Passionately curious about Data, Databases and Systems Complexity. Data is ubiquitous, the database universe is dichotomous (structured and unstructured), expanding and complex. Find my Database Research at SQLToolkit.co.uk . Microsoft Data Platform MVP

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing" Einstein

Wednesday 31 October 2018

Always Encrypted with Secure Enclaves

SQL Server 2019 preview Always Encrypted uses an enclave technology called Virtualization Based Security (VBS) memory enclaves. A VBS enclave is an isolated region of memory within the address space of a user-mode process.

The capabilities this brings are

  • In-place encryption. Encrypt column, rotate a column encryption key, or change an encryption type of a column, without moving your data out of the database
  • Rich computations. The engine can delegate some operations on encrypted database columns to the enclave. It can decrypt the sensitive data and execute requested operations in a query on plain text values.

Always Encrypted with secure enclaves allows computations on plain text data inside a secure enclave on the server side. Microsoft define a secure enclave as a protected region of memory within the SQL Server process. It acts as a trusted execution environment for processing sensitive data inside the SQL Server engine. A secure enclave is a black box to SQL Server and other processes on the server. It is not possible to view any data or code inside the enclave from the outside, even with a debugger.

You can now try and evaluate Always Encrypted with secure enclaves in the preview of SQL Server 2019.

This shows what an admin would see when browsing the enclave memory using a debugger (note the question marks, as opposed to the actual memory content).


Always Encrypted with Secure Enclaves – Try It Now in SQL Server 2019 Preview! 
Always Encrypted with Secure Enclaves

Monday 29 October 2018

Open Data Initiative

At Microsoft Ignite a groundbreaking partnership was announced with a new vision for renewable data and intelligent applications. It is a jointly developed vision by Adobe, Microsoft, and SAP to deliver unparalleled business insight from your behavioral, transactional, financial, and operational data. It provides a single view of data built on one data model, artificial intelligence driven insights and an open extensible platform.

Announcing the Open Data Initiative

Friday 26 October 2018

Machine Learning on Azure

At Microsoft Ignite there were many data announcements. Azure AI is another such area that covers the next wave of innovation aimed at transforming business. There are 3 solution areas. 

Predictive models to optimise business process

These are a set of pretrained models for Azure Cognitive Services and ONNX (Open Neural Network Exchange) that enables model interoperability across frameworks. Machine Learning is available with Azure Databricks, Azure Machine Learning and Machine Learning VMs

AI powered apps to integrate vision, speech and language

There are now services specifically designed to help build AI powered apps & agents.

Knowledge mining to uncover insight from documents
There is valuable information hidden in documents, forms, pdfs and images. Azure Cognitive Search (in preview) adds Cognitive Services on top of Azure Search. 


Azure AI – Making AI real for business

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Azure SQL Database Hyperscale in preview

Azure SQL Database Hyperscale is a new highly scalable service tier.  It adapts on demand to different workloads and auto-scales up to 100 TB per database. This eliminates the need to pre-provision storage resources. This new service tier provides the ability to scale compute and storage resources independently, giving the flexibility to optimize performance for  workloads. Azure SQL Database Hyperscale will initially be available for single database deployments. It is useful to not be limited by storage size for apps.

Further Reading
Announcing Azure SQL Database Hyperscale public preview

Saturday 20 October 2018

Microsoft Learn

There is a new approach to learning, with hands-on training at Microsoft Learn.  At the Ignite keynote, Scott Guthrie announced the availability of Microsoft Learn. This new learning site says it will help you achieve your goals faster. Microsoft have launched more than 80 hours of learning for Azure, Dynamics 365, Power BI, PowerApps, and Microsoft Flow. IT is module based. The new learning platform should help up-level your skills, prepare for new role-based certification exams, and explore additional training offerings such as instructor-led training and Pluralsight.  There are 2 tracks so far. Learn Azure and Learn Business Applications. To save the progress of your learning you need to first logon and your username, display name, achievements and activities will be publically visible https://techprofile.microsoft.com/en-gb/

There are learning learning options. Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) which is video based. EDX also provides other courses where you can learn about Microsoft technologies and follow  different career paths.

Monday 15 October 2018

The Data Relay Journey

This year I was Head of Marketing and Social Media for Data Relay, the conference previously known as SQL Relay. It is a privilege to be able to help put on an event which in 5 consecutive days, travels to 5 different UK cities across the breadth of the country. This year we invested a lot of time trying to improve the conference. We re-branded to Data Relay to be more in keeping with the breadth of the Microsoft Data Platform. We introduced a Code of Conduct to help encourage diversity at the conference and several other things. Our aim is to keep improving the conference.

I was the Bristol Venue Event Owner and this time delivered a session about the end to end process of data management, things to consider when improving data quality and data science in industry, based on findings from my PhD research. The session also covered data collection areas, that are often led by marketing teams. I shared details of my research findings about the complexity of managing database systems, the use of the Microsoft data platform for research and the possible future AI developments to help people manage database systems with greater ease.

Thursday 11 October 2018

Ignite 2018 key announcements

The Microsoft Ignite 2018 news and highlights from the event.

Research skills for industry experts

It is great to see the name of the SQL Relay conference change to Data Relay. The conference encompasses the full breath of the Microsoft data platform and provides free Microsoft Data, AI & Analytics training conferences on your doorstep.

I am privileged to be speaking on Friday at Data Relay in Bristol to share my experience of providing high quality data analytics for my research using the Microsoft Data Platform. 

Monday 1 October 2018

SQL Relay 2018

I am speaking at SQL Relay 2018 in Bristol, Friday 12 October. My session is: Research skills for industry experts.

It is becoming ever increasing the need to present analytic outcomes. Analytics are only ever as good, as the robustness of the data collection and analysis. This session will cover the raft of research skills that can be applied in industry to improve the quality of your investigative work.