PASS Summit 2018 Session Feedback

I was honored to participate in three presentations at the PASS Summit 2018. I delivered a full-day pre-conference session titled Intelligent Data Integration and another session titled Faster SSIS. I also participated on a panel titled BI & Data Visualization.

A great big THANK YOU to everyone who attended my presentations!

As I’ve shared (numerous times) in the past, I share my ratings not to boast but to let less experienced and would-be presenters peek behind the curtain.

The ratings were on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (good).

Intelligent Data Integration Precon

I had 107 attendees and received feedback from 33 attendees.


Rate the value of the session content: 4.45
How useful and relevant is the session content to your job/career? 4.24
How well did the session’s track, audience, title, abstract, and level align with what was presented? 4.42
Rate the speaker’s knowledge of the subject matter: 4.79
Rate the overall presentation and delivery of the session content: 4.45
Rate the balance of educational content versus that of sales, marketing, and promotional subject matter: 4.55

These are ok numbers. Not as good as Brent’s or Cathrine’s, but ok. I’m ok with these numbers but I want to do a better job connecting with the audience.

Selected Comments About the Presentation

Most of the comments were positive. I really appreciate the positive comments. I included all the non-positive comments below. Some of the negative comments were also instructional. Others… need instruction.

“I learned tips and tricks that justified the cost of the conference.”
“Andy was an excellent speaker. Working through demos was integral in giving me exactly what I need to implement a solution.”
“Great knowledge and very humble in the way he talks.”
“Andy is awesome, his ego does not get in the way during the presentation, overall great.”
“Andy is a wonderful speaker and I was able to easily understand the topics covered and feel confident that I can use the lessons learned in my profession.”
“Excellent delivery of material. Always delivers humor along with the content. Picked up tips that would have taken a very long time to learn on my own. Would love to see another pre-conference session on ETL by Andy (whether SSIS or ADF).”

“We spent way too much time in Biml. ”
“Andy knows his subject but while the Biml intro was interesting the examples of SSIS patterns were too simplistic, too ‘Hello world!’. Should have had at least one example were data source and destination were on different servers.”
“Continual reference speaker made to how session content just ‘hobbying’/not production conscious, alluding to the ‘real’ stuff being something other than what was being presented. ‘I have a stand in the exhibitors arena’!!! The serious stuff!!! Cheapened the experience. Although pre-con by no means cheap! This inflection, re-iterated by the speaker was disappointing. Felt a superiority complex existed!

My Thoughts

I didn’t get much feedback on the Biml portion of the precon. Of the two comments that mention Biml, one was negative and another positive. I’m not sure if that’s because I covered Biml during the first part of the precon (and evaluations were filled out at the end of the precon) or if I did a worse job on Biml than the other topics. To me, it looks like a wash.

The last comment is… I don’t know. I think someone was having a bad day or I wasn’t their cup of tea or I just rubbed them the wrong way. I actually took 60 seconds to explain that PASS exhorts presenters to steer clear of sales-y talk in presentations. In the past, I’ve been vocal in my disagreement with PASS about these policies. While I believe I am right, I signed a contract to abide by the rules.

That said, the rules permit sponsors and exhibitors to share information about their for-pay products during presentations. In the 60 seconds, I shared my belief that someone – either the attendee or their company – had paid good money for the attendee to attend this precon. But I did not want to spend any of our time together selling them anything. I shared some of the free tools available from DILM Suite. I mentioned I sell other tools and solutions and that I was an exhibitor. If they wanted to learn more about products I sell, they could drop by the booth or email me.

bunch of attendees did just that! Nick and I had some great conversations with people at our booth. I’m pretty sure we will be helping some folks with training and consulting, and that we sold some licenses to DILM Suite products.

I strive to cover the topics in as much depth as possible. In order to do that, I demonstrate “chunks” of functionality and patterns using demos that are not Production-ready. I believe more than one day is required to delve into data integration with SSIS with Production-ready code. I’ve led such training – and continue to deliver beginner and advanced SSIS training privately and occasionally, publicly. If you’re interested in learning SSIS from the ground up, I have a five-day course named From Zero To SSIS. I’d be honored to deliver this training for you or your team. Email me. If you are an experienced SSIS developer, I recommend attending a delivery of Expert SSIS presented in cooperation with Brent Ozar Unlimited.

To this attendee who I do not know (evaluations are anonymous when sent to speakers) and any other attendees who agreed with this attendee, I apologize and ask your forgiveness for coming across as superior and cheapening your experience.

Faster SSIS

I had 203 attendees and received feedback from 63 attendees.


Rate the value of the session content: 4.54
How useful and relevant is the session content to your job/career? 4.44
How well did the session’s track, audience, title, abstract, and level align with what was presented? 4.60
Rate the speaker’s knowledge of the subject matter: 4.83
Rate the overall presentation and delivery of the session content: 4.63
Rate the balance of educational content versus that of sales, marketing, and promotional subject matter: 4.83

These are better numbers. They trend about the same, though: I scored higher on speaker’s knowledge of the subject matter in both this session and the precon. My lowest score in both presentations is the usefulness of the session content for job and career. From this I glean I need to work on content.

Selected Comments About the Presentation

As before, most of the comments were positive and I included all the less-than-positive comments below:

“I now know that a hashbyte match for an etl will work. Ive wanted to try this but my clients use other methods to load data. Thank you very much.”
“Andy is a good man and we are lucky to have him in our SQL Family.”
“Very easy to sit through! Great content and answers.”
“Andy is always entertaining. I learned quite a bit from this session and I plan to implement the things he spoke about.”
“Great session, love your humor. Good and easy to follow demos. Good job!”
“Andy was incredibly entertaining and the content was very good.”
“Great session. He’s on my list when I come back.”
“More sessions should have interpretive dances.”

“Thanks for the talk. Liked the time for questions. However I would have preferred more examples.”
“Excellent presentation skills. Very interesting and entertaining. There were way too many questions about their own specific issues that would have been better if handled after the session. It felt as if we rushed through content because there were so many questions. I’m definitely going to look into Andy’s available content because I found his approach interesting and different and would like to see more tricks.”
“Ok. Hard to understand some concepts.”
“Good instructor, but deep subject matter (hard to follow).”
“I should have read session description more carefully. It was beyond my skills. My own fault.”

My Thoughts

I’m going to start at the bottom of the negative comments here and say: “God bless you sir or ma’am,” to the person who had the courage to share that the level of the session was beyond their skills. I had this session pegged as Level 300. I will increase that level going forward to 400 (minimum) based on feedback about the level. It wasn’t just this person, I own the “hard to follow” and “hard to understand” comments. I will correct that moving forward. I will also add a disclaimer about the pace of this presentation in response to the “rushed through content” comment – which is another reason to bump the level.

Regarding the interpretive dance comment, well… you had to be there. 😉

BI & Data Visualization Panel

This was a panel that included Mico Yuk, Melissa Coates, Meagan Longoria, Ryan Wade, and me. We had 111 attendees and received feedback from 20 attendees.


Rate the value of the session content: 3.75
How useful and relevant is the session content to your job/career? 3.90
How well did the session’s track, audience, title, abstract, and level align with what was presented? 3.90
Rate the speaker’s knowledge of the subject matter: 4.40
Rate the overall presentation and delivery of the session content: 3.90
Rate the balance of educational content versus that of sales, marketing, and promotional subject matter: 4.50

These numbers are not good but the comments help us understand why.

Selected Comments About the Presentation

The comments were evenly split between positive and less-than-positive:

“Fantastic and especially loved the diversity of the panel. Thank you!”
“I valued the information about Data maturity – getting customers from data > information > knowledge.”
“This was great. There was a lot of interesting discussion. Mico was a great host.”
“Mico was a fantastic moderator and the panel (for the most part) were experts in their field.”

“Mico was great at moving the conversations along and keeping it on point…very well done. I guess I was just disappointed that I didn’t come away with more “definitive” material. I’ll admit, I didn’t know what to expect.”
“Mico interrupted the panelists with her own comments too much and didn’t manage the room well. The panelists were fantastic.”
“This session need a Plan B for when the audience did not contribute many (or any) questions. Not a worthwhile session for me.”
“The panel could have been a little better balanced. They all(?) were consultants, it would have been nice to have someone on the panel who is just working for a company.”

My Thoughts

It’s tough to tell towards whom the comments were aimed (except the comments that mentioned Mico which were evenly split positive and less-than-positive).

I’ll share that it’s tough to get high ratings from a panel presentation. Part of the reason is it’s technically impossible to prepare in advance for the questions from the audience. I believe that’s also an advantage for some attendees.

Of the 20 people who supplied evaluations, 4 ranked the panel session below 3.0. You don’t have to be good at statistics to realize those scores are going to tank the averages.


If you’re going to present, you should understand the dynamics of evaluations.

I shared with a friend – who happens to be a very good speaker and received some disappointing comments on his evaluations – with experience, we know when we’ve delivered as good a presentation as we can and when we’ve fallen short of that goal. For me:

I know I left it all on the field in my presentations at PASS Summit 2018. I did my very best. I practiced and the practice paid off. I planned and the planning helped – especially with timing demos in both the precon and Faster SSIS.

I’ve written about evaluations in the past – especially for free events – see Being a More-Aware Free Technical Event Attendee in which I describe a game – called “There’s Always One” – that I play with evaluations.

Because I know I delivered these presentations well, I’m happy with these numbers. Will I strive to do better? Will I incorporate this feedback into future deliveries of the precon and Faster SSIS? Goodness yes! Overall, though, I’m happy to have had the honor of delivering a precon solo at the PASS Summit and that I was selected to deliver a session and participate on a panel.

Frank (@Tableteer) and I just recorded a show in which I mention both this post and the game called “There’s Always One.” Check it out, along with other podcast recordings at!


Biml, Book Reviews, and Metadata-Driven Frameworks

I occasionally (rarely) read reviews at Amazon of books I’ve written. If I learn of a complaint regarding the book I often try to help. If a reader experiences difficulty with demos, I often offer to help, and sometimes I meet with readers to work through some difficulty related to the book (as I offered here). About half the time, there’s a problem with the way the book explains an example or the sample code; the other half the time the reader does not understand what is written.

I own both cases. As a writer it’s my job to provide good examples that are as easy to understand as possible. Sometimes I fail.

In very rare instances, I feel the review misrepresents the contents of a book –  enough to justify clarification. This review afforded one such opportunity. None of what I share below is new to regular readers of my blog. I chose to respond in a direct manner because I know and respect the author of the review, and believe he will receive my feedback in the manner in which it was intended – a manner (helpful feedback) very similar to the manner in which I believe his review was intended (also helpful feedback).


My Reply to This Review of The Biml Book:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this review.

I maintain successful technology solutions are a combination of three factors:

  1. The problem we are trying to solve;
  2. The technology used to solve the problem; and
  3. The developer attempting to use a technology to solve the problem.

I believe any technologist, given enough time and what my mother refers to as “gumption” (a bias for action combined with a will – and the stubbornness, er… tenacity – to succeed), can solve any problem with any technology.

I find your statement, “It doesn’t really teach BIML but rather teaches a specific optional framework for those who want to do everything with BIML rather than increase productivity for repetitive patterns” inaccurate. Did you read the entire book? I ask that question because I most often encounter readers who state the precise opposite of the opinion expressed in this review (some of your fellow reviewers express the opposite opinion here, even). I disagree with your statement, but I understand your opinion in light of other opinions expressed to me by readers during my past decade+ of writing several books. I share one example in this blog post. The short version: we often get more – or different – things from reading than we realize.

There is a section in The Biml Book – made up of 3 of the 20 chapters and appendices – that proposes a basic metadata-driven Biml framework which is the basis of a metadata-driven Biml framework in production in several large enterprises. I wrote those 3 chapters and the basic metadata-driven Biml framework in question. Varigence has also produced a metadata-driven Biml framework called BimlFlex – based upon similar principles – which has been deployed at myriad enterprises. The enterprise architects at these organizations have been able to improve code quality and increase productivity, all while decreasing the amount of time required to bring data-related solutions to market. They do not share your opinion, although they share at least some of the problems (you mentioned ETL) you are trying to solve.

Am I saying Biml – or the framework about which I wrote or even BimlFlex – is the end-all-be-all for every SSIS development effort? Goodness no! In fact, you will find disclaimers included in my writings on Biml and SSIS frameworks. I know because I wrote the disclaimers.

Misalignment on any of the three factors for successful technology solutions – the problem, the technology, and/or the developer – can lead to impedance mismatches in application and implementation. For example, Biml is not a good solution for some classes of ETL or data integration (points 1 and 2). And learning Biml takes about 40 hours of tenacious commitment (which goes to point 3). This is all coupled with a simple fact: data integration is hard. SSIS does a good job as a generic, provider-driven solution – but most find SSIS challenging to learn and non-intuitive (I did when I first started using it). Does that mean SSIS is not worth the effort to learn? Goodness, no! It does mean complaints about simplifying the learning process are to be expected and somewhat rhetorical.

Architects disagree. We have varying amounts of experience. We have different kinds of experience. Some architects have worked only as lone-wolf consultants or as members of single-person teams. Others have worked only as leaders of small teams of ETL developers. Rarer still are enterprise architects who are cross-disciplined and experienced as both lone-wolf consultants and managers of large teams in independent consulting firms and large enterprises. Less-experienced architects sometimes believe they have solved “all the things” when they have merely solved “one of the things.” Does this make them bad people? Goodness, no. It makes them less-experienced, though, and helps identify them as such. Did the “one thing” need solving? Goodness, yes. But enterprise architecture is part science and part art. Understanding the value of a solution one does not prefer – or the value of a solution that does not apply to the problem one is trying to solve – lands squarely in the art portion of the gig.

Regarding the science portion of the gig: engineers are qualified to qualitatively pronounce any solution is “over-engineered.” Non-engineers are not qualified to make any such determination, in my opinion.

By way of example: I recently returned from the PASS Summit. Although I did not attend the session, I know an SSIS architect delivered a session in which he made dismissing statements regarding any and all metadata-driven frameworks related to ETL with SSIS. If I didn’t attend his session, how do I know about the content of the presentation? A number of people in attendance approached me after the session to share their opinion that the architect, though he shared some useful information, does not appreciate the problems faced by most enterprise architects – especially enterprise architects who lead teams of ETL developers.

My advice to all enterprise architects and would-be enterprise architects is: Don’t be that guy.

Instead, be the enterprise architect who continues to examine a solution until underlying constraints and drivers and reasons the solution was designed the way it was designed are understood. Realize and recognize the difference between “That’s wrong,” “I disagree,” and “I prefer a different solution.” One size does not fit all.

Finally, some of the demos and Biml platforms were not working at the time you wrote this review. Many have been addressed since that time. In the future, updates to SSIS, Biml, and ETL best practices will invalidate what this team of authors wrote during the first half of 2017. As such, the statements, “And much of the online information is outdated and no longer works. It’s a shame someone hasn’t found a way to simplify the learning process.” is a tautology that defines progress. Learning is part of the job of a technologist. I encourage us all – myself most of all – to continue learning.


Honored to Present Faster SSIS at Triad SQL PASS BI 30 Oct!

I am honored to join my friends at the Triad SQL PASS BI Group in Greensboro North Carolina 30 Oct 2018, where I will present Faster SSIS!


Ever wonder why SSIS runs so slowly? Watch SSIS author Andy Leonard as he runs test loads using sample and real-world data, and shows you how to tune SQL Server 2016 Integration Services (SSIS 2016) packages. We’ll start by experimenting with SSIS design patterns to improve performance loading AdventureWorks data. We will implement different change detection patterns and compare execution performance for each. Then, we’ll explain a Data Flow Task’s bottleneck when loading binary large objects – or Blobs. Finally, we’ll demonstrate a design pattern that uses a Script Component in a Data Flow to boost load performance to MySql, whether on-premises or in the cloud. Prerequisites: Familiarity with SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).

Register today! I hope to see you there.


Honored to Present Lift and Shift SSIS to ADF at #Azure DataFest Reston

I am honored to deliver Lift and Shift SSIS to ADF at the Azure DataFest in Reston Virginia 11 Oct 2018!


Your enterprise wants to use the latest cool Azure Data Analytics tools but there’s one issue: All your data are belong to the servers on-premises. How do you get your enterprise data into the cloud?

In this session, SSIS author and trainer Andy Leonard discusses and demonstrates migrating SSIS to Azure Data Factory Integration Runtime.

Register today!


Bad Presentations

In just a few short weeks I am attending the PASS Summit 2018 in Seattle. Whenever I attend an event like the Summit or SQL Saturday I attempt to attend presentations of interest to me. I love learning new stuff!

Good and Less-Good

Most of the presentations I attend are good. Some are really good. They are delivered by talented technologists who are also gifted orators. This is an important distinction because:

Technology and communication are entirely different skills.

I’ve watched gifted presenters misrepresent the facts about technology.
I’ve watched gifted technologists fumble demos and stumble over words.

If I have to choose one over the other, I choose great technologists over great presenters. I do so without reservation or hesitation. Is it good to have both? Goodness yes! But – this is important – we don’t always get what we want.

Some Examples of Less-Good

There are categories of bad presentations and bad presenters. Three leap to mind:

  1. Someone who does not know the topic
  2. Someone who is not a good presenter
  3. Someone who is offensive

Presenters Who Do Not Know What They Are Talking About

I wrote recently about a complaint I see leveled at myself and others from time to time: “You do not know what you are doing.” I confess, sometimes that’s a valid complaint about me. While you might find the previous statement an example of humility (or false humility), I prefer to be in the state of not knowing what I am doing. Why? Because it’s an opportunity to learn and I love to learn.

That said, there’s a time and place for everything – including learning. When presenting a class or at a conference for which attendees or their employers paid good money, I strive to share what I have already learned, not what I am learning. Attendees of a free event, even, are paying with their time. So again, I strive for excellence in presentations at free events.

My lovely bride, Christy, attends on average one of my presentations per year. Early on she shared this advice, “Andy, no one likes to watch you troubleshoot.” As an engineer I didn’t even think about it. If something was broken, it needed to be fixed. Period. Pronto. If that meant dropping everything else – in front of a paying audience, even – so be it. Christy’s advice helped me become a better presenter.

I redesigned my talks to be demo-fault-tolerant. I changed my thinking about my presentations so that I am now more mentally prepared for demos to fail. I had something to say, always; I am aware not only that demos will fail. I am prepared for them to fail.

This preparation served me well when, in March 2018 at SQL Saturday Chicago, a drive on my laptop failed just before delivering a presentation that is 90% demos. What did I do? I talked through the demos. A friend approached me afterwards and said, “You looked ready for that!” I was ready for it. Nonetheless I responded (truthfully), “Thank you. I’m going to go sit down for an hour.” Even though I was prepared, it was exhausting.

Good Engineers

I can hear you thinking, “Wait, Andy. Your second item above is ‘Someone who is not a good presenter.’ You titled this corresponding section ‘Good Engineers.’ What gives?” I’m glad you asked.

I am an engineer. If you’ve read my bio you see the word “engineer” there.

I consider this a warning.

Are all good engineers bad communicators? Nope. Many – perhaps most – are, though. Take that last sentence. If English is not your first language I owe you an apology. If English is your first language, I owe you two apologies. It makes perfect sense to me, but any editor who saw that sentence in a manuscript would be compelled to add a comment; correct the sentence; or print the document, take it out back, and physically burn that sentence off the page.

Technology – or engineering – is a skill.
Communication is a skill.
Technology and communication are different skills.

As I stated earlier, I don’t care if the presenter is a bad communicator. There is at least one exception to this rule that I will cover next. But for the most part, I can learn from good technologists who stink at communication. I can learn from good technologists who are brilliant communicators but are having a bad day. How do I know I can learn from these people? Because I have, and do, almost every week.

And so do you.

You may not like the presenter.
You may not enjoy the presentation.
But do you learn? Yep. You do.

An Aside: I Hate Abstract-Writing Contests

I’ve organized community events in the past. I don’t do very much work on community events these days, although I serve as a mascot on a couple leadership committees because of my past adventures in similar endeavors. Occasionally – rarely, I would say – I offer some tidbit that helps. My role these days is mostly to encourage leaders who are on the verge of burnout.

Selecting speakers is an engine of loss. It’s bad when there are more submissions than slots. The effects are amplified if the event is popular. Speaker selection is a fantastic mechanism to irritate and isolate people. For years, in some cases. Everyone who submits believes their submission should be accepted. Otherwise, why submit in the first place? No one likes to hear, “No.” Everyone likes to hear, “Yes.”

I am the same as every other speaker in this regard.
I may be worse than most, even.

Peeves make lousy pets. Knowing this doesn’t stop me from nurturing a handful of pet peeves. One of my pet peeves is speaker selection based solely on the marketing value of the written abstract. I label this practice an “abstract-writing contest” and I believe it is one bane of a successful technical conference.

If you read that last paragraph and began composing a comment that includes a paraphrase of, “Then what would you have us do, Andy? Pick lousy abstracts?!” I feel for you. But I cannot quite reach you. </RedneckSnark>

My response is, “No. I would have you consider more than merely the abstract. And specifically more than its perceived ‘Marketing value.'” Mix things up a bit. Add some variety. Consider the popularity of the speaker’s blog or previous presentations, maybe. Again, there are exceptions (one of which I will address shortly). But here’s my point in a nutshell:

All good presenters deliver good presentations.
Not all good presenters write good abstracts.

Something must take precedence, some attribute must win. If you are organizing an event and / or selecting speakers, you probably don’t have the option of selecting great presenters who will deliver great sessions and who are awesome at writing persuasive marketing abstracts.

Should all presenters strive to write better abstracts? Goodness yes. But unless you’re planning MSIgnite or Build or ReInvent or a TedX, you’re probably not going to be in the position to choose among the great presenters with great abstract-writing skills. Even if this is so, you’re not always going to get it right. They don’t! I’ve been to enough global conferences and seen enough bad presentations to know.

So presenters, strive to write better abstracts.
And selectors, select some presenters who submit poorly-written abstracts. For goodness’ sake: If spelling errors bug you, correct the spelling before you publish anything. That’s not even hard.


Regarding Offense

I am of two minds as I begin this section. Here’s why:

  1. There are things I find offensive that, for me, go beyond the pale, crossing the border between acceptable and unacceptable in a public forum meant to convey knowledge to attendees.
  2. There are things I find offensive that I will tolerate in order to gain the knowledge I seek.

Stepping into a conference session, I sometimes do not know what to expect. I may be unfamiliar with the speaker. Perhaps their speaking style is abrasive, or abrasive in my opinion.

Perhaps the speaker uses excessive profanity. I can hear you thinking, “Who gets to define excessive, Andy?” The attendees get to define excessive. As an attendee, I get to define excessive.

I read about a presentation a few years ago where the speaker created a pornographic demonstration. Many in attendance found the presentation offensive, most found it unprofessional. I hope the speaker – obviously a talented technologist – learned from this mistake.

These are examples of the first type of offense, those I believe are unacceptable.

Perhaps the speaker mentions politics in jest and I disagree with their politics, so I feel belittled when those surrounding me in the room laugh at the joke. I may feel they’re laughing at me. They are certainly laughing at people like me.

Perhaps the speaker jokes about the less-sophisticated in our culture. I’ve heard the term “hick” and “redneck” bandied about, for example – terms with which I personally identify. I have people in Appalachia, from whence my family comes. “Trailer trash” was a term I heard years ago in a presentation. My teenage years were spent living in a mobile home. In a trailer.

Do these references offend me?
They do.

Do I tolerate these offenses?
I do.

You may read that last section and think something along the lines of, “Well, they must not offend you that much if you tolerate them, Andy.” To which I respond, “That’s not your call.” You do not get to make such an assertion. You lack the ability to see inside my mind and inside my heart, so you cannot accurately render judgment as to what goes on there. Further, you do not dictate how I think or choose to respond, publicly or privately. You do not have that right of imposition; not over me.

These are examples of the second type of offense; those I choose to tolerate.

Waxing Philosophical…

How should we then live?” is a question posed by theologian, philosopher, and pastor Francis A. Schaeffer – it’s the title of one of his books. It’s a fair question – especially in an age that considers outrage a virtue. here are, I believe, some truths:

Offense can be intended.
Offense can be unintended.
Regardless of the motive of the offender, offense must be taken in order for the offended to be, well, offended.

I believe motive counts.

Does motive excuse the offender then? Not completely, in my opinion. That said, unintended offense deserves a more mitigated response than intended offense – again, in my humble opinion.

i write this as someone who has offended others unintentionally.
I write this as someone who has been offended intentionally and unintentionally.

When I have offended others, I most often apologized. I’ve learned the earlier the apology is offered, the better. I’ve failed – sometimes for years – to apologize for some offenses I’ve caused. This is partially due to ignorance on my part – me not realizing until later that I owed someone an apology. Sometimes I’ve just been stubborn (a virtue for an engineer… which is one reason I warn people that I am an engineer…).

I will likely offend people in the future. Offending people is not my goal and certainly not my intention.

I will most likely offend when trying to make a joke – as others have offended me while trying to make a joke. This has happened to me in the past. It’s cost me relationships, both professionally and personally.

In these cases, I bear the loss and I am profoundly sorry.

Please read and understand this: There are principles – and a Person – in which (and in Whom) I believe. I value my faith more than I eschew offense. My weak, flawed, and hypocritical following of Christ will offend a handful of people, some of whom also follow Christ. Knowing this does not deter, defer, or lessen my beliefs or my commitment thereto. If this offends you, you will have to decide how you respond. If my faith offends you, I believe you will have to also respond at least once more in the future. So if my faith offends you, I pray (and I never say or write the words “I pray” without actually praying) that you take care in your current response.

I share more about my faith in the Personal section of the About Andy page.


Introducing Azure Data Factory Design Patterns

I was honored to write an article titled Introducing Azure Data Factory Design Patterns featured in this month’s PASS Insights newsletter!

Introducing Azure Data Factory Design Patterns

The article covers a couple execution patterns:

  1. Execute Child Pipeline
  2. Execute Child SSIS Package

I demonstrate a cool SSIS Catalog Browser feature that helps ADF developers configure the Execute SSIS Package activity.

To see it in action, download SSIS Catalog Browser – it’s one of the free utilities available at DILM Suite. Connect to the instance of Azure SQL DB that hosts an Azure Data Factory SSIS Integration Runtime Catalog, select the SSIS Package you desire to execute using the Execute SSIS Package activity, and then copy the Catalog Path from the  Catalog Browser status message:

Paste that value into the Package Path property of the Execute SSIS Package activity:

You can rinse and repeat – Catalog Browser surfaces Environment paths as well:

Enjoy the article!

If you have any questions about Azure Data Factory – or need help getting started – please reach out!

Learn more:
Attend my full-day pre-conference session titled Intelligent Data Integration at the PASS Summit 2018  on 5 Nov 2018.
Check out this 1-day course on
Fundamentals of Azure Data Factory delivered in cooperation with Brent Ozar Unlimited 10 Dec 2018!

Honored to Present Faster SSIS at SQL Saturday Boston 22 Sep 2018!

I am honored to present Faster SSIS at SQL Saturday Boston 22 Sep 2018!

Check out this schedule – there are a bunch of smart people presenting – plus me!


Ever wonder why SSIS runs so slow? Watch SSIS author Andy Leonard as he runs test loads using sample and real-world data and shows you how to tune SQL Server 2017 Integration Services (SSIS 2017) packages.

We’ll start by experimenting with SSIS design patterns to improve performance loading AdventureWorks data. We will implement different change detection patterns and compare execution performance for each. Then, we’ll explain a Data Flow Task’s bottleneck when loading binary large objects – or Blobs.

Finally, we’ll demonstrate a design pattern that uses a Script Component in a Data Flow to boost load performance to MySql, whether on-premises or in the cloud.
Prerequisites: None. Some SSIS and SQL knowledge will be helpful but is not required.

I hope to see you there! I’d love to meet you if you read this blog and attend – just walk up and introduce yourself, I’m the southern guy with the braided beard.


PASS Summit 2018 Starts in 10 Weeks!

Can you believe the PASS Summit 2018 begins only 10 weeks from today (27 Aug 2018)? I confess, this is sneaking up on me fast!

I will be there. Will you?

Where Can You Find Andy at the PASS Summit 2018?


Monday 5 Nov 2018, I’m delivering a full-day pre-conference session titled Intelligent Data Integration with SSIS. I’m going to cover  everything listed at that link but there is an update about my precon content:

There will be Azure Data Factory content and demos!

Why this addition? Two reasons:

  1. My presentation titled Faster SSIS was selected. I usually include the three Faster SSIS demos in my precon. This time, you can just view the Faster SSIS session to see those demos.
  2. may have something cool and new to share about Azure Data Factory that is currently under NDA! Stay tuned…

Enterprise Data & Analytics is Exhibiting!

That’s right, you can find me in the Exhibition Hall! Enterprise Data & Analytics is exhibiting at the PASS Summit 2018!

Have an SSIS or Biml or ADF question? Stop by our booth!
Want to grab a selfie with me or Nick? Stop by our booth!
Want me to autograph your book? Stop by our booth!
Need some consulting or training help? Stop by our booth!

I’m so excited about this – I can hardly wait. We’ll have more information about specific dates and times when I will be manning the booth in coming weeks.

Presenting Faster SSIS

At the time of this writing, the session schedule has not yet been published. PASS has published a general schedule. Keep checking for details!


I am looking forward to the PASS Summit 2018. I hope to see you there.


Honored to Present Lift and Shift SSIS to ADF at #Azure DataFest Atlanta

The #Azure DataFest Atlanta Schedule has been posted and I am honored to be selected to present Lift and Shift SSIS to ADF!

Check out this lineup of presenters and presentations. I describe this group as: “a bunch of smart people – plus me!”

Lift and Shift SSIS to ADF Abstract

Your enterprise wants to use the latest cool Azure Data Analytics tools but there’s one issue: All your data are belong to the servers on-premises. How do you get your enterprise data into the cloud?

In this session, SSIS author and trainer Andy Leonard discusses and demonstrates migrating SSIS to Azure Data Factory Integration Runtime.

Register today!


My Day – Sunday, 22 Jul 2018 – #SQLCareer

6:30-9:00 AM

Awaken. Weigh in, pray, read the Bible, check the burn barrel.
This morning I weigh 200 pounds. Prayer, praise, gratitude, thanking God for another day.
This morning I read Romans 8:31-39. I am teaching our adult Sunday School class this morning and we are making our way through Romans. Powerful.
Coffee. Breakfast. Boy-wrangling. It’s tough to get those boys up some mornings. This morning isn’t too bad. But it isn’t too good either. Apparently it was another late night online. It might be time to adjust the internet availability schedule. Again…

Riley is out-growing clothes weekly, it seems. He’s almost 11 and that happens. We manage to get them fed, watered, medicated, and dressed.

9:00 AM-2:00 PM

We pile into the vans and head to town. Worship starts with breakfast (we had a keto-friendly breakfast already, so we just bring stuff and don’t eat). Each adult Sunday School class is responsible for breakfast one Sunday per month. Our class has 4th Sundays and we pack some goodies Christy has left after the Farmer’s Market yesterday. Praise band rehearsal starts at 9:30. My hands are not cooperating with the guitar this morning. Note to self: No more 3-hour ax-limbing marathons on Saturdays… It’s Vacation Bible School week and Christy has a coordination meeting immediately after the service. We connect with some brothers and sisters for lunch at Pino’s across from Longwood University where good food and fellowship is enjoyed by all!

2:00-3:30 PM

I complete my presentation slides for the Data Platform Summit 2018 and upload all three presentations to the site.

3:30-8:00 PM

I empty the now-cool ash and restart the burn barrel. I’m hoping to get a nice hot fire burning before the threatening storms strike. Once the fire settles into a steady burn deep inside the barrel, Christy, Emma, and I go grocery shopping. We pick up supper from local eateries and head home.

Farmville has two colleges: Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College. One nice thing about living in a college town is we have plenty of restaurants to choose from – and new restaurants open all the time. Some close, it’s true. But overall, the colleges “recession-proof” our small town.

We get home in time to watch the beginning of Shark Week on The Discovery Channel.


So… that’s a peek into four days in my life. I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini-series that includes this post plus the previous three:

Could I do things differently? Yep. Could I do things better? Goodness yes! This is what was queued for these four days; the decisions I made, some of the stuff I did with the time.

As I mentioned, this week is Vacation Bible School week so we will be at Heritage Baptist Church each evening helping Farmville-area young people learn more about faith in God. It will be a time when lifelong memories are made for the kids attending (I still remember stuff from VBS in Green Bay Virginia when I was a wee lad). It will also be a time of packing Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, stress, teaching, running around, helping, hard work, learning, hurt-feelings, forgiveness, serving, and of joy in serving.

I didn’t accomplish all my goals for last week. That happens. It’s called “life.” The older I get – and I get even older Tuesday! – the more I’ve learned that life is mostly made up of interruptions. At least, the important stuff is. Things like spilled chocolate milk and scratches and helping and pulled backs and calls and emails.

Work is just stuff I do in between interruptions.
Work is a part of life.
Work is important.
Work is not the most important part of life.

I bumped some work goals into this week and will be back at ’em Monday morning, Lord willing. And life, Lord willing, will go on.