The Exciting World of Data

I was honored to have the chance to give the keynote at SQL Saturday #520 in Cambridge this year. This was a quick keynote, and it was fast. I didn’t record it, but people seemed to enjoy it, and I decided to share some of my thoughts on the Exciting World of Data, the title of the talk.

We love data. At least, I do. It’s a way of learning more about the world around us, describing it, modeling it, understanding it, even enhancing it. And the world of data is changing. Size is increasing. We’ve moved from bits to bytes, to kilobytes to megabytes to gigabytes to terabytes, just in our hands. We can’t even really conceive of what this amount of storage means in a physical sense. Our large systems have grown to petabytes, perhaps exabytes and zettabytes one day and eventually to yottabytes and beyond.

We have to transfer data quicker as well. My first modem was 300 baud Hayes Smartmodem. This was at university, where I could watch the text crawl across the screen. From here I had a few upgrades and standarized on 28.8k for quite some time before moving briefly to 56k speeds. When I started SQLSeverCentral, I had an ISDN line in my house. I’ve configured T1 lines at work, and upgraded to faster DSL and Cable routers at both home and work. I never worked in the OC space, but some of you may have transferred data across OC-256 or even OC-768 lines.

Our mobile data moved from SMS to GPRS to Edge, where with a Sidekick, where I could actually type real messages on a keyboard. When I got to 3G, I thought was all the speed I’d need for a long time. I think I spent 2 or 3 years with an iPhone 3GS. However, like many of you, I upgraded to 4G and LTE, which are amazing speeds, faster than many of the early networks I had at work. We’re testing 5G and 6G and maybe we’ll keep going to subspace radio? Who knows.

Here on earth, we move more data in our systems. Some of you may have worked with tape storage. My first PC had a tape drive. So I was quite pleased to get a floppy disk drive, first 5.25″ and then 3.5″. I thought we’d have those forever, but I’ve migrated to hard disks to solid state disks to 3D drives. I think 3D SSD technology is going to fundamentally change the world, with latencies that will require our software to be very, very efficient.

Our interfaces have improved, to allow us to move more data, quicker. From SMD to ESDI to ATA to IDE to SATA to SCSI to Wide SCSI to Fast SCISI to Fast Wide SCSI to Ultra SCSI to Ultra Wide SCSI. SCSI 2 to SCSI 3 to Fibrechannel, infiniband and beyond. USB to Firewire 400 to USB 2 to Firewire 800 to USB 3, 3.1, eSata, Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3, and what’s next? Who knows?

Our computers used to be the room, but we moved to minis, with the computer in the room. Then we got desktops and portable luggable machines, moving to laptops that we can carry one handed to handhelds computers in our pockets. We even went to tiny devices that we found were too small. So we’ve gone the other way with smartphones and phablets and iPads and tablets. Soon the small things will be larger and the world  around us will become enhanced with virtual reality and Hololens. Maybe.

Our world is using all this technology to monitor, mark, chip, tag, record, watch, measure, and gather data. We get to work with that data. We get to gather, store, manage, index, backup, transfer, clean, and care for all that data. We need to work with it. We’ve got to move it with text files, CSVs, Excel, Word, PDF, MP3, MP4 and more.

We send data over TCP, FTP, SMB, AirDrop, VPN, Web services, REST, jQuery, and more. We share data with files, messages, texts, clicks, likes, tweets, pings, drops, shares, snaps, hangouts, and once in awhile, we communicate with phones.

What do we do with all that data? Why, we can do anything. We have PowerPivot, Power query, Power View, Power map, and Power BI. It seems Microsoft really believes data has power.

We have the chance and potential to build amazing visualizations. We can analyze our business progress, producing tables, charts, graphs, animations, and of course, reports. We can map our own activities and events, tracking how we interact with the world, experience it, perhaps even using the data to relive, remember, or reinvent the world around us.

But, we have so many things to learn in order to reach our potential in working with data. Fortunately, we’ve got all sorts of resources to help us, no shortage of books, articles, blogs, podcasts, tutorials, classes, and most impotantly, friends. I hope you take advantage of the resources to learn more.

And you can start today.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

Listen to the MP3 Audio ( 6.8MB) podcast or subscribe to the feed at iTunes and Libsyn

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
This entry was posted in Editorial and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.