SQLBits XI Summary

So, another SQLBits is over. After the London event last year, we (ie the SQLBits Committee, which I’m a member of) decided to scale things back a bit and return to a more manageable, friendly size, and to concentrate more on making the conference fun to attend. That’s not to say we didn’t want to maintain our high standards regarding content – and yet again we had some great sessions from world-class speakers – but a conference isn’t just about the presentations, it’s also about networking, meeting people face-to-face that you’ve only had contact with online, and having a few beers to facilitate this. As SQL Server professionals we’re a lot better off as part of a wider community: in terms of our technical knowledge, in terms of who we know to ask for help when we hit a problem, in terms of finding our next job, and in many other ways. I hope SQLBits does its bit to help build that community.

You can see what people are saying about SQLBits by following @SQLBits and searching for the #SQLBits hashtag on Twitter, and liking the SQLBits Facebook page; there are some eye-popping photos there, not to mention a video of my performance in the pie-eating competition. If you were there and you’ve got more photos and videos, please share them!

It only remains for me to thank the rest of the committee, Simon, Martin, JRJ, Darren, Chris T-O, Tim and Allan; our team of helpers, ably led by Annette; Helen, for her work on the party and merchandising; our sponsors; our speakers; and of course everyone who attended and made this the best SQLBits so far. I know I always say that, but it really is true.

SQLBits XI Dates Announced

Yesterday, the SQLBits Committee (which I’m a member of) announced the dates for SQLBits XI: it will be taking place on May 2nd-4th 2013 at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham, UK. SQLBits is, of course, Europe’s biggest SQL Server conference and the second-biggest dedicated SQL Server conference in the world, and we attract attendees from all over the world. Apart from top-notch sessions from the world’s leading SQL Server experts you can also expect to have a lot of fun: at previous events attendees have had the chance to groove with the Beatles (well, ok, maybe they were just pretending to be the Beatles), play darts with professionals and hang out with Steve Wozniak (the real one). You should come! To find out more, keep an eye on http://sqlbits.com/

SQLBits X Summary

SQLBits X finished over a week ago and so it seems a bit late to be blogging about it. To be honest, though, I needed that week to recover from the conference, a cold I picked up the day before it started, and all of the other work-related stress that’s been building up over the last few months.

So, the obligatory bit of reportage. SQLBits X was indeed as big as we were hoping and behind the scenes everything went surprisingly smoothly; I guess after nine previous events we must have learned something about running a tech conference! I don’t know what the official numbers are but we packed 1400 swag bags on the Wednesday afternoon before it all started in a five-hour bag stuffing marathon, and on the Saturday evening we only had about 100 or so left, so that makes it easily 50% larger than any other SQLBits. We had a great line-up of speakers including a large number of international SQL celebrities, more than we’ve ever had before, and the parties on Thursday and Friday night were well-attended and more importantly good fun.  I don’t know how SQLBits could get any better except by getting bigger and offering even more of the same, although if we did get bigger it would probably end up killing a lot of what makes SQLBits special and push us beyond the limits of what an amateur organisation can cope with. My thanks go out to my fellow committee members Simon Sabin, Allan Mitchell, Martin Bell, James Rowland-Jones, Darren Green, Chris Testa-O’Neill, Tim Kent and Christian Bolton, as well as all of the team of helpers who gave up their time free of charge including Annette Allan, Helen Lau, and many others.

SQLBits X Agenda Published

The agenda for the Friday and Saturday of SQLBits X is now published, and you can see it here:

If you were wondering whether to come hopefully this will make up your mind – but given that almost 1000 SQL Server professionals from all round the world have already registered, so you’d better book fast if you want to be sure of a space. There are loads of SSAS-related sessions to choose from, including ones from Cathy Dumas, Marco Russo, Alberto Ferrari, John Tunnicliffe, Erika Bakse, Akshai Mirchandani, Stephan Stolze, Bob Duffy and, errr, me. Trust me, it’s going to be great!

SQLBits X–Registration Now Open

This is just a quick post to tell you that registration for the 10th SQLBits conference, SQLBits X, is now open. It’s going to be taking place in London, UK, on March 29th-31st 2012. It’s also going to be the official launch event for SQL Server 2012 and 50% bigger than any previous SQLBits! For more details see:

The agenda hasn’t been finalised (you’ll get to vote on the sessions you’d like to see first) but if you take a look at the sessions that have been submitted then you can see there’ll be a lot of famous SQL Server people presenting:

I can also reveal we’re working on having several prominent members of the SSAS dev team come over too…

We’ve already had 254 registrations from people all round the UK, Europe and indeed the world in the two days since registration opened, so don’t leave your registration too late!

SQLBits 9 Summary

Well I’ve just recovered from yet another SQLBits, and for some reason (probably the obscene amount of beer consumed – I don’t even want to think what the bar bill will be like) it needed a lot more recovering from than previous events. That only goes to show how much I enjoyed it though…! Everything went well in the end; I think part of what makes SQLBits what it is is the slightly shambolic nature of it and nothing ever goes completely to plan, but we had no major disasters and attendance was comparable with Brighton. In my opinion we had some of the strongest content we’ve  had for a long while: I particularly enjoyed Kasper’s session on Crescent and Alex’s session on comparing PowerPivot and Qlikview, plus the sessions from Jen on mobile BI and Marco on how Tabular will change how we model data. If you weren’t there, we recorded all the sessions as usual and they’ve be available in the content section of the site in a few weeks.

I’d like to thank my fellow organisers, and everyone who helped out during the conference, for making it such a success. One of the questions I always get asked about SQLBits is “Why do you do it?”. It is a lot of effort, but in the end it’s great fun too – not only do you get to learn stuff, but it’s an excuse for everyone in the SQL Server community to get together and have a drink and a chat. I’m looking forward to a few weeks off though before we have to start planning the next one…

In the meantime, don’t forget about SQLRelay this week. I’ll be speaking in Hatfield tomorrow night and there are events taking place all round the country too. And if you’d like to stay in touch with what’s happening in the world of SQLBits, why not join the SQLBits LinkedIn and Facebook groups and see what people are saying on Twitter about us.

SQLBits 9 Registration Now Open

Registration for SQLBits 9 opened today, although judging by the number of automatically generated emails in my inbox this evening this isn’t news to lots of you. While the options for the training day are available here, we haven’t yet published the agenda for the Friday or Saturday but if you look at the sessions that have been submitted you’ll see that we’ve got a great selection to choose from and you can be sure that we’ll have an extremely strong line-up.

It’s particularly encouraging to see so many people registering from outside the UK. SQLBits is already the second-largest SQL Server conference in the world, but we know there’s a massive untapped potential market in Europe of SQL Server people and it could get even bigger. So if you’re reading this in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, or Scandinavia, why not come over? You’ll have a lot of fun and who knows, you might even learn something useful!

SQLBits 9 – Liverpool, 29th September-1st October 2011

In case you haven’t heard already, the dates and venue for the next SQLBits have been announced. SQLBits 9, “Query Across the Mersey”, will be taking place at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool from 29th September to 1st October. More details are, as always, available at http://www.sqlbits.com/.

Session submission is open, so if you’d like to speak (and we welcome new speakers) check out http://www.sqlbits.com/information/SessionSubmission.aspx. You can take a look at the sessions already submitted here: http://www.sqlbits.com/information/PublicSessions.aspx

Hope to see you there!

Session recordings from SQLBits 8 and TechEd

The recordings of the sessions from the SQLBits 8 in Brighton are just starting to come online, so if you’re bored at work you may want to take a look at them here:

We’ve now got over 200 hours of great SQL Server video content on the site, including lots of SSAS-related sessions. It is, of course, free to view and download with no registration required…

Similarly, the session recordings for TechEd are also available, and again there’s lots of interesting BI content there too. If you’re interested in learning more about the future of SSAS and BISM, the session on “What’s new in Denali for Analysis Services and PowerPivot” is a must-see.

SQLBits 8

I’m tired, I’ve got a huge backlog of work, I’ve got approximately 3000 SQLCat branded strawberry-flavoured rock sweets in my garage, and thankfully I have no 2-hour conf call planned for tomorrow night. Yes, SQLBits 8 has now been and gone – and if you weren’t there, you missed the best SQLBits yet!

Undoubtedly the highlight for me was getting up on stage to introduce Steve Wozniak at SQLBits Insight on Thursday. I still can’t really believe he came but he did, he hung around and he seemed to enjoy himself. His wife even came down to the registration desk to ask for a SQLBits goody bag for him to take home, as a memento of his trip. The thought of the great man drinking his coffee from a SQLBits mug is beyond strange…

Apart from that brush with celebrity this was definitely the most fun event we’ve done so far. The glorious weather and the location right by the beach in Brighton couldn’t have been a bigger contrast with York in the rain last autumn; and unlike a lot of conferences I’ve been to where the parties feel a bit like school discos, with everyone standing round at the side looking self-conscious, everyone at SQLBits seemed to be having a really good time (the copious free booze probably helped to break the ice). And don’t just take my word for it, read blog posts from other people who were there like Ashley Burton, Richard Back, Per Hejndorf, Sascha Lorenz and many others. Jamie Thomson also did his roving reporter thing again and caught some great moments, including Allan Mitchell holding forth on coffee, plus some technical nuggets that do an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the event.

Anyway, I’d like to finish off by thanking my friends and colleagues on the committee and everyone who came for making it such a great three days. I hope to see you at the next one, whenever and wherever that might be!

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