I’ve been geeking out with SSIS for the last week or so and posted a blog over at DynamicsCare.com with some hard won knowledge.
Once again, its time for the Dynamics World Top 100 Survey and, once again, I’ve been nominated to the voting list. I assume this is on the basis of my good looks, charm, and Tarantino like writing skills as opposed to any real merit – but, as I say, take ‘em when you get ‘em.
Or something like that. Here’s the link:
Vote early! Vote Often! Vote for me, get a free beer!
While at MS Convergence 2013 (#conv13), I drank a couple of Xanax martinis with a twist of Cymbalta and realized why I really do love my job.
1. The team: I love working as part of a high performing team. Watching Abby Moore and Sandra Dodge just KILL their first large public presentation at Convergence 2013 was a complete joy. Add in Frank Hamelly, Mark Polino (that’s right, two MVP’s), Clinton Weldon, Jon Byrd, EJ Reese and all the other members of the IBIS convergence team and you get an astonishingly great group of folks to admire.
2. The partners: Despite Microsoft’s continued and misguided efforts to accidentally erode the partner channel, it’s still a really solid group of smart, forward looking hardworking folks.
3. The customers: The reason we exist, the meaning in our work lives, the purpose behind the 40+ per week we spend together. #Conv13 reminded me of the tremendous relationships I’ve forged and friendships made over the years with the people who pay my salary. In general, they are awesome and building things to make them better at what they do is why we all get up in the morning.
Put all those together and its like driving a Ferrari on the Autobahn at high noon while the physicist supermodel next to you explains she’s actually a wealthy heiress and she’d like nothing better than to coddle you financially for the rest of your life.
Boo-ya. Loving my life,
I arrived last night in New Orleans to attend that perennial crowd favorite, Microsoft Convergence (Not to be confused, of course, with Convergence 2013 the chubby chasers convention put on by Girth and Mirth of South Texas). As soon as the cab dropped me off at the Marriott Convention Center, I knew I was back in the Big Easy based solely on the stench of gumbo, stale beer and that particular sent of desperation given off by middle aged men who insist on “bringing it” whenever they go to NOLA.
Day one is really all about three things:
- Booth setup: Check out the pictures on the @ibisinc twitter feed. IBIS will have both a DynamicsCare and Advanced Distribution Software booth.
- Partner Community meetings: These are the pre-meetings that purport to help partners do better running their business that Microsoft seems intent on destroying through lower software margins, EA sales and direct sales and consulting competition. Yawn. Skipped. Apparently a ton of partners feel the same way – have yet to talk to anyone that wanted to go.
- The Randy and Andy Party: Always a crowd favorite, I’ll be doing my usual show up, say hi to Andy, then getting out before some drunk tries to cop a feel off me thinking, in the beer goggled glory, that I’m actually Marissa Tomei.
If you happen to be at the convention, text or tweet me or stop by booth 2522.
I’m off my meds, seriously raging and thought that you, my faithful readers, should bear the brunt of my imbalance and anger.
I love this industry. And I really love 99% of clients with whom I’ve worked. But, once you go high enough up, you HAVE to deal with unhappy clients as a major part of your job. Oh, you may think “but if you did your job right, they’d be happy”. Bullshit. This job is like selling someone new construction real estate than telling them they have to help you pour the foundation and nail up shingles. You can’t do it without the client being right there with you, but too often they are not then they blame you for it. Look, I totally get it if we oversold the product capabilities. If our staff trained poorly, didn’t show up with the expected degree of professionalism or didn’t fully understand the business requirements, we SHOULD be held responsible. If we were just assholes, fine, hold me accountable and ask me to be better.
But, please, tell me: exactly how goddamn responsible for the world’s problems am I supposed to be? Why is it my fault when the client:
- Doesn’t spend time, any time, on the system during the implementation and then complains the training was insufficient.
- Doesn’t make timely design decisions, then complains about cost overruns.
- Doesn’t take time away from their day job and then gets angry with project staff when they call it out.
- Assumes some random field should be on a report (which is invariably critical to their business), then asks for it at NC because “Any accounting system does that”. Did you spend any time during the pilot looking at this “critical” feature? And, remember that sign off your partner put in front of you after the Pilot? Yeah, didn’t think so.
- Signs change requests for modifications, then refuses to pay them because “that was covered in the sales cycle”. Yeah, no shit, it was. Hence the CR being deployed when the final design was complete.
- Assumes the words “Time and Materials” always, constantly, and forever mean “Fixed Fee”
- Bitches about rates. Do you have any idea how much money our industry invests in keeping people up to date? And guess what, our industry’s labor rates are barely higher than a Ford dealer charges for doing an oil change.
To top it all off, we then get assholes likes this guy who lend credence to the asinine argument that its ALWAYS the consultants fault no matter what.
If you read my blog, then you know I have a core value around partnership (not around clean language, clearly, but no one is perfect), not just when easy, but thoroughly, constantly and always. But partnership is a natively bi-lateral relationship: both parties have to take it seriously. So, when we do and the client doesn’t, why blame us? Take a look at the problem in the mirror first.
Sheesh. Makes me want to chase my real ambition: being a plus sized model for fly fishing apparel.
Peace out. See you at #Conv13.
I recently attended an ERP cloud strategy update from MS in which they outlined their next few years of ERP activity vis-à-vis the cloud. Here’s what I heard:
SL: No comments. No surprises there.
NAV2013 is in a TAP program on Azure with several partners and will be the first cloud ERP delivery expected to release in Q1CY2013. This will run on Azure, but the IAAS portion of Azure (in other words, it will be using virtual SQL Servers and Application Servers). It is NOT running on SQL Azure. They will also be releasing the web client which will work either with the Azure release OR with an on-premise release. They are also releasing a Rapid Start tool that uses QA interfaces to do initial configuration – clearly this is a method for making the provisioning as fast as possible. Any customer, regardless of licensing, can move to Azure but would have to pay the cost of the hosting (proc time and storage).
GP 2013 releases Dec 2012 and will be deployed on Azure exactly the same way that NAV is. However, they have done two things to make managing the environment a little easier. First, they have allowed the Dynamics system database to be named anything – this will allow a partner to host multiple versions of GP on a single SQL server. Also, they have developed a web based management console for GP that they say allows easier multi-tenant management. They did not show it but said it was available with the general release. I’ve looked at the Beta release of both the Web Client and the Management console. Rough and not ready for a high volume shop just yet. However, I’ve seen lots of cycle releases on the web client before BETA so I think it will improve fast.
AX is the biggest release change for the cloud. v.next AX moves to the cloud 2014/2015 and will release on Azure BEFORE it releases on-premise. They intend v.next to be delivered exactly like CRM Online (a true multi-tenant app I guess is what they mean by this) and will also offer a Windows 8 native interface. The entire client will be rewritten under HTML5 and JScript so it is platform independent, but will have an app wrapper so it can be delivered in the various app store marketplaces. They also intend to take advantage of tablet features (like camera and GPS).
For lifecycle management, they intend to deliver tools that will allow easier movement of code and data between TEST and PROD. Such will be workflow based so that approval events move data and code rather than people having to do it manually. In addition, they plan to manage data moves (like copying live to test) so that less manual involvement is needed (copy prod to test and eliminate any private data while, at the same time, stop any automatic emails, as an example).
They also intend for upgrades to be far more automatic with customer selecting the timing of the upgrade and allowing customer to automatically upgrade a test environment so they can do their own testing. In addition, they will do upgrades to reduce or eliminate downtime by upgrading snapshots and looking at production differential which, in turn, gets upgraded.
Convergence will be where most of this is announced in more detail and they may try to find early adopter customers at Convergence.
Apparently we will be hearing more Dynamics related messages integrated to the classic Microsoft stack as we go forward. Below is their vision of how this works followed by a stack slide showing where everything fits.
I love the above two messages. I think they are will thought out and definitely position the entire stack more cleanly.
One last note: during QA some people asked questions about ISV support in NAV and GP. The answer was very unclear and was something like “Azure is more vanilla so, if they need lots of ISV’s, they may want to go to a hosting partner”. I can’t interpret that at all, so I’ll keep my ears open.
I’m comfortably ensconced in my home office, space heater going, ears ringing with Vegas din, and sipping an AlkaSeltzer laden water to relieve my cold symptoms picked up from too many hours in too many packed conference rooms.
Wow, what a show.
Looking back over all my other previous postings, you may develop an impression of me as an unrestrained fan of SharePoint and its related, integrated technologies. You’d be right. I love the product and especially what I’ve seen in this new release. But, to be objective, let me run through the major items as I see them:
The Yammer acquisition is “terrifically exciting” (could that phrase become any more overused by MS staff?) but is a bit awkward right now. SP 2013 already had a bunch of great activity, newsfeed and micro-blog social components that look very nice. On the surface, Yammer doesn’t add much to that and, in fact, muddies the water a bit since no one at MS is completely certain exactly how they are going to fit in. In the long run, I think it will become the social messaging bus for all the business products (SP, Dynamics) and this will be a good thing. As a Yammer Enterprise user, I see the value of social and am a big believer in what this can do when used right.
If it wasn’t social being talked about, it was search. Combining Enterprise and FAST in this release is a good thing – the two products were unnecessary. Also, as anyone dealing with corporate content governance can tell you, creating stuff is easy – finding stuff is hard. What MS has done is create a search-driven system from structured meta-data and user managed tags that allows users to favorite, like, and share documents and see document previews in the search results. I think this goes a long way to making SharePoint ever MORE useable for content storage and, I believe, will kill file shares in the mid-term.
As with many things in this release, MS didn’t go for hot, new sexy features. They just vastly improved what was already there. PPS, Excel Services, Power Pivot and PowerView all basically function the same but have significant improvements in security model and usability that will make them much more useful to end users. That’s a hard pitch to make to your corporate masters driven by earning releases, splashy news press and units moved but they pulled on their big-boy pants and did it – and they did it across everything, not just BI. By doing so, they are showing a commitment to making this a real integrated platform not just a platform that can be demo’d but doesn’t really work.
Clearly, MS is staking EVERYTING on cloud. From O365 to ERP to CRM to AZURE, you are seeing MS move its entire business model out of your data center and into its own. But, while doing that, they are being realistic in understanding that no-one is going for a full cloud IT model. The ability to federate to Azure ADS and O365 for single-sign-on was very nice, as were the cross-platform development tools to bind all this stuff together and the cross-browser support message that was consistently and repeatedly delivered in every session. With that said, I still think MS is missing the boat on its Azure costing model. All hosting partners charge for a machine of a specific size and for blocks of storage; Azure, instead, charges by proc, storage AND bandwidth making cost management for app deployment in Azure a bit tough to manage costs. I will write more on this in a separate post. They addressed this a bit by allowing SP apps to be hosted in O365 at no charge, so that’s a big plus, but I still think more changes will have to come.
Yeah, I’m a fan-boy of Sharepoint but I’m not an idiot. I’ve seen MS screw up too many times with me being on the receiving end of it to unreservedly admire what they’ve done. The next two or three months, as the product is released and we start using it, will tell the real truth. But, IF they just do what they said they will AND IF they just keeping hitting the flywheel like they did with this release they WILL have a great product for us to use.
Great presentation Kevin Donovan (Program Manager Office BI)!
The BI team at IBIS has been preaching the benefits of SQL, Excel, Sharepoint and PPS for years. Kevin started out his presentation with a simple statement: BI is SQL, Excel and Sharepoint.
Damn, are we good or what?
In 2013, Office and Sharepoint get some really nice enhancements without truly breaking any new ground. That’s good for a lot of reasons. The primary one is that what was working before is TONS better and they haven’t wasted a lot of time on new flash but, instead, really hit hard on good things.
Here’s my top list of what I liked:
- Effective Username in PPS and Excel Services: Kerberos is dead! You can now pass through the user name from the client WITHOUT having to deploy kerberos provide you only need access the SSAS cube.
- Server Side Migration for PPS: You can now migrated ANY part or all of a PPS dashboard server side without using Dashboard Designer. It automatically detects dependencies AND, on the new server, allows mapping to new datasources before you migrate in the new objects. Very slick.
- BI Server: In SP2013, you can designate a BI Target Server for BISM model calculations rather than having them done in the SP instance of Excel Services. Much faster response time.
- Named Object View: In Excel Services, you could always import just a named object (like a chart) rather than a whole workbook. The object appeared in a sparse looking drop down list. Now you get a cool visual graphic nav panel on the right side of the page.
- Field Well and List Exposed in Excel Services: By doing so, you can add and remove fields and columns from pivot tables allowing almost full interaction inside the embedded object rather than opening it from the client.
There’s tons of stuff more, like cooler PowerView functionality (including embedded maps) and better user experience in the interface. The only shortcoming, as noted in a previous post, is lack of true mobile. However, that’s why ISVs exist.
I’m a pretty technical guy. I’ve been working with SQL since the release just before MS bought it. I’m pretty deep in data warehousing and BI. I’m really familiar with Sharepoint. And yet, I was lost within the first 30 seconds of this session.
My fault, completely. This was a developer session run by Andrew Connell and Ben Robb. They warned us it was pretty technical. In my overarching arrogance I thought “Nah, I can deal” and so I stayed.