SQLBits review

It’s now been a week since SQLBits V started in Newport, Wales, so it’s about time I wrote a little on it.

First of all I have to say a big thank you to all the organisers, speakers and sponsors without whom the event would not have been possible. The facilities at the conference centre was absolutely fantastic and the staff were really friendly. You can see why it was picked to host the 2010 Ryder Cup competition. The only criticism I would have over the setup was that the tiered seating at Manchester University made a massive difference, especially in the busier sessions.

For me SQLBits V started Thursday morning at 6am with a drive down to Newport to help on the registration desk at 8:30. Originally I had volunteered to help out on the Saturday but after an email from Chris Webb asking to help on the Thursday I set my alarm a little earlier to help out. If these guys can put their lives on hold to organise such a wonderful event it’s the least I could do.

After what seemed like a never ending queue of people wanting name tags and goody bags it was time to sit down to an all day session by Donald Farmer on PowerPivot (project Gemini). Donald was in scintillating form the quote of the day had to  be regarding storage: “If it’s on-site the it’s on premises, if it’s on a cloud it’s on promises” classic stuff. 

As a brief overview the following topics were covered:

  • Self Service Reporting
  • Master Data Services/Management
  • Introduction to PowerPivot
  • Data Analysis Expressions (DAX)

If you are interested in PowerPivot it is due for release in the 1st half of 2010, possibly in March/April it does however have a dependency on Office 2010 being released first so may be delayed. Donald provided a number of links where you can find further information about the product.

http://powerpivotpro.com
http://powerpivotgeek.com

I was unable to attend the sessions on Friday due to a lack of cover at work, but I was back on the Saturday. Like Thursday I arrived early to help out on the registration desk where I turned to my left at one point and was astonished to find Darren Green of SQLDTS.com fame standing right next to me and a little later James Rowland-Jones came to the desk with a box, unfortunately it contained a replica retro Arsenal shirt. I’m now in two minds whether to buy his next book ;)

As the room monitor for room 4 I was unable to pick and choose the sessions to attend, but this didn’t matter as I was treated to five great sessions in the SQL Server 2008/R2 category

  • Put Your Feet Up : Simplified Management using the Enterprise Policy Management Framework – Martin Cairney
  • Introduction to the Microsoft BI Technology Stack – Dr John Tunnicliffe
  • Using Perfmon and Profiler – Brent Ozar
  • An introduction to Master Data Services – Ian Marritt
  • SQL Server optimization stuff you won’t find on Google (yet) – Andre Kamman

My favourite sessions were those by Brent Ozar and Andre Kamman there seems to be a distinct difference in the presentations done by those over the water compared to the British presenters. Brent’s performance was very polished and you could tell that the talk had been done many times before. Andre and Henk’s presentation was very laid back especially when you consider that they had to almost wing their presentation due to laptop problems.

I highly recommend SQLBits to anyone who has anything to do with SQL Server be it the casual system administrator with one instance hosting a third party database through to senior DBA’s who manage hundreds of instances. The best thing is that due to sponsorship the Saturday sessions are absolutely free, you even recieve a free goody bag and refreshments throughout the day.

 Massive thanks once again to all the organisers they did a fantastic job, I’m now looking forward eagerly to SQLBits VI.