Archive for the ‘SQL’ category

SQL updates July 2016

July 23rd, 2016

The 13th cumulative update release for SQL Server 2012 SP2 is now available for download at the Microsoft Support site.
•CU#13 KB Article: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3165266
•Understanding IncrementalServicingModel for SQL Server
•SQL Server Support Information: http://support.microsoft.com/ph/2855
•Update Center for Microsoft SQL Server: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/sqlserver/ff803383.aspx

The 4th cumulative update release for SQL Server 2012 SP3 is now available for download at the Microsoft Support site.
•CU#4 KB Article: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3165264
•Understanding Incremental Servicing Model for SQL Server
•SQL Server Support Information: http://support.microsoft.com/ph/2855
•Update Center for Microsoft SQL Server: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/sqlserver/ff803383.aspx

SQL Server 2014 Service Pack 2 (SP2). This service pack is available on the Microsoft Download Center, MSDN, Eval Center, MBS/Partner Source and VLSC. SQL Server 2014 SP2 includes a rollup of released hotfixes as well as more than twenty improvements centered around performance, scalability and diagnostics . These improvements enable SQL Server 2014 to perform faster and scale out of the box on modern hardware design,
SQL Server 2014 SP2 now includes:
•All fixes and CUs for SQL 2014 released to date.
•Performance, scale and supportability improvements.
•New improvements based on connect feedback items filed by the SQL community.
•Improvements originally introduced in SQL 2012 SP3, after SQL 2014 SP1 was released.
see https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/sqlreleaseservices/sql-2014-service-pack-2-is-now-available/

Synergy Software Systems, Dubai goes to Microsoft WPC Toronto 2016.

July 16th, 2016

The WPC 2016 in Toronto was the first WPC to be sold out. More than 16,000 attendees from 135 countries.

In his keynote, Satya Nadella demonstrated how Microsoft is dedicated to continue to support the growth of its customers and partners through new innovations and partnerships, driven by the Microsoft ambitions to reinvent productivity and business processes, build the intelligent cloud platform, and create more personal computing. see https://partner.microsoft.com/en-US/wpc/wpc-2016-vision-keynotes
Nadella stated that the entire Gross Domestic Product is being shaped by digital technology. You can learn more about the transformative power of technology in his new LinkedIn post, Reinventing Business Processes.
On Day 1 Satya Nadella described the three core ambitions that Microsoft will pivot the business around in FY17. It was the turn of three VPs to flesh out the story for each of these:
• Build the intelligent cloud platform – Scott Guthrie (@scottgu), Executive VP Cloud + Enterprise Group
• Reinvent productivity & business processes – Kirk Koenigsbauer (@kjkoenigsbauer), Corporate VP, Office Marketing
• Create more personal computing – Yusuf Mehdi (@yusuf_i_mehdi), Corporate VP, Windows & Devices

This year in particular, the message of digital transformation has been very strong, and has been anchored around what Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise Group, called “a generational shift” of organisations seeking to move their business to the cloud. Scott as usual pleased the crowd with lots of great info on the scale and industry leading capability of Azure. He claimed that the 34 Azure regions are more than AWS and Google combined, talked up the increasingly “open” nature of services available on Azure and highlighted Azure’s leadership position in multiple Gartner Magic Quadrants (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/campaigns/magic-quadrant/).

Scott referenced a great set of resources covering key Solution Areas that are enabled with Azure (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/). Scott closed out his presentation with a review of management tools. EMS now called Enterprise Mobility + Security (https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/server-cloud/enterprise-mobility/Overview.aspx) kicked things off (apparently 40% of installed Office365 base have access to EMS). He invited Julie White to show a couple of new tools within EMS.

Azure Information Protection (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/azure-information-protection) was also pretty impressive in the way that rights management and control of Microsoft Office documents was simplified and automated so that users might actually use it (all be it in the controlled world of demos).
Cloud App Security (https://www.microsoft.com/en/server-cloud/products/cloud-app-security/) can identify the SaaS apps that are running within your business and allow you to drill down into detailed information on each of these (apparently they have information on 13,000 SaaS applications).
Next up was Operation Management + Security/OMS (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/operations-management-suite) allowing management across multiple environments (including non Microsoft such as vmware).

The big news here was that EMS and OMS are available to partners through the CSP licensing program.

A starring role in this section went to Facebook. Tim Campos (@tcampos) – the Facebook CIO explained that they had decided to go with Office 365 and then gave a glowing endorsement of Microsoft.

‘We need partnerships with industry leaders and we are glad that Microsoft has got its mojo back.’ He explained that Facebook employees spend four hours per day in collaboration systems with an unprecedented access to information. He discussed how tools such as Delve, Clutter and Microsoft Graph would help employees “sift through the noise”. . This was a huge endorsement of Office365.

There were some good demos across the Office 365 capability including Delve Personal Analytics (https://products.office.com/en-us/business/explore-office-delve) which was both impressive but a little Orwellian
The demo of all the capabilities of the Office suite from SharePoint to Skype was very slick and you can watch it at the 19:10 min mark in this video https://player.vimeo.com/video/174410386

In the last part of the day1 keynote there was one BIG item-
Windows10 is now available through the CSP program as a subscription service and called Windows10 Enterprise E3 at USD$7/seat/month. Providers will be able to wrap up a full end to end solution suite and buy it under a single subscription program (CSP) – Azure + Office365 + Dynamics365 + Windows10 E3.

Azure Stack (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack/) got another call out, although there was not too much detail. A short discussion about the common APIs and services and how this would help deliver the vision of the Hybrid Cloud. However, for the service provider community this is a “must find out more” area.
Azure stack becomes an extension of Microsoft Azure and together they will become a huge connected network of compatible Azure services. @maryjofoley provided more detail in her article (http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-readies-first-technical-preview-of-azure-stack-hybrid-cloud-bundle/).
The sad news is that it has only just gone into beta and without it the new Dynamics Ax RTW will not be available till next year (as predicted by us long back in a blog post).
And for the official Microsoft site go to https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack/.

Microsoft and General Electric on Monday announced a deal to make GE’s industrial software platform available on Microsoft’s cloud, a move that puts Microsoft one step closer to its cloud computing rival Amazon. The deal also bolsters GE’s software ambitions. One memorable phrase was “Digital Twins” where IoT sensors feed data about a physical object to a virtual/ digital companion to allow near real-time review of status etc. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Twins).

Last week’s announcement of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource to showcase just how seriously Microsoft takes this message. Available this fall, Microsoft Dynamics 365 will unify the current Microsoft CRM and ERP cloud solutions into one cloud service with new purpose-built apps to help manage specific business functions. Microsoft AppSource will be Microsoft’s new destination for business users to find and try out line-of-business SaaS apps from Microsoft and Microsoft partners.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 will bring together the best of CRM and ERP cloud offerings into one cloud service with specific, purpose built, apps for each of your key business processes – like Finance, Sales, Customer Service, etc.

To ensure interoperability and extensibility they also use a common data model and consistent application platform. The common data model is a cloud-resident, business database, with hundreds of standard business entities spanning both business process (Dynamics 365) and productivity (Office 365).

The combination of these things gives customers a comprehensive solution for business process innovation that lets them:
• Start with what they need by offering apps that fit roles, industries, businesses – and grow at their pace to run their entire business in the cloud.
• Enable greater productivity by connecting structured workflow of business applications (Dynamics 365) and processes with the unstructured work of collaboration and productivity (Office 365) so tat employees are empowered with productivity tools surfaced in the context of their business processes, and vice versa.
• Gain built-in, actionable, intelligence with business applications that infuse big data, advanced analytics and IoT into processes which proactively guide employees and customers to optimal outcomes. With Dynamics 365, data and insights are transformed into intelligent
• ompose, modify and extend processes in real-time. Power BI, PowerApps and the new Microsoft Flow can empower business users to change and adapt their processes without requiring IT support, and with a consistent, flexible, extensible platform.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud service so it will not be available, as is, on premises or in private clouds.

Steve Clayton (@stevecla) Demo -Steve has the great title of Chief Storyteller at Microsoft and he gave an impressive demo that pulled almost all of Microsoft cloud assets together:
•Dynamics 365
•Office365
•Azure (IoT)
•Azure Cortana Intelligence Suite

There were also some other tools that were included in the demo that looked interesting a certainly worth further investigation. For example, Microsoft Flow (https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/) a tool to help create automated workflows across Microsoft application portfolio.
Satya talked up the Conversations as a Platform “What if we could teach all computers and computing around us human language?”.

The wow factor as last year came form Hololens. The opportunity with “mixed reality” as an alternative to ‘Augmented Reality’ gave us some new jargon to use.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_reality).

The focus was on a proof of concept Microsoft and Japan Airline (JAL) have worked on to provide virtual training for aircraft engines and co-pilots. (https://blogs.microsoft.com/transform/2016/07/11/japan-airlines-creates-yet-another-first-class-experience-this-time-using-microsoft-hololens/).

The resignation of Microsoft COO Kevin Turner essentially removes a layer of management from the company’s operating structure. Gavriella Schuster was named full time worldwide channel chief. To her credit she took the trouble to visit the partner regional meetings and take questions head on.

Former Oracle channel chief, Judson Althoff will now have increased influence as the commercial lead. Reporting to him will be EPG (Enterprise Partner Group), SMS&P (Small, Midmarket Solutions & Partners), Public Sector and Developer Experience and Services.
Althoff took over Turner’s customary Wednesday morning vision keynote to describe the new operating model and how it will work. It was not a good sign that there was a steady stream of delegates walking out throughout his presentation. He had perhaps the most important messages for partners.
Of all information the provided at WPC apart the key question is where are Microsoft putting their focus? This is what all Microsoft internal metrics will be based on and therefore where Microsoft employees themselves will be focused. he dealt with that directly.

‘This does not mean that partners have to immediately change everything they do, but it absolutely means that the story they tell about their business to Microsoft has to align with this focus.’ Judson could not have made this clearer.
The all up drivers that shape the business:.
• Mission: Empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more
• Worldview: Mobile first, cloud first
• Ambitions: •Reinvent productivity and business process
• Build the intelligent cloud platform
• Create more personal computing
• Culture: Make a difference

…..and this is what that means for Microsoft’s sales teams:
1.Drive Digital Transformation with customers
2.Accelerate cloud adoption
3.Propel Windows 10 Enterprise deployment
4.Generate SQL Server 2016 growth
5.Drive ISV and SI momentum
6.Make experiences come to life through hardware solutions

The huge societal shift that is driving all of this is Digital Transformation and Experiences. According to PWC research 86% of CEOs think digital is their #1 priority and are using it to transform their businesses:
This is what all Microsoft internal metrics will be based on and therefore where Microsoft employees themselves will be focused.

An explicitly re-enforced theme was that SECURITY is at the heart of all of the differentiation messages. His claim is that EMS (https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/server-cloud/enterprise-mobility/Overview.aspx) is the fastest growing product that MS has ever had. This is a must add asset for cloud deployments.

SQL Server 2016 will be the richest in terms of built in capability, the most secure and also the best value that will democratise access the analytics.

There was lots more messaging -watch the whole video (https://player.vimeo.com/video/174543385)

Of all the partner programs at Microsoft relevant to Dynamics ERP and CRM VARs, none is more wide ranging and relevant this year than the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program . Coming up on two years of execution, CSP has grown from Azure, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility Suite to include CRM Online and the new AX on Azure. Project Madeira is on the horizon but expect at least another 18 months before it gets out to our region.

An online certification programme, the Microsoft Professional Degree is a Microsoft-led initiative built on the Open edX on Azure platform. It will look to provide professionals with ‘real-world knowledge and hands-on experience to grow their skills in critical fields’. The first curriculum will focus on the Data Science Degree programme, and will target the development of skills and experience in the data science industry, which is evolving rapidly. “The ability to offer Learning as a Service, to meet a learner where they are in their own journey and provide the targeted experiences they need to reach their specific goals, is critical to closing the skills gap,” said Alison Cunard, general manager of Microsoft Learning Experiences. A study by McKinsey & Company estimates that by 2018 the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills, as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.”

WPC was also a good chance to network with other partners, see new solutions, get first hand demos, meet up with AxPact and there was a mega concert with Swedish duo Icona Pop, and Gwen Stefani at the Air Canada centre but I am the wrong age to comment – suffice to say that the rest of the audience were obviously having a great time.

Dynamics AX 2012 R3, CU11 coming soon to Dubai ask Synergy Software Systems

May 23rd, 2016

The latest update to Dynamics AX 2012 R3, CU11, will be available in July 2016.

The CU11 update will include will include more than 50 new features and design changes covering 4 major areas: Retail, Supply Chain Management, Warehouse Management, and Regulatory updates.

Specifically, these include,
• Retail- Design changes and new features including updates to POS and MPOS.
• Supply Chain Management- Enhancements to master planning.
• Warehouse Management- Enhancements that cover the warehouse mobile device portal and more efficient picking and shipment operations.
• Regulatory updates – To provide compliance with local and regional legislation.

SQL 2016 available from 1 June 2016

May 14th, 2016

Microsoft announced last week that SQL Server 2016 will be generally available on June 1 for purchase and installation.
Microsoft is moving forward with a cloud first release and the new terminology of SQL Server 2016 being “generally available” as opposed to RTM or released. I’m guessing this will be the new way we’ll get bits as sold and supported, when they ‘are generally available’.

The new Stretch Database function that allows users to store some of their data in a database on-premises and to send their infrequently used data to Microsoft’s Azure cloud. An application connected to a database using that feature can still see all the data from different sources.

Another key feature is the new Always Encrypted function, which makes it possible for users to encrypt data at the column level – both at rest ,and in memory.

That’s still only scratching the surface of the software, which also supports creating mobile business intelligence dashboards and new functionality for big data applications.

In addition to its on-premises release, Microsoft will also have a virtual machine available on June 1 through its Azure cloud platform that will make it easy for companies to deploy SQL Server 2016 in the cloud. Many of the new features in SQL Server 2016 like Always Encrypted and Stretch Database are already available in Microsoft’s Azure SQL Database managed service, but the virtual machine will be useful for companies that prefer to manage their own database infrastructure or that plan to roll out SQL Server 2016 on premises and want to test it in the cloud.

The feature mix for each edition is available (Developer, Express, Standard, Enterprise),
Standard will has a core limit (24) and low memory (128GB), but does get two node Availability Groups (and FCIs). Stretch Databases, RLS, Dynamic Data Masking and more are also available. ‘It is disappointing that Always Encrypted isn’t allowed, – there is of course a wish to push companies with the need for more features to Enterprise but wish that wasn’t based on security, where we have enough problems.

The Developer Edition is free.

SQL Server 2014 added a lot of features but it was not worth most people upgrading from 2012.

SQL Server 2016 is a full new release. with many new improvements, and is worth considering as an upgrade.
If you just need the core T-SQL, database engine features, then you still run on older versions for a supported configuration, with HA capabilities and better performance, look at 2016. it just runs faster. (The CSS engineers have a whole series of posts on the various improvements made in SQL Server 2016 that make it faster)

For the fact sheet see http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/sql-server-2016/

I don’t think anyone should just upgrade your SQL Server 2008, R2, 2012, or 2014 instances just because there is a new version. Each upgrade should be considered on its own, weighing the pros and cons that against the resource costs (licensing, personnel cost, and development efforts). However, if you are looking to upgrade, and want newer features, I think this is a version that you could move to and run for the next decade easily. Many features have been improved, and the new enhancements give you room to grow.

I’m excited about the new version of SQL Server 2016, something I haven’t been able to say for a long time.

Entity Store for Dynamics Ax – what is it?

May 5th, 2016

So, what is an Entity store?
Entity store is a feature that will enable an Administrator or a Power user to create a data store dedicated for Reporting and Analytics. The database is called an “Entity store” and it’s a database optimized for Reporting purposes.

An existing customer of AX, can create an Entity Store in Azure or within a data center using a SQL Server 2016 or SQL Server 2014.

An Entity store can be (and should be) hosted on a separate database server than the one that hosts the transactional database. Therefore, you do not need to upgrade the transactional database to the latest versions of SQL server in order to deploy Entity store.

An Entity store enables a user to choose “Entities” (that are built on top of AX tables) to be moved into the Entity store.

An Entity store enables scheduling incremental refresh jobs with the use of AX batch framework. This makes it possible to feed data from AX database to the entity store on a small batch basis in the background.

An Entity store uses In-memory, Clustered Column-store Index (CCI) functionality built into SQL server to optimize reporting and queries. Customers have the ability to use Power BI direct query models along with Entity store to enable high volume, near-real time analytical reporting over large volumes of data as shown below.

Cortana Intelligence Suite (CIS) is a collection of tools and services offered by Microsoft that transforms data into intelligent actions. CIS offers predictive capabilities and a set of tools focused towards business users and developers that enables learning from data.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/cortana-intelligence-suite

CIS works on data in:
• Azure stores such as: Azure DB, Azure DW or Azure Data Lake
• as well as on-premise data sources such: as SQL Server.

An Entity store enables AX customers to use their data effectively with CIS capabilities by removing the drudgery of developing ETL scripts, transforming and (re)staging data. The Entity Store, together with CIS tools enable customers to complement AX data with data from devices (ie. MES, Sensors) as well as other systems (ex. CRM).

An Entity store also benefits ISVs and partners who specialize in vertical solutions built on AX – as opposed to investing in ETL capabilities to map and move data out of AX, they have the ability to focus on building vertical solutions.

Entity store functionality is released as a hot fix immediately, it will be available with the next cumulative update for Dynamics AX2012 R3.

Download the hotfix via the following link: https://mbs2.microsoft.com/Knowledgebase/KBDisplay.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;3147499 (requires access to partner source). You can download and install the hot fix using the steps described here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh335183.aspx

A Quick overview of functionality
Access the Entity store functionality using The Data Import Export framework area page in AX2012 R3 client.

Use the “Define entity stores” option, to define one or more Entity stores in AX2012R3.
The Administrator needs to create a destination database and to provide the Data Source Name (DSN) definition in the form – this option will not create a new database.

At present the following types of Data bases are supported as destinations for Entity store.
– Azure SQL DB
– SQL Server 2016
– SQL Server 2014

Entity Store functionality leverages SQL Server Column store Index (CCI) technology which is intended for Data warehouse scenarios. Currently CCI is supported only in Premium editions of Azure SQL DB and BI editions or above of SQL Server versions.

AX2012R3 ships over 450 entity definitions in CU10. Any of these entities as well as entities created by partners and users can be staged in an Entity store.
.
Entity store provides the ability to publish and to map entities defined in AX2012 into the store. Once defined, the user has the ability to make changes to mapping where applicable.

The Ax system enables the administrator to create and to manage refresh schedules to keep the data in sync with the AX operational database. At the time of creation of refresh schedules, user can choose whether to refresh data incrementally (ie. add/update only the records that got modified in AX) or to refresh in full. Data refresh schedule is triggered by the AX batch framework and the system provides options to review upcoming refresh jobs or to see the historical execution of jobs.

Power Bi- Quick Insights gets better – ask Synergy Software Systems

May 5th, 2016

A few months ago, Microsoft released its Quick Insight feature in Power BI to automatically search datasets uploaded to Power BI for hidden insights. Now Microsoft has released an easier way to access these advanced analytics by targeting specific dashboard tiles for discovering (as the name suggests) quick insights.

You need only view a dashboard tile in Focus mode, click “Get Insights,” and Power BI searches the tile and its related data for: correlations, outliers, trends, seasonality, change points in trends, and major factors automatically,
• These are the types of hidden insights that a user typically wants but, may lack the time or know-how to query.
• Or, they answer useful questions that (as often happens with BI) a user has simply not thought to ask.
The Quick Insights feature is built on a growing set of advanced analytical algorithms
To try out the scoped Quick Insights capability:
• Go to In Focus mode on a dashboard tile for data loaded into Power BI and select “Get Insights.” Power BI Quick Insights will then scan the data related to the tile and display a list of potential insights for you to explore further.
• To get more information about a specific data point, you can select data in the visual and Quick Insights will focus on that data point when it searches for insights,

The visualizations display in a special Quick Insights canvas with up to 32 separate Insight Cards. Each card has a chart or graph plus a short description.

Some of the insights you can uncover include:
• Major factor(s)-Finds cases where a majority of a total value can be attributed to a single factor when broken down by another dimension (see graphic).
• Category outliers (top/bottom)-Highlights cases where, for a measure in the model, one or two members of a dimension have much larger values than other members of the dimension.
• Time series outliers-For data across a time series, detects when there are specific dates or times with values significantly different than the other date/time values.
• Seasonality in time series-Finds periodic patterns in time series data, such as weekly, monthly, or yearly seasonality.

SQL CU should I update?

May 2nd, 2016

Is it a good idea to install SQL Cumulative Updates (CU) as soon as those are released?.

It depends on what it fixes. New security threats arise daily. However, in general in the small print to each CU Microsoft has usually advised that customers should not install a particular CU unless they are experiencing the specific issues the CU corrects.
However, you should at least try to be up to date with the latest Service Pack

In its recent CUs update KBs Microsoft now recommends to implement CUs as those are released:
• SQL Server CUs are certified to the same levels as Service Packs, and should be installed at the same level of confidence.
• Historical data shows that a significant number of support cases involve an issue that has already been addressed in a released CU.
• CUs may contain added value over and above hotfixes. This includes supportability, manageability, and reliability updates.
• You may require a specific update in order to resolve a specific application issue.

Be wary of all patches. Keeping up with patches is worth doing but do it on a planned basis. Microsoft is constantly fixing issues, so take advantage of their hard work, but unless its critical then my advice is to first verify the patches don’t degrade your system. Bugs can still exist in patches, when run on your specific environment, as with all software, so test in your own environment. That means you need a test plan, preferably an automated test plan. If you can’t test, if you’re busy, if this is a month you can’t afford for things to fail, then don’t install the CU. This is like throwing your own developers’ code into production without any testing.

Make sure you know what is being changed, and look for obvious problems. No one will be too upset about an obscure issue with little impact or frequency of occurrence, but if your normal scheduled jobs suddenly start failing, then you’ll dramatically reduce the user confidence.

Power BI why does it matter?

April 24th, 2016

The new Dynamics Ax comes with embedded Power BI content packs watch the whirlwind tour presentation to find out why.

It opens up to self service to all users, Bi can now leverage the scalable resources of the cloud. this presentation by Nick Caldwell is almost an hour long – but its worth making the time to watch. Power Bi is a cloud-based SaaS that “enables you to find and visualize data, share discoveries and collaborate in intuitive new ways.” A, single view of your critical business data via a self-service analytics hub.

To learn more watch this slightly shorter presentation from Will Thompson which provides some interesting and useful tips and tricks.

SandDance is a Microsoft Research data visualization project, spearheaded by Steven M. Drucker and Roland Fernandez, that experiments with new genres of visualization and represents an innovation in user interactions.

With SandDance, every data element is always represented on the screen, and animated transitions are used between views to help people explore, understand, and communicate insights in their data.

The SandDance custom visual puts this innovation into the hands of users through the open, extensible visualization framework of Power BI that can leverage rich connectivity, modeling, and interactive reporting. The focus of SandDance is on tasks where data is not pre-aggregated (that is, many individual records), and can be rearranged in groups on the screen to create meaning.

Download the SandDance chart from the Visuals Gallery. Import it into your Power BI report, and drag all the fields that you would like to use into the Values field bucket.

Once you have created a SandDance chart change the View, -there are some interesting types available, including 3D. Sum by any column in the dataset. -this ‘ summary chart’, it is actually created with many rectangles. . In the Color by options select the color palette then use Facet by to view the same visualization broken up by different ranges of a particular attribute.

Note that you can also place other visuals on the canvas and they will interact and cross filter with SandDance – explore your data in many perspectives.

For more detailed help, check out http://www.sanddance.ms

SQL Server 2014 RTM cu13 released

April 23rd, 2016

The 13th cumulative update release for SQL Server 2014 RTM is now available for download at the Microsoft Support site.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3144517

SQL server 2016- runs a lot faster!

April 23rd, 2016

There many well publicised features of SQL 2106 that have maybe overshadowed the many enhancements to improve performance.

Added together there is a huge impact as these various blofg articles reveal.

Large Data File Writes (April 15)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/15/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-larger-data-file-writes-2/

Indirect Checkpoint Default (April 12)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/12/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-indirect-checkpoint-default/

SOS_RWLock Redesign (April 7)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/07/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-sos_rwlock-redesign/

Dynamic Memory Object (CMemThread) Partitioning (April 6)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/06/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-dynamic-memory-object-cmemthread-partitioning/

Updated Scheduling Algorithms (April 1)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/01/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-updated-scheduling-algorithms/

Automatic Soft NUMA (March 30)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/30/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-automatic-soft-numa/

Instant File Initialization (March 25)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/25/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-instant-file-initialization/

LDF Stamped (March 22)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/22/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-ldf-stamped/

Automatic TEMPDB Configuration (March 17)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/17/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-automatic-tempdb-configuration/

T1117 and T1118 Changes for TEMPDB and User Databases (March 15)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/15/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-t1117-and-t1118-changes-for-tempdb-and-user-databases/

Spatial Index Builds Faster (March 10)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/10/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-spatial-index-builds-faster/

TVPs with Spatial Column(s) (March 8)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/08/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-tvps-with-spatial-columns/

Native Spatial Implementations (March 3)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/03/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-native-spatial-implementations/

DBCC Extended Checks (March 1)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/01/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-dbcc-extended-checks/

DBCC Scales 7x Better (February 25)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/02/25/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-dbcc-scales-7x-better/

Query Store – SQL 2016

April 23rd, 2016

Query Store will be available in all editions of SQL Server 2016.

This is a huge plus because Query Store serves as a data recorder for your query execution plans. It’ll help you troubleshoot :parameter sniffing issues, connection settings issues, plan regressions, bad stats, and much more.
It is a rich persisted db of query execution over time for SQL Server/Azure DB and is a central starting point for Query Tuning and Troubleshooting

- Query Store collects and persists:
- all query texts and to compile time stats
- all plan choices and runtime metrics – and allows you to force plans from history

What can you do with it?

Analyze performance and details of queries whether they are cached or not
Analyze the history of queries and plans across server restarts
Look at properties and statistics for queries not available in DMVs
What queries consume the most/least cpu, i/o, memory over time?
Compare performance before/after a change (A/B Testing)
Plan stability after upgrading to SQL Server 2016
Are ad-hoc queries killing performance filling up your cache?
What is the standard deviation of performance for a query?
What % of time is the performance of my query spent on compile?
What is the performance of queries with different SET options?
Keep performance information in the backup of the database
Allows a simpler and more robust method to force plans vs plan guides

Upgrades are also easier in SQL 2016 with Query Store – you control when Optimizer changes are enabled
and can also quickly fix regressions with Query Store

See Books Online’s section on Query Store to start learning, .

Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ended on April 12, 2016

April 21st, 2016

Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ended on April 12, 2016
customers still running SQL Server 2005 after April 12, 2016, will no longer receive security updates and technical support. We recommend upgrading to SQL Server 2014 and Azure SQL Database to achieve breakthrough performance, maintain security and compliance, and optimize your data platform infrastructure.

Envision 2016 takeaways – Synergy Software Systems

April 12th, 2016

Nadella, in his opening Microsoft Envision keynote said “The very nature of work is changing.” He spoke about Microsoft reinventing productivity and business process through the Windows 10 platform and other products. With all of the abundance of technology, what is still scarce is human attention and time. Our goal in reinventing business process and productivity is to help you reclaim that time to grow your focus on things that matter the most to you and your organization.”

Astronaut Scott Kelly who spent nearly one year on the International Space Station, when asked what business people could learn about technology from his experience in space, said that, as he left the International Space Station for the last time, he was “absolutely inspired by what we are capable of achieving if we dream it — and that we have to put the resources behind it.”

Nadella and Lilian Rincon of the Skype team previewed enhancements to Skype that will include making Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, persistent within Skype. If you need to look something up, such as check your calendar, you will be able to click on the Cortana icon and ask Cortana to check your schedule without leaving Skype. Along with the integration with Cortana, Skype will also be able to interact with “bots” or automated artificial intelligence agents from other organizations. One example of bots included a hotel bot that helped with booking a room — all from within Skype.

Microsoft also announced an important new partnership with car manufacturer Toyota at the Microsoft Envision event. The new collaboration called simply Toyota Connected was touched upon briefly in Nadella’s remarks. The new initiative will deliver a connected car technology drawing in part from Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.

Microsoft is partnering with R3, a consortium of major banks around the world, to develop new blockchain technologies, leveraging the underlying approach from the Bitcoin digital currency to change the way they track transactions and offer financial services to their customers. The blockchain is a public ledger of transactions, and the R3 consortium consists of more than 40 banks, including big names such as BNP Paribas, Wells Fargo, ING, JPMorgan and Citi. Microsoft will work with the consortium to “develop, test and deploy blockchain technologies to modernize decades-old processes and streamline operations, potentially saving billions of dollars from back-office operations,” said Peggy Johnson, Microsoft executive vice president for business development, in a blog post explaining the news. Goals include faster trades of assets such as stocks and bonds, and direct transfer of ownership, which cuts clearing houses out of the processes, something that’s appealing to banks because it promises to cut costs and reduce the risk of fraud, Johnson said. The partnership could be a boon for Microsoft’s partners and its cloud platform. The consortium will use Microsoft Azure and also have access to more than 45 “blockchain as a service” technologies from companies that work with Microsoft. In addition, Microsoft says it will offer dedicated technical support and service to R3’s blockchain labs.

Paypal President and CEO Dan Schulman said Bitcoin is “not necessarily something that we’re betting on,” even though PayPal allows Bitcoin through the Coinbase bitcoin wallet. However, the underlying blockchain technology is “very interesting,” Schulman said. What blockchain allows is … theoretically a friction-free, cost-free way of doing transactions.” The key, he said, is to tie the blockchain into a currency that isn’t as volatile as Bitcoin.

PayPal is used by 180 million people worldwide. It’s also used by 14 million merchants, according to Schulman, the CEO of PayPal since the company’s split from eBay back in 2014. Schulman gave a fireside chat format interview with Peggy Johnson, EVP of Business Development at Microsoft. PayPal has two other brands. The company bought Xoom about a year ago. Xoom is an international money transfer service. PayPal is also behind Venmo, the digital wallet service with a social element to it. Venmo, which is popular with millennials and younger generations, is used four to five times per week on average by customers because of the social element and the ability to split the cost of payments for things like meals and entertainment. Whereas, PayPal is used on average by customers just a little over two times per month. Schulman foresees that Venmo and PayPal will be a seamless experience in the future

Clearly many prominent Dynamics partners have opted for WPC and don’t see Envision as a replacement for Convergence. The focus of this conference has massively shifted, as has Microsoft’s vision in general. Attendees included top company executives, department managers, and other decision makers. This opens up opportunities to see how the vision of “One Microsoft” can be achieved through the use of many products. For example someone attending because they are a Microsoft Dynamics AX customer had the opportunity to see how they could leverage PowerBI, Office 365, and Azure to create a more connected and efficient business environment.

Many big players announced new solutions built on top of CRM, and azure/Cortana based solutions. However relatively very few partner products were showcased. While many of the main partners had a booth, the expo floor was much smaller with very limited product selection. The attendance and the expo traffic was significantly lower than Convergence. the rationale may be that top executives focus on strategic, visionary sessions – not on deciding what third-party product would be a good match for their requirements.
Extension in Microsoft Dynamics is eagerly awaited its not yet available in the current RTW release but should be a features of the upcoming ‘AX 7 update 1’ . The ability to adapt queries for the processes of drafting or extending existing elements, without overriding into other layers. means that developers no longer need to customise elements; instead elements will be extended. All customisations and code are then stored in a separate assembly and are therefore not influenced during upgrades and tests.. This approach will significantly reduces upgrade cost and conflicts.

Microsoft announced the availability of two out-of-the-box Power BI content packs for different business users: Financial Performance and Retail Channel Performance. Both power packs can be selected from the service catalogue and be deployed ‘within minutes’.

If you missed out, then see available on-demand the keynote and several session videos on the new Microsoft Envision YouTube Channel.
They have 87 videos on the site and 16 playlists uploaded.

SQL 2005 – no more support

April 11th, 2016

All support for SQL Server 2005 will come to an end on 12th April 2016.

If you have not already planned to upgrade your aging technology to Microsoft SQL Server 2014 then we recommend that you consider this urgently..

Why migrate to SQL 2014?:
Data is proliferating as are the demands for: real time analytics, mote frequent planning, more frequent forecasting and budgeting, fast month ends etc. which all requires increased speed of performance and scalabiity.

Meanwhile there are increasingly sophisticated attacks on security.

• SQL Server 2014 is benchmarked to be 13 times faster than SQL Server 2005
• The National Institute of Standards and Technology for the past six years has running, has found that SQL Server 2014 had the least vulnerabilities of any major database

Prophix 12 is now available from Synergy Software Systems

April 5th, 2016

We are happy to announce the availability of Prophix Version 12. Designed with the user in mind, with enhanced ease of use with a web browser interface and access to Prophix from anywhere, any time, on any device.

The same productised approach with a single suite of tools for all your corporate performance requirements is now enhanced. In this time of ongoing recession, volatile exchange rates, commodity prices collapse, and global political challenges the need for corporate performance management tools are greater than ever. More frequent reforecast, budget scenarios, budget vs actuals, detailed planning, faster month end, ease of inquiry are all essential now.
A proven solution for almost 30 years Prophix is regularly enhanced with a clear road map that leverages the evolving Microsoft technology stack and is driven by business need and user and partner feedback.

Some of the great new enhancements in Prophix Version 12:
• Brand new user experience developed after hundreds of hours of usability studies with everyday users, designed to make it even easier to complete key tasks in performance management across the organization.
• New web client based on HTML5 technology for access all major browsers (e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari).
• New Dashboard Studio for self-service dashboard creation by any user through a drag and drop user interface. Create innovative mash-ups to monitor key business processes and performance metrics using data sourced both from within Prophix, or externally.
• Redesigned Workflow Tasks portal and new workflow dashboard tile for quick access to assigned tasks, and monitoring of completed, past due, and future tasks.
• Enhanced navigation and layout selection in Ad hoc Analysis and Templates. These changes enable users to interrogate ,and to navigate, across multidimensional data to get exactly what they need in fewer clicks.
• Enhancements to line item schedules to cell commentary.

The upgrade path to Prophix Version 12 will be seamless for customers currently using Prophix 11. Cubes do not need to be rebuilt; templates will not have to be redesigned. Everything that users have learned will still be valid as the existing Smart Client and its functions continue to work well.