Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference Recap – Day 1

Well, the grandiose plan was to blog each session as they happened, but between keeping my existing clients happy and keeping up with all the events of TechEd/MSBIC, that did not happen.

I was really on the fence about attending the Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference, based in part on existing client demand, but largely on the fact that there have been conferences that I attended where I didn’t learn very much and felt it was a waste of time. This generally was due to the fact that I had been using a particular product in beta as part of a TAP program or was somehow pretty plugged in to the goings-on, and the conference didn’t raise the bar very much. I definitely did NOT feel that way about the recent MS BI Conference in New Orleans; I was very glad I chose to attend.

Here’s a chronological recap of my experiences, kept as brief as possible. If available, I’ll include links to the presentations I attended.

Day 1

06 June 2010 – 23:30 – Touch down at MSY airport

07 June 2010 – 01:00 – Arrive at Hotel, which turned out to be nowhere near any of the events. Expedia told me 2.5 blocks. Turned out to be a mile away. It was a really nice converted mid-1800’s house. Quiet, with a good bed.

07 June 2010 – 07:45 – Registration. Went smoothly. Glad the lines for BI were shorter than for TechEd.

07 June 2010 – 8:30 – coffee at the excellent LaDivina Gelateria stand in the convention center.  I could not believe people were passing this place up to wait in line at Starbucks. This became a morning ritual.

07 June 2010 – 9:00 – Keynote, which I blogged already here. Short assessment: A reasonably effective, but uninspired (and uninspiring) keynote. All head and no heart. I did find myself engaged by the section in which Ariel Netz demoed the BI technologies. I was especially pleased by the use of the term “wickedly fast” to describe PowerPivot.

07 June 2010 – 11:00 – There were no sessions for BI folks to attend, even though there were for other tracks. Upon review of the schedule, there were some “foundational” sessions, but these were not publicized or communicated very clearly.

07 June 2010 – 12:00 – Lunch.

07 June 2010 – 1:00 – 2:15 – Attempting to attend the Interactive Session “BIE04-INT Building Custom Extensions the the PowerPivot Management Dashboard” with Dave Wickert. Here’s where the trouble started:

I was told the session was full. The red-shirted people wranglers were not letting anyone in. OK, I could understand how this might be a popular session. OK, I’ll just go to my 2nd choice:

“BIO101 – Business Intelligence Overview: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions”. I was told this session was full, too. The red-shirted people wranglers were not letting anyone in. OK, I could understand how this might be a popular session. OK, I’ll just go to my 3nd choice:

“BIE201 – Configuring PerformancePoint Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010”. I was told this session was full, too. The red-shirted people wranglers were not letting anyone in. OK, I could understand how this might be a popular session. OK, I’ll just go to my 4th choice:

“BIU202 – Business User Productivity via Report Part Galleries in SQL Server Reporting Services”. I was told this session was full, too. The red-shirted people wranglers were not letting anyone in. OK, I could understand how this might be a popular session. OK, I’ll just go to my 5th choice”

“BIP03-INT – Creating an EPM Environment Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and SharePoint 2010″. I was told this session was full, too. The red-shirted people wranglers were not letting anyone in. OK, I could understand how this might be a popular session. OK, I’ll just go to my 6th choice”

“BIC205 – How Partners Healthcare, a Worldwide Leader in Radiology Medicine, Uses Microsoft BI to Improve Patient Quality”. I was told this session was full, too. The red-shirted people wranglers were not letting anyone in.

So, here I am, after planes, trains, and automobiles, a several thousand dollar outlay, standing in the hallway of the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, not learning about Business Intelligence. Clearly not acceptable. The capacity planning for the BI sessions was clearly not effective. While the event planners did take some measures to address the issue, this remained an issue throughout the rest of the conference.

In the end, I was able to get in to the last 25 minutes of Dave Wickert’s presentation, in which he demonstrated extending the PowerPivot Management dashboards, using PowerPivot. The business case was to add a priority category to data sources. So in effect, he demoed using PowerPivot to manage PowerPivot. Very cool. He predicted that there would be a community-created set of extensions as we have seen with various artifacts on CodePlex like the Slowly Changing Dimension component or the SSRS Management reporting.

The interactive sessions do not appear to be posted. Dave’s blog site is here, the MS whitepaper describing the technique is here

07 June 2010 – 2:45 – 4:00 “BIE203 – Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services” The product seemed like  it’s not ready for prime time, and the presenter seemed like he was not ready for the session. I walked out.

07 June 2010 – 4:30 – 5:45 – “BIP301 – So Many BI Tools, So Little Time” This session was awesome. Dan Bulos laided out all the different options for implementation available with the MS BI toolset. It was clear from his presentation that Dan had deep experience and had given a lot of thought to what works well where. Definitely in my Top 5 sessions of MSBIC. I definitely recommend watching the video; session linked here:

07 June 2010 – 5:45 – 9:00 Partner Expo – I enjoyed browsing the booths, and have been to enough of these that I don’t play the “gimme swag” game very much. It seems like the mood was upbeat and commerce, or at least the potential for commerce, was in full swing.

07 June 2010 – 9:00 – ?? Take care of emails, take care of the  “day job”, then collapse. No night-time socializing today – the late-night flight & arrival took its toll.

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