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

Thursday, 5 September 2019

The Mirage and Metamorphosis of Data and AI

I have just taken a break to rejuvenate my creative juices. It was a time to reflect and innovate. We are often so busy in our day to day lives we don't stop and reflect. I spent my time reading and catching up on bleeding edge technology. I am always fascinated to see what is coming next, what problems researchers are trying to address and how Data and AI could be utilised to benefit industry and the world around us.

The role I enjoy the most is as a Data and AI philosopher providing thought leadership. We are at an exciting time in history to witness and contribute to the mirage and metamorphosis of Data and AI. My explorations find exciting challenges in diversity and Data and AI at the centre of most things we want to achieve. Research is increasingly needed in industry to achieve business success due to the increasing complexity within industry and the world around us. We need to move away from agile for certain tasks to enable complexity to be understood and use systems thinking techniques.  My findings on the future mirage and metamorphosis of Data and AI are a complex interconnected world around Data and AI and mastering that complexity is the key to success. 


The data and AI market landscape 2019: The next wave of hybrid emerges
Part I: A Turbulent Year: The 2019 Data & AI Landscape
Part II: Major Trends in the 2019 Data & AI Landscape
Navigating AI hype in search of success, Oliver Pickup (Sunday Times 12 May 2019)
The real big-data problem and why only machine learning can fix it
Big Data is just Data
Maximising the AI opportunity
The Data Ethics Framework principles

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Microsoft ML for Apache Spark

Microsoft Research announce a new version Microsoft ML for Apache Spark, an open-source and distributed ML and microservice library. v0.18 brings Vowpal Wabbit on Spark, Speech to Text & more!

Microsoft Machine Learning for Apache Spark (MMLSpark) is an ecosystem of enhancements that expand the Apache Spark distributed computing library to tackle problems in Deep Learning. It enables sending streaming data to Power BI.
Website: http://aka.ms/spark Paper: http://aka.ms/spark-paper

Global AI Nights 2019

The Global AI Night is a free evening event organized in London by community people, who are passionate about Artificial Intelligence on the Microsoft Azure. It is at the The Microsoft Reactor in London on Thursday September 5, 2019 5:45 PM – 10:00 PM Register here.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Database Trends Awards

Database Trends and applications have names have listed the best relational database and best big data platform.

Best relational database: SQL Server
"According to Craig S. Mullins, president & principal consultant, Mullins Consulting, Inc, relational continues to dominate: IDC forecasts that relational DBs will still account for more than 80% of the total operational database market through 2022, and Gartner forecasts that through 2020, relational technology will continue to be used for at least 70% of new applications and projects."

Best big data platform: Cloudera Enterprise Data Cloud

"To leverage the immense power of their data, organizations need a solid strategy that incorporates everything from security to data governance to the right big data technologies. Enabling both on-prem and cloud deployments—or a hybrid strategy—big data platforms today support data warehouses, data lakes, data science, engineering, machine learning, myriad database management systems, and much more.  And while Hadoop is a key element of big data platforms today, there are also many other open source components, support capabilities, and advanced features that round out a big data platform to give data-driven companies the big data capabilities they need"

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Discover Datasets

There are many thousands of data repositories around the world and to make it easy to access this data Google have launched a Dataset Search service.


This aimed to be a companion of sorts to Google Scholar, the company’s popular search engine for academic studies and reports.

Read more about the service here.

Friday, 2 August 2019

The Big Data Problem

The article The real big-data problem and why only machine learning can fix it and video from the MIT CDO conference, Cambridge, MA contains an interesting discussion on why ETL and MDM don't scale and why placing a schema later doesn't deliver usable data. The key is using machine learning to classify and prep data.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

SQL Server 2019 Workshop Lab

SQL Server 2019 is a modern data platform designed to tackle the challenges of today's data professional.

There is a new self-paced free lab is available to learn some of the concepts and how to solve modern data challenges using a hands-on lab approach.

SQL Server 2019 provides many new capabilities including:

  • Data Virtualization with Polybase and Big Data Clusters to reduce the need for data movement
  • Intelligent Performance to boost query performance with no application changes
  • Security enhancements such as Always Encrypted and Data Classification
  • Mission Critical Availability including Availability Groups on Kubernetes and Accelerated Database Recovery
  • Modern Development capabilities including Machine Learning Services and Extensibility with Java and the language of your choice
  • SQL Server on the platform of your choice with compatibility including Windows, Linux, Docker, Kubernetes, and Arm64 (Azure SQL Database Edge)

Monday, 22 July 2019

Data Relay 2019 Registration is open

Data Relay is open for registration at all 5 venues.

Newcastle Monday 7 October
Leeds Tuesday 8 October 
Nottingham 9 October
Birmingham Wednesday 10 October
Bristol Friday 11 October

Data Relay is returning for its 9th year, and is heading your way in October 2019!

Data Relay features top quality Microsoft Data Platform content from Microsoft and internationally renowned speakers.

With over 1000 registrations on the last Relay, reserve your place quickly

The full agenda will be published shortly. The day will comprise of a series of 55 minute technical presentations, at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. You can switch tracks at will throughout the day, to select the sessions that are most relevant to you.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

MVP Award Package

So excited to receive my #MVP award package and disk. It is such an honour to receive this for a second year. What an amazing  #data community we have. Thank you #Microsoft #MVPBuzz

On the award it says "We recognize and value your exceptional contributions to technical communities worldwide."

The thing I  value the most is helping and sharing data innovations with the community.  There are so many exciting developments, opportunities and benefits for the communities that data can bring. People are having extraordinary visions for the future, brought about with data and advanced analytics working together to solve complex problems.

I am looking forward to the next year of exciting data events.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Microsoft Inspire 2019 Corenotes

The Microsoft Inspire 2019 Corenotes with Satya Nadella and Brad Smith is being livestreamed tomorrow starting at 8:30AM PT. It can be watched on You Tube.  Microsoft Inspire is where partners meet to connect, collaborate and celebrate as one community.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

What is Azure SQL Database Hyperscale

Azure SQL Database is based on SQL Server Database Engine architecture for the cloud environment. There are three architectural models that are used in Azure SQL Database:

  • General Purpose/Standard
  • Hyperscale
  • Business Critical/Premium

The Hyperscale service tier in Azure SQL Database is a new service tier in the vCore-based purchasing model. The Hyperscale service tier in Azure SQL Database provides the following additional capabilities:

  • Support for up to 100 TB of database size
  • Nearly instantaneous database backups 
  • Fast database restores that are based on file snapshots which take in minutes rather than hours or days
  • Rapid scale out to provision one or more read-only nodes for offloading your read workload 
  • Rapid Scale up and to accommodate intermittent heavy workloads 

To learn more watch the video.

Monday, 1 July 2019

A Second Data Platform MVP Award

I am very excited to have received my second Data Platform MVP award. What an honour to receive this along with so many amazing Most Valuable Professionals (MVP).  It is such a privilege to share my passion for data with the community #MVPBuzz #SQLFamily 

The Microsoft Data Platform award is an amazing award. It recognizes exceptional technology community leaders worldwide who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with users and Microsoft.

There are so many exciting things approaching to share with the community. A few highlights are:

  • Microsoft Ignite
  • PASS Summit
  • Data Relay UK
  • SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters when it becomes available

I am keen to see what advancements may come from AI integration and always thinking about diversity and inclusion. It is great to think about data strategy and the power it holds over the future of business.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

The Common Data Model

The Common Data Model (CDM) is a standard and extensible collection of schemas (entities, attributes, relationships) that represents business concepts and activities with well-defined semantics, to facilitate data interoperability. 

The Common Data Model, that was announced at Ignite, as part of the Open Data Initiative, a jointly-developed vision by Microsoft, Adobe and SAP. CDM is already supported in the Common Data Service, Dynamics 365, PowerApps, Power BI, and upcoming Azure data services. This data is continually developing at Microsoft. I do wonder what consistency there will be between the Microsoft Common Data Model and the Splunk Common Information Model

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Lineage Power BI

The lineage view was announced at the Business Applications Summit. It is coming to the Power BI service so you can soon trace all your data from source to report.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Shared and certified datasets

Microsoft certified data sets shared at the Buisness Applications Summit, will discover and reuse trusted data assets in your organization.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Microsoft Business Application Summit

It is the Microsoft Business Application Summit in at Atlanta, Georgia 10-11 June 2019 and there was a raft of new features launched yesterday for Power BI relating to AI and Enterprise features. The notes of the key features are below:

New AI and Enterprise features for Power BI are covered in depth
What’s new and planned for business intelligence future release dates are shared

Microsoft Power BI: The future of modern BI - roadmap and vision video

Watch on-demand sessions from the event

June release of Power BI Desk. This incorporates some exciting Q & A changes.

Monday, 10 June 2019

1 Million Women in STEM

1MWIS (1 million women in STEM) is a campaign seeking to profile a million women working in STEM disciplines to provide visible role models for the next generation of girls. There is now a significant amount of research showing that visible female role models serve to increase the number of girls pursuing STEM subjects in higher education and of those role models, real women (over celebrities, historical figures etc.) have the most influence.  

I have the honour to be listed in the technology section .

My entry is here. I hope it inspires the next generation.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Power Platform World Tour

Power Platform User Groups will deliver the Power Platform World Tour. It will be in London on 28-29 August, with unprecedented access to premium Power BI, PowerApps and Flow content designed by your local industry experts. 

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Thursday, 16 May 2019

West Women Awards Ceremony

Proud to be listed in the top 100 most inspiring women in the region. The awards ceremony tonight in Bristol helps promotes diversity and inclusion in the workplace which is fundamental to providing an environment for innovation and to enable companies to lead. It also creates a culture that can enable everyone to aspire to follow their dreams.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Monday, 6 May 2019

Google AI training data set

Google has released an AI training data set with 5 million images and 200,000 landmarks. The open-sourced Google-Landmarks-v2 contains a larger landmark recognition corpus. Google has also launched two new challenges Landmark Recognition 2019 and Landmark Retrieval 2019 on Kaggle.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Azure Open Datasets

Azure Open Datasets are curated public datasets that can be used to add scenario-specific features to machine learning solutions for more accurate models. Open Datasets are on Microsoft Azure and are available to Azure Databricks, Machine Learning service, and Machine Learning Studio. Access to the datasets is through the APIs and other products, such as Power BI and Azure Data Factory.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Microsoft Build is coming

It is that time of year again and I am looking forward to see what announcements are going to be made at MSBuild 2019. MSBuild explores the latest developer tools and technologies.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Spark+AI Summit 2019

The SparkAI Summit shared a lot of  announcements. The open source announcements were

Koalas - a more complete Pandas API

The open sourcing of Databricks Delta as Delta Lake. Delta dramatically simplifies building reliable data lakes on HDFS and cloud storage with ACID transactions, indexes and scalable metadata handling.

Microsoft is joining the MLflow project and adding MLflow APIs in Azure ML.

Rohan Kumar  of Microsoft announced .NET for Apache Spark, making Apache Spark accessible to .NET developers - Git Hub

Spark 3.0 expected later in the year

The keynote videos are all online now and other session videos will be there in about 2 weeks.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Data in Devon

Data in Devon was previously SQL Saturday Exeter. It is a great community conference in the South West. It is at Jurys Inn Exeter, Western Way, Exeter, EX1 2DB and it is free to attend.There is a day of in depth technical training sessions.  Register for a Data in Devon Training Day session on Friday 26th April. The options are:
  • BI in Azure - Alex Whittles MVP
  • Infrastructure as Code with Terraform - John Martin MVP
  • Machine Learning: From model to production using the cloud, containers and Dev Ops -  Terry Mccann MVP
  • Getting up to speed with PowerShell -  Rob Sewell MVP
The Saturday schedule on 27 April also includes a track for the Global AzureBootcampThe Global Azure Bootcamps are all around the world for communities on 27 April that want to learn about Azure and the Cloud. This is the sixth Global Azure Bootcamp event. 

Monday, 1 April 2019

My First MVP Summit

I had an amazing time at my first MVP Global Summit.  The MVP Global Summit was hosted in Bellevue and at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It featured a large catalog of in-depth technical discussions and feedback sessions combined with networking opportunities among fellow MVPs and the Microsoft product groups.
It was held the week of 17 March 2019. There were community pre-day sessions on Sunday 17 March and the product group technical sessions ran from Monday 18 March until Wednesday 20 March. On Thursday 21 March and Friday 22 March the Power BI and Azure product teams hosted additional sessions and workshops on campus.

As a first time attendee I didn’t know anything about the conference.There was finding out about transfers to and from the airport to the hotel, having a map of the Microsoft campus and the need to download a few apps such as Uber and the event mobile app to select the sessions I wanted to attend for my award category and for conference updates when I was there.

The conference hotels were in Bellevue and I stayed in the main hotel, the Hyatt Regency. The sessions on the Sunday and a number of evening events were all held in the Hyatt.  

Every day there were buses that took MVPs from the hotels to the main conference centre at Redmond. These ran regularly throughout the five days. From the conference centre there were transfer buses that could take you to any of the other buildings. Some of the building were within 5 mins walk. With the weather like summer it was a pleasant stroll through the tree lined undulating campus roads and paths between the buildings. By one of the buildings was the three tree houses which can be used for meetings.

The Microsoft Store was in another part of the campus. During the week I also had to travel to another building Advanta which was 15 mins away from the main campus.

The events on Sunday covered important topics such as diversity and inclusion and how to improve your presentation skills. It was a very helpful day to focus on soft skills. Also I was very grateful to have a new professional headshot taken for LinkedIn. Then five days of sessions with the different product groups. There was so much content to learn and absorb. In the evenings there was plenty of time to network with other MVPs and the product groups. One evening meetup was with the MVP leads, a couple were with the Data Platform product group on Tuesday and Thursday on campus. Then there was the main attendee celebration to celebrate one global community on Wednesday. Throughout the whole event there were opportunities to network, meet new people, catch up with people I knew and discuss data platform things. It was also a great opportunity to have a Data Relay team meeting. 

It is such an amazing privilege to be a part of this community with so many amazing people.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Data Relay Session Submission is Open

It is that time of year again already. Data Relay session submission is open. There is a great blog post talking about Why to speak at Data RelaySubmit your sessions and start your journey.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Inspirational West Women of the Year 2019

I have the privilege to have been chosen to be in the 'Top 100 Inspirational Woman in the West' for 2019.

West Women of the Year is to recognize the women in our region who continue to champion gender equality a hundred years on, in celebration of a century of women's suffrage in Britain. The award shares the stories of inspiring, dedicated and high achieving women from all walks of life who are making a difference in their workplaces and communities.The event webpage gives more information.

The articles about the top 100 Inspirational Woman in the West for 2019 were posted in the Bristol Post , Somerset Live and Gloucestershire Live

There are various categories and the winners of each category are selected by the judges apart from the people’s choice.

For one of the awards there is an online poll. That is for 'The People's Choice' category for the 2019 West Women Awards. The voting form is available here and it would be amazing to get some people to vote for me. I'm listed under Dr Victoria Holt. Please note that the poll will be open until Thursday 25th April 2019.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Woman in Data Science (WiDS) Scotland

The Stanford University's Women In Data Science  (WiDS) initiative, The Data Lab, Turing's Testers along with their primary sponsor Mudano, have created an event that celebrates women, tech, innovation and codebreaking! This event brings together women data scientists and school girls to showcase what a data career looks like, and inspire the female data leaders of the future.  The aim is to inspire school girls to consider STEM and data related careers by bringing together the girls with inspiring women working in the field of data science and to expose them to some fun activities that are powered by data.  I have the privilege to attending the event, on behalf of my employer CGI, to participate as a mentor and to speak to the girls to share the wonders of working with data.

Women in Data Science is on 11 March 2019 at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. It is one of the fringe events of the UK’s first two week festival of Data Innovation in Scotland from the 11th to 22nd March 2019 and in its third year. DataFest will showcase Scotland's leading role in data science and artificial intelligence with networking from industry, academia and data enthusiasts. 

The Event details:

The Cyber Treasure Hunt has been created by Turing's Testers, a group of motivated pupils and STEM ambassadors; inspiring, engaging and supporting girls into the technology sector. This has been running over a number of months with codes being released every few weeks. For a school to gain invitation to this event they must crack the codes. This event will be the final code cracking session with the winner being announced at the end of the day.

The event will be broken into a number of sessions and vary between workshops and talks. Talks will be led by various female thought leaders from the world of tech, including none other than Hannah Fry.

Attendee spaces are limited at this event. We expect tickets to sell out quickly, however will have a waitlist and will inform you if you have secured a place. Attendees will have a hands on role as part of this event and will be asked to help out with mentoring and guidance to each of the groups throughout the day.

This event also plays part of DataFest, kicking off proceedings on the first day of the two week festival of data science.


10.00 - Registration
10.30 - First Rotation of Workshops and Talks
12.00 - Lunch
12.40 - Second Rotation of Workshops and Talks
14.10 - Prize Giving
15.00 - Closing Comments

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

International Women's Day

International Women's Day is fast approaching. It is celebrated on 8 March every year. It is a celebration of women globally. It is a chance to network, be inspired and share your stories to empower each other.
The Official UN theme for 2019 is Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change. The theme will focus on innovative ways to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

I am excited to be contributing to a webinar for International Women's Day 2019. The webinar discussed women's roles in the field of technology.