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Donald Farmer and Julie Strauss: Inside Project Gemini

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Office Marketing says: "Need to make timely business decisions without having to use complicated and sluggish analytical applications? Love to use Excel? Project Gemini is an Excel 2010 add-in that allows you to create powerful analyses by quickly manipulating millions of rows of data into a single Excel workbook and utilize Microsoft Office 2010 to share and collaborate on your insights with your team."

Donald Farmer and Julie Strauss are Program Managers behind this new technology "Gemini". What is "Gemini"? How does it work? Why? What's it all really mean, anyway?

Tune in. Very interesting technology here. For all you spreadsheet jockeys out there, this should prove extraordinarliy useful to you when you need to crunch and analyze lots of data effeciently. Wow. 1,000,000 rows in Excel without causing a hang. Nice work, "Gemini" team!

Enjoy.

PS: The painting in the video has nothing to do with Project Gemini. It's an original art by Donald's wife.

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  • Tomasz Wisniewskiwisnia Tomasz Wisniewski

    Very promising looking piece o technology Smiley

    I just have one question to ask. When you said that new features will be gradually unveiled to the user, you meant that in an abstract way that users will learn new features and use them. Or lets say there will be A, B and C feature available to the user. When a user does something with option B, features D and E will become available?

  • CKurtCKurt while( ( !​succeed=try​() ) ) { }

    Like the video, but it reallt screams for a screencast showing of the functions and the publishing Wink

     

    EDIT: http://www.microsoft.com/officebusiness/office2010/Default.aspx?vid=Gemini explains it but does not show it Sad

  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change

    www.youtube.com/Geminute

     

    There will be screencasts of Gemini on C9. Remember, it's still in project phase....

    C

  • Columnar in-memory database storage, wow, that's some serious stuff!

    A question though, when a dozen of users load their BI-mini apps onto the server and try to run them all, will there be 10 copies of in-memory database on the server (which might quite easily kill the server on the spot)? Or the server version of columnar database in not in-memory?

     

  • Donald Farmerdonalddotfa​rmer donalddotfa​rmer

    That's a great question, sokhaty.

     

    We have done a lot of work on our mid-tier server to handle this scenario. In-memory applications posted to the server are loaded and unloaded as needed to serve the end-users demands. Of course, it is possible that a server could be overloaded - but the server can be scaled out on a sharepoint farm, and we handle load-balancing between servers on the farm.

     

    Do bear in mind that most Gemini apps will not be huge - very few will be running 100s of millions of rows - most will be using 10s or 100s of thousands of rows, and will be using Gemini for its integration, analytic and collaboration smarts.

  • Great, you have it all covered. I'm sold Smiley

     

    Now, this in-memory columnar database, is it going to be shipped along with Gemini only, or it eventually make it into some edition of SQL Server engine?

    Sure, database query language doesn't have to be SQL (or arguably even shouldn't be SQL), but querying language aside, such a compelling feature as in-memory columnar storage  looks very appealing as a generic service.

  • Donald Farmerdonalddotfa​rmer donalddotfa​rmer

    Right now I'm very focussed on turning our current dreams into reality, so I don't want to say too much about what happens "eventually."

     

    But of course we are looking at all sort of interesting things we can do with this technology, and the community would be surprised if we were NOT considering some form of integration with the SQL Engine. But it's way too early to step down the path of what that would look like, even it were feasible.

     

    But the future for Gemini and the core technologies is surely something to watch!

     

  • I'm interested in learning more about the back-end technology supporting Gemini.  When users upload to SharePoint, will it exist as an Analysis Services cube?  Will other SSAS client tools be able to access the Gemini workbook, or will that only be exposed through Excel Services?

  • Donald Farmerdonalddotfa​rmer donalddotfa​rmer

    Great questions, from a fellow constellation!

     

    On the server, Gemini leverages Analysis Services running as a service app in Sharepoint. The Gemini workbooks are stored as workbooks, but as needed the server can upload the embedded Gemini content to the AS server and provide typical services such as refreshing data, or serving result sets to a client app as needed.

     

    So, in a sense, yes the Gemini data is available as an SSAS cube - it's connection string is the URL of the xlsx file - and SSAS clients can query it. We show cool demos of Report Builder doing just that. But any other SSAS client could also do so. However, what they see when they connect is a rather funky "cube." Technically, in this version, it doesn't have many of the regular cube constructs such as hierarchies, and for business scenarios a Gemini workbook will typically only address one business question, or at least a relatively narrow domain of questions, compared to a typically broadly scoped OLAP solution.

     

    However, you have indeed identified an important point. A Gemini workbook is not just a workbook - it is a real BI solution, and benefits from the openness of the MS BI platform. It's a bit like a Sagitttarius, which has the mind and smarts of a human, and the powerful back end of a horse!

  • Hi.

     

    I can see how compression on columns of business data can achieved with great effect. Does this mean it will be unsuitable for some kinds of data used in business intelligence for example a large book retailer that uses unique ISBN's and book titles very heavily in it's business intelligence... e.g. show me the top 10 book titles we've sold this year?

     

    Cheers

    Shaun

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