Monthly Archives: April, 2011

No good reason not to be at SQL Rally

As the deadline for attending SQL Rally at a discount approaches, I see a lot of reminders urging people to register for the event.  There are a lot of good reasons to go, including excellent pre-con seminars, a wide assortment of top speakers and sessions covering every part of SQL Server.  For a half-week conference SQL Rally does a great job of covering every aspect of SQL Server and more.

Are there any good reasons for you not to go?  Strategies for dealing with objections such as work schedules, cost, and difficult bosses have all been addressed and should be easy for you to handle.  You may have other concerns, but the following assurances should ease your mind:

– Even though the conference is across the highway from Disneyworld, Mickey Mouse won’t be speaking at any of your sessions.  His talk on ‘Relational Database Design Concepts’ didn’t get enough votes.

– No age discrimination.  Florida has relaxed its laws and will allow you into the State without a passport even if you are under 65.

– You won’t be forced to dance the Rumba.  That only happens in Miami (we know DBAs hate to dance).

– George W. Bush and Al Gore do not and have never resided in Florida.

– The alligators are not allowed to roam free in Orlando.

I hope this helps overcome any fears you have and gets you on your way to SQL Rally.  After a full day of meetings, it’s been a good way to help me unwind on a Friday afternoon.

And remember to follow SQL Rally on Twitter using hashtag: #sqlrally

SQL Saturday #73 Recap – Orange County

This is a late review of my visit to SQL Saturday in Orange County, CA on April 9, but I wanted to get something out there before much more time goes by.  I attended the inaugural event held at Golden West College in Huntington Beach last year, so it was my second time speaking at this location.  The event last year was my first SQL Saturday, and I was eager to do a repeat because of the positive response I received.  It was good to see several familiar faces again.

I arrived in Orange County Friday morning and still needing to catch up on work, I headed to a Seal Beach café to get some lunch while I multi-tasked on the laptop.  After getting the work out of the way, I checked in at the hotel, relaxed for a while, and then found my way to the speaker’s dinner.  The speaker’s dinner is one of the best parts of speaking at a SQL Saturday, where you get to share a drink and a meal with other speakers.  I reintroduced myself to people I had briefly met before like Meredith Ryan-Smith and Randy Knight and got to meet new people like Benjamin Nevarez and others.

On Saturday morning I registered at Golden West College, picked up a bagel and coffee, and found a schedule to plan my day.  Fortunately, I had my two sessions ready to go, so there was no last minute tweaking of slide decks or demos.  This was a first for me!  After Andrew Karcher, the primary organizer of the event, gave a quick speech welcoming everyone, we were ready to go.  Listening to Andrew’s gravelly voice (and tired look) shows how much time and effort goes into putting one of these things together.  Thanks again to Andrew, and all the other volunteers!

Because I had my presentations ready (not the norm for me), I also took advantage of the time I wasn’t speaking and attended more sessions than at any other SQL Saturday event I’d been to.  There are several things at this conference that were done very well:

  • Breakfast and Lunch were available at the conference which makes things very convenient
  • The community college setting and rooms are well-suited for presenting in front of 20-30 people
  • The setting allowed us to spend time outdoors during breaks and while eating, making for a good break
  • Everything was close and easy to find: the session rooms, the food, the speaker’s room, the registration desk

The only thing that didn’t work so well was the weather, which didn’t cooperate in normally warm and sunny SoCal.  You know it’s not a good weather day when I leave Denver in the morning and experience a drop in temperature upon arriving in Orange County.  Maybe Andrew and team can work on this for next year’s event.

I attended several really good sessions.  I was really impressed with Denise McInerny and found her presentation style engaging and enjoyable.  Her sessions were titled DBA as Protector of the Data: Notes from the Field and  y.  I also attended the WIT roundtable for a very interesting discussion and I popped in for a few minutes on Benjamin Nevarez to see his partitioning talk.

My two sessions Business Intelligence for Managers/Decision-Makers and The Data Mining Lifecycle were well-attended with full rooms and I enjoyed getting so many questions and feedback after each session.  That’s one of the best parts about being a speaker, talking with the attendees afterwards.

Thanks again to Andrew and all the volunteers, your hard work is much appreciated!

SQL Rally May 11-13 – Expand your BI Skills

SQL Rally is coming soon and I’m really excited to say that I have the honor of speaking there! For those of you who haven’t heard, SQL Rally is a new conference in Orlando, FL intended to complement the PASS Summit held every fall. There are a lot of good reasons to attend SQL Rally, and it’s a great alternative if you haven’t been able to make it to the Summit because of cost, distance, or scheduling conflicts.

The agenda is packed with top speakers and sessions.  Wednesday May 11th has full day optional pre-conference seminars covering 4 different areas, including a BI workshop, Query performance tuning, Database development, and Professional development.  The following two days, May 12-13, have 24 one-hour technical training sessions each day divided into 4 tracks.  I’m going to be presenting The Data Mining Lifecycle to show you how to get started with the data mining tools provided in Analysis Services so you can include data mining in the applications you develop.

The 4 tracks at SQL Rally allow you to get a lot of information in all areas of SQL Server, whether it be database administration, development, or BI.  In my experience I’ve found that spanning multiple tracks is often the best way to get more out of a conference like this.  Since I typically work and speak in the BI space, I have some suggestions to make if you want to develop or expand your BI skills and career by attending some sessions not in the BI track.  Of course, you won’t go wrong with any of the BI sessions, but becoming a top BI developer requires more than what we normally identify as BI skills.

For example:  You’ve been doing a lot of report development with Reporting Services but haven’t delved into other areas of BI.  Catch as many BI track sessions as you can, but get to some of these sessions too:

–  ETL Head-to-Head:T-SQL vs. SSIS by Tim Mitchell

Knowing when to use T-SQL vs. SSIS is key to developing solid ETL.

Writing Faster Queries by Tim Chapman

Fast response to queries and timely data transformation through speedy SQL is always important in BI.

Big and Tall: When to Partition by Kendra Little

Partitioning is a very important skill to have when developing a data warehouse, a data mart, or any dimensional model.

SQL Tricks by A.P. Ward Pond and T-SQL Code Sins: The Worst Things We Do to Code, and Why by Jennifer McCown

Strong T-SQL skills are underrated for BI.

Helping Your Data Warehouse Succeed: 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Data Integration by Rafael Salas

The most difficult part of a Data warehouse project is ETL, so you can never have enough information in this area.

Creating a Metadata Mart with SSIS – Data Governance, Data Profiling & Code Generation by Ira Warren

Metadata lays the groundwork for a solid ETL system and Ira seems to have a great solution.

And of course you have to go to my session The Data Mining Lifecycle by Carlos Bossy

This session is a great way to find out about the potential of analytics and predictive modeling in SQL Server.


By the way, you can still register for SQL Rally at a discount if you do it by April 30 so don’t wait.  I hope to see you there and say hello to you!