About Me

Hi there! Welcome to my professional blog. I really appreciate you taking the time to visit. I’d like to share a couple things about myself – in case you’re interested. Why? I believe context matters. If you don’t agree, feel free to skip on past this post and enjoy the ten years of content stored here. We can still be friends., I promise! :{>

This post is divided into three sections:

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A True Story of Value vs. Hourly Rate

A little over a year ago I wrote a post titled Value. If you have a few minutes Value provides good background for this post. Unlike most of my posts about business and client interactions (I have a standing rule to not blog about stuff until at least one year has passed), the stuff I share in this post just happened.

Enterprise Data & Analytics was hired to deliver data integration with SSIS. Our point of contact is an enterprise data integration architect for a large corporation. She’s been doing this kind of work for decades and has experience with other data integration platforms.

She knows her stuff.

We are some number of months into the gig at the time of this writing. During a status call earlier today she shared the following information:

“We estimated over 1,400 hours to complete the work we sent your team at Enterprise Data & Analytics. Based on what you’ve delivered plus the latest status of work-in-progress, your team is delivering the work in 43% of the estimated time. I’ve shared this with management.”

This enterprise considered hiring offshore teams to deliver the same work. The offshore companies promised SSIS developers in the $80-$90/hour range. Our customer has some experience with offshore SSIS development and… some of that experience has been positive. Many companies are very good at selling themselves as being able to deliver based on the number of developers in their employ, and that alone.

Software development – especially complex software development – requires more than lots of warm bodies.

The data integration architect shared her team “had to spend lots more time answering questions” when working with offshore teams, due to relatively inexperienced developers. That adds to the $80-$90/hour. She shared these teams deliver in the range of 120%-200% compared to estimates.

I know $80-$90/hour sounds like a bargain but let’s do some math:

Best case: $80/hour * 120% = $96/hour (plus team support)
Worst case: $90/hour * 200% = $180/hour (plus team support)

Inexpensive developers are not as inexpensive as they appear.

At the time of this writing, our team delivers data integration with SSIS for $250/hour. If the contract is for more than 200 hours (like this one) and if we are able to negotiate favorable terms, we reduce that rate to $185/hour.

I understand $185/hour seems high but let’s do some more math:

$185/hour * 43% = $79.55/hour

We cost less! That was my point in the Value post. Here’s evidence.

And customer team support for out team? All but non-existent. We are experienced. We know how to manage our time and the time of the team working with us. We read and understand the documentation because we’ve been doing this for decades. After reading the documentation we set up an initial call with the analyst supporting our project, walk through the details, and ask 90% of our questions during that 30- to 60-minute meeting.

Expensive developers are not as expensive as they appear.

I’m glad the data integration architect did the math. I’m even happier she shared the results with us. I am happy to share this with you as you consider hiring consultants to help your team with your next data integration project.

Contact us today!


OLE DB is *NOT* Deprecated

because you cannot give negative stars...

I cannot count how many times I’ve been asked about the deprecation of Microsoft OLE DB for SQL Server. My best guess? Hundreds of times over the years. My reply to questions has been: “I do not believe Microsoft will deprecate the OLE DB Driver for SQL Server.”

In data integration circles, the announcement in August 2011 was wildly unpopular. Why? From a data load perspective, ODBC is slower – much slower most of the time. I was a SQL Server MVP at the time of the announcement and there was an… interesting… exchange on the topic on the MVP mailing list.

It’s Alive!

Last month Microsoft “undeprecated” the OLE DB Driver for SQL Server and announced a new version during 2018-Q1. There are a couple gotchas. As explained in the article:

“…this first upcoming release will be a stand-alone install package that is out-of-band with SQL Server lifecycle. This also means the driver will not be packaged in the SNAC library, nor coupled with any other driver.”

Most SSIS packages use OLE DB for data flow operations because OLE DB often (not always) outperforms the alternatives. The difference in performance between ODBC and OLE DB performance in data integration scenarios can be orders of magnitude.

Kudos to Microsoft for revising this decision.

Thanks to Meagan Longoria (Data Savvy blog|@mmarie) for tweeting about this – I completely missed it!


Biml Academy Relaunch! (Well, beta…)

I’m no Brent Ozar but after tens of hours (and tens of dollars – and a little help  and some great advice from Brent), I’ve managed to get Biml Academy relaunched as a training site!

First, the free content that’s always been at Biml Academy will always be there. The links have changed because MeetingBurner is shutting down at the end of 2017 (and I did my part to keep them open – promise!). So I’ve been scrambling to get a bunch of recorded content – including the old Biml Academy recordings – downloaded from MeetingBurner and uploaded to Vimeo. I currently have the first week of Biml Academy presentations uploaded and available. You can access them from the Biml Academy home page – scroll to the bottom of the page to get started.

Second, I’m experimenting. You know, like any good scientist engineer. I have a couple basic courses uploaded already:

BUT it’s a much better deal if you just sign up for Basic Biml Training. Here’s why:

  1. It’s dirt cheap right now.
  2. For a limited time (and I do mean LIMITED, OK? No whining when it ends!), it’s as unlimited as I can make it. That means if you sign up for Basic Biml Training now, you’re in the Basic Biml Training course for as long as it exists, which should be for as long as I own the site.
  3. In time, I’m going to add more training units (individual classes like the two listed above) and quizzes to the Basic Biml Training course.
  4. It’s only going to get better as I get feedback and add more training.

Black Friday is just around the corner so I’m going to call this my Black Friday Sale just like Brent did with the relaunch of my Live, 2-Day Expert SSIS course 4-5 Dec which OH WOW THERE ARE ONLY 5 SEATS LEFT!

Since this is technically a beta, I’m way more interested in your feedback than anything else (including your money). Whether you sign up or not, please go check out the site and tell me what you think. If you do sign up, let me know what you think about the sign-up experience and the course(s) and… well, everything. I really need to know what you like and don’t like. I know SSIS. I know Biml. I’m learning WordPress. I’m experimenting with marketing. You can help me out here a bunch. Thanks in advance!


Folks Who Influenced Me (#TSql2sday)

It’s been a while since I wrote a TSql2sday post – too long, in fact. But I saw the topic trending on Twitter in the SQL Server Community and knew I needed to add my 2 cents…

It’s difficult to list all the people who have inspired me. Many continue to inspire me in small and great ways. I will mention as many as I can here, but please know there are dozens of people who inspire me in our awesome community.

Years ago, I wrote – in a post called Things I Know Now – about meeting Ken Henderson and Kalen Delaney (@sqlqueen) at the PASS Summit 2004. They helped me keep my first data-focused job (“Application DBA”) while working to tune my very first data warehouse. Both were inspiring in person and through their training and writing.

I’ve been blessed to work in vocational and community capacities with others who have and continue to inspire me: Scott Currie (@scottcurrie), Steve Jones (@way0utwest), Brian Knight (@brianknight), Andy Warren (@sqlandy), Brian Moran (@briancmoran), Bennett McEwan; all of whom stretched my understanding, all of whom taught me (some continue to teach me). I’ve been honored to work alongside two dozen authors on a dozen book projects. I’m a proud member of the Richmond Technology Community – an eclectic collection of philosophical geeks in .Net, SQL Server, and other technologies. I get to communicate often (and occasionally work with) with people I consider masters of this trade: Brent Ozar (@brento) and Kimberly Tripp (@kimberlyltripp) and Grant Fritchey (@GFritchey) and Kendra Little (@Kendra_Little) and Paul Randal (@paulrandal) and Adam Machanic (@adammachanic) and Andrew Kelly (@GunneyK) and Brian Kelley (@kbriankelley) and Jimmy May (@aspiringgeek) … and so many others.

And, of course, this awesome community inspires me.

Who inspires me today?

Tom Roush (@GEEQL) inspires me each time we interact. I often refer to Tom as “the best unpublished writer I know.” Tom has an inner strength hidden beneath his calm, cool exterior. He’s wise and kind and “in him there is no guile.”

Frank La Vigne (@Tableteer) – my partner in crime at Data Driven. Frank and Brent are tied for the most productive people I know personally. Whenever people ask me how I get so much done, I immediately think, “I’m not Frank or Brent.” Frank is a survivor. He delivers. He gets things done. He’s a voracious reader and learner. I could say the same things about Brent Ozar.

I am surrounded, assisted, and (sometimes) carried by two men at Enterprise Data & Analytics: Kent Bradshaw and Nick Harris. Every day these gentlemen encourage me to be better than Yesterday-Andy.


Just Ship

Last week I attended the PASS Summit 2017. Almost every time I’m around that many geeks, I’m asked a question. In fact, I’d say this is the most frequently asked question I hear. What’s the question?

“How do you get so much done?”

My first response is half-joking, “Insomnia.” I don’t believe I suffer from insomnia so much as I require fewer hours of sleep to feel rested, or rested-enough. I recall a handful of deadline-driven death marches where I did things like:

  • Work 40 hours straight; and
  • Worked 8 hours and slept 4 hours around the clock for days.

I don’t recommend either; I’m sure it’s unhealthy. What do I recommend?


The Biml Book is arriving for those who pre-ordered. I know because they’re posting pictures of themselves holding the book and tagging me. Thanks! It warms my heart to see those posts!

I was honored to co-lead the team of authors that wrote The Biml Book. In an early email to the team I wrote:

Our top priority is to ship. We will deliver a book, no matter what. I think it’s going to be an awesome book because you’re an awesome team.

   The #1 skill in writing is not language or communications or technical savvy, it’s discipline.

The screenshot above is from the actual email I sent in early February 2017. I am proud to report the team shipped.


Years ago I learned the slogan “Results, not excuses.” I tell myself this and variations of this all the time – especially when I’m tired or don’t want to complete the work for some reason. Some variations:

  • “If it was easy, anyone could do it.”
  • “Today is going to pass whether I do something with it or not.”
  • “Make the problem give up before you do.”

People notice results. They don’t know how long the work took. They don’t know how many times I tried and failed. They don’t know how many hours were spent gaining the prerequisite knowledge. But they notice the results.


Oh, absolutely I have competition. Do you know who my competition is? It’s Yesterday-Andy. I want to ship more work today than 10-Nov-2017-Andy shipped yesterday. I want to finish the stuff that slacker left hanging. I want to deliver what he didn’t. I want to ship!

My Advice?

To quote the wise philosopher Larry the Cable Guy, “Git-r-done!”

Ship. Ship today. You can do it. If you don’t do it, who will?


The Biml Book is Available!

The Biml Book became available last week! I’m delayed in posting this because I was at the PASS Summit 2017 last week where I had a great time catching up with old friends, making new friends, learning new stuff, and presenting.

Really exciting for Biml people, Scott Currie was on-stage to present Biml and Azure Data Factory 2.0 in the PASS Summit 2017 Day 1 keynote. It was a good day for Biml, methinks. Cathrine agrees, although our video was truncated.

Enjoy the book! I provided the Table of Contents in this post.

Coming Soon: Biml Academy v2.0!


AndyLeonard.blog() is Faster!

First, thank you to everyone who visits and has visited this blog. It’s been painfully slow and I am truly sorry about that. I upgraded to a managed WordPress service at GoDaddy and things move much faster now – as you probably already realized.

One nice side-effect of this change is it now takes less time to produce content.

I also enabled comments because I’d like for this blog to be more of a conversation.

Welcome to a faster AndyLeonard.blog()!


The Second-Best Time

I recently returned from the PASS Summit 2017 where I had an awesome time hanging out with members of the SQL Server Community, learning, and presenting. Attending a conference inspires a bunch of ideas. If you’re like me,  you might kick yourself and think, “Why didn’t I think of that sooner?!”

If I had a time machine, I’d go back and share some thoughts with Younger Andy (lots of thoughts!). Alas, I don’t have a time machine. But I’ve learned this advice from others and I find it to be true:

The best time to do something may have been years ago. The second-best time is right now.

My Advice

I follow a two-step process:

  1. Take notes at conferences. Email yourself or write stuff down. Whatever works for you.
  2. Complete those items when you return home.

That’s it. When you realize something needs to be done, record it for posterity. Then do it. Get it done. Ship. Results, not excuses.

A question to consider: What are you doing, right now?