I saw a tweet tonight from Julie Smith (Twitter | Blog) about SQL Saturday #111 Atlanta.  The tweet was referring to the pre-conference sessions that this event is supporting the day before the event, April Friday 13th, 2012.  OK, all fun aside about the fact these speakers have to do sessions on Friday the 13th, the pre-cons that are listed are nothing short of invaluable.

SSIS – The mentors of the mentors

The tweet itself refers to the pre-con that is being done on SSIS.  Of course, SSIS is a side mistress of mine and I can’t get enough of it.  The power it can yield is just another extension of what we have in an overall high-quality and complete package called, SQL Server.  Pre-cons are training sessions that are a little different than the actual SQL Saturday sessions.  They are paid for by the attendees, but you get a full day of training on a particular topic.  Now, that doesn’t take anything away from SQL Saturday session layouts.  I’ve received more information from one Andy Leonard SSIS session in an hour at a SQL Saturday than I have in a month of SSIS poking around and reading.  Yes, there is great return of investment even in a free event!  Keep in mind the fact that I just said I learned that much in an hour from Andy Leonard.

The SSIS session is being done by Andy Leonard (Twitter | Blog)!  Not only is Andy the one laying out his vast knowledge and real world SSIS skills, the session is being co-presented with Matt Masson (Twitter | Blog).  If you don’t know Matt, get out more in the SSIS community.  Matt is the only person I know that could come up with a way to use SSIS to make more friends on Facebook.  Really, he put that design down in his PASS Summit session!  I thought I think of odd ways to use SSIS.  Aside from really cool package designs, Matt is a Software Development Engineer at Microsoft working on SSIS.  Yes, he’ll probably know just how that one nagging task works all the way to the comments in the code.

(Is it just me or does it look like Matt really put effort into that pose. Like a modeling photographer came out and said, look into the camera…give it your heart…all your feeling…YES, YES, YES!!!!)

Andy Leonard is a person I have the highest respect for and one that has experience, knowledge, and overall excellent presentation skills. Matt Masson, whose knowledge of SSIS goes deeper than most of us  can even get to and is probably one of the best speakers I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in person.  Both of these SSIS monsters together for an entire day!  Did I mention the price?  Register by March 15th and it is $99.  After March 15th it is still only $109.  That is really small change for this level of expertise in a room.  Most would pay hundreds for a short training session with only one of these guys.

The only bummer about all of this, I won’t be able to make it to Atlanta. Kills me!

More pre-conification!

To add to this SSIS pre-con, two more names that have made a path for excellence are also doing pre-cons the day before the Atlanta SQL Saturday.  If SSIS isn’t your thing, imagine sitting in on a day of training from Jessica Moss for, “Learn SSRS in a DAY”.  If one person could teach you enough to take SSRS and hit the ground running in one day, Jessica can.  I saw Jessica speak for the first time in Iowa about SSAS.  The session started off with a failed projector and completely took Jessica’s laptop and presentation materials out of the session for a good portion of the time.  Jessica handled the situation without missing a minute of the time the session had.  .  She took the room and simply continued.  Not only did she continue but she found the room’s skill level, knowledge and disposition on SSAS and completely rewrote the session in a matter of seconds to match the attendee’s needs.  In most cases, that is a speaker’s nightmare and death of a session.  In Jessica’s case, she mastered it with ease.  I only hope that I will learn that skill as a presenter in my career.

Next up, Adam Machanic (even spelled it right) is doing a pre-con, “No More Guessing! An Enlightened Approach to Performance Troubleshooting”.  Adam is one of the people that you could perceive as a foundation of how SQL Server got to where it is.  That foundation is both in his community contributions and unbelievable knowledge in SQL Server. Unfortunately, YOU ARE TOO LATE to get in on Adam’s pre-con! Adam’s pre-con is sold out so you’ll have to sneak in the side door and hide under the podium to check it out.

Seriously, the hardest thing to do here is picking between these three pre-cons.  I only hope they record them so I can spend as much as it takes to get a copy.

Company pays for a SQL Saturday?

SQL Saturday is one of the largest success stories that I have seen in the recent years.  Organizers make it so the events are free to anyone registering.  Sometimes lunch is a fee but really, $8-$12 for a day of quality sessions on SQL Server is worth it.  Add the pre-con session into this and we can start to really talk to employers on why travel cost can be justified. Yes, most companies think paid for training is better or higher quality.  I’m not in agreement that SQL Saturday sessions are not that same quality but here is something in an entire day of training and materials you can take away.  So, there is your in if you live a distance from Atlanta.  Go to your employer and let them know these pre-cons are available for such a low cost.  Stick around a day and attend another entire day of great sessions!