Saturday, December 10th marked the 2nd annual SQL Saturday Atlanta BI Edition. Atlanta is known for its massive SQL Saturday held every spring / summer, so I’m happy to see the smaller, more BI-focused winter event continuing on. With such a large number of SQL Server professionals in the area, there is definitely room for multiple events.
As with last year’s event, this one was a well-run event with no flaws that I was aware of. This year seemed to be a bit of a “back to basics” theme. Many of the extras that are frequently seen at SQL Saturday events — lots of sponsors, attendee bags and printed materials, speaker shirts, paper session evaluations, and other extras weren’t present. Instead, the focus was purely on providing a full day of content across multiple tracks, and you know what, that’s just fine. (Many) free donuts were provided for breakfast and boxed lunches were purchased, and everything was adequate. The core idea behind SQL Saturday is free training and networking, and the event delivered! I particularly thought the session lineup for this event was a great mix of topics.
The Alpharetta Microsoft campus makes for an interesting venue for an event of this size. The venue consists of only a handful of rooms, three of which are traditional classrooms. The other five are more traditional conference rooms with a large center table and seating around the edge of the table. These make for a pretty interesting setting for a lecture. The small size makes for a more intimate setting when the room isn’t over crowded. If a lot of people are interested in a session, it can get pretty interesting as far as what gets used as seating.
I attended a number of excellent sessions throughout the day. A couple that I particularly enjoyed for a variety of reasons. Melissa Coates (B | T) presented “Good Habits of a DW/BI Developer,” which I found to be a treasure trove of great “best practices” type information. I love it when people compile best practices on a topic and provide their reasons for those practices. Very valuable information.
Kiran Math (B) gave an interesting presentation titled “Extract, Transform And Load – Using R.” I’ve seen a few presentations on using R for plotting and analyzing data, but this was the first one I’d seen targeted toward bringing in, transforming, and cleaning data — using tasks left to SSIS or Power Query. R seemed to handle the tasks quite well.
Shabnam Watson (B | T) presented “Advanced MDX scripting: Scope statements and Time Intelligence,” which I found to be a touch advanced (appropriate title!), but a great refresher on some MDX concepts I’d been previously learning, but had to put on hold for a while for some other priorities. This was a great informal session and I certainly had a few great takeaways from it.
At the conclusion of the sessions, the traditional end of day announcements and raffle were held. Even though there were very few sponsors present, there were still a few prizes to be won.
All in all, I’d say the event was a success and I greatly enjoyed spending my Saturday learning some new things. I look forward to hopefully a 3rd year of SQL Saturday Atlanta BI Edition next winter!