships it’s community run so you hear from and meet a lot of people that are going through the same things you are.  Next years PASS Summit will be Oct 27-30. I hope to see you there!

Upcoming Webinar – Creating Power Map Reporting Solutions

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Come join me for this webinar on 4/17/2014 at 11:00 AM EST

Creating Power Map Reporting Solutions

Excel 2013 with Office 365 brings many new features to the realm of Self-Service BI. There are now new ways to extract, model and present data all within Excel. One of these newest ways to present data is called Power Map. Power Map allows you to create engaging 3D map visualizations to help understand your geographical data better. This session will walk you through the beginning to end process of creating Power Map tours. Register now here.

Upcoming Webinar – Bringing Power BI Q&A to your Organization

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Come join me for this webinar on 4/15/2014 at 11:00 AM EST

Bringing Power BI Q&A to your Organization

Q&A is an amazing new feature of Power BI that allows you to ask you data question. No longer do you have to write complex SQL queries to get results. Simply type traditional English sentences to return interesting results about your data. This session will walk through how to get a Power Pivot data model ready to use and also the end user experience of Q&A from the Power BI site. Register now here.

Introduction to Power BI Recording and Q&A

I hope you were able to attend my free webinar on Understanding Microsoft Self-Service BI on March 13, 2014. If you weren’t you can now download the recording and slides.

I usually like to post follow up questions and answer that I wasn’t able to address during the webinar. Here’s several that may help you!

Q: Can you explain quickly how to use Power View on SharePoint 2010?

To use these together you must have SharePoint 2010 SP1 Enterprise and SQL Server 2012 Enterprise or BI Edition. Unfortunately, there’s not a quick way to describe the rest of the configuration so here’s a post that may help.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/karang/archive/2012/04/13/step-by-step-guide-of-installing-power-view-with-powerpivot-2012.aspx

Q: What devices are supported by mobile BI

The Mobile BI will be available on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices. There is also a native Mobile BI app for iPad under development.

Q: Are MS planning to remove the dependency on Silverlight for Power View (etc.) thus making it possible to render on iPad?

Yes! There are actually some public betas of Power View working on HTML 5 instead of Silverlight. This will be the major enhancement that allows support for the mobile BI app on IPads

Upcoming Webinar – Introduction to Power BI

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Come join me for this webinar on 3/13/2014 at 11:00 AM EST

Introduction to Power BI 

The future of Business Intelligence has many new and exciting features. This world that was once reserved for only experts in SQL Server technologies has expanded to serve the masses with more and more self-service innovations. In this session you will gain an understanding of what Power BI is and get an overview of each of the components. This includes Power Pivot, Power View, Power Query and Power Map, Mobile Power BI and Q&A.

PASS Summit 2013 and SQL Saturday Charlotte in Review

I love reading the many blogs posts that pour in following a PASS Summit.  I think it is fun to read everyone’s experience.  There’s not really a wrong way to attend the conference unless you just hide our in your hotel the whole week.  Here’s how my week went.

Sunday

This was a travel day for me.  I drove with Brad Schacht and Gareth Swanepoel up to Charlotte from Jacksonville.  This was a fun 5.5 hour drive as Gareth live tweeted our trip with the hashtag #sqlwolfpack.  We arrived Sunday night with just enough time to go register for the conference before registration closed for the night.

Monday

Monday Brian Knight and I delivered a full day precon on Growing up with Analysis Service: Power Pivot to MOLAP.  We had about 100 in the audience for an exciting day of learning.  We took the approach of telling a story of an Analyst that created a Power Pivot model but as requirements changed there was a need to find a more scalable solution through the other forms of Analysis Services.

Tuesday

This was a lighter day for me but I did stop by and visit the networking party hosted by Andy at Buffalo Wild Wings. I also spent much of this day setting up the Pragmatic Works’ booth prior to the opening of the event on Wednesday.

Wednesday

The opening of summit started with the keynote describing a hybrid approach to SQL Server (On Premise and Cloud).  I’m seeing more and more momentum Microsoft cloud.  A lot of the crowd that wasn’t buying into is years ago are now starting to see the benefits clearly now too so that’s helping. 

After lunch I delivered a presentation on Creating an End to End Power View Reporting Solution.  In this session I show what is needed to go from basic data source to full reporting solution using Power View.

After all the sessions were complete the Exhibiter receptions started and the Pragmatic Works’ booth hosted a book signing.

I also attended a Karaoke party hosted by Pragmatic Works that night with a live band.  You can check out about 200 pictures from that event here.

Thursday

On Thursday I presented a session with Dustin Ryan on Choosing the Right Analysis Services: Tabular vs MOLAP.  This was the first time I had ever presented with Dustin and I think it went really well.  I especially enjoyed how we worked off each other to make our points together.  Demos were of course planned but the banter was all thought of on the spot.

I also attended a couple sessions on Thursday.  One on Real Time Data Warehousing on PDW and then also the BI Power Hour.

Friday

I worked the Pragmatic Works booth much of this day and then went to the SQL Saturday Charlotte Speaker dinner at night. 

Saturday

I presented a session at SQL Saturday Charlotte on Power Query.  I had a lot of great questions in this session, which happens to be one of my favorite topics right now.  The event was incredibly organized.  I tip my hat to the organizers who obviously put a lot of work into getting the event together.

Understanding Microsoft Self-Service BI Recording and Q&A

I hope you were able to attend my free webinar on Understanding Microsoft Self-Service BI on September 26, 2013.  If you weren’t you can now download the recording here.

Because I covered new material all the way to the end of the webinar i thought I’d also answer some of the top questions I didn’t have time to answer here.

Q: Can an Excel Power Pivot 2013 model be read by Excel 2010 or Excel 2007? What about Excel versions and their compatibility with SharePoint Versions?  I ask because we are upgrading our SharePoint environment to 2013 but most of our users have Excel 2010 (a few have 2007).

You can open an Excel 2013 workbook that has a Power Pivot model in older versions but you cannot modify them.  You can however deploy Excel 2010 and Excel 2013 workbooks to you SharePoint 2013 environment and it they interact the same.

Q: Is there a way for me in us my own map?  ex. wards/districts in my county

I assume this one is referring to Power Map and the ability to map geopolitical regions.  It doesn’t currently have the ability to your own regions yet.

Q: Where do we download power map?

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=38395

Q: Can you change to use google maps instead of bing maps?

No, Microsoft tool = Microsoft maps! :)

Q: Could I use relationships using more than one field?

No, Power Pivot only has the ability to create relationships on one field at a time.  If you need to join on more than one field, which in the real world is often, then you have to get creative.  In the quick example I showed we merged two columns together to make a single join column that could be used for our relationship.

Q: Is Power Query available for Excel 2010?

It sure is!  This is one of the great things about Power Query is that it is compatible with both Excel 2010 and 2013.

Q: How can you share Power View reports? Do you have to share the excel file or can you display in SharePoint?

You have a couple options.  You can share the excel file like you’ve suggested or you can deploy it to SharePoint.  If you develop the Power View reports in SharePoint you can also export via PowerPoint.

Q: Will these slides be available

Sure thing!  Download them here.

Q: The maps features is very interesting.  Can it do counties within a state .. and neighboring states?

Yes, Power Map has the ability to regionally map counties and zip codes as well.

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