Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer

The place where I page to when my brain is full up of stuff about the Microsoft platform

February, 2009

  • SQL Server 2008 sp1 CTP

    Service pack 1 of SQL Server2008 is primarily a combination of the three cumulative updates released so far, and has now been released as a public beta (or CTP to use Microsoft speak).  Trying out the public ctp will enable you to apply all of these at once as well as doing providing a slipstream installation so you can do a complete up to date install in one strike.

    The one useful new feature I did notice in the CTP was the Report Builder 2 is now a click once install from Report Manager.

    Needless to say (but I will anyway) not for production yet! but if you want to try it the you can get it on TechNet here.

  • Date for your Diary – How to go from data to decisions

    A key part of business intelligence is the collaboration between the business user and the BI IT professional and so Microsoft are running a one day seminar addressed to both of these audiences.  The well renowned BI guru Rafal Lukawiecki is running this on 26th March at Microsoft’s office in Cardinal Place, Victoria London.  Hopefully you can pair up with you opposite number on the business side and use this event to help shape your current thinking and improve that vital collaboration.  

    I think this is is going to be very popular so you really need to register here asap


    0830-0900 Registration

    0900-0920 Welcome by Microsoft and Introductions of the Day

    After introductions, we begin the day with an overview of the agenda highlighting the key topics to be covered and the logistics of the event.

    0920-1040 Improving Insight and Decision Making Using Microsoft Business Intelligence and SQL Server 2008

    This introductory session will showcase examples of using BI to improve the running of any organisation. We will stay at conceptual and business levels to ensure that you have a good understanding of the opportunities and the issues that need to be addressed. We will also introduce the terminology and the concepts of BI, such as predictive analysis, performance management, multidimensional data, warehouses, marts, KPIs and so. This session will also give you a good foundation on which to build your BI knowledge from an architectural perspective. We will close this presentation with a brief discussion of a few successful industry case studies.

    1040-11:00 Break

    1100-1215 Delivering BI Through Microsoft Office System 2007

    · In this session you will see a live showcase of BI offerings from the perspective of an executive, a manager or a knowledge worker. You will see decision making support through SharePoint Server. We will visualise insight through dashboards and using SQL Server Reporting Services. Above all, we will demonstrate the tight integration of various Office components, notably of Excel with the BI platform. You will see how to perform market basket analysis and new ways to work with pivot tables and multidimensional data without ever leaving Excel’s friendly yet powerful environment.

    1215-13:15 Lunch

    1315-1430 Aggregating Knowledge in a Data Warehouse and Multidimensional Analysis

    The first more technical session of the day will look at the back office of BI. We will look at the data movements in your organisation, managing it with SQL Server Integration Services to build a working Data Warehouse. We will optimally prepare this data for advanced multidimensional analysis by creating suitable aggregations, hierarchies of attributes and building efficient cubes. This session will stress the importance of data quality and we will show you ways to improve it at its basic and organisational level’s.

    1430-15:00 Break

    1500-1600 Finding Hidden Intelligence with Predictive Analysis of Data Mining

    The final t

    echnical session of the day will concentrate on the most future-oriented technology, data mining. We will show you how to find patterns and hidden intelligence in large amounts of data. You will learn how to look for it using a variety of sophisticated techniques. Naturally, we will show you how to forecast and predict the future events and measures in a trustworthy and reliable way. If you ever wanted to build a predictive KPI, this session will show you how to do it. At the end of this session, and of this day, you will know what can be done to gain insight into tomorrow’s unknown to make better decisions today.

    1600-1630 Business Intelligence with Microsoft – Summary and Q&A

    We will close the day by summarising the functionality of the entire Business Intelligence platform, once again looking at a BI project from an end-to-end perspective. We will also dedicate a good amount of time for answering any remaining questions from the audience.

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  • Farewell old friend – how to say goodbye to SQL Server 2000 Rescheduled

    My TechNet Live Webcast on upgrading from SQL Server 2000, has now been rescheduled for 3 March from 4-5pm.  If you can catch it live you can ping me and the TechNet team with questions during the webcast, but it will be available off-line (together with the inevitable slide deck) if you have other demands on your time.

    Either way you won’t have to travel, in fact you can watch in the comfort of your own bed/bath/sofa.  All I would ask you to do is register for it here, so that we can gauge the success of this approach and the talk itself. 

  • Apologies for the Inconvenience

    Sadly I am not as reliable as SL Server and so the blog has not been updated for a couple of weeks while I have been recovering form an operation.  My events have also been affected so Keith Burns will be on hand in Scotland tomorrow instead of me, and my TechNet virtual event on saying farewell to SQL Server 2000 has been put back a couple of weeks.

    I have gone through most of the comments on my blog now as well so hopefully the answers you needed are there in time.

    Finally thanks for all the get well e-mails and tweets.

  • SQL Server Books On-Line

    Staring the obvious here but SQL Server books on-line (BOL) is called that for a reason, it’s constantly being updated …on-line.

    I mention this because every now and then a new version becomes available for download, and in fact there was an update for SQL Server 2008 BOL on 30 January.  Keeping up to date is important at the moment as BOL still seems to be catching up with what’s in the SQL Server 2008, a good example of this is the section on audit which is now much more helpful.

    You may prefer to always use BOL on-line at TechNet here, but I find search easier on the local copy, for example on TechNet you end up searching all of Technet, while on a local copy you can refine your search to a just a part of BOL if you want to e.g. T-SQL, reporting services etc. and surfing for an answer is not always possible at some sights so you need your local copy. 

  • Win a Ray Ozzie signed copy of Windows

    Ray Ozzie

    One of our evangelists (Marc Holmes) has managed to get Ray Ozzie (Microsoft’s chief architect) to sign a copy of the pre-release previews of Windows 7 and Windows 2008r2 and he’s giving these away.

    To win you’ll need to make a cool video of some aspect of a Microsoft product and then let Marc now where you’ve posted it (full details are here).

    Good Luck!

  • OCS 2007 r2, great Anti Virus Software

    At Microsoft we are all on Office Communications Server which makes for a great anti-virus experience.  Yep it stops viruses spreading by allowing people to work at home when they feel they need to work to hit a deadline, but are really too ill to work in the office.  This avoids spreading whatever lurgy they have to their workmates and customers.

    It can also reduce accidents on icy-roads, and free up dads to spend more time with the kids (viz a viz the recent study on the state of child care in the UK). 

    Apparently it is also a really good piece of collaboration software and the new features in r2 (which launched yesterday) take this further:

    • Better Collaboration
      • Dial-in audio conferencing. Office Communications Server 2007 R2 enables businesses to eliminate costly audio conferencing services with an on-premise audio conferencing bridge that is managed by IT as part of the overall communications infrastructure.
      • Desktop sharing. This feature enables users to seamlessly share their desktop, initiate audio communications and collaborate with others outside the organization on PC, Macintosh or Linux platforms through a Web-based interface.
      • Persistent group chat. This enables geographically dispersed teams to collaborate with each other by participating in topic-based discussions that persist over time. This application provides users with a list of all available chat rooms and topics, periodically archives discussions in an XML file format that meets compliance regulations, provides tools to search the entire history of discussion on a given topic, and offers filters and alerts to notify someone of new posts or topics on a particular topic.
    • Enhanced Voice and Mobility
      • Attendant console and delegation. This allows receptionists, team secretaries and others to manage calls and conferences on behalf of other users, set up workflows to route calls, and manage higher volumes of incoming communications through a software-based interface.
      • Session Initiation Protocol trunking. This feature enables businesses to reduce costs by setting up a direct VoIP connection between an Internet telephony service provider and Office Communicator 2007 without requiring on-premise gateways.
      • Response group. A workflow design application manages incoming calls based on user-configured rules (e.g., round-robin, longest idle, simultaneous), providing a simple-to-use basic engine for call treatment, routing and queuing.
      • Mobility and single-number reach. This extends Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile functionality to Nokia S40, Motorola RAZR, Blackberry and Windows Mobile platforms, allowing users to communicate using presence, IM and voice as an extension of their PBX from a unified client. *

    * Blackberry client does not include Single Number Reach.

    Eileen my manager is the official goddess on this, while I am usually the remote demo monkey for the events she does, but I am loving it especially while my wife is unwell this week with some horrible virus.  The only problem is I maybe picking this up as I write this!

  • Exporting Data, the Right tool for the Right job

    I have just been following a thread about using reporting services 2005 to produce a 55,000 row excel spreadsheet. The initiator of the thread was concerned that the report was locking up and was looking for a fix.

    I could suggest migrating to SQL Server 2008 as it has much better memory management and pipelining to ensure large reports run as expected. 

    A more considered response is that this looks to me like a data extraction task which would be better suited to designing in integration services. This package could then be scheduled overnight and take load off the reporting server during the working day to make it more responsive to other users.

    Even that answer is not really the right one, as you have to wonder what this user is doing with that data and how it will be protected once it has been saved locally.  You also have to question how long the data will be relied on as it could become obsolete very quickly (especially in the uncertain commercial world we live in now).

    So my considered answer is to buy the end user a cup of coffee and see what he really needs, and then work on that.

  • Licensing and Scaling up SQL Server BI

    Both Standard and Enterprise editions of SQL Server come with a lot more than just a database engine, there’s also a suite of BI tools:

    • Integration Services (SSIS)
    • Reporting Services (SSRS)
    • Analysis Services (SSAS)

    which you are also licensed to use on the same server as the database engine.  That might be OK for a small business, however many of the BI projects I have worked on have needed individual servers for some of these components, and then things get more complicated. 

    Essentially if you put a server component of SQL Server (as distinct from the client tools which I’ll come back to) then you must license that server as well.  e.g. you might have Server A with the database engine on and all your databases, while Server B might have Reporting and Analysis Services on and both of these must have an appropriate license of SQL Server.

    Which edition is up to you, so your server running database engine might be Enterprise edition, while you might only need Standard edition for your reporting services server.

    When it comes to the licensing model you want again each server can be different so Integration Services might only need a 5 CAL license because it isn’t accessed by anyone, but reporting services is opened up to the internet and so must have CPU licensing.

    Finally the client tools are not licensed themselves and this includes the client connectivity tools, BI Development Studio, SQL Server Management Studio and the Report Builder, so you can deploy those as needed.

    For more information on this complex topic:

  • SQL Server events in Manchester

    I am still tracking through the virtual e-mail mountain following 3 weeks holiday in Sri Lanka and I see the SQL Community have focused their attentions on Manchester. In addition to the upcoming SQL Bits goes Fourth on 28th March (venue tba).  Tony Rogerson and Martin Bell are hosting an evening of SQL-ness this Thursday (5th Feb). 

    You can register here and the full details are:


    18:00 - 18:30 - Introduction, Networking and Food
    18:30 - 19:00 – Round Table problems and answers, SQL nuggets - bring a tip or 1 - 5 minute demo and share with your peers.
    19:00 - 19:45 – Bits and Bobs to help the Developer - TSQL, Tony Rogerson, SQL Server MVP

    In this session I will look at a number of techniques and features in the product that help Developers and DBA's alike create robust and scalable queries. We will look at how the optimiser can use the schema to help it, parameter sniffing, table valued functions, cte's, table valued variables and a few more [once I've thought about them - please email me if there is anything specific].

    19:45 - 20:00 – Break

    20:00 - 21:00 – Table Valued Parameters - Saints or Sinners?, Martin Bell, SQL Server MVP
    With the release of SQL Server 2008 and the new Table Valued Parameter feature, should we all be using them or are they the spawn of the devil? Martin will look at what options are available in the different versions of SQL Server and compares the performance and practicalities of using each one.

    3rd Floor,
    Westminster House,
    Minshull Street,
    off Portland Street,
    M1 3HU

    Map picture
  • SQL Server Wallpaper

    I am seeing a resurgence on loud and bold wallpaper in the interior design market, but is there anything out there for the fashion conscious DBA?

    How about this…


    As you can see it’s a complete diagram of all the system views in SQL Server 2008, available as a pdf here.

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