Thursday, January 25, 2024

The Conference Season Has Begun!

The conference season is kicking off again! I have quite some events and sessions already lined up for the next months, so I though I'll update you here.

First up is Data Community Day Austria, in Vienna. I'm actually at Schiphol Airport now, waiting to board my plane 😀 I'm presenting a new session on Direct Lake in Microsoft Fabric.

In March, 7-9, the Dutch Power BI Gebruikersdagen are in Utrecht and I'm presenting a session on Saturday: How to use Power BI External Tools.



After that is SQLBits, which I'm skipping this year. MVP Summit is unfortunately also online for me this year, but that has a very good reason...

Because, in the last week of March the Microsoft Fabric Community Conference is happening in Las Vegas, and I'm delighted and excited to say I am presenting 2 sessions there!
The first session is with Ulrich Christ, Program Manager Azure Data Factory at Microsoft, and we are going to talk about Connecting to SAP Data with Data Factory in Microsoft Fabric.
Because the second session is still in the works I can't share any details yet, so you'll just have to wait a bit longer for that.



After that, there's also DataGrillen in Lingen, Germany on May 16 & 17. I'm presenting a session dear to my heart: Fabric Admin in a Day. Do check the amazing 2-day schedule on their site. It's also happening during the Kievelinge Fest, which happens the weekend right after DataGrillen, how convenient... 😁


I'm very excited for the coming months and hope to see many of you there, meeting up with old friends and making new ones! 💛

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Ignite News: Microsoft Fabric is Now GA (and more)!


Over the (roughly) last 6 months we all had the ability to play with Microsoft Fabric, when it went Public Preview at Microsoft Build.

Now that the keynote of Microsoft Ignite by CEO Satya Nadella has been delivered, and also the amazing in-depth Fabric session by Amir Netz, Arun Alagaratchagan: Make your data AI ready with Microsoft Fabric and Azure Databricks. Back then at Build, Satya called it:

"...the biggest launch of a data product from Microsoft since the launch of SQL Server!"

Generally available

But now, Satya went one step further and announced GENERAL AVAILABITIY of Fabric!

Also, Copilot in Fabric is now in public preview.

More updates

There's a ton of updates inside Fabric on existing features on the latest Fabric blog here.

And there are also some exciting new features:

  • Seamlessly connect your data sources to Fabric
    The ability to create shortcuts was already there, where you virtualize data in OneLake without having to move or duplicate that data.. You can create shortcuts to another Lakehouse and Warehouse, but also to files on ADLS or even Amazon S3 or Google storage.
    The newest feature just announced is called Mirroring, where you can add and manage existing cloud data warehouses (and databases) in Fabric's Data Warehouse experience. The way this works, is like replication in SQL Server. Fabric replicates a snapshot of that database to OneLake in Delta Parquet files and keeps that in sync in near real time, which relies on the Change Data Capture feature of the underlying source. Initially it's supported for Azure Cosmos DB, Azure SQL DB and Snowflake, more sources will follow next year.
  • Copilot in Power BI (public preview)
    Just be aware that Copilot will be rolling out in stages, 
    • Smart Narrative is an existing visual in Power BI Desktop, now rebranded to Narrative with Copilot
    • The November Desktop update let's you generate synonyms for your fields, measures and tables using Copilot.
    • In the future, there's also going to be:
      • a report creation experience
      • a DAX writing experience
  • Direct Lake support on Data Warehouse
    There's also an update on the size limits of your Fabric capacity and when it will fallback to Direct Query.
  • Stored credentials for Direct Lake semantic model
    You can now specify a fixed identity (like a service principal) for a Direct Lake mode semantic model
  • Pricing on Fabric is updated!
    Reserved pricing is now available, with a rough discount of around 41% off of Pay-As-You-Go pricing.
  • OneLake integration for Import-mode semantic models is coming!
    This allows for a seamless (at least that's what Microsoft claims 😄) integration for your import Power BI Desktop models into OneLake. I wonder if this also implies that you can convert your import report to a Direct Lake mode model afterwards. It's not totally clear to me at this point.
[update on November 16th]

Conclusion

Will I now go all-in on Fabric? "It depends", but probably not 😀
I think it still depends on a case per case basis. Is it a newish customer with not too many investments in other data platform services like Synapse/Data Factory. Then it makes sense to evaluate the requirements and see if it's worthwhile to start with Fabric, considering a lot of features are still in preview, and others are not there yet.
On the other hand, if it's an existing customer with real estate in Synapse and databricks for example, where they implemented a medaillon structure and have infrastructure running there, I'd seriously reconsider if it's worth moving to Fabric. I'm leaning towards a no for now.


Keep a look out on the official Fabric and Power BI blogs and Microsoft Learn for all new content:



I'm updating this post live while the updates are rolling out, so come back later for more updates!😀

Friday, October 20, 2023

Data, Insights, and Community: My Reflections on Data Saturday Holland and dataMinds Connect

The Lamot conference center alongside the river Dijle in Mechelen, Belgium


The world of data and analytics is constantly evolving, with new tools, technologies, and best practices emerging almost daily. As a data enthusiast and professional, I'm always on the lookout for opportunities to expand my knowledge and stay up to date with the latest trends in the field. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending two fantastic events: Data Saturday Holland and dataMinds Connect, and you may already guess—it was amazing!

Data Saturday Holland - Where Passion Meets Expertise


Data Saturday Holland, formerly known as SQL Saturday Holland, is a renowned event that brings together data professionals, enthusiasts, and experts to share their knowledge and experiences.

One of the things that struck me the most at Data Saturday Holland was the passion of the speakers and participants. From Power BI to data engineering, there was a wide range of sessions to choose from. I attended sessions covering various topics like Direct Lake in Power BI and improving your Power BI report. These sessions provided me with valuable insights and practical tips that I could immediately apply to my work. It was enlightening to learn from experts who shared their real-world experiences and demonstrated the tools and techniques they use on a daily basis.

A highlight of the Saturday was being able to attend my favorite podcast, Knee-Deep in Tech, live in a movie theater!
Knee-Deep in Tech by Heini Ilmarinen, Alexander Arvidsson and Simon Binder


Another highlight of the event were the networking opportunities. I had the chance to meet old friends and new people, exchange ideas, and even discuss potential collaborations. It's incredible how the event fostered a sense of community and encouraged knowledge sharing. I left Data Saturday Holland inspired and motivated!

DataMinds Connect - A Deep Dive into Data and AI


Just when I thought my week couldn't get any better, I had the privilege of attending dataMinds Connect. This event is an annual conference organized by the dataMinds community, focusing on Microsoft Data Platform technologies. The event spans (for now 😏) two days and covers a wide range of topics related to data and AI.

One of the standout features of dataMinds Connect was the depth and breadth of the sessions. Experts from various domains within data and AI shared their knowledge. From advanced SQL Server features to leading AI applications, there was something for everyone. I especially enjoyed the in-depth sessions that allowed me to explore complex topics in detail, like Mathias Thierbach's Power BI Source Control precon.




I also volunteered during the two days this year, assisting speakers and visitors in making the most of their own experience. During Mathias' workshop, I helped answer questions and on the second day, I addressed general visitor questions and took care of the speakers, so they didn't have to worry about the technical aspects, drinks, or other logistics.

The community at dataMinds Connect was incredibly welcoming, and I had the opportunity to engage in conversations with participants and speakers. This sense of community and feeling of being welcome was a common theme throughout the event, and it's something that truly sets this conference apart. A beer and some chocolate certainly works wonders too! :-)


The Value of Conferences


Attending Data Saturday Holland and dataMinds Connect provided me with a comprehensive overview of the Power BI and Fabric landscape and the latest developments in this field. I left with new skills and insights and a better understanding of the latest trends and technologies. Moreover, the connections I made during these events were invaluable. Networking with professionals who share my passion and interests can lead to future collaborations, career opportunities, or simply the joy of being part of a vibrant and supportive community.

In summary, my week at Data Saturday Holland and dataMinds Connect was an incredible experience! These events not only expanded my knowledge but also allowed me to connect (and continue to connect) with fellow data enthusiasts and experts!

I have a few more things coming up in the following monhts:
Do I see you there? 😀