This past Thursday and Friday I attended my first PASS SQL Rally event in Dallas, Texas. The week was full of some pretty amazing sessions presented by some even more amazing speakers. If you were a DBA looking for performance tuning tips or other ways to perfect your profession, there were tons of great sessions for you. If you were a developer looking some great development tips and tricks to make your life easier, there were some really informative sessions given. And if you were a business intelligence developer, like myself, hoping to take your skills to the next level, there was definitely some amazing material to take advantage of.
I focused heavily on the business intelligence space and spent most of my time attending those sessions. I learned some great tips, increased my knowledge in several areas, and also networked a little with some really bright and great all-around people.
The first sessions I attended was Performance Tuning SSAS Processing given by John Welch (blog | twitter). There's no doubt about, John knows his stuff. I learned a ton from his session. Here's a few of the tips I picked up from John's great sessions:
The next session I attended was The Report Part Library with Jessica Moss (blog | twitter). Jessica is one lady who is an amazing speaker and an SSRS guru without a doubt. Jessica's wonderful sense of humor and bubbly personality made the session enjoyable and exciting. We covered how to create report parts, share those report parts across multiple reports, and then update those same report parts. Jessica also covered how to organize and manage a large Report Part Library. It was really great to finally meet Jessica in person.
After lunch, I attend Jorge Segarra's (blog | twitter) session called, "Stop! Consolidate and Listen!". Jorge covered some of the different methods of consolidation and dug into virtualization. Between Jorge's sad rap skills and Patrick Leblanc's even weaker beat boxing, I managed to pick up a few pointers.
Some of the Pro's to virtualization:
Some of the Gotcha's:
Also, check out the free MAP toolkit from Microsoft. Jorge gave a great intro into the tool and how to use it to determine which machines are prime candidates for consolidation and virtualization.
The last session I attended was Data Mining with Devin Knight (blog | twitter) and Adam Jorgensen (blog | twitter). Being far less than a master of data mining, I really looked forward to this session.
Data mining does three things:
There are several algorithms available for us to use:
I also had the wonderful pleasure of presenting on SSAS with Adam Jorgensen (blog | twitter). Our session was titled, "Zero To Cube: Fast Track To Analytics". We had volunteers (some were volunteered by others) drive through creating a cube from the ground up. Within an hour and 15 minutes, we created a connection to our data source, created the data source view, made some enhancements to the data source view, created our cube, built a couple hierarchies and fleshed out the dimensions, and even built a report in Excel with a pivot table and a chart. We had a great, very participative audience and we had a blast! Thank you so much to all those that came to our session!
All in all, this year's SQL Rally was an amazing event. I learned a lot of new things, made some great friends, and had a great time. If you weren't able to make the event, you missed out big time. Definitely put next years SQL Rally on your calendar and make attending that event a priority. You won't be sorry.