This past weekend, I made the trek to Nashville, TN to visit Lipscomb University for SQL Saturday #363: Nashville and it proved to be a fantastic event. It’d been a couple of years since I’d had a chance to visit Nashville for a SQL Saturday — my last was SQL Saturday #145 in 2012, so I was excited to return!
I arrived on Thursday evening to allow me time to attend a precon being presented by by Stacia Misner (B | T) and Joseph D’Antoni (B | T) — Finding Your Balance: BI in the Cloud, On Premises, or Both since the Cloud is already such a hot topic and most migration efforts typically begin with some form of hybrid effort. It doesn’t hurt that they wrote Microsoft’s official white paper on the topic, either.
The precon was given at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee which I thought was a pretty interesting venue. At first, when I saw that listed on the event page, I figured that had to be a mistake. But sure enough, that’s exactly where it was. While the Food Bank is a large warehouse full of food, they also have conference rooms on the second floor where events such as this can take place. All in all, it turned out to be a great venue — certainly better than the hotel meeting room venues I’ve been in.
The day-long pre-con session was a great time. I typically enjoy sessions which are presented by two people over those presented by a single person — it allows them each a chance to break now and then and they can also add to and banter off each other. A ton of great information was presented and my two big takeaways were:
- Power Query — I’ve known about it forever, but it’s becoming a pretty big deal and definitely something to get very good at.
- The New Power BI — Power BI now refers to the old Power BI and the New Power BI (Power BI Dashboards). They’re both different, but the newer version has a lot of great potential.
Following the Friday pre-con session, it was time for Saturday, the big day! Again, this year, the SQL Saturday event was held at Lipscomb University. Lipscomb’s campus is very nice, though in my opinion, the event may be outgrowing the building it’s housed in. Most of the session rooms had enough seating, but the vendor area / lobby and lunch area were pretty crowded and impassable at times.
Audrey Hammonds (B | T) presented my first session of the day, The Data Warehouse is Dead! Love Live the Data Warehouse. I’d seen this session once previously at a user group in Atlanta, but Audrey is a great speaker and always interesting to listen to. Additionally, I find this to be a very interesting topic area and it’s fun to see how presentations change and evolve over time. Audrey did a great job and I left feeling motivated and ready to forge ahead to the future!
Later in the day, I attended The Quest to Find Bad Data with Data Profiling by Richie Rump (B | T). Richie is a speaker I’ve seen a number of times. Again, a great speaker who manages to provide lots of really useful information but in a fun and enjoyable setting. We had a little good heckling going on from the back row which only fed the enjoyment of the session by all. Richie presented a number of techniques — both built in and some a little more homebrew — for reviewing data for accuracy and finding those annoying outliers.
One of the last sessions I attended for the day was Eric Nichols (B | T) Data Warehouse Architectures session. (Can you sense a theme here with these session choices?) Eric gave an overview of three of the major data warehouse architectures — Kimball, Inmon, and Data Vault as well as situations in which differing choices may shine or may not work so well. All in all, a very informative session.
As per usual with SQL Saturday events, the day wrapped up with the traditional closing thoughts and vendor raffles. I consider it to have been a very successful event — lots of great speakers, great information, and a huge crowd of enthusiastic attendees. Can’t wait until the next one!