SQL Relay became Data Relay 2018

SQL Relay became Data Relay 2018

It was very long and hard-working week (8.10-12.10). I was with my data-geek #SQLfamily and friends at the (SQL) Data Relay conference.
This is kind of log of that journey. Do expect various past and present tenses because I have written it during the event. Or wrote it icon-smile-o

Old-New conference

You’ve heard right: Data Relay. As a speaker I knew it before the conference began, but we have been asked to keep quiet until KeyNote time. Hence, SQL Relay has been transformed into Data Relay on 8/10/2018. Why? Simple reason. All the tools within the Microsoft Data Platform are not just about SQL-things anymore. There is Azure, PowerShell, Power BI, Azure Data Factory, Azure Data Analytics, U-SQL, Azure Databricks, Python, R, Spark. Even Java! Those days, old, worthy SQL is only a part of whole ecosystem we call Microsoft Data Platform. So, it’s what time to change the name and replace “SQL” with “Data”. Actually, our German friends have announced the same change recently.

My Role

I was at the conference for the entire week this year. Regardless weather I was speaking or not. If not – I was a volunteer. Data Relay just like SQL Saturday is a free event. No one pays for tickets, no one raises money. Such events needs volunteers. There are a lot of things that must be done before and after each day of conference at every venue in every city.
I have submitted a few session months before and happily, I was selected to provide one topic in two cities: Newcastle (Monday), Leeds (Tuesday). Demo and slides in my GitHub repository.
For the rest of the week, I was helping as a volunteer to support and see how the conference runs behind the scenes.

Monday: Newcastle

I arrived in Newcastle on Sunday evening. I’ve seen only part of the city but I like it already. I must come back soon. Quick sleep at Hilton Hotel (I do not recommend that one as the standard of room was below my expectations for Hilton). In the morning I ate the most expensive breakfast in my life as £20 for scrabble-eggs is so far ridiculous.
Then we started preparing the venue. I had a session that day, but having I was in the last slot – so had plenty of time to (polish) and double-check the presentation. I had about 30 attendees in my session, which is not huge a number, but what was even more important for me – was the fact that they (almost) all had never used SSDT.
After my session was the raffle and after that we packed up any remaining stuff into the bus heading to next stop: Leeds.
For the dinner, I joined the rest of the team and we went out to Fazenda. Paul [T] advised me about the huge quantities of meat severed at restaurant. I was hungry and it all looked very good. Paul told me they serve around 20 different types of grilled meat, so basically, you should not eat anything 24h before and you’ll not be able to eat 24 hours after feast.
He was right. After you put some salads onto a plate – the waiters were coming to you constantly and they were cutting or putting portions of specific meat directly onto your plate. Do I have to say that the meat was absolutely incredibly amazing?


Tuesday: Leeds

Like yesterday – my session was in the last slot. That day I had full room of people (circa 60) and the topic was new for more of them. They have many questions during the session as well as after it. Everything went smoothly, attendees ware very happy – so me too.
Time to get in to the bus and head to Birmingham. I can truly recommend a hotel where I stayed at, which is: Park Regis Birmingham. Very kind service, nice restaurant area and good breakfast and more important – a very comfortable room with big table to work at and a big bathroom. Ahh… almost forgot – view from 12nd floor was beautiful, especially at 7 am when sun is rising.

During the day I have saw the following sessions:

  • Stijn Wynants – Migrating to Azure Managed Instances!
  • Barney Lawrence – Temporal Tables in the Data Warehouse
  • Marek Jablonski – Azure Database Performance
  • Craig Porteous – PowerBI and PowerShell. A match made in Heaven

Wednesday: Birmingham

I’m waiting for my next guest and we will be recording future episode of @SQLPlayer podcast, here in #DataRelay venue in Birmingham.

Today’s venue is located in (centre) of Birmingham – at the ODEON Luxe Cinema. This contains 12 rooms (screens) where 4 of them were pretty big. I’m sad I didn’t get to present here – it would have been quiet a nice experience. The speakers haven’t even use ZoomIt during their presentations. Working as a helper I don’t have to present any session. Anyway, I confirmed an interview with a new guest of the “Ask SQL Family” podcast. The new episode will be recorded this evening. I can’t tell you with who, obviously.
Ohhh… The rooms in the cinema were wonderful for another reason: for me it was first time I’d seen such comfortable chairs in a cinema. Fully leather, folding table and fully reclining, I could have easily fallen asleep in there.
After the closing session we got onto the bus and headed to Reading.

During the day I have saw the following sessions:

  • Richard Munn – Patterns and Best Practices in SSIS
  • Arun Sirpal – A Whirlwind Tour Of Azure SQLDB
  • Simon Whiteley – Python Pipeline Primer: Data Engineering with Azure DataBricks
  • Paul Andrew – Azure Data Factory v2 – SSIS Data Flows & Custom Extensibility

Thursday: Reading

We had a nice venue in Reading which was a Microsoft building in Thames Valley Park.
After lunch I had a chat with another #SQLFamily member and you’ll see this in a podcast in the next few months.

During the day I have saw the following sessions:

  • Tracy Boggiano – Intro to Query Store
  • Abhishek Narain – Building your Big Data and Advanced Analytics Pipeline on Azure using Azure Data Factory
  • Andrew Pruski – SQL Containers in the Cloud! An intro to running Docker in Azure

We had good time in the bus in the way to Bristol. Having beer and chatting with friends – time flies.
After we checked into The Bristol Hotel – we went out to Za-Za-Bazaar (all you can eat world buffet restaurant) for dinner. What a place! In this single restaurant you all the food you can imagine choosing from – you can eat whatever you want and only paying a fixed price for everything (excluding drinks).

Friday: Bristol

Today our venue for the conference was The Bristol Hotel – the same as where we stayed at. Some AV issues at the beginning didn’t stop us from a great event and final day.
Thank you all attendees, speakers and organizers. #sqlfamily see you next year!

During the day I have saw the following sessions:

  • Annette Allen – Developing SQL Code to keep your DBA happy
  • Alex Yates & Steph Locke – Live debate: Is data ops a thing?


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Kamil Nowinski
Kamil Nowinski 200 posts

Blogger, speaker. Data Platform MVP, MCSE. Senior Data Engineer & data geek. Member of Data Community Poland, co-organizer of SQLDay, Happy husband & father.

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