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

Monday 12 April 2021

Data Relay Broadcast 2021 Next week


Exciting news Data Relay is not only back but starts in 7 days. 5 days of sessions, 10 great speakers - join us April 19th-23rd for a virtual tour of five old English kingdoms.

Monday 19/04/2021 – Wessex

John Martin Infrastructure as Code: An introduction to Terraform

Anna Wykes Custom Logging within DataBricks

Register for Wessex at Eventbrite

Tuesday 20/04/2021 – Mercia

Laura Graham-Brown  Brilliant Report, can I print it?

Arun Sirpal  Azure SQL Database

Register for Mercia at Eventbrite

Wednesday 21/04/2021 – Northumbria

Chris Taylor  Kubernetify your Containers

Kevin Feasel  Does this look weird to you? An introduction to Anomaly Detection

Register for Northumbria at Eventbrite

Thursday 22/04/2021 – East Anglia

Tracy Boggiano Mental Health and Wellness in IT: Safeguarding our most precious resource

Mark Broadbent Edge of Tomorrow, An introduction to Graph Databases

Register for East Anglia at Eventbrite

Friday 23/04/2021 – Dumnonia

Annette Allen  Developing code to keep your DBA happy

Rob Sewell  Introduction to Azure Arc enabled Data Services

Register for Dumnonia at Eventbrite

Register to start your epic voyage!

The SQL Saturday Foundation

After all of the uncertainty in 2020, 2021 has brought about the exciting reboot of SQL Saturday. SQL Saturday has always been there throughout my career and provided an amazing place for learning and networking.

Since the end of PASS last year Steve Jones, Voice of the DBA, has been working on Moving the Community Forward. The vision is to continue to facilitate and promote local, free events organized by individuals in some area. 

This revival has been moving forward at great speed towards creating a foundation and building a future for SQL Saturday.

There are a number of blogs where you can find out more about the SQL Saturday vision.

The SQL Saturday Foundation Vision

Rebuilding SQL Saturday–Picking a Board of Directors

Finding a SQL Saturday Board of Directors

I am amazingly excited and honoured to be in the first set of directors. The initial directors are: 

  • Andy Warren  (b | t) – USA
  • Carlos Lopez (b | t) – LATAM
  • Heidi Hastings (t) – APAC
  • Johan BrattÃ¥s (t) – EUR
  • Stacia Varga (b | t) – USA
  • Steph Locke (b | t) – EUR
  • Steve Jones (b | t) – USA
  • Taoib Ali (b | t) – APAC/USA
  • Dr. Victoria Holt (b | t) – EUR

Moving forward through 2021 I hope everyone is encouraged to create a SQL Saturday to help everyone keep learning and connected. There are some great suggestions in the post on how to do this with ease.  

Everyone run a SQL Saturday in 2021

Sunday 4 April 2021

Developing post-pandemic data strategy

The ODI have a really interesting podcast on data strategy . It is the  fourth episode of the ODI Inside Business podcast, with ODI’s Learning and Business Development Director, Stuart Coleman and Robin Sutara, newly appointed Chief Data Officer at Microsoft UK, to discuss why culture change should power organisations’ data strategy plans.  They discussed what cultural and mindset shifts are needed to facilitate the implementation and execution of a viable data strategy.  As well as how Microsoft has shifted their thinking in their journey and how they have succeeded in helping their clients transition into a new digital thinking era.

The podcast is entitled "Inside Business – Developing post-pandemic data strategy: Why culture change should power your plans"

There were three important areas that were raised when thinking about data strategy. 

1. Data Capabilities - where a business / department is on their data journey. Are they modernising their legacy systems, thinking about data science or data governance?

2. Data Culture - how do you instantiate a data culture in an organisation? This can be by democratizing data ensuring the right data is defined at the right time and also ensuring employees feel empowered to act on the data without looking to senior leadership

3. Encouraging a growth mind set, fail fast, iterate, make decisions that will drive progress and to iterate as the data changes.

Data as a strategic asset

The Chief Data Officer (CDO)  role is an interesting new role which varies widely between organizations. It can cover a variety of responsibilities, from driving data technology decisions, to creating data-driven cultures, data governance and identifying data-centric opportunities.

The ODI has set out a vision in Data strategy: how an ecosystem approach can help shape your vision . Also the ODI Inside Business – a checklist for leaders article contains some useful points. They mentioned appointing a Chief Data Officer is a good place to start. This role is a leader and should be considering the company’s data skills, data handling and data infrastructure as part of its responsibilities.

Their checklist suggests five critical areas leaders can explore through a series of questions.  There is a list of tools to use to take practical action.

  • Data strategy: How data is used differently in your organisation to create value and improve business performance, in the face of competition.
  • Data infrastructure:  The datasets, policies, systems, processes and tools you need for data to create value.
  • Data ecosystems: The internal and external networks that enable data to be accessed, used and shared.
  • Data skills: The literacy and skills your people need to improve business performance.
  • Data ethics:  How your business creates value from data whilst avoiding harmful impacts.

It is also worth reading the book Growth Mindsets by Carol Dweck. In the book she discusses that there are two mind sets: 
  • A fixed mindset - intelligence is static
  • A growth mindset - intelligence can be developed
A growth mindset drives success. Thus having a growth mind set and looking at the five critical areas will help define the data ecosystem of the future.

Thursday 1 April 2021

Responsible AI

Responsible AI is an important topic to research and to see how to adopt this approach.

Microsoft lists its six key principles for responsible AI: accountability, inclusiveness, reliability and safety, fairness, transparency, and privacy and security. Creating responsible and trustworthy AI is most important and these are essential principals which have two perspectives: ethical and explainable. The Microsoft AI Principles for AI systems are 

  • Fairness - should treat all people fairly
  • Reliability & Safety -  should perform reliably and safely
  • Privacy & Security - should be secure and respect privacy
  • Inclusiveness - should empower everyone and engage people
  • Transparency - should be understandable
  • Accountability - People should be accountable for AI systems