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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is CSO of Linchpin People and SQLPeople, an SSIS Trainer, Consultant, and developer; a Business Intelligence Markup Language (Biml) developer; SQL Server database and data warehouse developer, community mentor, engineer, and farmer. He is a co-author of SQL Server 2012 Integration Services Design Patterns. His background includes web application architecture and development, VB, and ASP. Andy loves the SQL Server Community!
Note: Comments are moderated. Spam shall not pass! </GandalfVoice>

  • Reminder: If You Want to Vote in the PASS Board of Directors Election, You Have 6 Days…

    Per Thomas LaRock’s post titled Board of Directors Election Update on the PASS Blog:

    All PASS members who have not yet received a ballot and who had an existing profile as of June 1, 2014, will be given the opportunity to receive a ballot by updating their profiles before October 5, 2014, at midnight PDT. On October 6, we will pull an updated list of registered voters, filter for duplicates, and then on October 7, we will send all newly registered voters a ballot.  All voting will end on October 14 at noon PDT.

    PASS leadership made this concession and extended the deadline to provide everyone eligible an opportunity to vote. So vote!

    :{>

  • Well Done, PASS Leadership

    I am impressed with the response of PASS leadership to the controversy surrounding the 2014 Board of Directors election. Others have covered the topic much better than I will here, but a short version is PASS responded to the PASS Board 2013 election controversy (members with multiple email accounts receiving multiple ballots) by requiring members to identify a primary account / email address.

    The issue? Not everyone got the message.

    The initial response from PASS leadership was in line with previous responses from PASS leadership; “We’re not going to change anything” (paraphrased). I was disappointed in this response and said so. But then PASS leadership reversed this decision. In a blog post late Friday evening, PASS President Thomas LaRock (blog | @SQLRockstar) posted Board of Directors Election Update on the PASS blog, outlining the procedure and use cases for those who were hitherto excluded from the 2014 election process; a procedure that would allow them to vote.

    I agree with this decision but I was not impressed. This is what leaders are supposed to do. It’s doing what their constituency elected them to do.

    I was impressed by something I haven’t seen in PASS leadership before. (Maybe it was there and I missed it…) It’s this second paragraph from Tom’s post:

    Before I get started I want to make something very clear: I accept full responsibility for all issues with the current election process. Together we had, and still have, the very best of intentions. On behalf of myself and the entire PASS Board, I offer the sincerest of apologies for all of the frustration caused.

    Two things:

    1. Accepting responsibility. I’ve seen plenty of dictates handed down from the PASS Board in the past, especially when PASS leadership made unpopular decisions. I’ve been reminded of their authority. I don’t recall seeing anyone take responsibility – especially publicly. In my opinion, owning the issue is essential for leadership. I’ll go further and state that I believe not owning the issue is a failure of leadership.
    2. An apology. I believe this apology deflates the harm caused by this issue. More than that, I think this apology puts this issue to rest. Combined with doing the right thing and accepting responsibility, the apology offers closure. Unclosed issues hang out and contribute to the next controversy; they’re “stored fuel” for the next fire. That’s why it’s best to apologize early and often (bad election analogy…).

    I’ve been hoping to see changes in PASS leadership for a while now. Doing the right thing here was admirable. But accepting responsibility and apologizing was one kind of change I’ve been hoping and waiting for.

    Well done, PASS leadership. Well done.

    :{>

  • Join me for 3 Days of SSIS Training in Denmark – Advanced Integration Services 18-20 Nov 2014

    I am honored to announce Advanced Integration Services will be delivered in cooperation with  in Aarhus, Denmark 18-20 Nov 2014.

    Target Audience

    The target audience for this course is intermediate SQL Server Integration Services developers (or quick learners) who wish to learn best practices and the more advanced stuff, and those who wish upgrade their existing SSIS skills to 2012. Since there are almost no changes between SSIS 2012 and 2014, this course will also be suitable for SSIS 2014 users too.

    Agenda

    • Advanced patterns for loading data warehouses
    • ETL Load Performance
    • Data Cleansing
    • Flow, Precedence, Advanced Loop Containers
    • Error handling
    • ETL Instrumentation
    • Scripting in SSIS
    • Designing Custom Tasks
    • Executing, managing, monitoring, and administering SSIS in the enterprise
    • New features in SSIS 2012 and 2014
    • The (new) Project Deployment Model
    • The (new) SSIS Catalog
    • SSIS Frameworks
    • Business Intelligence Markup Language (Biml)

    I hope to see you there!

    Register today! Sign up for the Advanced Integration Services at the bottom of this page.

    :{>

  • Presenting at SQL Saturday 323–Paris 13 Sep

    I am honored to present Using Biml as an SSIS Design Patterns Engine at SQL Saturday 323 – Paris 13 Sep 2014! If you will be in the Paris area 13 Sep, read this blog, and want to learn more about Business Intelligence Markup Language (Biml), stop by and say “Hi!”

    :{>

  • Attitudes I Wish I Had Earlier

    Mike Walsh (blog | @Mike_Walsh) tagged me in his post, 4 Attitudes I Wish I Had Earlier as a DBA. You should read Mike’s post, it’s filled with helpful and good advice and tells cool (and not-so-cool) stories. I admire Mike’s transparency.

    I struggle with the four areas Mike already covered – Work/Life Balance, Empathy, Hero Syndrome, and Getting Things Done. I will not rehash his points. I’m less susceptible to hero syndrome, empathy, and getting things done, but I more than make up for them in work/life balance.

    Here are a couple additional areas where I struggle:

    Subtlety, Nuance, Communication

    Do you remember this scene in the movie, Rain Man? Raymond, the character played by Dustin Hoffman believed both a candy bar and compact car cost about $100. I’m not autistic. I was recently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder (ADHD). But, like Raymond in the linked scene, I tend to “flatten” things. One result is I miss some things completely and misinterpret other things. Being aware of it helps a lot. I still make mistakes, though not nearly as many as when I was younger.

    There are upsides to the way my brain works. I’m slightly dyslexic. I can read mirrored text almost as fast as forward text. I think multi-dimensionally. A lot of the time my thoughts take the form of graphs. I have a good memory. I remember things from when I was 18 months old and every phone number I’ve ever memorized including the first phone number I memorized at age 5. 767-5580 was my grandmother’s phone number. Incidentally, when I recall that number, I see a graph with placeholders on the X-axis and telephone digits on the the Y-axis. It starts at 5, goes over to 5, then up to 8, then down to 0. But in my mind I remember the shape of the line starting at 5, +0, +3, –8. Weird, I know; but not nearly as weird as the graphs of non-numeric stuff…. I can hyper-focus, pretty much on demand. I have delivered a couple writing projects after ~40-hour-straight marathon editing/writing sessions. I consider these strengths – even the hyper-focus (once I learned to manage it). Dyslexia helps with game theory. It’s difficult to describe the value of looking at a “negative image” of a graph or inverting it. Bell curves? Pffft. Bell mountains. Now we’re talking. The memory helps me replay conversations, thinking about the words and body language. Hyper-focus allows me to isolate words, facial expressions, and body language. Multi-dimensional thinking allows me to re-construct these layers. Using these “strengths” together, I have learned to better comprehend what’s been said. It helps in other ways, too. I can teach you more about it using a game I like to call “Texas Hold’em.” Bring some money and meet me in the Sheraton lobby during the PASS Summit… ;{>

    I think more before I speak (and write) these days. I have a standing policy to not use examples from work in blog posts until at least one calendar year has passed. I do that for perspective. I call a lot of smaller meetings after meetings in which I am challenged personally or professionally.

    If I could back in time, I would tell Younger Andy to practice putting these quirky thinking methods to better use.

    Lone Gun

    Until I was older I did not fully appreciate the value of a team. I think this stems from being small and less coordinated as a child. I was usually picked last for sports activities and didn’t enjoy them that much. Who enjoys stuff they’re not good at?

    Bennett McEwan (LinkedIn) taught me the value of teams when I worked for him at Unisys. He coached me to become a manager, against my will. During the interview process, Ben said, “I think you can become a good manager and that you will enjoy it.” My response? “I think you’re wrong on both counts.” Well, I was wrong and Ben was right. I approach management as a role on the team. I don’t look at it as “being in charge” or “giving orders.” I see it more as the person on the team who deals with members of other teams or management. Yes, there are times when someone needs to make a decision, that’s also part of the job. 99% of the time, we are a team of peers on a mission.

    I now see the value of teamwork and firmly believe iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).Proverbs27_17

    If I could go back in time, I would tell Younger Andy “boss” is not a four-letter word.

    Conclusion

    We all have strengths and weaknesses. Part of the problem is our emotional attachment to weaknesses – we want to hide them instead of admitting vulnerability. I understand and recommend viewing Brené Brown’s TEDx presentation on the The Power of Vulnerability.

    :{>

  • Presenting on Biml to the SQL Midlands in Birmingham (UK) 11 Sep 2014!

    I am honored to present “Using Biml as an SSIS Design Patterns Engine” to SQL Midlands in Birmingham 11 Sep 2014 starting at 18:15! As at SQL Supper the evening before, the other presenter is my esteemed friend, Chris Webb (@TechniTrain). Chris’ session is titled, “Everything you wanted to know about Power BI but were too afraid to ask.” I look forward to learning more about Power BI from one of the masters.

    The abstract for my session:

    Business Intelligence Markup Language provides a powerful solution for creating and managing SSIS Design Patterns. Andy Leonard, one of the authors of SSIS Design Patterns, demonstrates the benefits of BIML in this session. What are the benefits of Biml? Code re-use, automated code-generation from templates, faster delivery, higher quality.

    If you will be in the Birmingham area on the evening of 11 Sep, please stop by and say “hello!” to Chris and me. Chris is the younger, better-looking, smarter guy. I’m the old guy with a long beard who talks funny (I promise yall I am working on my English). Register today!

    :{>

    PS – There are still one or two seats remaining in my SSIS 2012 Design Patterns course 8-11 Sep in London. Please register here to learn more about SSIS!

  • Presenting at SQL Supper in London 10 Sep 2014!

    I’m honored to be one of the presenters at the 10 Sep 2014 SQL Supper, which starts at 18:00. The other presenter for the evening is my esteemed friend, Chris Webb (@TechniTrain).

    Chris will be presenting a Q&A session titled “Chat to Your Data with Power BI.” My session is called “SSIS 2014 Data Flow Tuning Tips and Tricks.”

    If you will be in London the evening of 10 Sep, please stop by and say “hello!” to Chris and me. Chris is the younger, better-looking, smarter guy. I’m the old guy with a beard who talks funny. Register today!

    :{>

    PS – There are still one or two seats remaining in my SSIS 2012 Design Patterns course 8-11 Sep in London. Please register here to learn more about SSIS!

  • SSIS Design Patterns Training in London 8-11 Sep!

    A few seats remain for my course SQL Server Integration Services 2012 Design Patterns to be delivered in London 8-11 Sep 2014. Register today to learn more about:

    • New features in SSIS 2012 and 2014
    • Advanced patterns for loading data warehouses
    • Error handling
    • The (new) Project Deployment Model
    • Scripting in SSIS
    • The (new) SSIS Catalog
    • Designing custom SSIS tasks
    • Executing, managing, monitoring, and administering SSIS in the enterprise
    • Business Intelligence Markup Language (Biml)
    • BimlScript
    • ETL Instrumentation
    • SSIS Expression Language
    • And more!

    I hope to see you in London in four weeks! Register today!

    :{>

  • PASS and Summit 2014 Session Selections

    Earlier this week, the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) announced speaker and session selections for the Summit 2014 and there was spirited community feedback, questions, and debate. I offer the following analysis and opinions:

    In Defense of PASS…

    Full disclosure: I was selected to present this year and have been selected to present for several past years. In 2012, I was selected to co-present a full-day, paid, pre-conference session in 2012 but not selected to present during the Summit proper.

    Speaker and session selection is a zero-sum game. There are a finite number of session slots. In order for a non-selected session to be selected, one of the selected sessions must be de-selected. Over 900 sessions were submitted to fill roughly 165 slots.

    Selecting sessions is hard. That’s one reason PASS (wisely) allows volunteers to do the selection work*. There will be winners and losers, and the losers are not going to be happy about losing. I wasn’t happy about not being selected when it happened to me. I wanted to know why and I asked for feedback. After much persistence I got the feedback I asked for, and I wasn’t happy about that either.

    Session Selection is a Process

    PASS has a process for selecting sessions. I know the process is designed to facilitate session selection. I know it’s a different process from one used by my friend Allen Kinsel [blog | @AllenKinsel] in years past. There are benefits and liabilities to having a process – any process.

    People should always trump process.

    PASS and Processes

    When people are unhappy with the results of a PASS decision, PASS holds up their process in defense. *But PASS has a history of “overriding” process results. In an earlier Summit pre-conference session selection process, the selection of the volunteers was overridden by PASS leadership. The response of one participant in the selection committee was, “PASS, Don’t Waste My Time.” And this (valid) complaint led to all sorts of trouble in the PASS 2010 Board if Directors election. When PASS makes these sorts of decisions – for whatever reasons – people become suspicious and request more transparency. (I was once asked by a PASS Board member, “How much transparency is enough?”)

    Is it better to have no process? I don’t think so. But I think it is hypocritical and a leadership failure to hold up a process as a defense when the process isn’t always followed.

    When an MCM who consistently ranks in the top 10 sessions at the PASS Summit, Tech Ed (US and Europe), SQLBits, SQL Connections, SQL Intersections, and almost every other conference at which he presents is not selected to deliver a full-day, paid, pre-conference session and three full-day, paid, pre-conference sessions are awarded to employees of a member of the PASS Executive Committee (which is elected by the elected-members of the PASS Board of Directors, and not elected by the PASS membership – meaning PASS membership has no voice in this Executive Committee member’s future in PASS leadership), ethics questions are inevitable.

    I call for a public explanation from PASS leadership of why Brent Ozar [blog | @BrentO] was not selected to deliver a pre-conference session at the PASS Summit 2014.

    The Appearance of Misconduct

    As Kendal Van Dyke points out in his post, Thoughts On The 2014 PASS Summit Selections, it “smells” when three (of seventeen) day-long, paid, pre-conference session speakers work for the same company and that company’s president sits on the PASS Executive Committee. Are the selected individuals qualified to deliver pre-conference sessions? Yes, they are some of the best and brightest in our community. Are there others in our community who could deliver pre-conference sessions of equal (or higher) quality? Yes.

    Is it fair that qualified people be disqualified because they are employed by a company whose leader sits on the PASS Board of Directors? No, it is not fair. But it is right. In business and life, ethics demands we avoid “the appearance of misconduct”. The appearance of misconduct means we are technically (and perhaps morally and actually) right; but the action, words, or decision appears suspect. This is why I’m against having two (or more) members of the PASS Executive Committee work in the same company, and three or more PASS Board of Directors work for the same company.

    And this is why I believe the company’s of sitting PASS Board and Executive Committee members should be excluded from the (potentially substantial) financial benefit of being selected to deliver full-day, paid, pre-conference sessions at the PASS Summit.

    Some Suggestions

    • Collect and distribute feedback from the PASS volunteers selecting the sessions. (After some digging, I’ve learned feedback was collected from volunteers serving on the session selection committees, but the collected feedback has not been distributed. There may be more written about this in the coming week…)
    • PASS should either follow PASS processes completely or stop using “process” as an excuse for a failure to lead.
    • Do not allow sitting members of the PASS Board of Directors and Executive Committee, or people they employ, to present pre-conference sessions.

    Conclusion

    I write these words because I care deeply about the SQL Server Community and the subset of the Community that is PASS. Historically, PASS does not respond to Community concerns. I’m not sure if PASS leadership takes the SQL Server Community for granted or merely acts like they take the Community for granted. Either way, it’s no fun for the SQL Server Community.

    This is fixable. There’s time to rectify this before the Summit in November. Will PASS leadership make corrections? Will PASS leadership address the concerns of the community? Or will they write the complaints off as coming from “a vocal minority” (unless this post goes viral and gets 250k hits)? We shall see.

    Andy

  • The SSIS Data Pump - Level 2 of the Stairway to Integration Services has been Republished at SQL Server Central

    The SSIS Data Pump - Level 2 of the Stairway to Integration Services has been republished at SQL Server Central! You can find additional articles in the Stairway to Integration Services series here.

    Enjoy!

    :{>

  • You Need a DBA

    This post was inspired by a recent conversation with a DBA followed by reading The Curse of Relational Databases (especially the comments) posted at Grant Fritchey’s SQL Server Central blog.

    I have two points to make:

    1. As of mid-2014 a physical person is required to properly administer a production relational database instance.
    2. The title of this post (and the second phrase of item 1) is a lie. You need two DBA’s (at least).

    You need two DBA’s in case your first DBA becomes unavailable. Having a single DBA perform the work of two DBA’s is a good way to ensure your first DBA will become unavailable due to burnout.
    People.
    need.
    breaks.
    from.
    work.

    If your disaster recovery / business continuity plan doesn’t have a use case or scenario to cover the possibility inevitability that your DBA will be unavailable then you need to update your DR / BC plan.

    For 75% of my career as a technology professional, I have seen advertisements that either state outright or allude to the belief of a software company’s marketing department that their relational database platform either reduces or eliminates the need for management by a qualified database professional. This is an inaccurate portrayal at this time.

    An accurate portrayal is that automation and tools have increased the number of instances a DBA can manage if everything is running smoothly. The number of people required to manage a crisis is higher (which is another reason you need more than one DBA). The number of people required to manage a database is not zero. Will it ever? I think it will. At that time, I think we will need people to manage the automation that is managing the database. I could be wrong; it has happened before. For now, I am confident stating…

    You need a DBA.

    :{>

  • Presenting Using Biml as an SSIS Design Patterns Engine to Lynchburg SQL Server Users Group 26 Jun!

    I am honored to present Using Biml as an SSIS Design Patterns Engine to Lynchburg SQL Server Users Group Thursday, 26 Jun!

    Abstract 

    Business Intelligence Markup Language provides a powerful solution for creating and managing SSIS Design Patterns. Andy Leonard, one of the authors of SSIS Design Patterns, demonstrates the flexibility of Biml in this session.

    If you're going to be in the Lynchburg area Thursday, I hope to see you there! 

    :{> 

  • Deployment and Execution – Step 18 of the Stairway to Integration Services is Live at SQLServerCentral!

  • Presenting Enterprise Information Management in SQL 2012 and SQL 2014 in Reston 16 May!

    I am honored to participate in the Reston SQL Server 2014 Launch Update event – a half-day event held 16 May 2014 at the Microsoft Reston Office. You can learn more and register here.

    Art Rask will kick-off the event with an overview of new features of SQL Server 2014, including:

    • Integrated In-memory technology
    • AlwaysOn HA / DR for mission-critical workloads
    • Cloud and on-premises scenarios support
    • Resource governance improvements
    • Advanced security enhancements

    After this introduction, two tracks are available for attendees: the Engine track and the BI track.

    BI Track

    Tim Mitchell (blog | @Tim_Mitchell) – co-author of SSIS Design Patterns and Group Principal at Linchpin People – and I will be presenting on new capabilities in SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), including:

    • Upgrading from SSIS 2008
    • New designer features
    • Deployment
    • SSIS Catalog
    • Data Warehousing
    • Data quality services
    • Enterprise data integration design patterns
    • Master data services

    Reeves Smith will present on Analysis Services, Reporting Services, and Power BI, including:

    • Upgrading from SSAS 2008
    • Tabular model improvements
    • Implementing an enterprise BI strategy

    Engine Track

    Darryll Petrancuri will present “lessons from the field” featuring early-adoption stories of two new features of SQL Server 2014:

    • In-memory OLTP
    • Clustered columnstore indexes

    Casey Loranger will share significant improvements in SQL Failover Clustering, AlwaysOn Availability Groups, and cool new disaster recovery options using Microsoft Azure.

    I hope to see you there 16 May! Register today!

    :{>

  • Presenting SSIS 2014 Data Flow Tuning Tips and Tricks in Boston 14 May!

    I am honored to announce I will be presenting SSIS 2014 Data Flow Tuning Tips and Tricks at the New England SQL Server User Group Wednesday, 14 May 2014!

    SSIS 2014 Data Flow Tuning Tips and Tricks
    Want to go fast? This session is for you! Attend and learn techniques for developing, instrumenting, monitoring, and managing SSIS 2014 Data Flow performance in your data integration enterprise.

    If you will be in the Boston area 14 May, join us! Details here.

    :{>

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