On Friday and Saturday, 20th-21st November 2009 I attended SQLBits 5 at Celtic Manor, Newport, Wales. I felt lucky to get the opportunity to meet and talk to famous SQL Server experts like Chris Webb, Henk van der Valk, Satya Jayanti, Bob Duffy, Rob Farley, Alistair Aitchison, Anthony Howcroft, Simon Sabin, Darren Green, Allen Mitchel, Andre Kamman, Ian Marritt, Matt Feltham, Martin Bell, James Rowland-Jones, Andrew Couch, Andrew Fryer, Ramesh Meyyappan, John Tunnicliffe and Ashwani Roy. I attended the sessions of Donald Farmer (R2 SSRS, MDS), Thomas Kejser (Madison/PDW), James Rowland-Jones (2008 DW) , Bob Duffy (Gemini/PowerPivot), Christian Bolton (Statistics), Allan Mitchell (SSIS 2008) and am grateful to get the opportunity to learn directly from these experts.
I tried to understand what motivates them, why would they want to spend a lot of time and effort, organising SQL Server conference like SQLBits. During the breaks I asked several people in the conference how do they learn new product/version (by reading books, web sites, and using the product), how they solve problems (mainly by googling), and how they keep themselves up-to-date with the technology developments (by going to events and subscribe to newsletters/mailing list). I talked to several vendors and attended their presentations to understand their products: Wherescape (Red), Board, Attunity (Oracle-SSIS CDC), Quest (Spotlight, SSAS) and Solid Quality Mentors. I am particulary impressed with Wherescape Red’s ability to design data warehouses, complete with ETL, cubes and documentation, in very short time, but disappointed with Spotlight’s ability to monitor SSAS. I missed SQLSentry, but I have evaluated their product (with regard to SSAS monitoring) in the past few weeks.
I presented a session about building cubes from operational systems. I explained why would we want to do it (the benefits), how to do it (a step-by-step demo in BIDS to build a stock broker cube from a stock broker database), and what risks/pitfalls should we be aware of (performance implications, date dimension, large dimension, etc). There were about 20-25 people attending my sessions, about 4-5 questions. Had problem with the projector (again!) even though I have tested it just a couple of hours before. Overall I’m very impressed with SQLBits 5, I learned a lot (both technical/SQL Server and non-technical), both from the speakers, sponsors and from the audience. I look forward to next one.