Whew!!! This has been a completely stellar year for the Omaha SQL/BI User group!!
December 2011 marks our 4th year of the Omaha SQL/BI group and I thought that it would make for a great post to talk about some of our high lights for 2011. Plus, I’m actually out on vacation so I thought that this would be a great post to schedule for the week that I’m gone.
First and foremost, a HUGE thanks goes out to all of the members who attend our regular meetings. This group wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for you. Another thanks goes out to all of the speakers and sponsors. You guys are definitely a critical success factor for this group and like we expected, you’ve knocked it out of the park!
Ok, let’s get to the good stuff!
Back in February, we had an issue with finding a speaker for our scheduled meeting so we decided to try something new. We let the members of the group become the speakers. Essentially, we sent out an email asking the members to bring us “their problems” and we’ll toss them out to the group and see what sticks. 20 minds is better than one right? We thought that this is something new and different and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll just adjust and move on.
Holy smokes, was it ever a success!! We had 20 people show up, not really knowing what to expect. I kicked off the meeting by just standing up front with a white board, a marker and a desire to help people. I had people just start to randomly shout out the topic of their issue, such as XML, Encryption, SSIS issue, etc. As the topics came to light, I would write them on the board. Once everybody had voiced their topic of choice, I randomly picked on people to choose the next topic. When their topic of choice was selected, the member had to tell the story and then everybody in the group was able to voice suggestions, ideas, and solutions.
Before we knew it, 2.5 hours had literally flown by and it was time to wrap up. It was epic!! We had such good feed back that we are thinking of doing this type of meeting at least once a year.
In June, we had Rob Shradar, Vice President of Technology for Home Instead, Inc. give an excellent talk around BI and how important data is becoming in the work place. I’m mentioning this because I think Rob is an excellent speaker and he has a way to capture the audience. Actually, I think that he could talk to you about your pet rock and it would be interesting.
We had a number of great comments about Rob’s talk. Even though he doesn’t work with the technology on a day to day basis, he still knows his concepts and relates very well to us geeky folk.
Fast forward to August. In the midst of planning our usual user meetings, we decided to host a SQL Saturday event in Omaha. August 27th was going to be the magical day and we only had about 90 days to pull it altogether. We got lucky in that we had a great team of 8 individuals who were willing to volunteer their own time to plan this thing.
This was a first for the Omaha area and it was awesome! We had a few minor glitches here and there, but we took it all in stride and made notes for our next go around. 29 sessions , 178 attendees, a ton of swag and about 9 hours later, we had an awesome event! A lot of excellent learning going on and we got a lot of excellent feedback. Thanks to those that attended and made this event the success that it was!
In September we had some very special people in the Omaha area doing some training and they readily agreed to host a special meeting for us. So Paul Randal (B|T) and Kimberly Tripp (B|T) did a presentation on “Database Health & Maintenance” and it was awesome!
Side Note: If you have never seen either of these two talk, go. Find a way. Watching them present makes me tired and if there is a white board there, odds are you’ll see it go down in flames.
It’s not often that we get this caliber of people into the Omaha area and I was very happy that we were able to capitalize on this opportunity. I am going to try to get them back to the area next year somehow, but we’ll see how the schedule pans out.
In October we came back to our regularly scheduled meeting. This meeting was another first for us as we hosted a live meeting with the awesome Brent Ozar (B|T). Brent did his presentation on “Virtualization and SAN Basics for Database Administrators” and it was very well received. We also had a web cam setup for Brent so that he could at least see the audience and have some interaction with the group. I can’t imagine doing a presentation like that without being able to see/react to the group so I was very glad that all worked out.
Side Note: If you haven’t seen Brent give one of his presentations, add it to your bucket list. He’s one of the best technical presenters that I’ve seen and most of the time he doesn’t even crack open a demo. That’s impressive in my book.
In December, Bill Graziano (B|T) was gracious enough to come visit us. At the end of October, I was honored to be selected to speak at the Kansas City SQL Saturday. At the speaker dinner, I happened to get into a conversation with Bill and was able to persuade him to make the 2.5 hours drive up to Omaha for our 4th year anniversary meeting!
I wasn’t able to make it to the meeting since it was yesterday and I’m still out on vacation, but knowing Bill, it was an awesome meeting and I’m sure that some candy bars were probably given out. 😉
Oh yea, Bill is another outstanding speaker that you should definitely hear at some point in your career. He’s also the 2012 President of PASS so it’s a very distinct honor that he was able to find time for us here in Omaha. If you ever get a chance to talk to him face to face, tell him Thanks for the work that he and all the others at PASS Headquarters do because they make all of these events (SQL Saturday, SQL Rally, SQL PASS, etc) happen.
Looking To The Future..
Now that another year is over and done with, I look back and wonder how in God’s green earth are we going to top 2011. These past four years has been an absolute incredible journey for both myself and the Omaha SQL/BI User group.
So, for 2012, can we do better than. . .
- A Vice President of Technology
- A SQL Saturday
- A couple of world renowned SQL Server experts
- A Microsoft Certified Master (MCM)
- A 2012 President of PASS
and the answer is Yup!
While I think that it’s going to be tough to top, I look forward to the upcoming year and the possibilities that it holds. I think that we just might have some tricks up our sleeves. . .but I won’t tell!