Archive for the ‘Events’ Category.

Presenting at SQLSaturday #70

I’ll be doing two presentations at the SQLSaturday #70 (#SQLSat70) in Columbia, SC this weekend (Saturday, 3/19). Really looking forward to this event – the last Columbia SQLSaturday was a blast, and this one promises more of the same. There are a number of excellent speakers presenting, so there will be plenty of sessions to learn from.

Varigence will have a table at the event. If you are working in Microsoft BI, I encourage you to stop by and take a look at what we are doing – it’s very cool.

Do More (ETL) with Less (Effort) – Automating SSIS

SSIS is a great tool for transferring data from one data source to another, and for implementing complex ETL processes. However, for simple, straightforward data transfer tasks, creating SSIS packages by hand can be time-consuming and repetitious. By attending this session, you’ll learn how to automate package creation in SSIS, including the dynamic generation of data flows. We’ll cover some of the free and open source tools available for this, and discuss “roll your own” options.

***If all goes well, you may even get a sneak preview of some exciting new BIDS Helper functionality at this session ***

Handling Advanced Data Warehouse Scenarios in SSIS

So you’ve used SSIS to populate a simple star schema data mart, and everybody’s happy. But now you have new requirements that require more advanced data warehouse approaches, like late arriving dimensions, bridge tables, parent child dimensions, and Type 3 or Type 6 slowly changing dimensions (SCD). How do you handle those in a scalable, efficient way in SSIS? This session will present some common patterns for handling these scenarios. You’ll learn when to use each advanced approach and the pros and cons associated with each pattern. You will learn how to implement these patterns in SSIS, and how to tune them for high performance.

Processing Flat Files with SSIS at SQLSaturday #61

I’m looking forward to speaking at SQLSaturday #61 (#sqlsat61) in Washington, DC this coming weekend (12/4/2010). As usual for a SQLSaturday, there are some great speakers scheduled to present.

I’ll be presenting on “Processing Flat Files with SSIS”, which goes over some tips and tricks for working with flat files. It’s always a fun session to give, as everyone seems to have encountered some troublesome flat files at some point in their career.

If you are in attendance at the event, please feel free to stop by and say hello.

Moving Data with SQL Azure and SSIS

I did a presentation on moving data to and from SQL Azure for SQLSaturday #49 in Orlando. In it, I reviewed a few of the options available for getting data into and out SQL Azure, including SSIS, BCP, and the Sync Framework. I neglected to load the slides up to the SQLSaturday site, though, so I’m making them available here.

One item to note – in the presentation, I said that the SQL Azure Data Sync tool only supported syncing SQL Azure databases – no on-premise SQL Server. That was correct at the time, but Microsoft has now announced that CTP 2 for Data Sync will support on-premise SQL Servers, meaning it’s a much more viable option for moving data.

The presentation is available here.

Recap of “Do You Know the Data Flow” at the Atlanta BI User Group

Last week I presented “Do You Know the Data Flow?” to the Atlanta BI user group. The meeting was well attended, with about 40 people present. The group was great, with lots of good questions and comments. I finally got to meet in person several people in the SQL Server BI community who are local to Atlanta – Teo Lachev, who organizes the group,  Jen Underwood, and Julie and Audrey of DataChix fame. Aaron Nelson (@SQLvariant), Denny Cherry (@mrdenny), and Jorge Segarra (@SQLChicken) were also there.

This was my first public presentation of “Do You Know the Data Flow?”, which is always a little interesting. It’s a subject area I’m pretty comfortable with, though, and the presentation went smoothly. I got some great feedback on it (thanks, everyone), with several people telling me that they’d learned something new. For me, as a presenter, that’s great to hear, because I want people to feel like it was well worth their time to attend. Based on the feedback for this one, I’ll be putting it in my regular roster of presentations.

The slides from the presentation are located here.

QLSaturday #49 and #56 Recaps–A Little Different\

SQLSaturday #49

My recap on SQLSaturday #49 is waaay overdue (sorry, Jack and Andy). It was nice to get a chance to present at the home of SQLSaturday, and I have to say, the amount of experience they have in doing SQLSaturday events really shows. The event ran smoothly, and they had plenty of helpful volunteers to help in the appropriate places. I missed the speaker dinner, but heard it was good. There was also some excitement Friday night, when the hotel fire alarm when off at 3:30 AM. Not a pleasant wakeup experience. You could tell the SQLSaturday people who were staying at the hotel though – they were the ones in pajamas with laptop bags over their shoulders.

The event was well attended with 270 attendees and the sessions I attended were pretty full. My presentation was on SQL Azure and loading data to and from the cloud with SSIS and BCP. Fortunately, I was able to get a good internet connection (some other presenters had warned me that reception was a little weak in some rooms), so the demos ran as expected. The after-party was nice as well. I had the chance to catch up with some friends (thanks for the ride, Eric) and meet some new people from the area.

SQLSaturday #56

SQLSaturday #56 – BI Edition was this past weekend. It was another good event, and had about 215 attendees. I got to spent some time with Greg Galloway (one of the other developers on BIDS Helper), Tim Mitchell, and I met several new people as well. The event itself was held at the Microsoft campus in Dallas, and rooms were very nice. We did have a couple of tornado scares, the first of which came up just as my first presentation was starting. It’s a little disconcerting hear an announcement that everyone should proceed to the storm shelters two sentences into your presentation. But as it turned out, the presentation room we were in was a “tornado safe zone” (which I guess means safer that the surrounding rooms, which had lots of glass windows), so the presentation was able to continue. The event had a small number of volunteers, and it was nice to see speakers and attendees pitching in to help wherever needed, whether cleaning up or helping direct people to the appropriate rooms.

A Little Different

Something struck me about both these SQLSaturday events. They were both felt relatively low key and relaxed. I wasn’t involved in the organization for either of these, but I got the impression that the organizers felt that they wanted to provide a good event without going to extremes. They realized that not everything has to be perfect or prearranged to have a good event. At some other events, I got the distinct impression that the organizers sat down and said “How do we make this SQLSaturday the best one ever?”, really focused on setting the bar higher, and probably experienced a lot of stress in the process. Don’t get me wrong – I think improving the SQLSaturday experience is important, and continuing to try new things to improve that experience is good. I’ve really enjoyed those events that changed my concept of what a SQLSaturday could be.

However, some of the groups that have done the “higher-end” SQLSaturday events have had a lot of sponsors (which means a bigger budget) and a lot of volunteers (which means spreading the workload a lot more). For those of you considering organizing a SQLSaturday in your area, I think it’s important to know that you can organize a very successful SQLSaturday on a smaller budget and with fewer volunteers. If you focus on providing what the attendees are there for (focused, relevant content that helps them learn), the rest of it tends to sort itself out. Based on the speakers and attendees that I’ve talked to at various events, there’s not a significant difference in the satisfaction levels between events. Attendees are very happy to get free, quality training. Speakers are happy to have an audience. The other stuff (meals, giveaways, personal assistants for every attendee :) ) is secondary.

So, if you are considering a new SQLSaturday event, don’t worry about how it will compare with the one the next state over, or the one you gave last year. Most people will be very happy however you choose to organize it. And if someone refuses to attend because there won’t be free doughnuts, well, did you really want them there in the first place?

One Week to SQLSaturday #49

One week left till SQLSaturday #49 – there’s still time to register. I’m pretty excited about going, as it will be my first Orlando SQLSaturday. Also, it looks like a great lineup of speakers.

I’ll be presenting on ways to get data into and out of SQL Azure, with a focus on SSIS (not surprising that I’d put that spin on it, is it?) However, it will cover some of the other options too, and you may be surprised by the results. If you’re going to be around, please drop in, either to say hi, or as Eric plans to do, to throw fruit (looking forward to it, Eric). I’m happy either way.

SQLSaturday #48 Recap

I presented at SQLSaturday #48 this weekend. It was a great event, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. K. Brian Kelley and the other organizers put on a great event. This was the first SQLSaturday that I’ve been to in a while where I had the time and flexibility to attend several of the sessions. I particularly enjoyed Andy Warren’s presentation on personal development plans. It’s definitely something I need to spend more time on. Andrew Kelly’s presentation on storage and IO was good as well – I’ve seen it before, but I pick up something new every time.

From an attendee perspective, the event was very good. There were plenty of great sessions to choose from. The location (Midlands College) was also nice, with plenty of room, and a nice setup for both attending sessions and networking. The lunch room was a little crowded, but it wasn’t a problem – several of us just grabbed some space on the floor.

Looking at it from a speaker’s standpoint, it was well organized. The directions to various classrooms were clear, with schedules on the doors. The room proctors were very effective and helpful. I missed the speaker dinner, but I heard it was good. The only negative that I noticed is that some sessions were pretty lightly attended. I think this was mostly a factor of the number of simultaneous sessions spreading the attendees a little thin. It wasn’t a big deal, though – most of the speakers are happy to speak to small or large crowds.

Overall, definitely a good event, and I’ll be looking forward to the next one.

Less than 2 Weeks till SQLSaturday #48

SQLSaturday #48 is coming up in a few more days, but there is still time to register. There’s a great lineup of speakers, and you can can’t beat free for training.

I’ll be presenting 2 sessions on SSIS. If you are there, feel free to drop in.

2 Days to SQLSaturday #46

Only 2 days until SQLSaturday #46 – if you aren’t registered yet, there’s still time. $10 for lunch, lots of great speakers, and some really interesting presentations – what better to do on Saturday?

If you make it out, look me up. I’ve got two presentations, and when I’m not presenting, I’ll be hanging around the Varigence table.

Presenting at SQLSaturday #49 in Orlando, FL on October 16, 2010

I have a very busy schedule in October. As already mentioned, I’m presenting at SQLSaturday #48 in Columbia earlier in the month. I also have the privilege of presenting at the Orlando, FL SQLSaturday #49 on October 16th, 2010. Thanks to Andy Warren for squeezing me into a slot that opened up in the schedule.

I’ll be presenting a newly revised presentation on SQL Azure – Moving Data with SQL Azure and SSIS. The abstract is:

SQL Azure allows you to host your data in SQL Server in the cloud. That provides some big benefits in scalability and management. However, it leaves open the question, “How do you get your data into / out of the cloud?” At some point, you are going to need to move data to or from an on-premise store to SQL Azure. In this session, we’ll discuss the available options for this, including SSIS, the Sync Framework, and BCP. We’ll cover the pros and cons for each. We’ll drill into one of the options, SSIS, in detail, and review performance options and potential issues that you may encounter when doing this.

I’ve presented on SQL Azure in the past, focusing on how it could be leveraged for BI purposes. In this session, we’ll focus in on moving data in and out of SQL Azure, as that’s an area that’s changing pretty rapidly right now.

If you read the blog, please introduce yourself. I’ll be around all day, and I’m always happy to chat.