Today is the first official day of the summit. After two days of preconference sessions and last night’s Welcome Reception, the time has finally arrived for the opening keynote of PASS Summit 2011 in Seattle. I’m in the rotating bloggers seating with a great view of center stage. The ballroom is filling up and lots of SQL community love is in the air. This is my sixth summit (I think) and each year I think it couldn’t possibly get any better. What’s going to happen this year? It remains to be seen. I’m told that we have a record of 5,108 registrations- that is awesome!

Today’s keynote will be delivered by Ted Kummert, Senior Vice President, Business Platform Division of Microsoft. Undoubtedly the topic is the upcoming release of the the next version of SQL Server, code name Denali. Rumor has it that the official product name will be announced today. I’ll be live-blogging the event, so keep coming back to see my running commentary on the keynote. Of course, my focus will be on the business intelligence aspects of the keynote, but there will be other live bloggers to monitor as well. Seated at the bloggers table in my immediate vicinity are Brent Ozar, Allen White, Aaron Bertrand, Mark Broadbent, Wes Brown, Sean and Jen McCown, Andy Leonard, Denny Cherry, Rob Farley, Andy Warren, Grant Fitchey, Mike Walsh, Paul Turley, Jorge Segerra, Tim Mitchell, Wendy Pastrick, and several others. Seated next to me is Bradley Ball and nearby is Jes Borland-Shulz, Erin Stellato, Kendra Little, and Jeremiah Peschka. And more to come no doubt! So there will be plenty of opinions to draw from!

Update: While we wait, we got to see a series of video commentary on what SQL Server community means. Yours truly was included in that roundup as well as Erika, and other familiar faces and newcomers. Rushabh Mehta opened the presentation with a warm welcome and lets us know that Twitter is over-capacity! I suspect this will be a recurring theme all week! Next Rushabh reviewed the progress towards goals. HIghlights:

  • Technical training hours – Goal: 1 million. So far: 430K
  • Members – Goal: 250k. So far: 80K
  • Regions – Goal: 5. So far: 1

The solution to the problem of trying to decide which sessions to attend? All general sessions will be available via streaming later.

Now for Ted Kummert…a review of the strategy introduced last year—appliances, cloud, and new features for SQL Server. Key theme – choice. Hardware options, location of data (on-premise or cloud), vendors. “We believe the cloud world is a hybrid world.” It’s not either/or. Microsoft intends to offer a consistent experience for tools and product behavior across this hybrid world. Obviously, Microsoft is very focused on Denali and considers it the most significant release in SQL Sever history: high-scale mission critical application support, “breakthrough insight”, “cloud on your terms”. Quality data (Master Data Services), Data Quality Services, reference data from Azure marketplace, new BI semantic model, pervasive BI expanding with project Crescent – to be released as Power View as part of SQL Sever 2012 (the official name for the next version). The product platform will release in first half of 2012.

Big data is key to future strategy. Microsoft will support Hadoop. Partnering with Hortonworks, Eric Baldeschwieler, CEO, joins Ted on stage. Background with Yahoo: using Hadoop to store pedabytes of data: mail, spam processing, target advertisement, etc. Hadoop is best solution for big data problems- volume of data, variety of data, velocity of data overwhelms traditional tools. Hortonworks has mission of growing Hadoop ecosystem (training, support), and envisions Hadoop will be storing half of world’s data in 5 years.

My friend Denny Lee demonstrating big data. (Can you believe that Denny and I shared an office once upon a time? He’s always been the way he is – seriously!) Scenario: needs to look at terabytes of data daily (pedabytes monthly) obtained from web logs to determine where people come from to view web site. Looking for country and language. HiveQL is a query language to query the log. 310 separate files distributed across cluster. Using PowerPivot for Excel – using HiveODBC driver. Joining the downloaded data with SQL Server and Azure marketplace data. Comparing user profile data with IP data from web log. Moves to PowerPivot for SharePoint (hour to process) to show final comparison which of course can be shared with multiple users.

Back to Ted and Microsoft’s vision: enriching data with the world’s data, build on the work of others (aggregations and transformations), a place to store and provide private data. Code name Data Explorer – going live end of year. Demonstration: Contoso Frozen Yogurt. Searching for “killer” location, using Azure data. Starting with existing locations and normalized performance scores to see how stores are performing relative to one another. Extraction of nouns  from data to suggest data that would enrich the data. Mashup – transition to enrichment phase to overlaying “our” data to data from marketplace. What is world data? Demographics data is traditional data. New reference data gathered from Bing from crawling Web. This will be in Azure labs at end of year.

Devices-smartphones have a lot of computational power. Amir Netz comes to the stage. Amir was recently made Technical Fellow at Microsoft. It’s a very big promotion and we all wish him congratulations! Amir will use movie industry data in Power View. He also demonstrated Power View on a smartphone, iPad2, and Windows 7 tablet.