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 28 February 2022

Azure AI Fundamentals: Get Started with AI on Azure

We have an exciting session coming up on Monday 28 February at 4.30PM (GMT) to enable you to get started on your learning journey. Register for the first in a series of three sessions at meetup.

Series Description:

In honour of IWD which takes place in March, this Azure AI series will be delivered by some of our female tech experts. This series is designed to help you get started on a Microsoft Azure AI learning journey. Not matter your previous knowledge of AI, this actionable set of sessions will take you through what is available in Azure AI, Computer Vision and Conversational AI and give you space to ask a set of expert’s questions about each topic.

We will only scratch the surface of what is available on Microsoft learn and will encourage you to continue your learning between weekly sessions in the series. This series partners with the Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals certification – if you follow this learning path you will be well on your way to taking this exam.

You can be eligible for 50 percent off the cost of a Microsoft Certification exam by completing your challenge within 30 days. See Terms and Conditions for eligibility details. 10 hours of learning paths to complete that set you up for the certification. Follow the link below to take part in the 30 days learn


Learn Module: https://aka.ms/learnlive-20220228A

Monday 21 February 2022

SQLBits Buddies

Bits Buddies is a new idea being trialled at SQLBits Arcade. It is aimed at the social side of the event. We want attendees to really enjoy the event and not feel isolated with no one to talk to or to share the event with. We would love you to attend the event again next year and leave the event having made new connections in the sqlfamily. We want to help you become a part of our amazing community. 

Before the event, we are having a drop in chat office hours sessions with some of the SQLBits Buddies to answer questions and so you can meet a friendly face. For more details  #sqlbits2022

Saturday 19 February 2022

Start your Learning Journey into Azure AI with a Helping Hand

There is an amazing opportunity to start learning every week between 28 Feb 2022 until 14 March 2022 in a live learn series organised in collaboration with Microsoft Reactors. It is in honour of International Women's day in March. This Azure AI series will be powered by women in AI..

The 3 episodes:

Get Started with AI on Azure: February 28, 2022 4:30PM - 5:30PM (GMT)

Analyse images with the Computer Vision service: March 7, 2022 4:30PM - 5:30PM (GMT)

Build a bot with the Language Service and Azure Bot Service: March 14, 2022 4:30PM - 5:30PM (GMT)

The series is designed to help you get started on a Microsoft Azure AI learning journey. Not matter your previous knowledge of AI, this actionable set of sessions will take you through what is available in Azure AI, Computer Vision and Conversational AI and give you space to ask a set of experts questions about each topic. We will only scratch the surface of what is available on Microsoft Learn and will encourage you to continue your learning between weekly sessions in the series. This series partners with the Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals certification – if you follow this learning path you will be well on your way to taking this exam.

Join us for this live learning experience where you will be guided by subject matter experts through the Learn modules below in real time along with developers around the globe. Earn badges, prepare for certifications and Learn Live with a great community! See you there :)

Friday 18 February 2022

SQLBits Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

SQLBits sessions for this year are looking amazing. I particularly like the addition of diversity, equality and inclusion sessions within the conference. Some exciting sessions to look out for 

Thurs at 12 - 12.50 Women's Power Hour in the Community Zone

Come to a meet & greet with other women data professionals and expand your network. Connect with women with similar interests and improve your entire Bits experience for the rest of the week and years to come!

Fri at 12 - 12.50  Diversity Equality and Inclusion Panel in the Community Zone

Steph Martin, Jess Pomfret, Rie Merritt, Simon Sabin, Traci Sewell, Annette Allen 

Join the group who have been working on trying to make SQLBits more inclusive. Ask us what you would like to see us do differently and how we can improve your experience at the even

Sat at 12.10 12.40  Diversity at Lunchtime  

Grab your lunch and join with other diverse data professionals and expand your network. Connect with others with similar interests and improve your entire Bits experience for the rest of the day and years to come!

Sat at 14.40 - 15.30 Women in Tech: Keys to a Successful Career Panel Discussion

Rie Merritt, Jess Pomfret, Victoria Holt, Cathrine Wilhelmsen, Pragati Jain

Your career is a journey that is unique to you, but that doesn't mean you don't have shared experiences. Join a panel of women data professionals for an open discussion on their winding career paths, how they got here, and where they're heading next. We'll talk about what it's like to be a woman in tech, what worked for them, and how building a strong network of people to be in your corner can help you achieve your goals.

There are sessions on mental health, lunch with the SQLBits Buddies, other career path sessions, sign language... So much to help us all improve our sense of whole and career. 

Tuesday 15 February 2022

SQL Bits Buddies Office hours drop-in chat


You have registered to attend SQL Bits; now you are wondering what is it like. Who will be there, what happens, who can speak to, what should you bring, how can you get the best out of SQL Bits? Now is your chance to meet and chat with some people who have been there, done it and would love to tell you more.

Or maybe you have heard about SQL Bits? You have wondered what is it all about, maybe want to know just a little more. Yes, you have read what they say on the website, heard about and read all the stories. But, you would like to speak to someone who will tell you what it's like. Want to talk to real people, ask them questions, find out a little more.

Or you want to connect with someone who will be there on the day you attend. Someone you have spoken to, you want to see the same smiling face when you arrive at SQL Bits.

This is your chance to meet real people who want to speak to others. We want to meet you; we want to answer your questions. We are the SQL Bits buddies, and we want to meet and talk to you. So come along, chat with us or listen. All we want to do is make SQL Bits more friendly and fun to attend, so why not come along to chat with us.

Select a date

Tuesday 14 February 12:00 - 13:00 GMT

Thursday 16 February 12:00 - 13:00 GMT

Tuesday 21 February 12:00 - 13:00 GMT

Thursday 23 February 12:00 - 13:00 GMT

Monday 7 March  12:00 - 13:00 GMT

You can read more about the bits buddies here

SQLBits and the case for data governance

SQLBits is fast approaching and in 3 weeks time we have the opportunity to meet the data community in person again. It will be nice to catch up, but also it will be different than before with the conference being partially virtual. It is great to see the opportunity to attend virtually as well as in person. As well as the Covid issue, this makes the event more inclusive.

Data governance is one of the things I am keen to help drive forward because understanding your data better means increased business value and enables innovation. Data governance however is a word that the industry says should not be named. It has connotations of expense and little value for businesses. It is in my mind data erudition, that learning, showing great knowledge about the data and having good quality data. Then using agile techniques to tackle small chunks and iterate through the highest priority business cases  first. It is not about trying to bring all the historic data into a managed state and drilling into full data dictionaries.

With that in mind I am excited about my session with Erwin and Wolfgang with Richard moderating where we will answer questions about Data Governance with Azure Purview. There are two ways to tackle the problem of data governance, through understanding the business problem and through using a tool to help solve part of the problem technologically. Experts in the industry have differing opinions on which to start with first.

Ask your questions for our session via this form https://forms.office.com/r/dTP38LnmsJ

We look forward to seeing you on Friday 11 March from 14:10-15:00. You will find us in room 04.

Wednesday 9 February 2022

Data Governance By Stealth

Listened to an interesting discussion on data governance in the Data Governance By Stealth – Aligning the Data Governance and Data Strategy Roadmap webinar with 

  • Andrew Crossley
  • Alex Kontofrios, Head of Data Governance at Close Brothers
  • Kat Holmes, Former Data Director at ITV and founder at MenopauseX
  • Danny McCarthy, Head of Data Management at ClearBank
  • Stephen Maguire, Data Governance Specialist at the Oakland Group

There were an number of interesting point and discussion on the different ways data governance is addressed within business. Data governance is that word that should not be mentioned. 

A way to start discussion could be through  using the data ethics canvas that the ODI developed. It can be a way to find a lever or hook.

Key points raised to help you get started are 

  • data governance needs to be invisible
  • there is no boiler plate culture for this to work
  • it needs to be explained in layman's terms

Another insight was don't get involved in a data governance project unless it is helpful to the business.

The establishment of committees\boards is not required to start. These will come but initially it needs to be an agenda item on a meeting or project.

Don't talk about data governance, but business value for great data.

Data governance needs to be simple messaging.

It is key that everyone understands that data governance underpins all data tasks.

There was an interesting point that the data dictionary should be a part of the organisational structure.

Data literacy is important to improve business. People need to know how to structure questions.

Don't follow a framework as every business is different.

Follow an agile incremental delivery.

Start with a data readiness assessment with four areas:

  • usage
  • data quality
  • controls - non functional requirements
  • business readiness

two core questions that are trying to be solved are 

  1. what business problem are you trying to solve
  2. secondly, identify problems that using tooling would help solve

There was a difference in opinion on whether deploying a technical tool was first or second thing to look at. Although this helps with things it brings about the need for a technical team to support it and skilling issues that need to be addressed.

Data Governance specialist must be technology experts in this new world. The new role closely aligns to the Data Architect role. 

Use a standard ontology to use standard language.

It is important to not start building an in depth data dictionary model. This does not help solve the business requirements or provide value to the business.

Having a standard blueprint is a blocker to success. 

Saturday 5 February 2022

Data Toboggan Conference links

During the course of the Data Toboggan 2022 winter conference day learning links were shared in the chat by various people. 

So for those wanting to learn more I have collated the links together. 

Best practices for serverless SQL pool - Azure Synapse Analytics

Recommendations and best practices for working with serverless SQL pool.

Pre recalculating datasets too 

Luke Moloney session is on GitHub


Terraform in Azure Learn module available 

Some good MS resources around creating a Centre of Excellence using Power BI https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/guidance/center-of-excellence-establish

Machine Learning in Azure Synapse Analytics - Azure Synapse Analytics

Creating statistics on Serverless SQL Pools 

The whitepaper that Kevin Chant mentioned about a quick introduction to Azure DevOps  and his blog: https://www.KevinRChant.com and GitHub repo: https://github.com/kevchant

Azure Pipelines YAML schema reference

David Alzamendi provided a number of  Resources

Scripts: https://github.com/techtalkcorner/AzSynapseAnalytics/tree/master/Scripts/T-SQL

Data Skew: https://www.techtalkcorner.com/azure-synapse-analytics-data-skew/

Tables Design: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/synapse-analytics/sql/develop-tables-overview

Update statistics: https://www.techtalkcorner.com/update-statistics-azure-synapse-analytics-sql-pools/

Azure Synapse Analytics Service Levels :

Memory and concurrency limits for dedicated SQL pool in Azure Synapse Analytics

Columnstore Indexes: https://www.nikoport.com/

Maximize rowgroup quality for columnstore index performance

Query Store: Monitoring performance by using the Query Store

GitHub: https://github.com/techtalkcorner/AzSynapseAnalytics/tree/master/Scripts/T-SQL

Introduction to designing tables in Synapse SQL.

Design tables using Synapse SQL - Azure Synapse Analytics

Update Statistics in Azure Synapse Analytics SQL Pools -Tech Talk Corner

How to update statistics in Azure Synapse Analytics SQL Pools to improve the performance of your queries. Include two scripts.

Memory and concurrency limits - Azure Synapse Analytics

Distributed tables design guidance - Azure Synapse Analytics

Automatic aggregation in Power BI

Configuring dataflow storage to use Azure Data Lake Gen 2 - Power BI

Azure Synapse Analytics January Update 2022

The first blog of the year includes newly added database templates, a security whitepaper, and data integration updates. 

So plenty of post conference reading

Thursday 3 February 2022

Data Toboggan 2022 Winter Edition

The winter Data Toboggan run is over. It was fun. Thank you to all the amazing speakers and attendees who spent the day with us. Data Toboggan - Cool Runnings, our summer event, details to follow soon. See you next time. 

We will keep you posted on new content being shared to our YouTube channel. Please note we are just confirming with speakers about whether they are happy for their sessions to be shared.  Please subscribe to our channel. 

And lastly, it is February, and a data engineer's thoughts lightly turn to thoughts of 'Azure Synapse SQL Workload Monitoring with Ameena Lalani' Sign up to our first usergroup meetup of 2022 Thursday 10 February 18.00 GMT.