Join me For Expert SSIS Training!

I’m honored to announce Expert SSIS – a course from Enterprise Data & Analytics!

The next delivery is 01-02 Apr 2019, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM ET.

If you sign up by 31 Jan, you save money. Right now the course is on sale!

Data integration is the foundation of data science, business intelligence, and enterprise data warehousing. This instructor-led training class is specifically designed for SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) professionals responsible for developing, deploying, and managing data integration at enterprise-scale.

You will learn to improve data integration with SSIS by:

  • Building faster data integration.
  • Making data integration execution more manageable.
  • Building data integration faster.

Agenda

  1. SSIS Design Patterns for Performance – how to build SSIS packages that execute and load data faster by tuning SSIS data flows and implementing performance patterns.
  2. SSIS Deployment, Configuration, Execution, and Monitoring – the “Ops” part of DevOps with SSIS using out-of-the-box tools and the latest utilities.
  3. Automation – how to use Business Intelligence Markup Language (Biml) to improve SSIS quality and reduce development time.

Did someone mention a sale?

Yep! The course is currently on sale until 31 Jan 2019!

I hope to see you there!

PS – Want to Learn More About Azure Data Factory?

Want to Learn More About Azure Data Factory?

From me?

I am honored to announce Getting Started with Azure Data Factory – a course from Enterprise Data & Analytics!

The next delivery is 04 Mar 2019, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM ET.

If you sign up by 31 Jan, you save money. Right now the course is on sale!

Azure Data Factory, or ADF, is an Azure PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) that provides hybrid data integration at global scale. Use ADF to build fully managed ETL in the cloud – including SSIS. Join Andy Leonard – authorblogger, and Chief Data Engineer at Enterprise Data & Analytics – as he demonstrates practical Azure Data Factory use cases.

In this course, you’ll learn:

  • The essentials of ADF
  • Developing, testing, scheduling, monitoring, and managing ADF pipelines
  • Lifting and shifting SSIS to ADF SSIS Integration Runtime (Azure-SSIS)
  • ADF design patterns
  • Data Integration Lifecycle Management (DILM) for the cloud and hybrid data integration scenarios

Did someone mention a sale?

Yep! The course is currently on sale until 31 Jan 2019!

I hope to see you there!

PS – Join me For Expert SSIS Training!

How May I Serve You?

2018 is drawing to a close.

Some readers recently shared requests for more blog posts on certain topics. I thought I’d put the question to my audience (both of you, hi Mom!) to gather your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment or reach out via email.

Here are some topics I plan to blog about in 2019, Lord willing:

  • SSIS (of course)
  • Azure Data Factory
  • Azure DevOps
  • Data Integration Testing
  • Data Integration Lifecycle Management (DILM)
  • Containers

What do you think? Good list? 

If you were the boss of me, which topics would you like to see – or see more of? Any additions to this list?

Merry Christmas!
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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.

</SoapBox>

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.

Peace.

Announcing SSIS Academy!

I’m pleased to announce the availability of SSIS Academy!

I have a confession: Late last year when I wrote a post titled The Second-Best Time, I was writing to yours truly.

I was inspired by some friends and presenters I met at the PASS Summit 2017. I jotted down some notes – just like I advised in that blog post – and was reading through my notes when I returned to Farmville.

One of those ideas? Set up online training.

And so I began. I started by learning everything I could about WordPress-integrated learning management systems. I read reviews, downloaded some trials, kicked the tires, took ’em for a spin around the farm… and found one I liked.

I used it to set up Biml Academy. I put a ton of hours into Biml Academy. If you browse over to the site you may look at it and think, “It doesn’t look like you put a ton of hours into it, Andy!” You may have a point, but if you wear a loose-enough fitting hat, most people won’t notice. I had a lot to learn about learning management systems – and WordPress. I’ve been delivering training professionally since 1986. Granted, I am still learning about delivering training, but I needed to learn more about delivering recorded training online.

This is different than my Summer-O’-ADF series of webinars and Expert SSIS – the next delivery is 10-12 Sep 2018 – that I deliver in cooperation with Brent Ozar Unlimited. Way different.

Delivering Online Training

Biml Academy wasn’t my only idea; it’s just the beginning.

I’m pleased to announce the availability of SSIS Academy!

Data Flows 1 Course

This course introduces the SSIS Data Flow Task and familiarizes the student with building introductory data integration solutions using SSIS. Data Flows 1 includes the following course units, in order:

Lecture: Data Flows 1
Demo: Building Your First SSIS Package
Lab Exercise: Build a Real Data Flow, Part 1
Final Quiz

There’s even a certificate if you complete the course (click to enlarge):

Check out Data Flows 1 and let me know what you think.

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Learn More:
Free Webinar – Use SSIS Catalog Compare to Lift and Shift SSIS to ADF – Thursday, 19 Jul 2018 at noon EDT
Biml Academy – Using Biml to Build a Target Database

My Learning Resources for SSIS

People often ask me, “Andy, where can I learn SSIS or learn more about it?” Well, you’re at one such location – my blog! I’ve been blogging about SSIS for about 10 years as I type this. There’s a lot posts here about SSIS – that’s the good news. The bad news is: There’s a lot of posts here about SSIS.

Some other places you can learn about SSIS from me:

I hope to see you at one of these events. If you read this blog, come up and introduce yourself. I’m the fat guy with a braided beard!

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Free Webinar: Introduction to Biml – 22 Feb 2018

Join me Thursday 22 Feb 2018 at noon ET for Introduction to Biml – a free webinar from Biml Academy.

Abstract:
Join Biml and SSIS author Andy Leonard as he presents Introduction to Biml! In this webinar, Andy covers the following topics:
– Code your first Biml file in BimlExpress (free!)
– Use BimlScript to automate SSIS generation
– Use BimlOnline to “Biml-ize” your SSIS

I hope to see you there.

Missed it? View the recording!

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Want more Biml and SSIS training? Check this out!

Expert SSIS Training (Live, Online, 2.5 Days) – 5-7 Mar 2018
IESSIS1: Immersion Event on Learning SQL Server Integration Services – 7-11 May 2-18, Chicago