Few thoughts on the SQL Server 2014 launch event in San Francisco

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I just finished watching the hosted customer even in San Francisco where the Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, COO Kevin Turner, CVP of Data Platform Group Quentin Clark and the SQL Server Product Marketing GM Eron Kelly officially introduced the new release of the SQL Server 2014.

In this post I am not going to give any assessment of the product itself (but obviously it’s a big thumbs up from me) but rather reflect on the presentation/event itself in retrospect and see what actually stood out for me, what I remembered and what I was not particularly impressed with. So, again, this is by no means a review of the product or the event, but more of the test to see what I actually remembered having spent almost two hours watching it.

The event was kicked off by Satya Nadella and to be honest I don’t think I remember a single thing from his speech. I personally do not have an informed opinion on him yet, but based on my conversations with folks who actually know him I really want to like the guy and hope he is successful in this new job. Charismatic leader he is not, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely does not help with me remembering what he had to say.

Eron popped in briefly to do some demos early in the recording, but I will do a general overview of all demos at the end.

Kevin “The Walmart” Turner took the podium after. He definitely bumped up the charisma factor a little bit, but his unfortunate habit of reading the script off the teleprompter had somewhat of a dampening effect on me. He constantly emphasized the price to performance aspect of the MS BI platform which was a little bit too much for my taste. Putting my marketing guru hat on (I probably should have put marketing guru in quotes, huh), I would probably frame SQL Server as the best and most performant and user friendly BI and Database platform in the world, but I am not the COO of Microsoft and he is so what the hell do I know… Kevin closed his speech with thanking the customers and partners and leaving his personal email address on the screen, which I found odd, I am picking up some power dynamics with Satya there, although I have been accused of reading things into things too much… Still, I thought it was odd; I think that some of the things he said were more of the prerogative of a CEO.

Quentin Clark regurgitated some of the messaging from the previous speakers, liberally garnishing his speech with words like Polybase, Hadoop, APS and ambient intelligence. To be frank, I could not understand half the points he was trying to make, but to be completely transparent, the White Sox had two runners on bases at a time so I may have found my focus drift away a little bit for a while.

Now I can talk a little bit about demos. I happen to be a very opinionated individual on that subject given the fact that building and running demos is a big part of my daily life. I happen to have a philosophical difference with how the demos where done for this sessions. I do have a very high opinion of both Quentin and Eron, however, I definitely think that they need to forget about sticking to the script. Also, it felt to me that the story that ran through the BI demo was completely fabricated and being ridiculously subjective, I felt like the demos were very mechanical and not engaging. I personally was disappointed that we did not see a single new BI feature. Eron did a good job of demoing all of the Power BI components, but at least for me, I was longing for something new and exciting but my personal and subjective needs were not met.

The in memory OLTP features of SQL Server 2014 got a lukewarm reception from the audience, which I found astonishing. The lady from the product team that did the demo tried to do what she could to elicit some reaction from the group but shockingly (no sarcasm intended) the audience either missed the significance of these features or was somewhat fatigued with having seen similar demos a few times. In any case, I was definitely impressed with some of the market share numbers and also the customer stories from NASDAQ and the absolutely ridiculous data volumes that they process using SQL Server 2014.

Again, this post is more of an unorganized dump of what I thought were the most salient points from the presentation. Overall, I enjoyed watching the session (in part thanks to the MLB app on my phone) but I cannot honestly find any compelling reasons to recommend that anyone spends two hours watching it, instead, I would read a pretty good summary of the basic massaging by Quentin Clark on the SQL Server Blog here….

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