2015: Year End Wrap up for Releases and More

As 2015 draws to a close, I started thinking back about everything that has happened this year. 2015 GraphicTechnically this has been a big year as a many new applications were released. Here are just some of them, with links included to provide more detail.

This short list could be a lot longer as it doesn’t count the number of updates released to Power BI, which occur several times a month, the CTP releases for SQL Server 2016, the new web version of BIML, or PowerShell. It’s really hard to keep up with everything that is changing. It’s a good thing that so many people are willing to help others learn how through speaking and blogs which make learning new things easier.

Community Involvement in 2015

Keeping up with all of these events is difficult, especially given the pace of releases.  I spend a lot of time reading various blogs, watching videos and going to hear people speak. I also have been able to talk about topics of particular interest, many Power BI and Machine Learning. This year I spoke a different times at a number of different events including: Speaker Idol, two different user groups, seven webinars, five SQL Saturdays and other Tech Events. I’ve got a number of engagements on the books for next year, including PASS BA Con and SQL Saturday #461 – Austin. 2016 is shaping up to be busy too and hopefully our paths will cross.  I list all of my speaking events on my Engagement Page and I hope that you might take a look at it from time to time if you are interested in catching up in person sometime. Next year I am hoping my list of speaking engagements changes somewhat as I plan on trying harder to get accepted to speak at events where I submitted and was turned down in 2015. On a more positive note, views of my blog are up 1000%, and the number of website subscribers has more than doubled. Thank you very much for continuing to read this site and I hope you find my thoughts helpful. I posted once a week this year, which I thought was pretty good until I talked to Ken Fischer b | t who blogs twice a week. I’ll have to try harder next year. If you think of a topic you think would make a good blog post, let me know as I am always interested in feedback.

Keeping Up the Pace in 2016

Next year there will be no slowdown in the things to learn as SQL Server 2016 is going to be released. Although the exact date has not been announced, my sources tell me to look for it around May-June. The next release of SQL Server is going to be huge as it will include new tools Microsoft added to integrate Big Data and open source platforms to SQL Server. PolyBase, JSON and R are all going to be part of with SQL Server. Personally, I find the R integration most Datazen and SSRS are going to be integrated in the next release too which should really increase the implementation of mobile reporting visualizations.


Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur

Incorporating Azure Stream Analytics with Azure ML – Part 1

Using the Azure Stream Analytics Query Language to Drive an ML Experiment

In the past I have talked about some of the components of Azure Machine Learning, but I thought it might make more sense to talk about creating a solution, rather than the individual components.  As that will take a while, this post  begins a multi-part series to bring in some real world examples to make the concepts around streaming data and Azure Machine Learning [ML] less abstract by starting with the data, adding several ML experiments, then talking about ways to implement the solution. The blog series is focused on the streaming data from a sample company the concrete company Eohs.

Streaming Data in Azure

Eohs has installed a vehicle tracking system which sends GPS positioning and sensor data which is sent back in near real time to the dispatching company. The dispatchers are able to monitor on their screens the location of the truck, speed, heading and some sensor information delivered every 20 seconds which allow them to know if the truck is loading concrete, pouring concrete, adding water, seat belt information, and if the passenger door is opened. Eohs has some policies for their drivers which can involve termination if they are violated. Drivers are not permitted to stop the truck anywhere other than the assigned delivery location, which cuts down on fraud and helps reduce insurance costs. This data is streamed via Azure Stream Analytics [ASA].

Cortana Analytics Implementation of Azure ML

Since Eohs is streaming their data with ASA, we want to implement an Azure ML Experiment to notify dispatch in real time any violation of their policies. As I discussed in a previous blog, since Cortana Analytics includes Azure ML and Stream Analytics, this would using the components is considered a Cortana Analytics implementation. We have created a Machine Learning Experiment which will look at the GPS position of the delivery location, and determine if a driver is stopped for an extra-ordinary length of time at a delivery location, as well as stopped in a non-delivery location. The dispatchers are immediately notified of this, so they can call the driver to figure out what is happening to the truck. What kind of data is needed to be sent to the Azure ML experiment to analyze?

Sliding Windows in Azure Stream Analytics

SlidingWindowsThe Azure ML Experiment needs to evaluate all of the vehicle data which shows that the truck is stopped for a while, generally speaking greater than 90 seconds. After all some traffic lights take 90 seconds to get through, so eliminating the short stops would be helpful in decreasing the data needed to be evaluated. ASA uses a SQL-like query language which makes it easy to split the data so only the data that the experiment needs will be sent. We want to evaluate a window of time where data returned is only the data where the vehicle shows it is stopped for 91 seconds. Finding the 91 second stops is considered a sliding window. Here’s the code you would need to do this.

SELECT VehicleID, Avg(GPSLat), avg(GPSLong), min(Speed), max(PourSensor),Max(WaterSensor), dateadd(second, -91, System.Timestamp) as StartEvalTime
, System.Timestamp as EndEvalTime
FROM VehicleTrackingSystem TIMESTAMP by SensorTime
Group by VehicleID, SlidingWindow(second,91)
HAVING min(Speed) <1


EndEvalTime is the Time that this event was calculated by the system. Since I wanted both the start and end evaluation time, the time was calculated by using the DATEADD function. If one of the data elements arrived out of order, using the TIMESTAMP function will ensure that they events will be evaluated in the order they happened instead of the order when the data was received.

Other Windowing in Azure Stream Analytics

window_slideASA also supports two other windowing functions, Tumbling and Hopping. In my next post I will be discussing how and when to use a Tumbling Window. If you are interested in reading the posts as they occur, please subscribe to desertislesql.com to be notified when the next post is available.




Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur