Analysing Data with Hive and Power BI Slides from SQLRally Amsterdam

Here are my slides from SQLRally Amsterdam. A major thanks to the SQLRally Amsterdam crew, lead by Andre Kamman, for all their hard work in putting together this great community event!

I hope that helps!
Kind Regards,

Speaking Events: SQLRally Amsterdam and SQLRally Sweden

I’m delighted to announce that I am speaking at two major SQL events in Europe in the next month, on data visualisation and power view. I will also be holding a Women in Technology event in Sweden and there will be more details to follow on this. So where am I going?

  • SQLRally Sweden
  • SQLRally Amsterdam

SQLRally Nordic are back, and this time it is in Stockholm, Sweden. I used to work in Stockholm, and it ha become one of my most favourite places on earth. What is SQLRally Nordic offering you?
Well, come and learn from some of the world’s most renowned SQL Server experts, including Jim Karkanias, Adam Machanic, Brent Ozar, and Kalen Delaney. Some of the SQL Learning goodies involve:

1 day of deep-dive pre-conference seminars
2 full days of top technical sessions:
   – BI Platform Architecture, Development and Administration
   – Database and Application Development
   – Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment

SQLRally Amsterdam, hosted by the same crew organizing the Dutch SQLSaturday events, welcomes you to Amsterdam on November 6-8. If you are a SQLZaterdag fan, you’ll already know about the fun event that takes place every year. The SQLRally Amsterdam team are building on their previous successes, and they’re also offering sessions with some of the world’s most renowned SQL Server experts, including Adam Machanic, Brent Ozar, Thomas Kejser, and Denny Cherry. Join SQLRally Amsterdam for:

1 day of deep-dive pre-conference seminars
2 full days of top technical sessions:
   – BI Platform Architecture, Development and Administration
   – Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment
   – Database and Application Development

I look forward to seeing you at both events!

Are SQLPass right to hold a Business Analytics conference?

Recently, the Professional Association of SQL Server announced that they were planning to hold a Business Analytics Conference in the spring of 2013. I read the announcement, and I’m super-excited about it for a number of reasons.
I’m happy that there is a demand for a subject which I’m passionate about, Business Analytics and Business Intelligence. If you’ve ever tried to get into some of the popular Business Intelligence sessions at SQLPass Summit, then you’ll know that sometimes you can’t get in the door since there’s no room. In other words, the Business Intelligence and Analytics sessions are just mobbed. I know that I’ve repeated Business Intelligence sessions at SQLBits and at TechEd Europe, since people want to know about Business Intelligence. Other people who’ve repeated sessions include Peter Myers, for example. For TechEd Europe, the Business Intelligence ‘Power Hour’ was one of the top sessions out of a whole gamut of IT-professional oriented topics.
I believe that PASS are responding to community demand for a Business Analytics event, and I’d personally welcome a ‘gathering’ of people who are excited about this subject as I am.
I believe in this Business Analytics event…. but then it became clear that there was a lot of genuine anger as well. Some seemed to say that SQLRally was chopped to make way for this Business Analytics event, and let’s be fair, some people are real SQLRally fans – myself included. Some even went as far as to argue that this was just a money-making machine since Business Intelligence is a popular topic, which I think is a really negative way to look at it.
All this stramash genuinely made me sad. I was in two minds whether to write this blog, and then I thought that I’ve the same right to express my opinion, and others are free to disagree or agree as they see fit.
I think that, if you want to make serious money, you’d be nuts to put on a SQL Server conference as a way to do it. If you look at the details of the Budget, we’re not talking millions of pounds. The profit is $100K, which will flow back into their reserves. You have to have money aside in order to set up events such as SQLPass Summit; for example the event venue will want security and paid up front; you’ll have to pay for other things such as advertising, marketing and the other things that will encourage people to participate.
All the ‘goody bags’ that people are eager to open: someone has got to pay for those. The meals that we all enjoy; the free beers that we expect; the events we expect to attend out-of-hours; the prizes, the raffles etc etc. As an audience, we have high expectations from these events. Have you heard people whinge about goody bags and food? See what I mean?


What I’d really like to see is PASS do something that doesn’t come with a ton of baggage. A clean start. Remember that a lot of these events and hard community work – and it is hard work, preparation and sweat – comes from volunteers. For example, some people, including myself! flew from here in London to Dallas to present at SQLRally – at our own expense, away from our families, and volunteered our time for our sqlfamily. It is my privilege to be flying out for SQLPass Summit in November 2012 in order to see my favourite SQLFamily members, old friends and new community members alike.
The volunteering doesn’t just end with the events: there are webinars and user groups and chapter meetings and online events.. the list goes on.
So, I’d like to say a huge Thank You to the volunteers who put on this massive effort for us, the sqlfamily, the sql server community. I think that I’d like to see more ‘thank you’ to the volunteers, and to PASS… and less politics. I’m hoping that this Business Analytics event will go ahead with a real community spirit in place, with people behind it. Remember that some of these attendees will be novices, who are looking to learn and share in the community. You could be sitting next to the next Brent Ozar or Kalen Delaney – who knows?
I think that people just need to be given a chance sometimes, and I wish the organisers and volunteers at PASS my very best wishes and thanks for all of their hard work in putting this event together for us, the sql family. As Mother Theresa said, Peace starts with a smile…. and this is a smile from me.

To summarise, I think that PASS are right to hold this event. The sheer numbers of BI people at events – not just SQLPass, but SQLBits and TechEd too – are testament to the fact that there is a real community need for a BI ‘gathering’.  I hope that you will start to become as super-excited as I am, and I hope to see you there!

SQLPass Global Growth: Don’t be Afraid of Growth, Be Afraid of Standing Still

Do not be afraid of growing slowly; instead, be afraid of standing still (Chinese proverb)

The Professional Association of SQL Server is in a state of international growth, in order to meet international demand. PASS are moving from a US-centric organisation to a global organisation, which is a huge effort with many cross-cultural and cross-language complexities.  Cicero once said, the searching-out and thorough investigation of truth ought to be the primary study of humans. PASS are looking for your engagement and input into how they can grow effectively.

There is plenty of risk in trying to change an organisation. However, there is a real need for a global SQL Server association, and PASS are best situated to meet the demand. The stellar team at PASS are the only ones with experience in growing the organisation from a few members to an organisation that serves thousands of people in the United States. To do this properly, however, they will need to learn from experience and input from the community as a whole.
In other words, PASS need to talk little, to hear much, to reflect upon what has passed in company, to distrust one’s own opinions, and value others’ opinions that deserve it.  Here’s what I think. To give you some context, I’m a European who is involved in PASS in a number of ways:

·        I am extremely fortunate to speak at PASS Summit, having done two sessions last year and I’ve been successfully selected to give two sessions this year. If you love SQL Server, please do consider coming to Summit – it was a real life-changing, memorable experience to mix with so many like-minded people who I’m now privileged to call my friends. You will not regret it.

·        I help to organise Women in Technology events across Europe. So far, I’ve been involved in organising cross-cultural Women in Technology events in SQLRally Nordic in Sweden, Portugal, and Poland, with other events on the way. I’ve also been a Panel member at the WIT event in SQLRally in Dallas 2012, and also in SQLSaturday 109 in Silicon Valley.

·        I am a co-chair for the Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter in Europe. Basically this involves mentoring new webinar speakers, in addition to pestering well-known speakers to give us a Business Intelligence oriented webinar.

·        I have also spoken at the Performance Virtual Chapter as well as the Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter; please have a look at the Virtual Chapters. They are a wealth of training materials, which can help to put you ahead.  

For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on how I’d like to see PASS grow:

PASSion – I would like to propose that PASS offer a program, similar to the MVP Program, which awards outstanding community members with an Award that recognises their efforts. PASS already have an Award which is handed out at Summit, but I think that there are many people who deserve a similar award for the work that they do for the PASS community. This Award could be handed out every three months, similar to the MVP Award. However, unlike the MVP Award, I don’t see that the PASS version would need to involve technical excellence, but would instead focus on superlative community efforts.  I can think of a few names immediately for their work at PASS for SQL Saturdays, User Groups and so on: Pam Shaw, Aaron Nelson, Mark Broadbent, Neil Hambly to name a few.

Community – SQLRally is currently being put on ice whilst the Board work out a differentiator. My own thought is that SQLRally could consist completely of affordably-priced paying precons and half-day sessions. The evening event could involve an after-dinner speaker rather than beers and games, for example. My belief is that this would move PASS from provisioning quality training in the SQL Community, to moving it to offer training provision which is business-oriented. Any profits can go back to growing the community. Since it would involve funds, it would be a smaller event which could be repeated or focused in order to meet the needs of businesses. Therefore, there could be a Business Intelligence focused SQLRally, a DBA-focused SQLRally, and Information Workers Rally (IWRally?) and so on. It could also be conducted in different languages, and so on.

Europe Board – I have had a look at the proposed structure, and noted that an International Events Subcommittee is in place. I think that’s a good idea. There needs to be a unified strategy or PASS risk being spread too thinly. PASS organisation of events is superlative, but I think that the ‘gently, gently, incrementally’ approach is the right one whilst we all find our feet.

Platform – as the volunteer who organises WIT events for PASS and SQL Events in Europe, I can wholeheartedly thank the PASS Board and team members who’ve offered amazing support to me, in order to make sure that these events rock. I’ve called on various PASS members for support, and have had an amazing response every time. I foresee PASS as a vehicle for supporting Women in Technology across Europe, and I’d like to be involved in making that happen.

I’ve no doubt that, like any period of growth, there will be teething problems. As long as we have a common goal as a community – in other words, to turn PASS into a truly global organisation – then this will help to hold us together, and not get distracted by sideshows. You don’t reach your goals if you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith, and I hope that we can ride out any political issues along the way. As Nietzsche said, for a tree to become tall, it must grow tough roots among the rocks; in other words, the global emerging communities can use the existing US to help build new communities around the world.

As Franklin once said, energy and persistence conquer all things; as long we have a common goal, we will succeed as a community to support the up-and-coming, young communities who need help, guidance and support. If you are a member of PASS who listens to webinars, attends meetings, or attends Summit, then you should be thankful that you have an organisation that offers you these things. For international SQL Server lovers, they don’t always have the same opportunities, and this is what PASS hopes to offer to them.

SSRS 2012 CTP Shared Datasets in SQL Azure

In preparation for my SQLRally Presentation in Dallas in May 2012, I’ve been investigating SQL Azure, using the SQL Server Data Tools to create SQL Server Reporting Services 2012 reports. One issue you might encounter is that your report runs perfectly well in SSDT, but does not run when it’s been deployed to SQL Azure. You might get the following error message:

  • The report server cannot process the report or shared dataset. The shared data source ” for the report server or SharePoint site is not valid. Browse to the server or site and select a shared data source. (rsInvalidDataSourceReference) 

The resolution for this issue is that Shared Dataset don’t seem to work properly, at the time of writing. The workaround is straightforward – don’t use a Shared Dataset. Here are some pointers:

 – Make sure your data source is pointing to your SQL Azure Reporting Services Report Server URL. Test your connection works, and that it is using the correct login.

 – When you create your report, don’t use a Shared DataSet. Instead, once you’ve set up your Data Source, go straight to creating your Report by right-clicking on the Reports folder and selecting the option ‘Add new report’.  

You can then deploy the report to Azure, and it should work fine.

As an aside, you could try your report out on a mobile device. If you need any instructions, just take a look here.

I hope that helps! Any questions, please leave a comment.

Photos from SQLRally Nordic in Stockholm

As you know, I recently presented at SQLRally in Sweden. I don’t normally post photographs, but I thought that some of you might like to see what it was like! This blog is just a bit of fun and I’ll wait and see what you think of my ‘off-topic’ blog!

In a previous life, I used to work in Stockholm, so returning to Sweden was very exciting for me. Although it was great to be back, on the previous evening, I had walked around Stockholm with Dave Ballantyne. For SQL folks in the UK, Dave will need no introduction, but in case you’d like to see some of his presentations for SQLBits, please take a look here

As you can see here, the conference centre at Aronsborg was waiting to receive us. It tickled me to see that we were the ‘mightiest SQL Server and Business Intelligence in Midgaard’! Here are some photos from the Conference Centre that give a flavour of our welcome:




I had work to do whilst I was in Stockholm, so I made use of the Regus office in Stockholm for the day. No time for sightseeing, I’m afraid! As a coffee-drinking workaholic, the occasional use of their business lounges suits me. I have a weakness for Nespresso! There is one near my home. I’ve got a TripIt membership and a 10-visit Gold pass, which means I can use their business lounges anywhere in the world. Here are some photos of their lounge: 


Sometimes people ask me how I fit it all in, and the truth is that I work everywhere I go, and squeeze something in as often as I can. Therefore, the occasional use of a business lounge, wherever I am, is very helpful in keeping things ticking over.

It means I don’t ‘smell the roses’ but I love my work so much, it is my passion! It makes me happy.