PASSion Award and Tom Casey’s Keynote Address – Pass Summit 2009

At this morning’s keynote session, Rushabh Mehta (executive
vice president) was the first on the speaker platform. He talking about what
makes PASS run. A big part of it is the people like the attendees at annual
PASS summit, and of course all the volunteers that make this organization tick.
But PASS could not operate without it great sponsors. CA and Microsoft have
been great sponsors for PASS from the beginning and haved help run the
organization by having a seat on the board.

This past year the PASS board has been more focused on the
user community. One of the decisions the PASS board made was to increase the
funds they spend on community projects and events. This year the board
increased their community spending by 40%. Hopefully, all of you have noticed
and gotten value out of the additional PASS support that has been provided to
the user community.

The next part of the PASS content for the keynote address
was to present the PASSion award. Wayne Snyder came out to hand out this
award. The PASSion award is presented to an individual that has shown
unselfish commitment to spending their own time to support PASS. This year PASS
decided to give out two awards. The first award was an International PASSion
award. This award was presented to Charley Hanania. The second was a North
American PASSion award that was given to Allen Kensel. A number of other
individuals were identified for their commitment to supporting PASS, they were
Tim Ford, Grant Fritchey, Amy Lewis, and Jacob Sabastian.

Click for larger image
Charley Hanania getting his PASSion award from Wayne Snyder, with Rushabh Mehta in the background


Charley Hanania getting his PASSion award from Wayne Snyder, with Rushabh Mehta in the background

Click for larger image
Allen Kensal getting his PASSion award


Allen Kensal getting his PASSion award

After the PASSion awards Tom Casey of Microsoft was
introduced. Tom Casey’s topic of the day was Business Intelligence (BI). He
stressed how BI can bring agility to your business, and how it can enhance the
decision making process. He stated that only 20% of business decision makers
have the information and the tools they need to make sound business decisions.

Tom Casey explaining how Microsoft plans to provide tools that will drive business decisions

Tom Casey explaining how Microsoft plans to provide tools that will drive business decisions

Microsoft’s direction is to provide BI tools that help the
power user and IT professional. They are doing this by leveraging those tools
that people already know, like Excel. By adding additional functionality to a
familiar tool like Excel, Microsoft will provided an enhanced experience for
reporting and querying against business data. By doing this the users will not
need to learn new tools, but only need to expand their horizons a little by
exploiting the enhancements added to the familiar tools. This is how Microsoft
is leveraging current technology and growing it into the next generation.
These discussions then lead to a demo of PowerPivot.

The PowerPivot demo showed how you can create Excel
workbooks with billions of rows. Yes, I said billions of rows. With this new
enhanced capability of Excel you can now work on workbooks that contain really,
really, large volumes of records locally on your machine. You might think these
workbooks must be excessively large in size. Wrong! Microsoft has done a
fantastic job of compressing these workbooks down to a manageable size. You
can even share the large Excel spreadsheets with other power users easily.

Microsoft realizes formatting of data into a nice usable
format is a thing that can be time consuming for Power users. They have now
created report templates to help improve the user experience in developing well-formatted
reports. . These templates allow Excel users an easy drag and drop environment
to create very user friendly, nicely formatted and readable reports.

Microsoft has made some great enhancements for incorporating
these large Excel spreadsheets into SharePoint. With SharePoint, users can
now publish their reports and allow other users to discover these feature rich
reports. The demo showed how you could leverage Silverlight to present these
reports in many different presentation formats. I have to admit, I’m a DBA and
not a BI person, but these demos really showed some sexy looking reports, and
cool report presentation formats.

One of the other demos shown was a tool for the IT
professional. They introduced a tool named PowerPivot Management Dashboard.
This tool allows the IT professional to monitor the usage of all the different
SharePoint PowerPivot Excel workbooks. With the dashboard, IT professionals
will be able to see aggregated numbers related to the reports. These
statistical numbers show different aspects of each report, like the number of
times the report has been used, the CPU consumption, etc. Having a dashboard
with this kind of usage information allows administrators the information they
need to better control and manage all these different PowerPivot reports.

Microsoft has come a long way in the BI space. With these
new enhancements that are coming out with the next generation of Microsoft
products, Microsoft will bring self-service reporting to the next level. Raising
the bar, so to speak. If you are an IT professional for your organization,
Tom suggests that you consider downloading the November CTP for PowerPivot, and
“kick the tires”. They really want your feedback. You can find out the latest
information about PowerPoint by checking out the following website: http://www.powerpivot.com. Be a
visionary for your company by downloading and building reports using these new
BI capabilities available in this CTP. This way as your organization starts to
deploy these tools, you can help shed some light on how best to deploy these
new technologies across your enterprise architecture. Be a leader not a
follower.

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Gregory A. Larsen

Gregory Larsen
Gregory Larsen
Gregory A. Larsen is a DBA at Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Greg is responsible for maintaining SQL Server and other database management software. Greg works with customers and developers to design and implement database changes, and solve database/application related problems. Greg builds homegrown solutions to simplify and streamline common database management tasks, such as capacity management.

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