stop trying to sell us on SharePoint!!!
more information about 'how to tame spreadmarts'. you guys have honestly lost it.. you try to sell us on SharePoint and Excel.. I'd rather use pen and paper than either of those tools. We are SQL Server people. Why is it that Microsoft killed Access Data Projects? Why doesn't ACCESS get any of the latest and greatest features, like OLAP REPORTING? Crystal Reports has been able to report on cubes for 20 years!
AdminBill Graziano (President, PASS) commented
One of the challenges we will always face is that every session isn't right for every attendee. Our community program is built by volunteers based on session submissions. We constantly evaluate what topics and sessions score well and aren't attended. If sessions aren't well attended then we'll gradually reduce those topics in the program.
Frank Ress commented
While I sympathize, I respectfully disagree. I've spent my career (25+ yrs, so far) working first with Oracle and now with SQL Server (for the last 10 or so). Fought my battles with both Access and Excel. The problem is that they both turn into data silos, and it's tough to develop integrated solutions.
They don't have to be silos. I think Access is a viable front end tool with a SQL backend, and we've used it that way with both Oracle and SQL Server. But it tends not to be used properly because most users don't grasp the strategic issues involved in having consistent data. So they go off on their own (or hire a contractor) to build a 'small' application, then don't understand the problem when they try to roll it out to a dozen or so others.
Excel has traditionally been even worse, since it lacks a data-oriented backend layer. At least you can migrate Access data structures to an enterprise product and retarget the application layer to point there. With Excel, the entire concept of data structures is foreign.
Nevertheless, spreadsheets are the go-to tool for financial work. We even have them being used for technical data collection. Our users save their experimental data in spreadsheets, then are annoyed when it does such a terrible job charting 10 or 20 thousand data points. Never mind that works our to about 10 or 20 points per pixel! Spreadsheets are as ingrained in the corporate culture as browsers. Neither is going away any time soon, like it or not.
I'm as frustrated with the situation as anyone, but most of us don't have the political strength in our organizations to impose order. If you're able to impose that order - where and how data is stored, and to implement effective tools for data enty and ETL - then existing toolsets are already available and, for the most part, mature.
But the best most of us can hope for is to herd the cats a little more effectively. To that end - and Microsoft began to take this approach many years ago - tools such as Excel are being enhanced to provide a flexible framework to access enterprise data (either structured data, in SQL Server, or unstructured data, in Sharepoint) and support more effective analysis of that data. Hopefully we can hook them into using data in this manner, and then willingly go along as we enhance the backend with more and better data.
Heck, I was disappointed that tools like PowerView weren't available to us, because we lack the resources to implement full-blown warehousing. We don't have cubes in the first place, so we're stuck using traditional tools (SSRS) on tabular data. I'm kind of excited about the ability to use Tabular Data Models with these tools, which may be feasible in our environment.
We're working to tame the unstructured data beast with SharePoint. We made litlle headway the dozen years previous with Notes. But we'll keep trying to do that, too. And try to keep the STRUCTURED data where it belongs (in SQL), which is no small challenge once people start using Sharepoint. Lots of little lists popping up all over the place. Try to maintain consistency in those.
Microsoft is positioning Sharepoint as an Office backend server. Our users don't grok that (they're still thinking file shares for storing their Word and Excel files, if that), and there are lots of technical issues with the product, too. I SO enjoy trying to be a Sharepoint DBA. But we see potential.
And from an adminstrative perspective, integrating these tools is a heck of a lot easier than trying to integrate 3rd party products. We're trying to leverage Active Directory authentication and AD groups to impose more consistency on the overall environment. Still a lot of work, but it's the best alternative we can see.