Today at PASS Summit 2012 there have been several announcements during the keynote. Moreover, other news have not been highlighted in the keynote but are equally if not more important for the BI community.

Let’s start from the big news in the keynote (other details on SQL Server Blog):

  • Hekaton: this is the codename for in-memory OLTP technology that will appear (I suppose) in the next release of the SQL Server relational engine. The improvement in performance and scalability is impressive and it enables new scenarios. I’m curious to see whether it can be used also to improve ETL performance and how it differs from using SSD technology.
  • Updates on Columnstore: In the next major release of SQL Server the columnstore indexes will be updatable and it will be possible to create a clustered index with Columnstore index. This is really a great news for near real-time reporting needs!
  • Polybase: in 2013 it will debut SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), which will include the Polybase technology. By using Polybase a single T-SQL query will run queries across relational data and Hadoop data. A single query language for both. Sounds really interesting for using BigData in a more integrated way with existing relational databases. And, of course, to load a data warehouse using BigData, which is the ultimate goal that we all BI Pro have, right?
  • SQL Server 2012 SP1: the Service Pack 1 for SQL Server 2012 is available now and it enable the use of PowerPivot for SharePoint and Power View on a SharePoint 2013 installation with Excel 2013.
  • Power View works with Multidimensional cube: the long-awaited feature of being able to use PowerPivot with Multidimensional cubes has been shown by Amir Netz in an amazing demonstration during the keynote. The interesting thing is that the data model behind was based on a many-to-many relationship (something that is not fully supported by Power View with Tabular models). Another interesting aspect is that it is Analysis Services 2012 that supports DAX queries run on a Multidimensional model, enabling the use of any future tool generating DAX queries on top of a Multidimensional model. There are still no info about availability by now, but this is *not* included in SQL Server 2012 SP1.

So what about Mobile BI? Well, even if not announced during the keynote, there is a dedicated session on this topic and there are very important news in this area:

  • iOS, Android and Microsoft mobile platforms: the commitment is to get data exploration and visualization capabilities working within first half of 2013. This should impact at least Power View and SharePoint/Excel Services. This is the type of UI experience we are all waiting for, in order to satisfy the requests coming from users and customers. The important news here is that native applications will be available for both iOS and Windows 8 so it seems that Android will be supported initially only through the web. Unfortunately we haven’t seen any demo, so it’s not clear what will be the offline navigation experience (and whether there will be one). But at least we know that Microsoft is working on native applications in this area. I’m not too surprised that HTML5 is not the magic bullet for all the platforms. The next PASS Business Analytics conference in 2013 seems a good place to see this in action, even if I hope we don’t have to wait other six months before seeing some demo of native BI applications on mobile platforms!
  • Viewing Reporting Services reports on iPad is supported starting with SQL Server 2012 SP1, which has been released today. This is another good reason to install SP1 on SQL Server 2012.

If you are at PASS Summit 2012, come and join me, Alberto Ferrari and Chris Webb at our book signing event tomorrow, Thursday 8 2012, at the bookstore between 12:00pm and 12:30pm, or follow one of our sessions!