This past Saturday marked a great landmark for Atlanta — the first “BI Edition” SQL Saturday, and, for many of us, our first SQL Saturday of 2016! Atlanta has been hosting a regular SQL Saturday event for many years now, always with tremendous attendance. Based on the amount of interest in the regular SQL Saturday (usually around May of each year), it was great to see a BI focused edition launched.
With the regular event in the Spring, having this event in January was a great way to space out the two Atlanta events probably about as equally as they could be. And, for a first event, it seemed to be a tremendous success with a registration wait list and around 300 in attendance.
The event was held at the local Microsoft facility in Alpharetta, GA, where the monthly Atlanta MDF user group meetings are held. All told, the facility was a pretty good choice of venue (and definitely a convenient location), but suffered from some overcrowding. The facility had about half the sessions in roughly classroom sized rooms and half the sessions in much smaller conference room sized rooms. While these smaller rooms made for an interesting and more intimate setting, they ultimately filled up very quickly.
Unlike many SQL Saturdays, the event kicked off with an opening keynote and presentation in the large room (multiple rooms joined together technically). I enjoy it when a SQL Saturday begins with some sort of all-attendee opening remarks, it provides nice symmetry to the event (which always has a final closing remarks session), so hopefully more events will adopt this.
Following the opening remarks, it was time to begin the regular sessions. It should be no surprise that in this Microsoft-centric BI event, Power BI was a major topic of discussion in sessions. The first session I attended was a Power BI v2 Architectural Session (Power BI: Architecture, Integration Points, Implementation Options) presented by Melissa Coates (B | T). This was a great session, but I particularly enjoyed the (awesomely complex) architectural Visio diagram that Melissa presented during her session (available via her web site).
Following Melissa’s excellent session, I attended a number of other great sessions, including another Power BI Overview (can’t get enough of Power BI, right?), a session on SSIS testing with BIML, and two excellent presentations by Patrick LeBlanc (B | T), With the recent announcements of DataZen coming to SQL Server on premise in SQL Server 2016 and the big updates to SSRS in SQL Server 2016, these were both can’t miss sessions. Great things are coming for BI professionals with SQL Server 2016 and beyond!
Finally, it was time to wrap up the day with the traditional closing statements and raffle. Big thanks to the sponsors for the prizes donated for the raffle. I managed to win a book written by Teo Lachev (B | T), which is now an autographed book — one of the great things about the SQL Server community. You’re frequently in the same audience as the person who literally wrote the book on the topic. SQL Saturday Atlanta 2016 BI Edition was, in my opinion both a great success as a first event and a great success overall. Here’s hoping this series is continued in future years!