Microsoft BI – 2015 Highlights

It’s been a great year for BI! Power BI coming of age,  exciting SQL Server 2016 CTP releases and a maturity in the cloud for analytics, data science and big data.

For me Power BI is the biggest news of 2015. POCs ran in H1 of 2015 found it wanting. Basic functionality missing and the confusion of wrapping it in Office 365 made it to much for businesses to consider. However with the GA release, and the numerous updates, it had finally delivered on its vision and given Microsoft an end to end, enterprise solution, for the first time in its history; including multidimensional connectivity!

Microsoft also made some great tactical manoeuvres including the purchase of Datazen and Revolution R as well as their excellent Data Culture series. Datazen is a good tool in its own right with great dashboard creation capability and impressive mobile delivery functionality on all devices/platforms. It will nicely integrate to SSRS top deliver a modern reporting experience via mobile in SQL 2016. R is the buzz of 2015, a great statistical analysis tool that will really enhance SQL Server as the platform of choice for analytics as well as RDBMS. In fact you can already leverage is capability in Power BI today!

Cloud. So Microsoft finally realised that trying to drag businesses into the cloud was not the correct strategy. A hybrid approach is what is required. Give businesses the best of both worlds. Allowing them to benefit from their existing investments but “burst” into the cloud either for scale or new capability, as yet untested. SQL 2014’s ability to store some data files, perhaps old data purely kept for compliance,  is a great example of this. ExpressRoutes ability to offer a fast way to connect on-premises with cloud is brilliant. Or go experiment with Machine Learning, made Microsoft simple by the Azure offering.

For me I was also scored to see the PDW hot the cloud with Azure SQL Data Warehouse. An MVP platform is the closest my customers have needed to be to BigData but the initial outlay of circa half a million quid was a bit steep. With the cloud offering companies get all the benefits worn a minimal investment and an infinite ability to scale. But do consider speed of making data available as it could be limited by Internet connections.

So in summary an awesome year for Microsoft BI with the future looking great! I still feel Microsoft lack SSAS in the cloud but perhaps Power BI will gain that scale in 2016. Overall I envisage seeing Microsoft as a strong leader in the next Gartner quadrant release for BI and I can’t wait for SQL 2016’s full release!

The future (2016 at least) is bright, the future is hybrid cloud…


MS BI Current World


Minimum Viable Nap Time – Agile Parenting

Anyone involved in scrum would have heard of minimal viable product (MVP). It is basically the most important features of your deliverable, the key features required to make your output a success!

Since becoming a Scrum Master I have often found great ways of applying Scrum, or Agile, to real life not just work.  For example instead of planning for our holiday in a waterfall fashion we break the whole process into “sprints” and accept that things will change,  like our requirements or budget throughout the year.

However,  I hadn’t thought about it in terms of parenting so far. But yesterday, as we were hightailing across to my sisters house for my nephews first birthday party I realised that my little one,  15 months old, runs in sprint cycles, requires sprint planning and definitely has MVP.

Let’s take the sprints, and now she is racing around they truly are sprints! We plan the sprints as best we can. The morning sprint is agreed the night before and can last up to 8 hours. Our planning,  our refers to the delivery team,  me and the wife, lasts just 15 minutes. We agree that if little one wakes earlier than 7 we will let her play in her cot until 7. We plan breakfast, what she will have and when she will have it. Part of our planning is a sprint review of the previous morning sprint, what did she enjoy to eat, did she play in her cot etc. On a daily basis we know we need to meet her MVP: food, nappy change, learning, naps and love. Naps are very important and in our house we believe sleep begets sleep!

As we headed out yesterday our sprint goal for the mornings sprint had changed, we still had to meet little ones MVP but also get across to Milton Keynes for 11 am for the party. To do this the first nap of the day had to be in the car! This means playing George Ezra’s Budapest on repeat until she dozes off. Then it is about no talking and me trying to avoid pot holes and take roundabouts at 10 miles an hour!  This is maintained until the MVNT is met,  30 minutes. Any disturbances, mum sneezing, daddy ov&ertaking, are met with more Budapest replays;  I really hate this song!

For all parents naps are key and we all know our little ones MVNT, Minimum Viable Nap Time. If you already know Scrum I definitely suggest implementing a bit into your patenting, it definitely works. But my advice is not doing the retrospective when the wife has done 3 straight nights of no sleep whilst you slept like a baby in the Crown Plaza in Leeds! If you don’t know Scrum but do want to get more Agile then I heartily recommend it for work and home! The best training I have had is a company called Agil8 and a chap called David Hicks.