The SQL Saturday events continue to amaze me. A few years ago I was having lunch with Steve Jones (b|t) and he was talking about the fledgling SQL Saturday concept which had just begun to take hold. I told him how skeptical I was about how big it could get and whether it would last. I attended SQL Saturday #109 in Silicon Valley this weekend and it was another example of how wrong I was.
I didn’t hear the final tally but more than 700 people registered for the event on March 3 and it seemed to me they were all there. Most of the rooms had standing room only crowds (or sitting on the floor). Mark Ginnebaugh (b|t) with Ross Mistry (b|t) of Microsoft and a hoard of volunteers put together an event that had top-notch speakers, great prizes (Xboxes and iPads were given away), and awesome food. The event supplied breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the attendees! Thank you to all who put this together.
Microsoft delivered the keynote and gave an in-depth overview of everything that’s coming in SQL Server 2012, including Power View, Big Data and Tabular modeling. I attended a couple of sessions and enjoyed finally sitting through a complete session by Grant Fritchey (b|t), who does an excellent job talking about performance and proper T-SQL coding.
The session I presented was titled Using Columnstore Indexes in SQL Server 2012. Overall, it went well and I was able to cover all the material I had prepared. I feel I gave the audience a good idea as to when they should consider using Columnstore indexing and the business cases that justify their use. I also included several code demos, and unfortunately I had a crash during the middle of the session trying to run a memory intensive process. I had to reboot my laptop and was able to reorganize my presentation so that I could keep talking while waiting for the laptop to come back up, however, it’s always embarrassing to have a crash. I was angry at myself for being too ambitious by trying to show how Columnstore indexing would work with a large (and more real-life) data set. I left the session thinking that I shouldn’t try to do too much in a 1 hour demo on a laptop.
BI and Big Data Demos
I’ve re-thought that position. In doing presentations on Business Intelligence that will involve Big Data more and more, being able to demo this on a laptop will be necessary. I’ve decided to order a new laptop with more horsepower so that I can show more intense data processes without relying on small data samples that don’t reflect real-life. I went to the Strata Conference last week and was a little disappointed I didn’t see more demos of the new and exciting technology people were talking about and felt they should have provided more demos.
Next Up: Orange County, CA?
I submitted several sessions for SQL Saturday #120 in Orange County, CA on March 24 and hope I get selected. I’m also planning to be at another SQL Saturday between then and SQL Rally in Dallas in early May. It seems there is no stopping the SQL Saturday juggernaut and I’m happy to be part of so many of them.
My first Strata Conference came to an end yesterday evening but I’ve already decided it won’t be my last. I found the conference a good place to learn about a large variety of technologies and methodologies, and it was also an excellent networking opportunity. As a whole it was a great collection of people on the leading edge of data technology.
The conference kept me busy from early morning until the evening and I’m happy to say that I didn’t skip one session. I enjoyed hearing Jeremy Howard from Kaggle talk about predictive modeling two times as well as chatting with him afterwards in the bar. I also heard details of the next release of Hadoop from Arun Murthy of Hortonworks, saw a good session on Automated Understanding by Tim Estes of Digital Reasoning, and attended an interesting session called Exploring Social Data by Chris Moody of Gnip, a local company in Boulder, CO.
The best day for me was the first day since this was the tutorial/deep dive day. This is the day we saw more code and demos. I wanted to see more live demos the next two day but most of the speakers didn’t show any, and that’s one thing I’d like to see Strata have more of. The regular sessions were 40 minutes long which make doing a demo difficult, but it’s often helpful to see things in action to go along with the speaker’s words and slide deck.
I also had the opportunity to have good conversations over lunch or coffee with people from Microsoft, Red Gate, the Census Bureau, Kaggle, Shell, and many more. What I found out was that there are so many organizations out there setting the bar higher and doing great things in the realm of data, and it’s going to change our world.
SQL Server is a broad and deep product. It’s difficult to be an expert in every feature of the product, and it’s also going through a major release. And everything else is changing. I’ve been at the Strata conference this week and it’s very clear that SQL Server professionals will continue to be in a changing and evolving environment for the rest of their working lives. The work there is to do in analytics, visualization, real-time data, automated processing, and new technologies is huge with no end in sight. The constant studying, learning, and re-learning that we do in this business will only get bigger.
Attending a SQL Saturday event is one really good way to stay on top of things. You’ll get targeted sessions on SQL Server from top speakers on Performance, Business Intelligence, Administration, and much more. And it’s free!
If you decide to come to the event, find me and say hello. I’m presenting the session Using Columnstore Indexes in SQL Server 2012 so it’s a good way to find out about an important new feature in SQL Server. Colomnstore Indexes will be a key consideration for you when developing a data warehouse architecture and I’ll show some good demos that explain why.
See you Saturday!