Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 2]

Meet the cloud based analytics and visualization tool from Microsoft – Power BI. Power BI is a easy-to-use self-service business intelligence tool.

This post is a part of the series called Microsoft-in-campus session on Power BI.

  1. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI – Sharing My Insights
  2. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 1]
  3. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 2]
  4. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 3]
  5. Microsoft-in-campus Session On Power BI [Part 4]

Data source and Dataset

We can create powerful visualizations and reports using Power BI when we connect to data. Each time we connect Power BI to a data source, a dataset is created.

A dataset contains information about the data source, its credentials etc. A data source can be anything ranging from a simple csv file to an on premise enterprise database.

A data source is where the data in a dataset really comes from.

Let us see the different data sources that Power BI can connect to.

1.Files

You can connect variety of file types such as csv, excel, txt files to Power BI and draw insights using the data from the files.

2.Databases

Power BI has the potential to connect to both on premise databases and to the cloud databases. The real advantage of connecting to cloud databases is that the connection is live. This is really useful as the data is being queried from the database as we start creating visualizations and reports.

The speaker emphasized on real-time connection and live connection at this point. Power BI supports live connection which means the data might be few minutes older than the data in the database unlike the real-time connection.

The speaker also mentioned that Power BI is an in-memory tool and the amount of data it holds for processing is only limited by the machine on which Power BI is accessed.

3.Other Data Sources

With Power BI you can connect to number of online services such as Facebook, Google Analytics, Salesforce Reports, Zendesk etc. and draw insights.

Microsoft continuously builds connectors to connect to variety of online services making it easier for the users. Users are provided with (service content packs) pre built reports and they’re literally ready to go once they connect to a service.

Content Packs

In order to understand what content packs really are, we need to understand datasets, reports and dashboards.

Content pack is a simple way to organized and package datasets, reports and dashboards together into a single entity. We shall be discussing about reports and dashboards in the next blog post. This is little weird but this is how the session was organized.

There are two types of content packs – Services and Organizational. Learn more about the types of content packs.

Organizational content pack – Assume that the sales reports of an Organization have to be shared within the Sales management folks within the organization. Rather than sending individual reports separately, the reports and the corresponding datasets can be bundled together as an Organizational content pack and can be shared across the sales team.

Learn more about life cycle of an Organizational content pack and about data security.

Personal Gateways

Power BI Personal gateway acts as a bridge to securely transfer data between on premise data source and Power BI service.

Power BI personal gateway comes only with the Power BI Pro version. The data transfer is secured through the Azure service bus and prevents the need to open additional ports in Windows Firewall.

Personal Gateways can be run either as a service or as an application in Windows machines. Personal gateways are used with data sources that supports refresh.

Learn more about installing and setting up personal gateway.

The speaker concluded the second session with the above mentioned topics. Stay tuned for the upcoming sessions, as there are demos presented.

OTN Yathra 2016 – My Experience and Takeaways

In this blog post, I’ll share my experience as a first-timer to the OTN Yathra conference. I’ll also share my takeaways that will help you to get maximum value if you’re planning to attend conferences.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own.

One of the goals I had set for 2016 is to attend at least one event/conference before the year ends. I’m glad that I accomplished it by attending the OTN Yathra 2016 conference on April 24, 2016.

Before attending the OTN Yathra conference, I had neither an idea on what was it all about nor what to expect. So I’m writing this post with the intention to shed some light for people like you who are curious to know about OTN Yathra.

My Experience

What is OTN Yathra? – OTN Yathra is a conference organized by Oracle ACE directors and volunteers across India in six major cities (Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and Noida). The main focus of the conference is to unite the Oracle community members to raise awareness on happenings around the Oracle world and to build network amongst the community members.

Technical conferences/events are one of the easiest ways to keep yourself up to date on a technology and also a way to meet and network with new people within that community.

How did I hear about OTN Yathra and does it cost to register? – I was keen on finding a conference/event on Oracle database technology. Eventually I ended up finding OTN Yathra through social media. OTN Yathra is a one-day conference and the registration to the conference costs 700 INR which includes lunch. Note that the early bird registration costs only 500 INR including the lunch.

How did I spend the day? The day of the conference had arrived and I showed up half an hour prior to the actual start time. As soon as I hit the welcome desk, one of the members asked if I can volunteer with souvenir distribution for registered members. I was more than happy to help and I volunteered.

Volunteering at OTN Yathra 2016 conference
Volunteering at OTN Yathra 2016 conference

I started to introduce myself to two other volunteers. I usually shy away from speaking to strangers but I opened up the conversation on that day. After all, the purpose of these conferences is to network with people within the community.

The conference was scheduled to start by 9.00 AM. The conference began with the introduction session and the organizers presented about the what OTN Yathra was all about and also about the Oracle ACE program. As soon as the one of the organizers talked about the ACE program he acquired the attention of the attendees. Because most people hardly knew about the ACE program.

OTN Yathra 2016 - Introduction session
OTN Yathra 2016 – Introduction session

By the end of the introduction session, the organizers promised goodies for the attendee who tweets more with the hashtag #OTNYathra.

OTN Yathra 2016 - Twitter Hashtags

The agenda for the conference has been shared in OTN Yathra’s website beforehand. The attendees can pick up sessions of their choice from the agenda. All of the attendees were hoping to learn, new and interesting stuffs.

OTN Yathra 2016 Agenda
OTN Yathra 2016 Agenda

As you can see from the agenda, the sessions were interesting and I couldn’t wait any longer to hear from the speakers. As a first-timer, I felt that the sessions were very insightful and motivational. I believe that most people would have felt the same. The sessions I most enjoyed were the ones presented by Connor McDonnald, Hariharaputhran, Sai Penumuru and Chaitanya.

Are the sessions suitable for everyone? The sessions were focused more on the intermediate to advanced level Oracle users.

OTN Yathra 2016 - SQL Tuning session
OTN Yathra 2016 – SQL Tuning session

Breaktime & Lunch – During the breaks, I happened to speak to two speakers and it was really amazing to listen to their stories. Snacks and lunch were provided during the breaks and I must admit that the lunch was good.

OTN Yathra 2016 - Lunch time

Around 5 PM, all sessions were completed and all the attendees gathered for the closing ceremony. The interesting part was when all the speakers were invited to the dais and the attendees were allowed to ask questions.

Surprise goodies! – Finally, to my surprise, the organizers called out all the volunteers and thanked by rewarding them with a book. I was excited to receive the book. The closing ceremony came to end an after the entire group was photographed.

Goodies time
Goodies time

OTN Yathra 2016 - Group photo

A big thanks to the Organizers – Organizing a conference is no easy task. I really appreciate Sai Janakiram and his team for organizing the OTN Yathra 2016 conference.

I would say – OTN Yathra is a journey destined to learn, share and to spread the love for Oracle.

Things that put me off – During the introduction session, the organizers promised goodies to the attendees who send highest number of tweets with hashtag – #OTNYathra. It was very disappointing to see that they didn’t have any mechanism/tool to count the tweets sent with the announced hashtag.

Takeaways from OTN Yathra

If you are attending conferences only to learn without networking with folks around, you’re missing ton of opportunities. I’ll share a few tips that I picked up along the way which might help you to get maximum value from the conferences you attend.

Prepare your questions prior to the conference. I learnt that preparing insightful questions prior to day of the conference can help you get answers from experts and also makes you to stand out in the eyes of the speakers. This could lead to an interning or business opportunity.

Don’t forget to take your calling card. Don’t expect every person you meet to have an account in the favorite social media of your choice. Having a calling card (good ol’ traditional way) provides an easy way for you and the other person to stay connected after the conference. Most people I met didn’t have a Twitter account. Thankfully, all of the speakers had theirs and I was able to connect with them.

Choose people to network with. It is hard to meet and make friends with all people you see in the conference. Most conferences will have a meet up page (OTN Yathra has one) or a similar way to explore the attendees and the speakers. Learning to identify and choosing people to network with, benefits you and the person you connect to. At the least, you will refrain yourself from people who may not want to befriend with you.

Ditch the internet and carry the agenda. Lots of people, due to lack of internet connection, were enquiring others about the agenda. Jotting the agenda down or taking a snap of the agenda will be handy during the conference.

Do follow up on what was promised. Sometimes, the organizers/speakers might forget what they had promised you on the day of the conference. For example, you might have been promised to receive slides or links to the articles. Don’t wait up for days, to receive what has been promised. Instead, do follow up with the organizers/speakers. This way you don’t miss any good stuff.

Digital recorder might be handy. Carrying your digital recorder might save your day. You can record the sessions and listen to them at your convenience. This might be handy if you’re unable to follow speakers who speak fast and also saves you from losing important stuffs that you might have missed to note. I would recommend you to buy Zoom H2n recorder if you don’t own one (Amazon US sells it cheaper that the Indian store).

What are your takeaways from the conferences that you attended? Please do let me know in the comments.

Image credits