Regarding SSIS Training…

This post was inspired by an email I recently sent to a prospective student of the Enterprise Data & Analytics training course titled From Zero to SSIS. The student asked very good questions about the value of training for certification vs. the value of training to gain knowledge. Both types of training are important; both play role in the career of any software or IT professional.


Forming and articulating these questions is the first step.

   I categorize education thus:

  • Self-study
  • Formal education and training
  • Experience

   Many share that experience is the best teacher and I concur. My wife home-schools our children. She tells them, “Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.”

Experience is also our harshest instructor.

   Many in our industry are self-taught. The people in this field whom I admire most have learned how to learn. I think that’s one key that sets them apart.

   I consider formal education and training an accelerator. I’ve been delivering training in various fields since the late 1980’s. The best (most successful) students enter the classroom with some experience. They are trying to solve some problem, such as “build a data warehouse.” Training, apart from some focusing task, lies in vacuum. A task brings context and, I believe, we all need context to learn (or at least to learn well).

   To your comments: SSIS is an ETL tool. SSIS is also a software development platform akin to Visual Basic and C#. That’s why it’s part of Visual Studio.

   One can (and needs to) become proficient in the mechanics – the syntax – of the platform. One needs to acquire the software equivalent of “muscle memory.”

   I believe it’s best to teach people the basics of SSIS in a hands-on manner with lots of lab exercises. My not-so-hidden agenda is to craft the exercises so they convey the context of designing an ETL solution using best practices gleaned from tens of thousands of hours of experience. As I share early on in the training, my methodology is: “start in the middle and build outward in all directions.” I call this spiral-out. It’s not bottom-up or top-down. We don’t begin with surveys of the tabs and menus and windows; you are building an SSIS package in hour 2 (if not hour 1).

   Certification courses are designed to expose students to the platform. In my opinion, the goals of certification are to prove one has some proficiency with the tool and can learn. That is a noble and good goal. From Zero to SSIS achieves the same goal but it’s designed to take students to the level of intermediate developer at least. At most? The course exposes students to ETL architect-think. It takes years to become an ETL architect, but I’ve had ETL architects attend this training and learn things they did not know on Day 1.

   Regarding Azure: Everyone in our field today should be learning as much as they can about Azure and automation. We should all seek to learn principles and not merely practices du jour.

Practices evolve; principles remain.

From Zero to SSIS is designed to future-proof the careers of students by sharing as much about Azure as time permits. As with all my material, the collateral I’ve built is based on experience. As a practicing data engineer, my experience continues to evolve.

   I cannot download my experience and share it with students but I can ingrain into students what ought to be done via lecture, demonstration, and exercises. My approach is holistic and I know it works.

Thank you,

Andy PS – you’ve inspired a blog post. Thank you! :{>

Andy Leonard

Christian, husband, dad, grandpa, Data Philosopher, Data Engineer, SSIS and Biml guy. I was cloud before cloud was cool. :{>


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