Browsing Posts in SQL

Bob Coppedge  Bob here.  I read with some interest Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s recent Blog article “A Data Culture for Everyone.”  Cool stuff, actually.  And it, along with the release of Office for the iPad is giving an insight into the direction for Microsoft under the leadership of only its 3rd CEO in like a gazillion years.

Unfortunately, the article, like most of the stuff from Redmond that talks about ultimate direction and goals, is buried in consultantspeak and stuff that speaks only to a small subset of us.  But it’s important.

We hear the term “Big Data” more and more often in the press.  The idea that huge databases crank out information and give “Big Companies” what they need to grow and thrive.

Fair enough.  But it’s just scratching the surface.  And that’s the point that Nadella’s making, but poorly (at least if he’s trying to talk to the Small to Medium business world).

So I’m going to give it a shot.  First some definitions:

Data.  This is simply a collection of digital “stuff.” Lists.  Databases.  Spreadsheets.  Tables.  Simple collections of this “stuff,” not necessarily put to use.

Information.  That’s when we put data to use.  We use data to derive information.  A database contains customer and sales data.  But a customized report that identifies customers that purchased a particular product?  That’s information.

Questions.  That’s why we need the information.  We want to answer a specific (somewhat) question that can be answered only with information.

We all have access to tons of data.  But turning it into useful information that we need as an individual or organization has been the challenge.

Unfortunately the exponential growth of data (as Nadella points out, devices like sneakers gathering data about their use in the background) has overwhelmed the ability to turn that data into useful information.

So we had canned reports (inflexible, answering a very static Question that might have no bearing on reality).

And then we were given analytical and development tools that allowed folks with a high level of technical expertise to create reports that would answer questions.  But they came with a steep learning curve, and often a high price tag.

But that’s going to change.

And that, I believe is the point Nadella’s trying to make.

Supposedly Henry Ford famously quipped “Your car can be any color you want, as long as its black.”

The same thing happened with the web.  The first web sites provided rather static information.  You consumed that information the way the provider gave it to you.  No ups, no downs, no extras.  It was information, but the interpretation of the data was entirely up to the provider.

Then came web apps.  Now the user had a certain level of control over the content and the presentation of that data.  But still rather limited to the silo of data that site had control over.

Then came the explosion of messaging and devices.  Now the user had a great deal of control as to how to access information (Facebook, twitter, linkedin, blogs, carrier pigeons, etc).  But not a lot beyond information that was based in messages.

Data Culture Sketch Infographic

That’s where the next layer of excitement comes in.  The next generation of tools (and not just from Microsoft, to be sure) are going to remove layers that stand between the translation of data into information.  As you can see from Microsoft’s Infographic, that’s a good chunk of layers.

So we can ask questions, and get some answers.

Yup.  Like “42.”

Spring is upon us!  And that means…stay indoors, avoid the sun, and read up on technical stuff!

And of course Microsoft is there to make sure you don’t catch any of those pesky UV rays.

How so?  Why, by making a ton of technical eBooks on all aspects Microsoft available and free for the download.

SharePoint?  Check.  SQL?  Got it.  Azure?  Even so.  And it’s a combination of the latest versions (Windows Server 2012) as well as the more popular versions (Server 2008 R2).

Did I mention they’re free?

Click here, and thank Microsoft for helping you keep that tan-free body of yours as pasty as possible!

Bob here.  We’ve said it before, but we want to say it again:

Microsoft has programs through the end of the year that can save you over 15% of your software cost.  As we’ve said many times, Nov-Dec and May-June are the best times of the year to be purchasing Microsoft software.

But you need to act now to take advantage of it!  And we can help you determine the best program for you and your organization.

Whether you’re looking to:

  • Migrate your email to the cloud (Office 365)
  • Implement video conferencing through Lync (Office 365)
  • Upgrade your servers to Server 2008 or 2012
  • Upgrade your workstations to Office 2010 (get ready for Office 2013!)
  • Upgrade your workstations to Windows 7 (get ready for Windows 8!)
  • SharePoint 2013
  • SQL 2012

Between the Big Easy and other promotions, Microsoft has specials that can save you a chunk of change.  Think Microsoft licensing is tough?  Well, so do we<g>.  But we’ll help you through it.  Contact John here or call at 234.380.1277.

(Thanks to Sarah Dutkiewicz for pointing this out)

Microsoft is once again making available a goodly amount of free (yup, free) learning/training resources.  And it’s just in time for picking out that summer reading for on the beach!

Yup, you know how it goes.  The summer breeze, sun beating down on you, listening to some nice tunes on your Zune…ok, skip the Zune part.  But you know what would make it better.

Yup, an ebook on Microsoft SQL 2012.  Or Windows 7 Deployment.

Quit your dreaming and click here.

Bob here. Doug and I had the opportunity last week to check out Microsoft’s new version of SQL Server, SQL Server 2012, at a special event in Columbus.

SQL 2012

Microsoft is now ramping up their events regarding SQL 2012. This event was part of a “Special Ops Tour” (http://www.specialopstour.com), which will be going to 12 cities all told. Unfortunately, the days of Cleveland being a primary target for these kind of events seems to be long gone. Actually, you could make the point that Microsoft doesn’t make the last word put on huge events for their releases anymore. The days of the mega-launch such as Windows 95 are long gone, I’m afraid. I might even have to (shudder) buy my own T-shirts! Sad days, indeed.

But Microsoft is still trying to put a little bit of “coolness” into the events. If you go to the main website for this event you can watch a YouTube video that seems to be a combination of “24,” various reality programs, and Microsoft TechNet webcasts. The idea of DBAs running around in camouflaged fatigues, well, concerns me.
Actually, I’m sure it was all in good fun. Believe me, I’ve seen worse.

At the event itself, all of the presenters were outfitted in black pants, white long sleeved shirts, and dark ties. Yeah, I know, they were shooting for that “Men in Black” special ops look. But with all the presenters being essentially middle-aged white guys, I suddenly felt like I was back in an IBM presentation back in the 90s.

But at least we got sunglasses (draft, no T-shirts!).

Thankfully though, once we got to the actual presentation of the product, things got more interesting. SQL 2012 will have several new features, as always. For the most part, however, it seems to be building and extending an existing 2012 platform. So I would use the term “evolutionary” rather than “revolutionary” to describe the upgrade.
High-availability (now referred to as “always on”) is getting some significant enhancements and improvements. This is especially true in some of the tools available to manage the clusters and sets of servers.

There seems to be in a fair amount of interest in placing SQL instances on Windows 2000 8R2 server core implementations. Two significant benefits come from this. First is the significant amount of memory that is freed up by using the core, and second is a server core instance of Windows server requires 50 to 60% less patching than the full implementation. This is especially helpful in the high-availability environment (whoops, “always on” environment… my bad).

There will also be some improvements in the tSQL world as well. An example of that would be a new type of index called the “columnstore” index. When properly used, this new type of index can significantly improve query performance by minimizing disk I/O.

And what would a new version of SQL Server be without significant improvements to the SSRS environment? The front end tools given to the people who are actually developing the reports seems to have gotten some significant enhancements. One of the items that I thought shows some interesting potential is the ability to actually include SSRS report controls inside PowerPoint.

So if you want to take a look at SQL 2012 and get a feel for it, you don’t have to wait. As always, Microsoft makes a lot of resources available for people to take a look at either new technology or soon-to-be new technology. And SQL is no exception. There are a number of online labs that are available at www.Microsoft.com/SQL (from there click on “Learning Center”, followed by “SQL Server virtual labs”). And these are available at no charge. To learn more about the launch in general go to www.SQLServerlaunch.com.

There will be some changes in how Microsoft licenses SQL Server starting in 2012. Prior to 2012, licensing was sold based on the number of processors. Starting with 2012 however, the licensing will shift from processor-based to core based. The price of a core license will be approximately 1/4 of what the processor-based license was.

The bottom line is this. Anyone who is currently running SQL Server 2000 hopefully already knows how incredibly out of date that is. But what about folks running SQL Server 2005? Will the features that are available here in 2012 be enough to convince them to upgrade? Of course Microsoft will claim yes, absolutely, but the proof is in the pudding. The fact is that a high percentage of database applications are run with little or no regard to the database server’s capabilities beyond that application. For those folks, the new features show nothing really exotic.

But more and more companies are looking to pull information out of their databases. Similarly these same companies are providing information directly to their customer base, and want to have that information available 24×7. SQL 2012 makes these requirements much easier to implement.

Want to know more? Check out the websites that we’ve referred to here, or join us at our May Lunchinar where we’ll discuss SQL 2012!