SQLSaturday in Boston offered a variety of sessions on key concepts and trends on virtualization and data architecture. Here’s what we learned.

As a consultant for Centric Consulting’s Boston team, who works on business analyst projects and is very interested in the “plumbing” and utility of data, I thought SQLSaturday would be a great learning opportunity.

So I attended the Boston event on September 22, 2018. For those of you who have never heard of SQLSaturday, it is a free training event for data professionals to learn more about SQL Server and related Microsoft data tools.

Now to be upfront, I know very little about SQL. I have done some Codeacademy SQL courses but that is about it, so I was little nervous about looking clueless when the sessions got underway.

SQLSaturday Lessons

However, after attending a variety of sessions I learned some key concepts and trends on virtualization and data architecture:

1. Share nothing design –

By using a Massive Parallel Processing architecture, you can slice your data into separate data stores (A-G, H-N, etc), which increases the speed of a query, instead of having to search A-Z using a standard symmetric multi-processing system.

Polybase was another interesting capability, which allows multi-threaded ingestion of data. Rather than having to query data using one control node, you can essentially skip the control node to speed up your queries.

2. On-prem versus cloud –

At first, I thought on-prem was some kind of secret acronym that I wasn’t privy to as a non-SQL expert. But after hearing it multiple times, I figured it out that “on-prem” is short for “on-premise” or on-site data storage.

The overwhelming trend is that as cloud storage gets cheaper and easier to manage, more and more organizations are moving to the cloud. The difficulty in finding qualified talent to manage on-prem storage applications also appears to be a catalyst in bolstering the cloud.

3. Security is paramount –

With the endless news cycle of hackings and data breaches, security is a huge concern to Microsoft and its vendors.

  • VMware’s keynote address heavily promoted “app defense technology” and going from reactive to proactive defense by using security at the compute level and a behavioral database to recognize security threats.
  • Redgate also held a promotional session to market their provisioning software, which anonymizes production data in case of a data breach.

4. Just enough design upfront –

In a session on writing effective User Stories, the concept of just enough design upfront was mentioned. I found that intriguing because this concept is a delicate balancing act, especially in agile software development.

Too much architectural design upfront can result in a useless functional product for the end user when it is finally deployed (as user habits change frequently). But too little design upfront can lead to a product that is not functional given that there’s not enough guiding vision to see it through to completion.

Just enough design upfront means to design as much as necessary to provide clarity and vision to the business requirements. Technical context is just as important as business context.

Final Thoughts

Overall it was a great event to learn about SQL, Azure, PowerBI, and some of the basics of data warehousing and data management.

If you are looking to attend SQLSaturday in your city, check their upcoming calendar and make sure to book your spot ahead of time as they fill up quickly.