Thursday, January 31, 2008

Taking off the BI Hat, Putting on the Toque

You probably already know that I'm going to be presenting three SQL Server sessions at next week's MCT Summit event in Redmond, Washington. But now I'm going to take off my BI hat and put on my Toque. That's "chef's hat" for those of you who may not follow the culinary world as closely as you follow the world of database.

Why would I do this, you ask?

Because I'm going to be presenting a surprise fourth session next week as well:

Test your Metal – Software Architecture Case Study – TechEd Iron Architect
MCT Matthew Roche won Microsoft's Iron Architect contest, defeating all competitors in a head-to-head battle of software architecture and design. In this session Matthew will present his winning solution along with the decisions and thought processes that went into his final design. Attendees will participate in an interactive discussion of software architecture, how to incorporate architectural topics and themes into developer classes, and perhaps how to become the next Iron Architect themselves.

Sound like fun? The Iron Architect contest was one part Iron Chef, one part American Idol, and one part architecture. If you're a developer-focused MCT who is interested in deeper architectural topics, I hope I'll see you in this session. I'm hoping to make it as interactive and dynamic as possible, and I know that it will be a lot of fun.

And the octopus ice cream will be delicious!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Reminder: MCT Summit Redmond is Next Week!

Don't forget - The final MCT Summit conference of 2008 is taking place next week in Redmond, Washington, USA. I'll be there presenting the same three sessions I presented a few weeks back in Berlin, Germany:
  • New Features in SQL Server 2008 for Database Developers
  • New Features in SQL Server 2008 for Business Intelligence Developers
  • So You Want to Be a SQL Server MCT? Jumping into the Deep End with SQL Server 2008

And as an added bonus, there is a possibility that I will also be delivering a SQL Server Integration Services "deep dive" session for trainers who deliver MOC courses 2792 and 2795. This "bonus session" isn't yet confirmed, but I think it would be a great opportunity to speak with trainers who are delivering these SSIS courses and who are looking for hard-earned insight and real-world experience on SQL Server Integration Services.

So if you're an MCT based in (or near) North America, be sure you don't miss this event!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Katmai "Delay" Announced

Francois Ajenstat posted on his blog yesterday that the roadmap for SQL Server 2008 is being "revised." Here's the meat:
"Microsoft is excited to deliver a feature complete CTP during the Heroes Happen Here launch wave and a release candidate (RC) in Q2 calendar year 2008, with final Release to manufacturing (RTM) of SQL Server 2008 expected in Q3. "

To translate that into English, there will be a feature complete preview available probably in late February or early March, and the final product will ship at some point after the end of June.

I've seen several people acting surprised, alarmed and/or disappointed by this announcement, and complaining that this makes the Heroes Happen Here launch event seem somewhat silly. But why should we be surprised or disappointed? Remember the "Ready" launch event that Microsoft had for SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006? One event, but with only two products actually shipping. It was (like the Heroes Happen Here launch event is) a Marketing Launch, not a product launch. And I, for one, am happy.

Why should I be happy? Because if the product groups were forced by marketing to coordinate their RTM dates around some arbitrary marketing event, then we'd have whatever happened to be ready at the moment, and not the best quality product possible. Which would you rather have?

To be honest, I'm tempted to draw parallels between this delay announcement and the blog fallout to the various delays that took place during the recording and release of Manowar's latest studio album Gods of War. We all wanted the album now (and some of us wanted it years ago ;-) but the band waited until the album was ready, and it showed in the quality of the final product.[1] I've long claimed that Microsoft SQL Server is the Manowar of relational database management systems (I cannot think of higher praise to offer here) and here we have one (slightly skewed, but still valid) example of why I believe this to be true.

Bring on the CTP, and we'll be ready for RTM when it's ready for us.

[1] Except, of course, for the horrible bonus track. I like to think of this as Manowar's version of the SSIS .NET API documentation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Running Side by Side

SQL Server Integration Services team member Matt Masson posted two excellent posts (including one dedicated to the new "SuperDump" feature we've all been waiting for) on his blog yesterday related to new features and functionality in SSIS in SQL Server 2008. You should definitely check out the details (I won't try to reproduce them here) but there is one bit of news that put a huge smile on my face:

"The next Katmai CTP will introduce Visual Studio 2008 as our Business Intelligence Design Studio. This doesn't change much functionally, but does allow for side by side installations of BIDS - meaning you can edit Yukon packages (with Visual Studio 2005) and Katmai packages (with Visual Studio 2008) on the same machine."

If you're an early adopter who doesn't like virtual machines (call me old fashioned) and who doesn't like lugging around that second laptop all the time (call me wimpy) this is a a big step in the right direction. Today (with CTP5) you cannot run SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 on the same computer and work with BI projects in Visual Studio for both 2005 and 2008. The database engine components run side by side just fine, but we BI people have been somewhat out of luck to date. There's no official word on just when CTP6 will be publicly available, but now we have something extra to look forward to...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

MCT Summit Event Follow-Up

I've just returned from a whirlwind trip to Berlin, Germany, where I was presenting at the 2008 MCT Summit conference that Microsoft organized for the worldwide Microsoft Certified Trainer community. Despite the fact that I had a 24-hour day yesterday getting home to New York, and this on the tail of a very active and very fun trip that involved very little sleep[1], I am still feeling incredibly energized - this was a great event!

Why am I so energized?
  1. The MCT community itself - I've been an MCT for over 11 years now[2] but I have never been surrounded by so many trainers at once. There were over 400 MCTs at the event, from 58 different countries, and although I didn't get to meet each of them, I did get to speak to them all (more on that later) and it was an absolute adrenaline rush. Besides, I got to meet a lot of European friends I don't get to see very often, and meet new friends as well. I love being an MCT!
  2. My scheduled presentations - The three SQL Server 2008 sessions that I delivered were all very well received. I had around 100 people attending my first two sessions and probably 150 in the third and final session, and had an amazing time interacting with each crowd. Keep in mind that everyone attending each of these sessions is used to being up on the stage himself (or herself!) so I wasn't sure quite what to expect, but it was wonderful all around. My final session was targeted at MCTs who do not currently teach SQL Server classes (I don't know if I was trying to scare them off or encourage them - both are probably appropriate) but there were many existing SQL Server trainers in the crowd as well. It was a riot. We covered 75 days worth of SQL Server content in 75 minutes, and had a great time doing it as well.
  3. My surprise presentation - I have been working in the evenings[3] for the past week or two on a proof of concept SharePoint portal for the worldwide MCT community so that trainers can have better tools to help support each other in many different ways. I've been doing this work as part of my role on Microsoft's MCT Advisory Council, and had spoken to the conference organizers about getting a few minutes during the keynote address to present the portal to the assembled MCTs both to let them know what we were working on and to elicit critical feedback. Everyone agreed that this was a good idea, but the schedule was planned weeks in advance and no one was sure where my presentation would fit in. So imagine my surprise when Tjeerd Veninga, the person responsible for the Berlin summit, announced that the next speaker, Matthew Roche, was going to demonstrate a new MCT Community Portal web site... I just wish that I could have seen my face. ;-) But how often do you get the chance to address a hall full of 400+ professional trainers and a bunch of senior people from Microsoft? How could I resist? So onto the stage I went, and despite the fact that I had no demo, no slides and nothing but a microphone, it went very well. The amount of positive feedback and support that I received from the assembled masses was nothing short of phenomenal. Over the next day I had dozens of MCTs seek me out to ask how they could help, how they could volunteer, all for the benefit of the community at large.
    Now do you see why I love being an MCT?
  4. My family - I love to travel, but I hate being away from home. And now I'm home with my wonderful wife and children. What could be better?
  5. My music - I'm brutally jet-lagged, but am forcing myself to get up and stay up in order to re-acclimate to New York time, instead of sleeping all day, which is what my body really wants to do. So I have Manowar cranked up as loud as it will go, filling my home office (and probably the rest of the house) with the most powerful music in the world. It will get me through the day, and then my body will be caught up with the fact that I'm home again.

And remember! The Berlin event was simply the first of five MCT Summits taking place early this year. There are events all over the world (this link will prompt you to log in as an MCT, so if you're not an MCT, you're out of luck here) in the weeks ahead:

  • Singapore
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Redmond, Washington, United States
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
I won't be at all of these events (I have a family and a full-time job, you see) but I will be delivering the same three SQL Server sessions I delivered this week in Berlin. If you're an MCT based in the US, this is going to be a great event that you do not want to miss. I'll see you in Redmond!

[1] Just in case you have yet to learn this lesson yourself, never go out drinking with your Swedish friends the night before you have three technical sessions to present. Trust me.
[2] And yes, I'm still watching the mail every day, Mike! ;-)
[3] This is on top of all of the other work I've been doing in the evenings. Someone needs to invent a longer day... (NSFW:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

You know you travel too much when...

...when the airport personnel come up and say "Hi Matthew, how are you doing - where are you going today?" when you're sitting in the airport waiting for your flight.

Of course it probably doesn't hurt to have a smaller airport as your home base, and it definitely doesn't hurt to have airline personnel as wonderful as the Delta crew are here at SYR, but it still always blows my mind when they go out of their way to greet me by name.

Back to the Glory of Germany!

If you're a Manowar fan, you know the lyrics to the song "Blood of the Kings" by heart:
"Our armies in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
Our brothers in Belgium, Holland and France will not fail
Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy
Switzerland, Austria, back to the Glory of Germany"

Well, I don't get to visit all of these other countries right now, but I am off today flying to Berlin Germany to present three SQL Server 2008 sessions at the Microsoft MCT Summit event.[1] This is the premier annual technical conference for Microsoft Certified Trainers, and I feel very honored to be involved. According to the attendance numbers I was given a early in the week, I have around 100 people registered for each of these sessions:
  • What's new in SQL Server 2008 for Database Developers
  • What's new in SQL Server 2008 for Business Intelligence Developers
  • So you want to be a SQL Server MCT? Jumping into the Deep End with SQL Server 2008

That last session is the one that I'm looking forward to the most, and is also the one with the most attendees signed up. I've been training people on SQL Server for over ten years now, and have loved every minute of it. There are so many talented trainers out there who teach Windows admin and Exchange Server and SMS and .NET Development and so on whose lives could be wonderfully enriched by exposure to SQL Server. And I get to help open their eyes to the beauty of SQL. What could be more fun? [2]

Of course, I'm also going to have an audience comprised completely of professional trainers. That's both exciting and slightly disquieting. I hope they're all better students than I am.

And remember - if you can't meet me in Berlin, the North American Summit event is scheduled for the first week in February in Redmond. If you're an MCT, you don't want to miss this!

[1] Believe it or not, this is the first time I've traveled to Germany for business. I've been there three times in the last few years, but each time has been to see Manowar in concert. Traveling to Germany for Microsoft instead will be an interesting change. Quieter. ;-)
[2] Going to a Manowar concert. Yes, that's exactly correct!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Who's Your Hero?

Hi mom![1]

Although 2007 was an amazing year for me, 2008 is already shaping up to be even more interesting and exciting year than the one we've just finished. I'm already scheduled to speak at the Microsoft MCT Summit events in Berlin (my goodness - that's just next week!) and Redmond, and at the SQL Connections conference in Orlando. And now I've been invited to speak at the local SQL Server 2008 launch event here in Syracuse. The Heroes {Community} Launch[2] is a worldwide series of local launch events being delivered by community technical champions and user groups. I always love presenting to local audiences (that whole "not traveling" thing is a big plus) and being involved in this massive product launch should be lots of fun. So plan on being at the CNY Developers user group meeting on March 12th.

And no matter which launch event you attend, you should make sure that you keep your eyes open and pay attention to the print materials and the video screens. You never know - you might just see your favorite SSIS blogger, wearing his favorite Manowar "Sign of the Hammer" t-shirt... ;-)

[1] I recently learned that my mother reads my blog. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it makes me smile whenever I think about it anyway.
[2] Yes, Microsoft is really using those {curly braces} in all of their launch material. My guess is that some insightful marketing person thought it looked more technical. Don't even get me started on my theory of where the ".NET" brand came from...