Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta – Beginning SQL Server

At the Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta this past weekend in Denver, I presented a talk on “Beginning SQL Server”, a high level look at the product for non-technical people: managers, analysts, project managers, even very new technical people. I’ve heard this requested a few times at SQL Saturday events in 2009, so I put one together, with the idea that I’d explain to people at a very high level what SQL Server is.

And that’s hard.

I had spent quite a few hours over the last 4-5 weeks looking for analogies that would make sense to a laymen for databases. I used Excel, filing cabinets, and a few more ideas, mostly with images, to convey to laymen what a database was, and how SQL Server compared with other databases. There were a couple other local SQL Server pros on hand, I think mostly to support me, and they thought the explanations made sense. I also got quite a few complements from others that were non-technical people. A business analyst, an older gentleman from the VAX/COBOL era, and a couple other people mentioned that this made sense for them in understanding how SQL Server fits in an environment.

However I learned a few things as well.

  1. Lots of people don’t understand what a virtual machine is, and I struggled to explain it. So I need to work on that.
  2. The .NET framework needs to be added to my talk. I had someone struggling to figure out what it is and how it fits with SQL Server.
  3. I need a few more examples of how SQL Server data is used. I tried for some common sites (YouTube, NASDAQ, Amazon), but had a few blank looks.
  4. I need to better explain some differences between Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, and DB2
  5. I need another analogy for SSIS. I used Import/export,  and Extreme Makeover, but I need something that’s easier for the laymen to get.
  6. I might need to drop Service Broker, or shorten that section. It’s not necessarily that important.
  7. I need a way to explain what a set of data is, and how to manipulate a set of data at a time

Overall it went well, and I’ll be looking to put this on the site, as well as present it at some of the other events I attend. I’m going to try and get it scheduled as an early morning session or a first thing to get people up to speed.

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