Problem The second day at SQL PASS was exciting for our team because we met a number of folks from the SQL Server community who are familiar with MSSQLTips.com and had great things to say. It has really been encouraging and motivates us to continue to build value for the community and means a great deal to us on a very personal level. We also had one of our team members deliver a session at SQL PASS and it was a great session for him personally and for everyone who attended. So thank you for both opportunities. Day three at SQL PASS has started off pretty cool with a big prize from Dell, learning about all of the new SQL PASS board members and getting psyched up about PerfomancePoint 2007!
Solution The opening session on day three of SQL PASS started off with Lynda Rab, SQL PASS Board Director and one of our good friends from Canada, running up on stage as the Red Hot Chili Pepper's Higher Ground was blasted out to the audience. With Lynda's untiring energy, she briefly spoke to the SQL PASS attendees and then jumped into the 2007 election results:
Rick Heiges, Board Member
Paul Nielsen, Board Member
Greg Low, Board Member
Erin Welker, Board Member
Bill Graziano, Executive Vice President of Marketing
Rushab Mehta, Executive Vice President of Finance
Wayne Snyder, President
Wayne Snyder took the stage and talked about volunteerism at SQL PASS and the big value of the PASS network. He explained how if we "work together and we can do great things!" Wayne also recognized the "humble and hard working" Joe Webb, who worked on the SQL PASS board over the last 6 years. Joe talked about the wonderful experience he has had over the last six years and how it was his pleasure to serve the community. As he concluded he encouraged all of us to get more and more involved in SQL PASS.
Next, Wayne introduced Kevin Kline who is the current SQL PASS President. Kevin was also recognized for his eight years of service to the SQL PASS community, being the last original board member from the inception of the organization. Kevin stressed the value of SQL PASS and the relationship to Microsoft. He shared a story how one of his articles was read by the SQL Server team at Microsoft and included as a SQL Server feature. Kevin said "you have a voice through PASS to Microsoft." Kevin concluded by indicating he was honored to work with a number of people over the years at SQL PASS. Thank you to all of the SQL PASS board members for all that you do for the community!
In the first keynote of the session, Thomas Barta, Senior SQL Server DBA for Dell Information Technology talked about his experiences over the last four years working through migrating the Dell.com SQL Servers from 32 bit to 64 bit and all of the benefits that followed. He explained how the core web features (Dynamic Products Catalog, My Account, Shopping Cart and Customer Support) of Dell.com are supported by over 500 SQL Servers and thousands of databases in order to support the billions of requests per month. He explained how he recognizes the following benefits from the migration:
Migrated from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005 with a 1.4 times boost out of the box
Implemented Database Mirroring to improve high availability and MOM to improve overall operations
By implementing 64 bit 2U Dell servers with 2 sockets and multiple cores as well as expandable memory, they have been able to quantify these benefits over the original 4U 32 bit servers:
Response time up 41%
Transactions per second up 33%
CPU utilization down 57%
Response time from 3 seconds with 32 bit to 1 second response time with 64 bit
Less rack space needed
Less power needed
Ability to meet the peak holiday season traffic
With Microsoft per socket licensing for SQL Server, they benefited from the licensing cost to horse power savings with multiple core CPUs
The Dell portion of the keynote ended with Andrew of Dell raffling off a Dell computer to one lucky attendee. Thank you Dell and congrats to that one lucky attendee!
The second keynote of the morning was from Bill Baker who is a General Manager and Distinguished Engineer from Microsoft. Bill is all about getting the "right information to the right people at the right time" which is his vision of BI that is becoming a reality. Bill started off his session talking about the phenomenon of storage shrinking and becoming very affordable. He shared a story about how he recently purchased hard drives for new machines for two of his family members. The multiple terabytes of raw storage were a few hundred dollars and he could carry them in a plastic bag which is the same size plastic bag as you would get at the grocery store. This story lead into the excitement him and his team have for the release of PerformancePoint 2007 which enables the IT organization to get the data to the right people in the business units.
Next, Bill started telling a story about a fictitious retail company based in southern Massachusetts which was challenged to grow sales. Unfortunately, the sales goals\rules for wining were not well defined and different stores figured they were the winner, but each calculation was based on a different metric i.e. raw sales, net sales (without returns), sales per square foot, etc. This is a prime example of the spread mart phenomenon with each person having their own business logic for a shared problem. This is where PerformancePoint 2007 comes into offer the following benefits:
All of the data across the organization from every department can be accessed via a single interface
Operational, Supply Chain, Manufacturing
Sales, Customer Services, Marketing
PerformancePoint 2007 has the ability to see the complete picture for the business
Central location for business rules, calculations and process needed to measure the success of a metric
Record decisions in the organization and perform what if type analysis with the Excel integration
Planned vs. actual calculations to determine the successes and areas for improvement
From that point, Bill started talking about Continuous Business Improvement in terms of:
Plan - Plan your business and change the plan as needed to be more successful
Analyze - Execute and analyze what is going well and what is not, then determine opportunities for improvement
Monitor - Determine the status as you plan and change your business
In the first demo of Bill's session he introduced Nathan Halstead who is a Program Manager at Microsoft. He displayed the PerformancePoint 2007 interface for the Adventures Works CFO with metrics on the left of the interface and a Visio-like diagram of those metrics on the right. Those metrics included:
As he worked through the demo I was amazed to see the functionality available by right clicking on the interface to drill into the line chart and see how the plan in that example needs to change. He showed how the tool opens an Excel spreadsheet from Performance Point for the head count while balancing the Excel 2007 Score Carding, Dashboarding and what if calculations. All of the rules are centrally setup for the business and applied to the data with the ability for the users to analyze the results. Then the data is stored centrally in SQL Server without having to write any code.
The second demo was from Scott Heimendinger, Software Development Engineer/Text at Microsoft. He brought a lighter side to the keynote with a PerformancePoint Monopoly example that was truly impressive and fun. He showed the code for calculations in Excel and centrally in PerformancePoint to play the game and calculate your balance sheet for real estate properties owned. He showed how the score card changes as the game is played. One big note that I was surprised about was PEL. PEL (Performance Expression Language) is a programming language of sorts in PerformancePoint that business users can use to build expressions that are implemented under the covers in the application as T-SQL Code or MDX code. I am going to be on the lookout for this new PerformancePoint feature based on its power and flexibility to see how this technology is adopted.
One of the last items from Bill's session that really struck me was his comment that "insights comes from hunches and get validated by reviewing the data." I really think that is the case with many of the companies we work with on a daily basis and I am excited to see how they can benefit from PerformancePoint in the future.
During Thomas's session, he shared these additional resources that are another good point of reference:
One last note about Bill's session. He has folks that work for him and they distribute shirts. If you want one, make some noise and make sure you can catch. They are shirts in the form of a brick, nice and compact, can travel a long distance and can leave a mark if you are not paying attention. Bring your catchers glove next year!
The entire team at Edgewood Solutions and MSSQLTips.com thoroughly enjoyed the SQL PASS 2007 Community Summit. We had the opportunity to meet a ton of folks from the community and learn a great deal about SQL Server that we can bring to our customers and readers. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to attend again next year and hopefully we can see you out in Seattle in November of 2008!
Last Update: 9/21/2007
About the author
Jeremy is the CTO @ Edgewood Solutions, co-founder of MSSQLTips.com and SQL Server MVP since 2009.