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

Introduction to Cortana Analytics

Microsoft previewed Cortana Analytics in July 13, 2015, and since then, they have published a lot of information on their site about it. Based on what I’ve seen on the internet, there appears to be a lot of confusion as to what Cortana Analytics is. This is completely understandable when you consider the number of different products the name Cortana has represented for Microsoft. My favorite is the image with the picture of a blue girl, which is from the Xbox game Halo 3. A video game was character was the first place Microsoft used the name Cortana in 2007. At the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference in April 2014, the name Cortana was used for the Microsoft version of the Apple’s Siri phone application. If you are interested in hearing about it, I’ve included a link to the Channel 9 video here where they talk about Cortana. Finally, a year later Microsoft comes out with a product called Cortana Analytics. No wonder people are confused.

Cortana Analytics is not a Product

Cortana Analytics: the bow tying different apps together

Cortana Analytics: the bow tying different applications together

To help bring clarity to what Cortana Analytics is and is not, I wanted to start out with what I think is the most confusing point. Cortana Analytics is not a product, but a name given to a bunch of other applications which are designed to work together. In essence, Microsoft tied a bow around a bunch of applications and called the bow, Cortana Analytics. Here’s an example scenario. Start by sending water meter data from the physical meters to the cloud, where you aggregate, analyze, store and end up with a Power BI application on your phone showing you a visualization of some aspect of the data. To make this happen from a technical perspective using Microsoft’s tools, one would need to probably create an Event Hub, run a Streaming Analytics Process, use Data Factory to call a Machine Learning experiment, migrate the data to an Azure Storage account of some kind and then create a Power BI report to be sent to your phone. All of that, is Cortana Analytics. It is not one product, but a big bow tying all of the applications they have designed to work together under one name. Power BI is part of it. On that note, I recently saw Microsoft do a demo with Power BI where they integrated the Cortana-phone like functionality of talking to Power BI and it displayed the information it was asked. I have no idea when this will be released, but it sure was a neat demonstration. In this demo, they mentioned they were adding Cortana funcationality to Power BI, which really didn’t help the confusion level with the name.

Cortana Analytics Web Presentation

I recently recorded a video presentation of Cortana Analytics where I described in greater detail the components which make up Cortana Analytics and how they work together. That video is available here. As I am working more with the components which make up Cortana Analtics, such as Machine Learning and Power BI, I will definitely be devoting more blog post to the topic, so please subscribe to my blog if you are interested in learning more about it.

Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur