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  • Blog Post: How to train your MAML – Importing data

    In my last post I split the process of using Microsoft Azure Machine Learning (MAML) down to four steps: Import the data Refine the data Build a model Put the model into production. Now I want to go deeper into each of these steps so that you can start to explore and evaluate how this might be useful...
  • Blog Post: Adventure Works!

    My title for this post is a pun on the Adventure Works databases, and samples that have been in SQL Server since I can remember. There were also some data mining examples ( as referenced in this old post ) but this has not really moved on since 2011 when I last wrote about it so you might be forgiven...
  • Blog Post: Cast and Convert

    In SQL server the Cast and Convert functions change one type of data to another. A pod cast is the art of converting knowledge into sounds so that's the tenuous link for this post. Pod casting is not something I have ever tried, but the security expert on our team, Steve Lamb sees himself as the next...
  • Blog Post: Integration, Integration, Integration

    Microsoft is all about choice, so instead of having one way of shifting data between two different platforms we have three.  I get asked about two of these a lot but I also wanted to discuss the latest tool in this space to make sense of all them and understand when to use what: Integration Services...
  • Blog Post: Are we spending too much time with Excel?

    Despite my love of SQL Server and my respect for Oracle, and MySQL the worlds number one database is excel.  I know that many purists and DBA’s will shudder at me grouping a spreadsheet with a database, but look at this form the perspective of number of hours of users using excel and the volume...
  • Blog Post: Lean and Mean

    When you build a cube in analysis services it is very easy to expose every attribute in every dimension to the user. You can also add-in every measure and if you don't feel that's enough then you can create your own calculated members to add to the users' fun. Once you have given the users every thing...
  • Blog Post: Grain - The devil is in the detail

    Technorati Tags: BI , Business Intelligence , OLAP , SQL server 2008 Business Intelligence is just like digital photography, the more detail you want the more space you are going to use and in both cases we talk about grain and granularity. If you have ever worked with RAW files on a 'Prosumer' (an IT...
  • Blog Post: One Version of the Truth

    One of the most over used phrases in Business Intelligence is "one version of the truth" so I thought it would be good to discuss why it's important and what IT professionals can do to achieve it. In an imaginary organisation like adventure works there would be several line of business systems such as...
  • Blog Post: Unnatural Hierarchies in Analysis Services 2008

    Continuing on from my last post, I explained what Natural Hierarchies were but I thought it would also be worth mentioning what the opposite was and the issues around that. Unnatural hierarchies can be created between any two attributes for example in the world of human resources (HR) it is becoming...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft Valuable Penguin

    I sometimes think the IT industry is a bit like a load of penguins on the pack ice, each one checking the others out to see who going to brave the ocean first.  In IT it’s nervousness about when to jump onto a new technology and if there is one technology that makes IT professionals really nervous...
  • Blog Post: SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP1 released

    The first publicly available technical preview of SQL Server 2008 R2 has just been released to TechNet / MSDN subscribers.  As with the development of SQL Server 2008 each successive CTP will have more features in. This CTP’s main feature is the Report Builder 3, and also included multiple machine...
  • Blog Post: Business Intelligence for Small Business – Scorecards

    If you have read my last two posts and are interested in applying BI to your business, how do you get started?  I would be begin by deciding what success look like for your business, and this should be a balanced view taking in such factors as: Finance. Obviously no business can survive without...
  • Blog Post: Performance Point 2007 and ProClarity Licensing

    As many of you know Whitehaven has gone digital today amongst quite a lot of confusion. I must admit I am struggling to to see the point of staying analog and quite what the fuss is about given that a freeview box costs as little as £20. The story around Performance Point and ProClarity still seems to...
  • Blog Post: SQL Server BI Community Evening, 10th June, Reading

    I wanted to call out the BI evening on 10th June because they’ve given me a slot to talk about SQL Server 2008 r2 and specifically the BI features you can expect.   There’s also sessions on Data Modeling and information architecture from Alex Pratt & Andrew de Rozairo (Sybase) and one on...
  • Blog Post: Talking about Business Intelligence to your FD part 1

    As I have remarked before Business isn’t run by the IT Department it is run by the people who hire and fire the IT department i.e. the Finance Director (FD). Given the current economic climate now would be a perfect time to see what you can do to help, so I have spent the morning listening to my FD ...
  • Blog Post: Slowly Changing Dimensions and Surrogate Keys

    You would expect there to be a record and hopefully only one record for each sales person in a typical sales system and another record in another table for each of the customers. But what happens when a one of these sales people gets assigned to a different territory or is promoted to be a regional sales...
  • Blog Post: Many to Many Dimensions

    One of the many cool things that's already in Analysis Services in SQL Server 2005 (SSAS) is the concept of many to many dimensions. Suppose I have 3 bank accounts and one of those I share with my wife, and on another I am co-signatory for a local charity. This means there is a many to many relationship...
  • Blog Post: SQL Server Advent Calendar 11 – Report Builder v2

    Day 11 of my virtual advent calendar, about stuff I like in SQL Server 2008.. …and I mentioned redesigning charts in my last post and the best answer might be to get your users to do it for themselves in Report Builder 2. Leaving you (the DBA BI expert) to concentrate on getting them the data they need...
  • Blog Post: What’s good in SQL Server 2012 Integration Services

    This is a guest post by Allan Mitchell MVP, and one of the top speakers at SQL Bits   The launch of SQL Server 2012 is not too far away and the SQL Server team have been hard at work adding new functionality and also improving upon existing features.  I am lucky enough to have been working...
  • Blog Post: Does “self service BI” mean more or less work for IT?

    Before I answer that question I want to be clear on what exactly self service BI means as you could argue that users have been doing BI for themselves since the spreadsheet was invented. In those early days users would often have to rekey data into whatever analysis tool they were using as the source...
  • Blog Post: SQL Bits Friday session

    I promise this is the last time I mention SQL Bits this week, but I wanted to let you know I have got 25 free tickets for the paid for event this Friday which would normally cost £149 to attend.  The venue is the Celtic Manor in Newport… and is probably the next best thing to going to TechEd. There...
  • Blog Post: Before I get started with SQL Server Denali ctp3

    I have spent the last couple of days setting up a demo environment for SQL Server “Denali”, and I thought it might be useful to share some of my experiences over the next few days. Before I get into that a short post about the environment I have which will comprise of 7 x virtual machines (VMs) running...
  • Blog Post: Making Hierarchies Natural

    I though it might be worth another post on hierarchies in Analysis Services 2008 CTP4 to show some more attribute relationship. If we look at the attribute relationships in the date dimension of adventure works below: the relationships match the hierarchies and so the design is well optimised and there...
  • Blog Post: Hierarchies avoid arguments

    Just when you thought you had heard the last of hierarchies there's another post. This one is a little different - it's about managing confrontation and arguments, not with the code in the SQL server CLR but with other humans! In a hierarchy you navigate upwards to see information at a summary level...
  • Blog Post: Hindsight is a wonderful thing

    It’s time to spring clean the blog as I have realised that a few of my older posts have been overtaken by events and could be misleading if they were acted upon now. For example: SQL Server 2008 is now supported on VMWare and other virtualisation platforms as part of the Windows Server Virtualization...