BI Announcements at PASS Summit 2014 #sqlpass #powerbi #powerpivot

This morning the PASS Summit 2014 started in Seattle and during the keynote there was several announcements from Microsoft. I’m considering here only the ones about Business Intelligence (you will find other blogs around about SQL Server).

  • In the coming months, Azure SQL Database will get new features such as column-store indexes, which can be very interesting for creating data marts on the cloud
  • Another upcoming feature in SQL Server will be an updateable columns-store index on in-memory tables. Real-time analytics will like this feature.
  • For a store analysis, an interesting demo using Kinect capturing heatmap to display which areas of a shop store have been visited more using Power Map. Just a demo, but it’s an interesting idea and the best big data demo I’ve been so far (something you can implement in the real world using big data technologies without being Twitter or Facebook).
  • New Power BI dashboards: many new visualizations and a new user interface to place data visualizations on a dashboard (similar to the grid you have in DataZen if you know that product)
    • You can connect to your data source from the cloud, without creating a local data model and sending it to the cloud
    • Q&A is integrated in the new user interface – the web site is a powerbi.com domain, it seems not in SharePoint
    • Q&A generates the report in HTML5, no Silverlight signs here
    • The entire editing is done in a web browser – a preview of that was presented at PASS BA Analytics keynote, this seems a more refined version (still not available, however)
    • TreeMap is available as a new visualizations
    • You can upload an Excel file from your disk or from OneDrive – just Excel file, no Power Pivot data model required (it is created on the fly on the cloud?)
    • Combo chart combining line and bar chart visualization available
    • Private preview now, public preview available soon
    • Request access to public preview on http://solutions.powerbi.com
  • Azure ML is publicly available for free in trial mode

The Power BI story seems the real big news. Combining this with the fact that you can query *existing* on-prem databases on Analysis Services without moving them on the cloud opens up interesting scenarios. Many questions now about when it will be available and how it will be deployed. Interesting times ahead.