I had the extreme pleasure of attending the SSAS Workshop by PragmaticWorks this week, which was a two-day session with a bonus third day entirely focused on Denali (Expedition Denali). Brian Knight (blog | @brianknight), Dustin Ryan (blog | @SQLDusty) and Lonnie Mejia (LinkedIn) were on site at the Microsoft Southwest District office in Tempe, AZ which has a beautiful view of Tempe Town Lake.
I have only had a little exposure to SQL Server Analysis Services before this and from what I have learned I do know that our own data warehouse group could significantly benefit from this workshop. I am not mocking them whatsoever, but I am saying some processes could be handled differently. For example cube updates. Instead of providing me the entire visual studio solution they can easily provide me a XMLA script which I can use in SSMS to deploy the dimension update. Things like this I never knew, so this was a real eye opener for me and gives me the needed ammo to fight with our developers. Kidding! It does however allow me to extend my freshly acquired knowledge to that group in a non-confrontational way of course (fingers crossed behind back).
Business intelligence has a warm place in my heart and the time I did spend developing reports was exciting. To be honest I would love nothing more than to be able to go from zero to data warehouse to SSAS slice and dice to full publish on reporting services, sharepoint, etc… in a week or so. I believe as a DBA that would be a valuable skill-set to have under my belt. This course is my step towards that direction.
There is no doubt that this workshop packs in a lot of information. The two days are literally bursting at the seams with information but this is definitely a MUST for those looking to get into the SSAS world. The PragmaticWorks staff really demystified SSAS. Their lectures and labs are delivered in such a manner that it is really easy to keep up with the pace. Throughout the course you are walked through the process of setting up an SSAS project all the way through creating cubes, dimensions, mining structures, roles and everything in between. The price of the course is a bargain given everything you walk away with.
I think the most action came towards the ending of day two. The room was divided down the middle and the groups were paired against each other to build an SSAS project from start to finish following a set of requirements. Then you needed to create a report in either reporting services or excel based on the cube we published. Everyone participated either by being the designated drivers (at the computer), yelling out the requirements, providing assistance and so on. It was intense! I must mention that “Team Dustin” my group WON the challenge against “Team Brian”. Better luck next time Brian! We literally beat them by 1-2 seconds at best. Nonetheless a fantastic method to illustrate not only what we had learned but more importantly what we had retained. If you get the opportunity to attend this workshop I would highly recommend it. You will not be sorry!
Expedition Denali (Day 3) was very exceptional. I have not touched Denali at all but from what Roger Doherty (blog | @Doherty100) and Brian Knight were covering and demoing I cannot wait till RTM. I would totally spill the beans because there are so many very cool and sexy things coming… but their “body-guard/new sales guy” Lonnie is a pretty big guy so I will refrain. Here he is working through the demo.
Before I just dive in and tell you why I want to win the free seat offer for the (5-day Internals and Performance class in Dallas) from the folks at SQLSkills I want to take the opportunity to provide a little history first to help paint a picture.
So here I go…
I was handed the responsibilities of managing and maintaining our CMMS and WorkOrder management systems which is how I started working with databases. Prior to that I had zero experience. In a nutshell I had no idea where to start or what to do, let alone understand the ways to ensure if it was even functioning properly.
Most of my education and mentoring came from working with our vendors. Our company really valued consultants for their technical abilities and knowledge. Being the novice that I was (for the most part still am) I took everything they said and did as gold.
I supported the databases on a regular basis, monitored replication using Replication Monitor, removed and subscribed the subscribers and extracted data from subscriptions that had expired. I even scheduled my backups, tested backups, granted permissions to other staff so they could use Replication Monitor and developed and published reports using Reporting Services. At this point I was felling pretty good. The data was available to my client base, I scheduled my updates to limit the down time and things were going smooth. I even transitioned the servers and subscribers (about 200+ subscribers) from SQL Server 2000 to 2005 which made an incredible difference in terms of initial snapshot delivery and synchronization.
One day an opportunity came up with the vendor and I was offered the job. Now I was feeling great, confident and most importantly I felt like a DBA. I was catapolted into a started project and things were looking great. Project after project I am implementing SQL Server 2005, setting up replication, setting up my subscribers and developing business intelligence reports using SSRS.
Reality rears it’s ugly little head
Then I joined a few social networking sites (twitter being one of them). Took on the handle @sqlsamson. Then as I started to rub virtual elbows with people in the online community and I quickly realized that I had no right to assume the moniker @sqlsamson. I cannot place myself at the ranks of people such as: @MrDenny, @BrentO, @SQLRockstar (just to name a few) and literally several others. Through simple tweets and blog reading I found that I barely scratched the surface and quite frankly they opened my eyes to a world I have never been apart of.
Sounds of change
So I took a step back, decided to drop the SQL from the name and switched to @just_samson. I saw this as an opportunity to make things right. I have discovered so much in such a short period of time. It’s amazing, the more I know the better I will be. I want to be a SQL DBA and that’s my focus. I love what I do, but I owe it to my clients to ensure that I am exercising all avenues to keep the database running at its optimal performance. This means reviewing and revising our current database structure and most importantly revising our practices to make the necessary changes for the better going forward. The SQLSkills Immersion Event ties into this perfectly.
If I win… it will be a huge step into the right direction and would help propel me towards my goal of being a real SQL DBA.