Introducing the AzureCAT PPI Theater at PASS BA

The AzureCAT (Customer Advisory Team) is returning to the world of PASS and joining all of you Data lovin’ folks at the PASS BA conference this week in sunny San Jose!  For those you that aren’t familiar with AzureCAT, we are a Microsoft organization in the Cloud and Enterprise division that spends 100% of our time engaging with customers to make the most complex scenarios in the Azure and SQL space work like a charm.

This week at PASS BA, you’ll see us hanging out at the Microsoft booth, attending some of the great sessions and you’ll also find us at our own CAT PPI theater on the tradeshow floor.

Below are some bios of the AzureCATs that will be there. You’ll also see our planned talks and schedules.  Those of you that know AzureCATs know that’s the least of what we’ll cover.  We’re hanging out for your questions and impromptu sessions as interest arises.

Come on by our PPI Theater and say hi.


 Olivier Matrat

Hi, I’m Olivier and I am a data professional with more than 18 years of experience in technical, customer-facing, and management capacities at organizations of all sizes; I’m talking start-ups to multinationals. I lead a team of AzureCAT experts helping customers, partners, and the broader community be successful in their Big Data analytics projects on the Azure platform. I’m a Founding Partner member of the PASS Board of Directors, so I have PASS in my blood.  I’m also French and incidentally own the best French bakery in Redmond.  If you aren’t interested in analytics, ask me how to make a great croissant! Looking forward to talking with all of you about social sentiment analytics in my “Tapping the tweets – Social sentiment analytics at Internet scale in Azure” talk.

 Murshed Zaman

Hello!  I’m Murshed, a Senior Program Manager in AzureCAT.  I spend my time helping customers working with SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse, ColumnStore, Hadoop, Hive and IaaS. Over the last 12 years, I’ve specialized in telecommunications, retail, web analytics and supply chain management and for over 7 years I’ve worked with Massively Parallel Processing (MPP). Right now my main areas of focus are in design, architecture and Distributed-SQL plans. This year at PASS BA I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Big Data and Big Compute in “Connecting the Dots – Risk Simulation with Big Data, Big Compute and PDW”.  Looking forward to meeting you there! 


 Chuck Heinzelman

I’m Chuck.  I am a Senior Program Manager with the Microsoft Azure Customer Advisory Team, and I have been a member of the PASS community since 2000.  My primary focus is on cloud-based analytics, and I’ve also dabbled in matters related to hardware, OS configuration and even application development.  Like a certain snowman from a recent hit animated movie, I’ve been known to like warm hugs – as well as non-fat white chocolate mochas.  Feel free to bring one or both at my Cloud Applications Without Telemetry?  Surely You Can’t Be Serious! or BI in Windows Azure Virtual Machines: From Creation to User Access talks.

 John Sirmon 

Hi, I’m John Sirmon.  I’m a Senior Program Manager on the AzureCAT team. I’ve been working with SQL Server for over 10 years and I’m loving the BI space.  In my 9-5 life I specialize in Analysis Services performance tuning, Reporting Services, SharePoint integration, troubleshooting Kerberos Authentication and PowerPivot for SharePoint.  In my spare time I am the lead singer/guitarist of a local Rock Band in Charlotte, NC. 

 Chantel Morin

I am a member of the Microsoft Azure Customer Advisory Team (AzureCAT). For the past 4 years I’ve been the assistant to Mark Souza, our General Manager. In the last year I’ve shifted my focus more towards my passion for community and events. I’m also ramping up to assist with customer onboarding into Azure TAP programs. I have the best team and manager in all the land and when I’m not enjoying work for pay I like to travel to music festivals, ride ATVs and spend time with my two pitbulls, Max and Tucker.   You can find me at the Microsoft Information Desk during the event.

Sessions at the CAT PPI Theater

Connecting the Dots – Risk Simulation with Big Data, Big Compute and PDW 
Thursday May 8th at 12:20pm, Friday May 9th at 9:20am

Microsoft Azure offers you a platform that allows you to migrate your big compute and big data needs to the cloud, while Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) can be used on-premises as a query engine for data that you store both on-premises and in Microsoft Azure Storage.  Through the use of Microsoft Azure HPC clusters, HDInsight clusters and PDW, we’ll discuss risk simulations and data aggregations which include hybrid on-premises/cloud scenarios, and demonstrate using these technologies over data generated during the session.

Tapping the tweets – Social sentiment analytics at Internet scale in Azure
Thursday May 8th at 12:50pm, Friday May 9th at 12:50pm

Twitter and other social media channels have become an integral part of many organizations’ marketing strategies. Microsoft Azure provides a ubiquitous platform to acquire, monitor, process, store and analyze those all-important brand loyalty and CSAT signals. Through the use of a mix of first and third party tools as well as open source solutions, we will illustrate how to infer actionable insights from the ambient social noise at scale.

Cloud Applications Without Telemetry?  Surely You Can’t Be Serious!
Thursday May 8th at 9:20am, Friday May 9th at 12:20pm

Analytics isn’t limited to line of business data – your applications can (and should) generate high quality data that can be used to determine things like:

  • Am I meeting my application SLAs?
  • What is my general customer experience like?
  • Do I need to scale up or down based on demand?

In the traditional on-premises world, you probably didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about application monitoring and telemetry – you were in full control of the entire environment.  If things weren’t right – either from a connectivity or performance perspective, you could easily look at the systems to see what was going on.

Fast-forward to the cloud-based world.  You are now running on servers that you don’t control, and using services that are shared among other consumers, and don’t necessarily have access to all of the data you are used to having.  That is why you need to add telemetry to your applications and services.

The AzureCAT has published a framework for gathering telemetry that is based on many customer engagements.  We’ll spend time talking about what data to gather, how to gather it, and how to consume it once you have it.

BI in Windows Azure Virtual Machines: From Creation to User Access (room 230A)
Conference Breakout: Thursday May 8th at 4pm

Running BI workloads in Windows Azure Virtual Machines can present a whole new world of challenges. While the tools are largely the same between the IaaS and on-premises implementations, your solutions for authentication and authorization could be significantly different in the cloud. 

We’ll start out by talking about how to use the standard gallery images to run BI workloads in IaaS, and then discuss building custom scaled-out BI infrastructures in Azure Virtual Machines. From there, we will dive into the different authentication and authorization options you might want to take advantage of – options that will work both in the cloud and on-premises, but are especially useful in a cloud-based environment.

And potentially as special treat …

Details to come but there’s a good chance you’ll see John Sirmon from the AzureCAT team at the theater.  This man LITERALLY wrestles alligators as well as analytics.  (No alligators will be harmed in the making of this PASS BA talk)