Passionately curious about Data, Databases and Systems Complexity. Data is ubiquitous, the database universe is dichotomous (structured and unstructured), expanding and complex. Find my Database Research at SQLToolkit.co.uk . Microsoft Data Platform MVP

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing" Einstein

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

MVP Virtual Summit

The COVID-19 virus has resulted in Microsoft converting this year’s MVP/ Regional Director Summit to an online-only / virtual event. It was scheduled for the same week (Mar 16-19). Microsoft have worked hard to plan and prepare an alternate experience that still provides the exclusive in-depth technical sessions in an online-only format and is inclusive to our globally distributed community.

After day 2 of the summit it is still an amazing event. Using Microsoft Teams has been brilliant and the team have done an amazing job bringing it all together in such short notice.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Data Relay postpones to help SQLBits, a united community

It is a difficult time for conferences with the COVID-19 virus outbreak. As a conference owner we we have to think about the #SQLFamily and how to help keep everyone as safe as possible. It is with regret that we, Data Relay had to postpone our event in September, however I was proud to be part of a team that worked with a united community front. We have enabled SQLBits to move dates to 29th September - 3rd October, the original Data Relay dates. We now have to plan for a new set of Data Relay events and will share these once we have sorted this out.


Wednesday, 4 March 2020

International Women's Day 2020.

I am proud to be running an event for international women's day #IWD2020  this week. It is very important to have Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. International Women's Day is on 8 March across the globe. Every year it is celebrated with a particular theme. The theme for this years international women's day is an equal world is an enabled world.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

SQL Bits 2020 Microsoft sessions

Here is a quick guide to a few of the Data and AI sessions from Microsoft at SQLBits.
Keynote: Join Gayle Sheppard, CVP, Azure Data for a keynote presentation on the journey of SQL Server from edge to cloud, packed with exciting demos and customer stories.
SQL Server 2019: The modern data platform: Bob Ward will give you the highlights, including the most exciting new features in SQL Server 2019 like Data virtualization, Big Data Clusters, Accelerated Database recovery, and more.
Sandboxing SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters: James Rowland Jones Big Data Clusters combine the power of SQL Server, Apache Spark, and HDFS to gain intelligence over all your data.
Modern Database design: Connor Cunningham will talk about improving the performance and scale of the databases in real-world scenarios using technologies including columnstore, in-memory tables, Azure SQL Database Hyperscale, Always On Availability Groups, and readable secondaries.
Azure Data Services on Azure Arc: Vin Yu talks about the newly launched hybrid service Azure Arc, which lets your run Azure Data Services anywhere. He will show you some of the management capabilities of Azure Arc such as elastic scale and automatic patching.
Azure Synapse Analytics:   Michael Rys brings together big data and data warehousing through new technology and a unified development experience.
Azure Data Studio features in 20 minutes: Vicky Harp will provide a quick refresher on the new features in Azure Data Studio.
10 DBA tasks for Azure SQL: Alain Dormehl and Rie Irish talk on the 10 most common DBA tasks for Azure SQL and how they differ from on prem DBA tasks.
Azure SQL Hyperscale Deep Dive: Alain Dormehl, Davide Mauri, and Denzil Ribeiro discuss how Hyperscale can enable you to innovate with nearly limitless storage in a future-proof, world class, fully managed database.
Microsoft Learn will showcase the complete offering of training and certifications available to the Data & AI professionals. 

Friday, 21 February 2020

Data Relay 2020

I am excited to share the 2020 Data Relay tour details. We will be returning to Reading this year following a break last year. The dates and venues are:

Leeds Monday 28 September
Nottingham Tuesday 29 September
Birmingham Wednesday 30 September
Reading Thursday 1 October
Bristol Friday 2 October

Monday, 10 February 2020

Free Azure certification Self Assessment Tool

Studying for Microsoft exams always begins with reviewing the exam syllabus. I then start mapping out my learning path, finding tools such as courses, ebooks, Microsoft learn training and online conference or Microsoft videos.

To help getting started there is a certification 'Self Assessment Tool'. This tool will help you prepare for your next certification exam, by ensuring you study for each of the objective domains and skills covered on the certification exam.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

What is a Lakehouse?

A new management paradigm has emerged that combines data lakes and data warehouses. Lakehouses are similar to data warehouses with structures and data management features. This is backed with the low cost storage that is used for data lakes.

A lakehouse has some key attributes:

  • Transaction support
  • Schema enforcement and governance
  • BI support
  • Storage is decoupled from compute
  • Openness
  • Support for diverse data types ranging from unstructured to structured data
  • Support for diverse workloads
  • End-to-end streamingThere is a great article to read which covers this in more depth The Data Lakehouse – Dismantling the Hype

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Diversity Dashboard

I came across this interesting tool, a diversity dashboard. A tool for monitoring diversity and inclusion in your workplace using the workflow tools GitHub and Slack. The Diversity Dashboard is a beta tool we has been developed to offer insights into gender inclusion within the workplace.

There is  project underway to gain insight for diversity and inclusion. The Women in Data Science and AI research project at The Alan Turing Institute is working to map the participation of women in data science and AI in the UK, and to investigate diversity and inclusion in tech workplace cultures, and bias in the design of AI systems. The project aims to increase the number of women in data science and AI through the development of data-based policy recommendations, thereby addressing the risks posed by the lack of diversity in these fields.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

SQLBits 2020 Theme

The SQLBits theme has been announced for 2020. The Greatest Data Show!

They say no one ever makes a difference being like everyone else. SQLBits want you to bring your alter ego, embrace oddity, and soak in the spectacle at #SQLBits2020!

Registration is still open, so register now.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Carbon negative

I read with great interest about the Microsoft announcement of becoming carbon negative. Microsoft have stated they will be carbon negative by 2030. Also by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.

It is great that such an ambition has been set and it will be interesting to watch how this is achieved.  

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Azure Backup support files restore for SQL Server 2019

Azure Backup protects standalone SQL Server and SQL AlwaysOn configurations in Azure Virtual Machine without the need to deploy and manage any backup infrastructure.  This is a key addition to the general availability of Azure Backup for SQL Server Virtual Machine . It is possible to restore .bak files. Read more about this restore operation.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Azure SQL Database Edge

Azure SQL Database Edge is available in public preview. Azure SQL Database Edge runs on ARM and Intel architecture and brings the Microsoft SQL engine to the edge. This advancement helps reduce the development required with the same Microsoft SQL database engine both on-premises and in the cloud. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Microsoft Ignite The Tour 2020

Tomorrow it is Microsoft Ignite The Tour 16-17 January 2020 in London. Microsoft Ignite The Tour provides technical training led by Microsoft experts and your community. There are plenty of exciting things to learn, new ways to build solutions, migrate and manage infrastructure, and connect with local industry leaders and peers.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

ODI Data Ethics Canvas

The ODI have created a useful tool for anyone who collects, shares or uses data. This aims to help identify management ethical issues at the start of a data project. The Open Data Institute defines data ethics as:

'A branch of ethics that evaluates data practices with the potential to adversely impact on people and society – in data collection, sharing and use'

They say data ethics relates to good practice around how data is collected, used and shared. It is especially relevant when data activities have the potential to impact people and society, directly or indirectly.

The Data Ethics Canvas is a part of a wider data toolkit.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Asilomar AI Principles

Data Ethics has been brought to the fore by AI algorithms showing bias. There are various insightful articles which discuss data ethics. The Asilomar Conference on Beneficial AI organized by the Future of Life Institute was held January 5-8 2017 at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in California. The conference aimed to address and formulate principles of beneficial AI. With more than 100 thought leaders and researches in economics, law, ethics and philosophy at the conference, it resulted in the creation of a set of guidelines for AI research. There are 23 Asilomar AI Principles of which many are related to ethics and values.

This is a significant enhancement on the Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" which were shared in his 1942 short story "Runaround". The Three Laws he listed were:

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

In 2016 Satya Nadella did share a vision for more relevant AI rules.

  • AI must be designed to assist humanity.
  • AI must be transparent. 
  • AI must maximize efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people. 
  • AI must be designed for intelligent privacy. 
  • AI must have algorithmic accountability. 
  • AI must guard against bias. 

From this it has led to data ethics becoming its own branch of ethics.