By Michael Sullivan, SQL Product Manager, Microsoft UK
We all know some pretty bad SQL jokes (the language that is). Well I do anyway. Like, a DBA walks up to two tables in a bar and says ‘may I join you’? Enough. But imagine that same DBA walking into a restaurant and finding no tables or chairs! Only cloud tags, long arrays of text strings, angry looking web site logs, a zillion tweets munged together with neighbouring RFID tag streams, and a bunch of unemployed maps with geospatial attitude! His* mission? To chat with all of them, and get them to yield business insights which us mere mortals can consume? Maybe that takes a rocket scientist. Or does it?
Well a Microsoft DBA can approach it as follows.
First, he* thinks parallel. That means he is enlisting his company’s new Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) to solve the challenge. No need to try and invite all the data back to your place – even though you have incredibly efficient seating (in-memory column stores, for example) at your disposal. Nope. Leave those weird and wonderful data types where they are, on their comfortable HDFS sofas, and just get their phone numbers for now.
OK, it’s time to ask this universe of guests about their favourite ‘data nibbles’: in parallel. A Microsoft SQL Server DBA you can do that easily, avoiding getting bogged down in dietary requirements, long queues or complicated seating plans. How? With a new (not so) secret weapon called POLYBASE! Think of Polybase as an amazing ‘data butler’ that speaks your language (SQL) and your guests’ language too (in this case MapReduce). In no time you have queried all this structured and un-structured data (your complete guest population). In tech-speak: you issued a standard T-SQL query that joins tables containing a relational source with tables in a Hadoop cluster without needing to learn MapReduce queries. And you got compliments back on your near-fluent Hadoopsch accent too.
It’s the next day (the day after the party). The Heads of Business Intelligence and Enterprise Applications in your company are very happy. And the CFO too. Using nothing more complicated than Microsoft Excel, she* has everything she needs on her laptop, at the board meeting, to show amazing insights into her customers, invoices, SKUs, cash on hand, days outstanding, the shelf-life of everything that left her factory last week, not to mention deep insight into customer sentiment about a product recall triggered by a quality audit last month. Wow! And all because you are a SQL Server DBA.
* my fictional DBA is a ‘he’ and my CFO is a ‘she’.