The Ignite Conference Brought News and Changes

The first week of November was a big week for Microsoft. They made many announcements at the Ignite conference about what’s new and what will be available in the near future. It was also the week of PASS Summit, the largest Microsoft Data Platform conference in the world. PASS Summit was a fantastic conference as always, but we missed many of the folks who attended Ignite instead. Another bad thing about the two conferences landing the same week, is that, not only were new things announced, some of them were rolled out in Azure at the same time.

The biggest news for the data platform that week was the general availability of SQL Server 2019. SQL Server 2019 has many new features including a memory optimized tempdb, UTF-8 character encoding, Big Data Clusters, improvements to the optimizer such as Batch Mode on Rowstore, and much, much more.

While the announcement about SQL Server 2019 was important, many database professionals work on more than on-premises servers. Some of us are working in Azure with SQL VMs, Azure SQL Database, Power BI, machine learning and more. There was important news from Ignite and PASS Summit no matter your interest.

While I’m not a data scientist, I am very interested in machine learning and the machine learning tools available on Azure. In fact, my PASS Summit session, Azure Machine Learning 101, was about the drag-n-drop feature to prepare the data and test out algorithms to easily build a predictive machine learning model. The week before PASS Summit and Ignite, the feature was called Visual Interface for Azure Machine Learning service.

On Tuesday of PASS Summit, I intended to spend a couple of hours rehearsing my session but was in for a big surprise. The feature I planned to demonstrate was no longer in Azure. It was replaced with a new feature called Azure Machine Learning Studio. This is a separate site that provides end-to-end functionality for the data scientist, so they do not need to see everything in Azure. This new feature is similar but also a bit different than what I had planned to demo. (This is not the same as the Azure Machine Learning Studio Workspace that has been available for a few years.)

I spent the day Tuesday trying to learn the new feature to be ready for my session on Friday. I was a bit panicked but thankful that I found out about the changes a few days in advance. Fortunately, I figured out enough to have a nice session.

I’m not the only speaker who ran into changes that week affecting their sessions, and it happens when demonstrating on Azure not only during a big announcement week. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had a demo crash and burn due to changes that I didn’t know about.

Technology changes quickly in today’s world, especially in the cloud. It’s an exiting time to work in technology…if you can keep up!

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