As I type this, I've just sat down at the Press/Bloggers table in the General Session are waiting for the keynote address. The lights have dimmed and the smoke machine has begun pumping fog onto the stage. Once again, "Born to be Wild" is blaring on the PA System. The curtain drops and Rushabh Mehta, PASS' current Executive Vice President of Finance and Technology is on a Vespa motor scooter! It's great to see PASS folks having fun! It's professional yet with humor.
Rushabh is sharing the PASS financials. Although details really can't be provided in such a setting, it's good to see more and more transparency coming from the organization. The full budget and financials should be available online in the coming weeks. Nice move!
Now Rushabh is demonstrating the new and improved PASS web site. It's been a long, long time coming. It's now out of beta and it offers quite a few features. It has past event's sessions available online for streaming down to your computer so you can watch a session over lunch from the comfort your own office. The new web site also includes somethign called PASSPort. It's a social networking site similar to FaceBook or MySpace.
Wayne and Rushabh are now presenting this year's PASSion Award winner. Kathi Kellenberger. She's done a lot for the organization over the years and this year is no exception.
Tom Casey is coming on stage now. He's the General Manager for SQL Server Business Intelligence for Microsoft and has been key in setting the direction for Microsoft's foray in Business Intelligence. Tom's sharing his pleasure and enthusiasm with the SQL Server community and how PASS is heavily contributing with 136 Chapters and 32,500 members in 38 countries.
So what is "BI for the masses"?
The short answer: helping all users making better, faster, decisions. It's no longer a specialization within the database community. It's about putting information in the hands that need it with tools that they are already familiar with. It should be a seemless extension of what you are already doing. The goals is to make BI more pervasive.
Bruno Aziza, Business Architect for the Enterprise Marketing team of Microsoft is coming to the stage to demonstrate a real-world example. It's a dashboard based on Sharepoint techology and Performance Point Server, intimately integrated with SQL Server's BI offerings. It has some nice integration and uses some of the new features in SQL Server 2008, including the spacial datatype, etc. It's an impressive demo that allows you to play with potential future outcomes. You can play with a lot of "what if" scenarios. "What if I take this oil rig down for maintenance? What will that do to my financials?"
Some of the key features of SQL Server 2008
Tom is spending some time discussing how SQL Server 2008 really helps the BI practicianer.
* New data types, such as spacial provide rich new capabilities.
* Much better performance in SSIS so tons of data can be rapidly loaded into the data warehouse.
* End-user empowerment with Report Builder 2.0
* Save space and time with data compression.
* Better control with policy-based administration and the resource governor.
The keynote had much, much more to it. Lots of good demonstrations. Donald Farmer's demo of Gemini was excellent! (I had blogged in much more detail, but a system crash at the very end of the session caused me to loose over 1⁄2 of the blog. I should save more often!)
I'll be around the Summit today and would love to get together for some coffee, If you're interested look me up.