Six great reasons to attend SQLBits

I’m still buzzing from the SQLBits 9 conference held in Liverpool last week.

As a SQLBits virgin, I was not too sure what to expect from this community organised event.  There is not the polished or formal feel provided by the Microsoft campus presentations, but nor is the event trying to emulate the Microsoft experience.  The organisers have deliberately pitched the event to make for a relaxed and informal environment, yet this does not detract from the aim of information sharing.

The presenters are a blend of Microsoft evangelists and independent consultants.  The subject areas were spread across four areas; DBA, Dev, BI and Denali with a thin smattering of sponsor sessions.  Thursday was a full day Deep Dive Training session offering a choice of 10 subjects with Friday and Saturday consisting of hour long, predominantly demo led presentations.

If like me you have been considering SQLBits for a while, but are not sure it’s for you – here are six reasons why you should attend the next event;

  1. Focusing fully on building up your SQL skills with no distractions! My Thursday full day deep dive training session with Jen Stirrup and Duncan Sutcliffe was titled End to End Business Intelligence using Sharepoint.  Over the course of the 8 hour session, I gained an understanding of setting up Kerberos within Sharepoint and then populating the site with a dashboard comprising of PowerPivot, PerformancePoint and SSRS.  Thrown in the mix was a good smattering of best practices and known “gotchas”.  The focus of 8 solid hours within the BI reporting arena helped me fill in some gaps in my arsenal that would have taken me several weeks to complete piecemeal on my own.  Seeing how to pull these tools together by people who have “been there and done that” with the integration of several key technologies was invaluable and helped me realise just what can be achieved within a relatively short time frame (all components were built from scratch during the presentation!!!)
  2. Surrounded by the SQL Grand Masters.  I enjoy participating and helping solve issues on StackOverflow and as a result come across the same names time and time again.  Having previously conversed with people like Aaron Bertrand online, it was great to be able to attend his session on Whats New In Denali and be able to meet the man in person.  Realising just how approachable the community grand masters are and being able to learn directly from them is worth its weight in gold.
  3. Exposure to all the latest and greatest Microsoft technologies and community implementations.   Two presentations in particular excelled for me in terms of both content and delivery.  Matt Masson provided an hour of Whats New in SQL Server Denali for SSIS with a great comical slant, yet with a powerful quickfire demo, he crammed the maximum amount possible leaving no time to pause.  Kasper de Jonge gave a session on Building Great Models for Cresent demonstrating just how powerful and quick to deliever Cresent is and left me gagging to get down and dirty with the package at the first possible opportunity (watch this space for a Cresent blog soon :)
  4. Sponsors show the direction of the Market and give you the chance to meet your next potential employer.  Having previously worked for Adatis, one of the bronze sponsers, it’s a great (and somewhat rare) opportunity to mingle with both the market drivers and your fellow consultants from across a broad spectrum of the SQL community in one place.  Most of the sponsors have prizes to giveaway in return for spending time at their stall ranging from a two 1/2 foot high stack of SQL books, entire SQL Pass material, to Amazon vouchers and several XBox’s.   
  5. Being a SQL geek can be sociable! Live band, black tie casino night, free beer tokens, supplied lunch and evening meal ensures that its not all serious!  The 9 organisers make a great effort to ensure that socialising is a close second to the presentations and put in place plenty to keep most technical geeks in their element.
  6. It’s free on Saturday!  If you book early enough (1 month), you can save on the full price, with Thursday and Friday costing around £375 instead of £575.  If you are still not convinced, don’t forget that it’s completely free on the Saturday, so you can come along and try before committing to the full 3 days.

I have been bitten by the SQLBits bug and left with that “want more” feeling at the end of most presentations.  I am looking forward to seeing a few of you at the Spring 2012 SQLBits event.

WB Partners blog site

I have finally setup a dedicated blogging site!

I have a little catching up to do, so expect to see a handful of posts appear over the coming weeks primarily covering the Microsoft tools for Business Intelligence (SQL Server, SSIS, SSAS, SSRS, PowerPivot) alongside some more generic code and analytic posts.

A series of technical articles will be submitted to our sister site of