SQL PASS Summit 2010, Keynote Day 2

The second day of the SQL PASS summit has already started in unique fashion.  Today is #sqlkilt day, and there are a dozen or more guys and gals dressed in fine Scottish attire.  Bill Graziano, executive VP of finance for PASS, was playfully booed when he took the stage for having worn pants on kilt day.  Bill took the time to recognize a couple of volunteers, Wendy Pastrick and Lori Edwards, for their continued efforts in the community.

Just announced to the group is an election review committee which will be headed up by my friend Joe Webb and staffed by a number of others from within the community.  This was just a brief mention of what appears to be a large effort, but Joe blogged about this in more detail here.


Quentin Clark, General Manager of Database Engines for Microsoft, is delivering today’s keynote on SQL Server vNext (Denali).  As was announced yesterday, the first CTP of this product was released to the public yesterday and is available for download now.  A few notable facts about this version:

  • Up to 15,000 partitions for VLDBs
  • Columnar index (described yesterday)

So far, we’ve got lots of marketing info but not a single demo.  Time to move along!


Clark announces a new initiative named AlwaysOn, and introduces Gopal Ashok, technical product manager for SQL Server product management.  Ashok – at long last – shows us our first demo of the keynote.  AlwaysOn appears to be a HADR service through which, by way of a wizard, SQL Server DBAs can quickly configure secondary replica databases.  Any of the replicas can be marked as readable, allowing read-only access for reporting or other functions not related to OLTP, and even more impressive, backups can be offloaded to the replicas.  A dashboard is also provided to show the status of the AlwaysOn infrastructure.  Admittedly I’m no expert on HADR, but this does look very promising.

Miscellaneous changes

Alone on the stage again, Clark announces a few other changes, including brief mentions of T-SQL enhancements:

  • Sequence generator
  • Support for paging
  • Enhanced error handling


FileTable is a new feature based on FILESTREAM technology.  Rohan Kumar, a principal group program manager, describes FileTable as an engine that will manage and store files directly within SQL Server.  Files are still stored in the file system (local or UNC), and can be viewed and managed completely within SQL Server.  He demonstrates by copying in a number of files to the file table using the Windows command prompt, and then browsing these files (and opening a video media file) from within the FileTable interface in SQL Server.  Aaron Bertrand, sitting next to me at the blogger table, wondered aloud about how backups would be managed when using FileTable, which was not addressed during the demo.


Next up is Don Box, Microsoft distinguished engineer for SQL Server, to discuss Project Juneau.  Box uses the Northwind database for the demo, which drew a few playful jeers, and he follows it up by SELECT * which was similarly received.  Juneau is a tools enhancement, which makes the management of object metadata easier and more intuitive.  Juneau reaches into both SQL Server Management Studio and Visual Studio, and appears to have seamless integration in each.  A few of the examples shown include the ability to script out a database to a series of .sql files (one per object), and when browsing each of these files you can view dependencies on the target object.  I suspect that this is just the tip of the iceberg; time to go exploring.

Business Intelligence stack

Jeff Bernhardt, Principal Product Manager, comes forward to describe the changes on the BI side.  He describes Data Quality Services, a user tool which allows data stewards to browse, update, and manage MDS data.  Bernhardt continues the “story” by showing the new SSIS interface.  Most notable here is the ability to Undo a change in the designer, a feature that is long overdue but certainly welcome by those of us who make our living in the SSIS design surface.  Another significant addition is a dependency and lineage checker, which can show relationships between integration services packages and other assets such as data files.  This feature promises to be very, very cool.  This was the shortest demo so far – is that it for BI?

That’s a Wrap

I had hoped for more demo time on the BI (and SSIS) side, but it’s enough to get excited about for now.  They’re handing out the CTP1 disks to attendees as they leave the room, so I’m sure we’ll see a flood of Denali chatter, bug reports, etc.  More tomorrow!

About the Author

Tim Mitchell
Tim Mitchell is a data architect and consultant who specializes in getting rid of data pain points. Need help with data warehousing, ETL, reporting, or training? If so, contact Tim for a no-obligation 30-minute chat.

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