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SQLBits XII

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In case you missed the announcement yesterday, SQLBits XII will be taking place at the International Centre, Telford, UK on July 17th-19th. SQLBits is the biggest SQL Server and Microsoft BI conference in Europe and will feature precons and sessions from some of the best-known SQL Server experts in the world (I see Brent Ozar and Brian Knight have already submitted sessions, which is cool). And apart from all the amazing technical content it’s a lot of fun – just ask anyone who’s been to a previous SQLBits!

Full details and the link to register can be found on the SQLBits website: http://sqlbits.com/ Hope to see you there…

Written by Chris Webb

March 4, 2014 at 9:50 am

Posted in Events

Upcoming SSAS and MDX Training Course Dates

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If you’ve got some training budget burning a hole in your pocket, here’s a quick reminder of some upcoming SSAS and MDX courses I’m teaching:

Hope to see you there! If you’d like to find out about new courses by me and other SQL Server people, you can sign up to the Technitrain newsletter at http://www.technitrain.com

PS I’ve also got Andy Leonard coming over to London to run his ever-popular SSIS Design Patterns course too, in early September.

Written by Chris Webb

June 26, 2013 at 9:30 am

Posted in Events, Technitrain

SQLBits XI Summary

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So, another SQLBits is over. After the London event last year, we (ie the SQLBits Committee, which I’m a member of) decided to scale things back a bit and return to a more manageable, friendly size, and to concentrate more on making the conference fun to attend. That’s not to say we didn’t want to maintain our high standards regarding content – and yet again we had some great sessions from world-class speakers – but a conference isn’t just about the presentations, it’s also about networking, meeting people face-to-face that you’ve only had contact with online, and having a few beers to facilitate this. As SQL Server professionals we’re a lot better off as part of a wider community: in terms of our technical knowledge, in terms of who we know to ask for help when we hit a problem, in terms of finding our next job, and in many other ways. I hope SQLBits does its bit to help build that community.

You can see what people are saying about SQLBits by following @SQLBits and searching for the #SQLBits hashtag on Twitter, and liking the SQLBits Facebook page; there are some eye-popping photos there, not to mention a video of my performance in the pie-eating competition. If you were there and you’ve got more photos and videos, please share them!

It only remains for me to thank the rest of the committee, Simon, Martin, JRJ, Darren, Chris T-O, Tim and Allan; our team of helpers, ably led by Annette; Helen, for her work on the party and merchandising; our sponsors; our speakers; and of course everyone who attended and made this the best SQLBits so far. I know I always say that, but it really is true.

Written by Chris Webb

May 5, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Posted in Events

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PASS Business Analytics Conference Summary

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The PASS Business Analytics Conference in Chicago finished yesterday, and because I was there and because I did a fair amount of cheerleading for it (see here and here for example) I wanted to post a few thoughts on how it went.

I’ll be honest and say that I had a few worries before the event. Would anyone want to go? Would the sessions be a repeat of what get on the BI tracks at the PASS Summit and hundreds of other SQL Server conferences? In fact, everything went really, really well. Some of the sessions were quite sparsely attended (though this had nothing to do with the quality of the content – some of the best sessions didn’t get much of an audience) but overall there was a very respectable number of people (1200ish?). I had as many people in my session on OData as I’d get at any other large conference, and it was standing room only in at least one of Marco’s sessions. I also rather liked the fact that it was smaller than the Summit – it made it much easier to meet all the people I wanted to meet. If it carries on for a few years it could easily attract a much larger number of people.

Regarding the content I was particularly pleased because a lot of the topics I’d asked for turned up on the schedule. In fact one thing that struck me (and a few other people said the same thing to me as well) was that this was the first conference I’d been to in a long time where there were sessions that I really wanted to see in every time slot. My favourite session of the whole conference was Marc Smith on NodeXL; anyone that reads my blog knows I’ve been a big fan of NodeXL for a long time, but I learned a lot from this session because it concentrated on the basics of social network analysis rather than the tool itself. This was a prime example of the kind of topic that you simply wouldn’t get at a regular SQL Server conference – it was a business analytics session. Even the more technical presentations, such as the one on HPC Services for Excel, was outside the usual boundaries of SQL Server BI. Incidentally, I must get round to playing with HPC Services for Excel – you could use it to parallelise some DAX calculations, or even to batch process large numbers of PowerPivot models on desktop machines overnight…

So, in summary, the conference was a big success and I had a great time. I’ll definitely be going back next year. And did I mention that I got to meet Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame?

Written by Chris Webb

April 14, 2013 at 2:59 am

Posted in Events, PASS

SSAS Multidimensional and MDX Training in Australia

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This is just a quick post to mention that this summer I’ll be running two courses in Australia, one in Sydney on July 23-26, and one in Melbourne on July 29-August 1, in association with the folks at Wardy IT. The course content will cover all things Analysis Services Multidimensional: there’ll be one day on SSAS cube design, two days on MDX queries and calculations, and one day on SSAS performance tuning; you can see the full course outline here. It’s aimed at intermediate-to-advanced SSAS developers who want to deepen their knowledge and learn best practices. I’m really looking forward to it, and I hope to see you there!

Written by Chris Webb

April 8, 2013 at 1:40 am

Posted in Events, Technitrain

SQLDay 2013 Conference in Poland

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This is just a quick note to say that I’ll be speaking, and running a preconference seminar, at the SQLDay 2013 conference in Poland on the 22nd-24th May. I’m looking forward to it because I’ve never been to Poland before!

You can find all the details of my precon, “Real World Cube Design and Performance Tuning with Analysis Services”, here:
http://conference.plssug.org.pl/lang/en-us/agenda/sql-day-2013/sroda-22-05wednesday-22-05/w1-bi-track-real-world-cube-design-and-performance-tuning-with-analysis-services/

If you can’t make it to Poland, I’d love to see you at the PASS BA Conference (btw the discount code BAC521BL now gives you a $200 discount if you haven’t booked already), DatabaseDays Switzerland, SQLBits or one of my courses in London. Blimey, that’s a lot of teaching… and there’s more to be announced soon too.

Written by Chris Webb

March 7, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Events

DatabaseDays SQL Server Conference in Switzerland

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Apart from all the public training courses I’m running in London this year, I’m also going to be running pre-conference seminars (as well as speaking) at SQL Server conferences outside the UK. The first of these will be at the DatabaseDays conference in Switzerland, which will be taking place at the Trafo Conference Centre in Baden, not far from Zurich, on the 17th-19th April. My pre-conference seminar will be a one-day Introduction to MDX,  and other speakers at the conference include Jen Stirrup, Stacia Misner and various members of the SQLCat team; you can see the the full list of conference sessions here. I love visiting Switzerland (I lived there for a few years a while back) so I’m really looking forward to it!

Written by Chris Webb

February 22, 2013 at 9:34 am

Posted in Events

SQLBits and PASS Business Analytics Conference News

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I’m going to be speaking at quite a few conferences this year (I’ll blog about them all soon once they’re confirmed) but I thought I’d post something quickly about the two big events in the first half of this year that I’ll be going to.

First of all, registration for SQLBits XI, which will be taking place on May 2nd-4th in Nottingham, UK, is now open. You can find all the details here:
http://sqlbits.com/
SQLBits is the largest SQL Server conference in Europe and a must-attend if you’re serious about SQL Server (but then I would say that – I’m one of the organisers). We’ve attracted some big names to come and speak this time: just take a look at the precons and the sessions that have been submitted. There will also be some Robin Hood-themed fun, so don’t forget your bow and arrows!

I’ll also be speaking at the PASS Business Analytics Conference in Chicago in April. Again, there’s a great line-up of sessions plus a keynote from Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame; you can get an idea of what’s going to be presented by attending the Business Analytics 24 Hours of PASS on January 30th. Also, if you use the following code during registration:
BAC521BL
You’ll get a $150 discount on the conference rate!
Unfortunately if you’ve already registered the discount can’t be applied retrospectively…

Written by Chris Webb

January 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Events, PASS

SQLBits XI Dates Announced

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Yesterday, the SQLBits Committee (which I’m a member of) announced the dates for SQLBits XI: it will be taking place on May 2nd-4th 2013 at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham, UK. SQLBits is, of course, Europe’s biggest SQL Server conference and the second-biggest dedicated SQL Server conference in the world, and we attract attendees from all over the world. Apart from top-notch sessions from the world’s leading SQL Server experts you can also expect to have a lot of fun: at previous events attendees have had the chance to groove with the Beatles (well, ok, maybe they were just pretending to be the Beatles), play darts with professionals and hang out with Steve Wozniak (the real one). You should come! To find out more, keep an eye on http://sqlbits.com/

Written by Chris Webb

November 15, 2012 at 9:33 am

Posted in Events

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Thoughts on the PASS Summit 2012 Day 1 Keynote

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Normally I’d rush to blog about the announcements made in the keynotes each day at the PASS Summit, but this year I had a session to deliver immediately afterwards and once I’d done that I saw Marco had beaten me to it! So, if you want the details on what was announced in today’s keynote I’d advise you to read his post here:
http://sqlblog.com/blogs/marco_russo/archive/2012/11/07/pass-summit-2012-keynote-and-mobile-bi-announcements-sqlpass.aspx

I can’t not comment on some of these announcements though, so here (in no particular order) are some things that occurred to me:

  • The first public sighting of Power View on Multidimensional raised the biggest cheer of the morning, which surprised even me – I didn’t realise there were so many SSAS fans in the audience. I’m certainly very pleased to see it, even if it isn’t shipping right now (it’s not in SP1 either). Part of why I’m pleased is that all too often Microsoft BI has been good at building amazing new products but then forgetting about the migration path for its existing customers: think of the Proclarity debacle, and more recently I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the abandonment of Report Models. I suspect this is because Microsoft is not like most other software companies in that it doesn’t do much direct selling itself, but lets partners do the selling for it, and when partners get stick from customers over issues like Proclarity migration then the partners have no leverage over Microsoft to make it deal with the problem. Power View on Multidimensional is a welcome exception to this pattern, and I’d like to see more consideration given to this issue in the future even if it comes at the expense of developing cool new features.
  • The PDW V2 news is interesting too. It was clearly stated that Polybase will, initially allow TSQL to query data in Hadoop but that other data sources might be supported in the future. I wonder what they will be? DAX/Tabular perhaps? Or something more exotic – wouldn’t it be cool if you could query the Facebook graph or Twitter or even Bing directly from TSQL? I’m probably letting my imagination run away with me now…
  • The other thing that popped into my mind when hearing about Polybase was that it might be possible, one day, to use SSAS Tabular in DirectQuery mode on top of PDW/Polybase to query data in Hadoop interactively. I know Hadoop isn’t really designed for the kind of response times that SSAS users expect but I’d still like to try it.
  • It hardly seems worth repeating the fact that Mobile BI is very, very late but again it was good to get some details on what is coming. As partners we can deal with the criticism we get from customers and plan better if we have some idea of what will be delivered and the timescales involved, something that has been conspicuously lacking with Mobile BI up to today. To use a current phrase, Microsoft and its partners are “all in this together”, so please, Microsoft, let us help you!

Written by Chris Webb

November 8, 2012 at 1:06 am

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