SQL Server Geeks Annual Conference

A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to be able to travel out to Bengaluru in India to attend SQL Server Geeks Annual Summit. It was my first time at the event and my first time in India. While the food was wonderful and the people were great, please allow me to focus on the technical aspects of the experience.

The Cloud

First things first, that was the last SQL Server Geeks conference. Not because it wasn’t successful or the organizers aren’t interested in doing another. The conference is going to continue, but it’s getting a new name, the Data Platform Geeks Conference, along with a rename of the organizing body. Why is this? Because data professionals working within the Microsoft space have expanded far beyond working only on SQL Server that runs locally on local hardware (or a local VM). Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (Paas) are huge and growing fast in India. More and more people are working across disciplines to manage non-relational database systems as well as their good old fashioned SQL Server ones. Data science is growing in India, fast. Reflecting all this, Amit Bansal and his team have chosen to rename their organization and the event.

The People

Talking about the people who attend your sessions could be a tricky topic, but I’m going to try to breach it because I found this fascinating. Let’s first talk about presenting to people from countries other than your own. As a presenter, you’re going to start locally, presenting to people in your office, or at your local PASS Chapter. From there you expand into code camps and maybe a SQLSaturday event or three. Suddenly, you find yourself travelling to other countries… where people are different. Presenting in front of a group of individuals in the UK is different than Belgium which is different than Germany. India, funny enough, wasn’t very different from the US. The audiences were very engaged and interactive. I told them it was OK to interrupt with questions and doubts, so they did. I even received a couple of corrections when I said things that weren’t quite right. Which brings me to my next point.

These were some of the smartest people I’ve presented in front of. I don’t mean that I haven’t presented in front of audiences that had very smart people in them, but that the average attendee at this event was a bit superior to the attendee I see at most other events. There was just a bit more experience and a bit more knowledge in the room. I’m not surprised that the knowledge and experience were there, simply that there was that much of it. I’m positive that a part of this was around self-selection, SQL Server Geeks, uh, I mean, Data Platform Geeks bring out the advanced people.

Also, speaking to people, both in the sessions and afterwards in the hallways, at the meals and at the Redgate booth (oh yeah, we were there), these people represented a very large swath of the IT industry. I honestly expected to be primarily speaking with consultants, but these were people from banking, healthcare, manufacturing and more. It was the kind of audience you dream about getting in front of in order to help out and influence.

Also, I’d be very bad if I didn’t mention, they were nice as could be to me. I took more selfies with more people than I’ve ever done before. It was personally a lot of fun.

The Speakers

Not that speakers are not people (although an argument can be made), but I wanted to break this out to comment on who attended to speak and teach.

First, Joseph Sirosh, Executive Vice President from Microsoft gave the keynote. I’m not sure if you realize it or not, but that’s huge. The man in charge of the cloud platform at Microsoft attended the event and gave a talk to set the tone for the whole event. Along with Mr. Sirosh, we got a talk from Rimma Nehme, one of the chief scientists at Microsoft setting the direction for the Data Platform. Again, if you don’t know this, it’s a very big deal that Rimma (we’re acquaintances, I can do that) spoke at this event. It’s a testament to the type of people and the influence they must wield within the India IT sector that these people were there.

Then, you have to toss in a long list of international speakers, a few of whom are household names within the data community. They flew in from all over the world. This again is a reflection on the type of people that are attending this event. As a speaker, you want to influence the influencers. Clearly a lot of that was going on.

Conclusion

The newly named Data Platform Geeks Annual Conference is a must-attend event. As a presenter, you’re going to be in front of the kinds of audiences you dream about. As an attendee, you’re going to be getting the best speakers presenting their best stuff. The subject matter is concurrent with modern industry trends. The chances to network with the right people are all there. It’s the right kind of place to expand your skillset and your reach.