Category Archives: Microsoft

SQL Saturday Atlanta – 2015 is in the books!

One of my favorite technology events every year is SQL Saturday. For the past few years it’s been held at Georgia State’s Alpharetta campus. Each year I’m newly amazed by the huge turnout at this event, which is always sold out with a couple of dozen people standing around check-in early in the morning just hoping to get in. It always makes me realize that SQL Server is a big deal!

Some of this years tracks included Big Data & Data Science, Powershell, BIML, BI, ETL/SSIS, Reporting & Visualization, and DBA. I found myself glued to the big data track with sessions so interesting I couldn’t bring myself to leave the room! My favorite session for the day was Sentiment Analysis with Big Data by Paco Gonzalez, which touched upon data mining techniques including natural language processing and text mining Twitter data for sentiment and tone analysis. Pretty cool stuff!

SQL Saturday events are held worldwide throughout the year. You can check the schedule for events in your area on this site which lists them all.



SQL Saturday #111 in Atlanta (well Alpharetta)

SQL Saturday #111 was held at Georgia State’s Alpharetta campus just off State Bridge road (hwy 120) from 9am until 5pm on a beautiful spring day in Atlanta. The event was packed…every session I attended was completely filled (no seats available) so you had to arrive early if you wanted a seat. Since my work nowadays with Microsoft SQL Server is mostly about coding T-SQL stored procedures I limited my time to the T-SQL sessions. While the entire event was outstanding…well organized…good lunch…great speakers and session topics…the entire day was made worthwhile for me by one session I attended  called T-SQL Brush-up by Jen McCown. I don’t have a ton of experience coding up T-SQL stored procs and so some of the commands Jen covered like OVER and PARTITION BY were like revelations to me. It’s always a great feeling when you are sitting at a learning event hearing things that immediately make sense and are applicable on your very next day of work. So thanks SQL Saturday #111 and Jen especially…as soon as I publish this post I’m going to start re-writing my T-SQL procedures to incorporate the things you showed me…work life suddenly became much easier!

New Bizspark program offers free Microsoft software to startups

If you are a new (less than three years old) startup or entrepreneur developing a software product there is a new program available from Microsoft you should know about. The program, called Bizspark, is designed to accelerate the success of early stage Startups by providing fast and easy access to current full-featured Microsoft development tools and productions licenses of server products, with no upfront costs and minimal requirements.

If you join the Bizspark program you will be provided with a MSDN Premiere license which gives you access to all of Microsoft development products including Visual Studio 2008 Team edition and production licenses for Windows Server 2003/2008, SQL Server 2005, Sharepoint Portal Server, and Biztalk server.
In order to be accepted into the Bizspark program you must be sponsored by a Microsoft Network Partner.  Last week I applied and was approved on behalf of my department at Georgia Tech to be a network partner for companies located in Georgia.  So if you are interested in participating in Bizspark send me an email or leave a comment (make sure you provide an email so I can contact you).

Microsoft IT Leadership Summit

Last week (3/22/07) I attended Microsoft’s IT Leadership Summit held at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel near the Galleria mall in Atlanta. This was a nice “executive level” event where they gave each attendee a black portfolio and a book, “Enterprise Architecture as Strategy.” Everything was very well organized with really good food (full breakfast and lunch). They even loaned each attendee an HP IPAQ during the event to access the agenda, check email, view the attendee list, and take surveys…pretty cool.

The summit consisted of morning and afternoon keynotes with breakout sessions in between. Sessions were a little too general for me but I suppose they were geared towards the C level types in which case they were probably OK. The last keynote was outstanding and gave me some eye opening insights.

The speaker was Laurie Orlov, a VP from Forrester Research. Her topic was on the strategic role of IT where IT organizations can be categorized into three types, solid utility, trusted supplier, and partner player.

The solid utility type of IT group basically keeps the lights on and costs down. In order to implement a new application this type of group will always hire outside resources including project management.

The trusted supplier type of IT group is expected to deliver the applications requested by business managers in addition to keeping the lights on. Trusted supplier types often rely on outside contractors/consultants in order to implement new applications but mostly handle project management internally.

The partner player is strategic. IT is expected to find opportunities to apply technology to the business in order to grow the top line. Skills & competencies necessary to implement new applications may or may not be available internally, but often are. Partner Players “lead” the overall organization into applying both existing and emerging technologies in new and innovative ways.

The CIO for solid utility and trusted supplier normally reports to the CFO. While the CIO for partner player typically reports directly to the CEO.

According to Laurie 45% of companies desire their IT organization to be the solid utility type, while 45% desire IT to be a trusted supplier. A mere 10% of companies want their IT group to be a partner player.

I guess it’s my IE background but I always aspire to be a partner player within my organization. After hearing Laurie’s talk I realize that I have been involved with IT groups that clearly had a solid utility mindset and at the time I couldn’t understand their resistance to change and new ideas. Whereas other IT groups seem to not only welcome new ideas but actually thrive on them. Laurie provides a good framework that can be used to categorize these two extremes.

This is good to know and gives me a new way to evaluate members of my chosen IT profession. Now before considering a new job opportunity I will attempt to ascertain which of these categories the new position falls into. I certainly wouldn’t want to get stuck in a solid utility environment and apparently almost half of positions would be in this situation…bummer. On the other hand it would be fun to find an IT group currently operating as a solid utility but aspiring to be more of a partner player.

Thanks Laurie and Microsoft!

Atlanta Codecamp

The Winter 07 Atlanta Codecamp was a great success with 290 attendees. The day long event was held on Saturday, January 30th at DeVry’s Decatur campus. I’ve attended all three Atlanta codecamps and this one was definitely the best so far, although all of the Atlanta codecamps have been outstanding experiences in terms of value and inspiration. These camps are run by volunteer organizers and presenters. All of the sessions I attended were packed and sometimes so full you couldn’t get a seat. Each breakout consisted of 4-5 parallel sessions lasting approximately one hour. The sessions I attended over the course of the day were “Windows SharePoint Services v3: Feature and Solution Frameworks” by Dan Attis, “Building Document Management Solutions using Windows SharePoint Services v3.0 Content Types” by John Holliday, “Developing N-Tier Applications” by Jonas Stawski, “How To Build Windows Services Apps—Revealing Warts and All!” by Wallace Allison, and “Designing SOA Solutions with Biztalk, SQL Server, and WCF” by Mark Dunn & Mark Berry.

Although hundreds of prizes…books, shirts, software, etc. were given away once again I didn’t win a thing. This has to be some kind of record as I have attended all three Atlanta Codecamps and seem to be practically the only person not winning a single raffle prize. Some people leave carrying an armload of swag. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining at all. I don’t attend to win prizes. I just think it’s a little weird to be so unlucky in these raffle drawings. But I’ll definitely be at the next Atlanta Codecamp prizes or not. Who knows maybe my luck will change?

Thanks to all of the volunteers and sponsors who made codecamp a great experience.