Data Events in Australia and New Zealand in early 2020

Over the course of the next few weeks there are some significant events taking place that reflect technologies on the Microsoft data platform and beyond.

Thursday 13th and 14th February will see Microsoft Ignite – The Tour Sydney

Saturday 15th February 2020 will see two events – focusing on Microsoft Business Applications

Power Platform Saturday Sydney

Power Platform Saturday Melbourne.

Both Power Platform events are entirely free.

Monday 17th February 202o sees the start of the Difinty conference in Auckland, New Zealand.

There’s quite a few high profile speakers that have traveled quite some distance to speak at this event – these are both members of the Microsoft Product teams and MVP’s

The Monday(17th February 2020) and Thursday(20th February 2020) are both dedicated to several workshops with the Tuesday and Wednesday being the main conference sessions

The conference is hosted by Reza Rad and Leila Etaati of Radacad – who are hosting the conference in #Auckland for the forth time.

Saturday 22nd February 2020 will see SQL Saturday Wellington taking place. This is a 100% free event and will see a lot of the speakers from the Difinity Conference traveling to give their time to benefit the community.

The day before (Friday 21st February 2020) will see SQL Saturday Wellington pre-conference events – and while these are paid training days they are substantially discounted and offer amazing value.

Later in the year will see SQL Saturday Brisbane taking place on Saturday 30th May 2020. This year they have an amazing venue that is right in the middle of the city and really convenient for public transport.

There’s a call-for-speakers currently open for the Brisbane event as well and some great sponsors lined up. You’ll need to get a PASS membership in order to submit – but that’s free and as an added bonus will give you access to some great educational content.

Later in the year we should see additional SQL Saturdays at

  • Auckland
  • Christchurch
  • Melbourne
  • Sydney
  • Perth

Keep your eye on the SQL Saturday website for these dates and if you are so inclined then submit a session in the call for speakers.

I’m looking forward to meeting many old friends at these events and hopefully making a few new ones too.

Have a great day.

Cheers

Martin.

Data Privacy – Playing your part

Tuesday 28th January 2020 was “Data Privacy Day 2020”

Some may refer to this as Data Protection Day, but it is really just a day to draw attention to privacy issues that exist around the use of digital data.

You can read more about this day here and here.

Ironically, on that day, I just happened to be investigating some privacy / security issues and I was reminded that some companies, individuals and even industry sectors that should be blatantly aware of the issues surrounding data privacy are either

  • Ignore of these issues
  • Playing ignorant
  • Thinking ‘it’ll never happen to me’
  • Not caring
  • putting profits above the protection of their clients.
  • All (or some of the above)

And there’s probably many more reasons that people are employing less than desirable practices to look after their data.

If you need more evidence you only have to look at the list of big global companies that have suffered data breaches of some kind in the last few years.

The damage caused by a data breach can be irreparable. Law suits may follow, reputations may be damaged, goodwill may be lost and that’ll soon be reflected in financial figures.

There are plenty of simple things that people can do to help keep their company’s (and their own) data safe. I’ll go into more details on these in later posts but initially I just wanted to start by saying (or rather reiterating) that security is everybody’s job.

Just because the word security is not in your job title does not mean you can get away with complacency.

If you see an issue – speak up. If you could suggest an improvement then speak up too. I get that there may be cultural barriers in some workplaces around these sort of things but good employers will remove these barriers and allow a physiologically safe workplace.

This is an amazingly cost effective way to help secure your environment.

A lack of data protection is not only causing embarrassment to the IT industry as whole but is costing individuals – who have trusted banks and other large institutions with their data – both time and money.

Nowadays, it is easy for a person to switch banks, insurance companies, airlines, phone / internet / TV provides or any other service provider really easily and that may have consequences for your employment.

So, whatever industry you are in I’d encourage you to play your own part – however small – in helping your company keep the data of their customers safe and secure.

Have a great day.

Cheers

Marty

Is NoSQL still a thing?

G’day,

Looking back, perhaps one of the (many) mistakes that I’ve made in my career was to initially ignore the N0SQL movement.

I’ve focused my career on Relational Database systems – predominantly Microsoft SQL Server – and so using a NoSQL database felt ‘wrong’, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the name itself – NoSQL – felt like the message was that the SQL language was in someway being “devalued” and ‘kicked to the kerb”

Secondly, the lack of transaction support in NoSQL databases also felt wrong. I assumed SQL implied relational.

I think now-a-days it’s probably better to think of SQL as simply a language to manipulate data (SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE etc). (Event if this is a deviation from the technical ANSI definition) Nearly all vendors have their own propriety extensions (Microsoft have T-SQL, Oracle have PL/SQL, Sybase also have T-SQL but it is diverging from the Microsoft language of the same name where it originally has its roots) and pure ANSI standard SQL is hard to find.

We see lots of database (relational or not) using derivatives of SQL.

We also see relational databases using non-relational functionality and non-relational databases starting to use relational functionality.

And so, both relational and non-relational have their place in today’s world and so I wonder how long the term NoSQL will continue to be used.

Quite sometime ago I started to look at CosmosDB – which a lot of people still talk about in 2020 as being the ‘new kid on the block’ – but it’s been evolving for 10 years now and is gaining a good foothold in the market.

If you’ve not seem it before it would be worth a look and although it shares some familiar terms with relational database it is not one and approaching it with the same mindset may land you in a mess – but once you start to get to grips with how it operates and the different models it employs I think it’ll start to grow on you.

Have a great day.

Cheers

Martin.

Moving to a Modern Microsoft Platform

Melbourne Event – Monday 17th June 2019 (Free – including lunch and prizes)

PASS, in conjunction with Microsoft, Intel and community leaders are offering free training on Moving to a Modern Microsoft Platform

In case you’ve never heard of PASS, they are a not profit organisation run by, and for, a diverse data community.

PASS (formerly known as The Professional Association of SQL Server) focuses on supporting data professionals throughout the world who use the Microsoft Data Platform.

You can read more about PASS on their site

Microsoft SQL Server has been around for some 25+ years and there is a major release coming up later this year – SQL Server 2019.

Another thing that is happening this year – in fact very soon – is that Microsoft SQL Server 2008 (which includes SQL Server 2008R2) is moving out of extended supported.

So, if you are using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 / 2008R2 you’ll need to prepare for SQL Server 2008 End of support

It’s 10 years since that version was released and it was one of the most popular with a lot of organisations still relying on keeping one of their prized business assets on the 2008 platform.

To ensure that organisations stay current and to help them with some of the options that are available, PASS, Microsoft and Intel have teamed up to bring users around the globe a free in-person event in many cities to provide advice, and support to ensure that they fully aware of all options to keep their users data safe, secure and highly available in an ever changing data-driven world.

The events throughout the world are listed here.

And if you would like to register for the Melbourne event – that will run in the CBD on Monday 17th June 2019 at

Telstra Customer Insights Centre
Level 1, 242 Exhibition Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Australia

then please head to the EventBrite page and Register for FREE – we’d love to see you there, learn about your pain points, priorities and talk through your next steps on your data-driven journey to keep your clients data safe, secure and highly available to provide the insight that a modern business needs.

They’ll be information sessions, hands-on-labs (if that’s your thing), expert instruction and of course prizes.

There’s no charge and lunch will be provided.

We look forward to meeting you!

Speaking at Events

G’day,

I recently got the opportunity to speak at the “PASS Marathon, The New World of Data Privacy”.

I had not spoken at a virtually event for quite some time and I’d forgotten how different it is to a live presentation.

There’s pros and cons to both live presentations and virtually presentations, but for me, the main difference is having audience interaction.

At a live event you are able to see the faces in the audience and constantly gauge how you feel things are going – and if appropriate change on the fly. You can also take questions ‘in real time’.

However, with a virtual event you get to ‘stay on script’ the entire time and just carry on, not really getting a gauge of how your presentation is ‘going down’.

I’d like to thank everybody who gave me feedback and take the opportunity to encourage viewers of such events to provide feedback – in as much detail as you feel comfortable with. For example if you didn’t like an element of the presentation then please say why (not just that you didn’t like it please) – this helps people to improve.

I’d additionally like to encourage audience members who have not spoken previously to consider doing so. If a virtual presentation is not the place to start for you, then consider heading along to a local SQL Saturday event – there’s always a call for speakers before hand.

There’s plenty of people to help you along on your presentation journey at these events and also in the wider SQL community.

These’s also a lot of online courses aimed at presenting and finding one of those might be a good starting point for you.

I hope to be viewing your presentation soon.

Have a great day.

Cheers

Martin

Azure Notebooks – a nice little tool.

Gday,

I’ve been playing with Azure notebooks lately and have found them invaluable as

  • A teaching aid
  • A test sandbox

I’ve been using Python code, and this means that I don’t have to install Python on the machine that I am working at.

It also means that anybody I am demonstrating my code to has only to open a web page that shows my Azure Notebook.

So – how do you get to Azure Notebooks I hear you ask.

Head along to https://notebooks.azure.com and log in with your Microsoft account.

Once there you’ll be able to start a new project

Give in a name, a URL and decide if you want to make this public or not

Create a Project and Share (if you want)

Start the Azure Project up

Start the Project up

Add a Notebook to the project

Add a Notebook

Choose the language, R and Python are available – but also F#

Choose the language for the Azure Notebook.

And then have fun!

I’d really love to see more languages added in the future. These notebooks have potential – on many levels – and they are also FREE!

Have a great day!

Cheers

Marty.

A lack of foreign keys – a bad culture example.

G’day,

One of the things that I’ve been seeing more often than I would like to lately is large databases with no foreign keys – or minimal foreign keys (and often with those minimal set of keys disabled)

By large databases I’m roughly meaning databases with several hundred tables, and I usually see a lot of these tables with several hundred GB’s of data in them.

When I generally ask about the reason for no foreign key, I’m told

  1. they add  overhead
  2. they give no benefit
  3. we can’t enter our data properly when we have them

The last one in the above list is generally down to poor modelling – an example being entering a later part of a financial transaction before the first part of the financial transaction has taken place. Once both parts of the financial transaction have taken place then the database is left in a consistent state – BUT, that generally being handled by the app NOT the database – OUCH!

My first though here is “I’m glad I don’t use this company” – and I also wonder why auditing or testing has not picked it up. Quite often it has but somebody, somewhere has decided that there’s a reasonably low chance of that occurring and so no action has been taken – until the ‘bug’ is discovered sometime later and at that point takes a long time – and a lot of money – to fix.

Points 1 and 2 are quoted more often than I would like also – usually stemming from statements that were made by somebody who worked with a long dead version of the database and didn’t quite take the time to understand fully how relational databases work – but who had tremendous influence in the company and a reputation that meant they were not to be crossed. (they have since been proved wrong but have failed to accept it)

These are simply examples of now bad culture can lead to problems years down the road.

Looking at a lot of database that lacked foreign keys, it’s usually pretty simply to find examples of inconsistent data in the tables. – caused by the three issues above.

The moral of the story here is

Always question, always learn and really try to avoid issues that are bound to come back and haunt you.

Always try to build good culture.

Have a great day.

Cheers

Martin.