October Sydney training roundup – MS BI, Cloud, Analytics

The end of the year is closing in fast but there’s still plenty of chances to learn from specialist providers Agile BI, Presciient and of course, me!

Topics cover the full spread of DW, BI and Analytics so there’s something for every role in the data focused organisation.

Build your Data Warehouse in SQL Server & SSIS with the BI Monkey

Nov 24/25 – Are you about to build your Data Warehouse with Microsoft tools and want to do it right first time?

This course is designed to help a novice understand what is involved in building a Data Warehouse both from a technical architecture and project delivery perspective. It also delivers you basic skills in the tools the Microsoft Business Intelligence suite offers you to do that with.

Get more detail here

Agile BI workshops

Power BI specialist Agile BI brings your product updates on this key new self service BI technology:

Oct 15 – Power BI workshop – Excel new features for reporting and data analysis – more detail here

Oct 30 – What Every Manager Should Know About Microsoft Cloud, Power BI for Office 365 and SQL Server 2014 – more detail here

Presciient Training

Dr Eugene Dubossarsky shares his deep business and technical exercise across a range of advanced and basic analytics. Full details here but the key list is:

Dec 9/10 – Predictive analytics and data science for big data

Dec 11/12 –Introduction to R and data visualisation

Dec 16/17 –Data analytics for fraud and anomaly detection, security and forensics

Dec 18/19 – Business analytics and data for beginners


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July Training roundup

Ok, so there’s a lot of things happening in July or later in the year which you should be aware of, led either by me or people I know deliver great training across Microsoft BI, SQL Server, R, Data Science, Predictive modelling…  and more.

Build your Data Warehouse in SQL Server & SSIS with the BI Monkey

There’s a big advert to the right – this workshop taking place 28/29 July will help you get to grips with the core concepts of data warehousing, give you hands on experience implementing those concepts using the Microsoft SQL Server BI Toolset, then round it out with making you aware of all the peripheral details that can enhance your solution and success.

Register Now

AgileBI Workshops on SQL Server 2014 & PowerBI

AgileBI – which includes Iman Eftekhari, Viktor Isakov and myself – are delivering the following workshops:

  • What Every Manager Should Know About Microsoft Cloud, Power BI for Office 365 and SQL Server 2014 – 11/2 day session on July 24th
  • SQL Server 2014 & Power BI Jump Start – Full Day Workshop on July 31st
  • Power BI workshop – Excel new features for reporting and data analysis – lunchtime July 10th

Register Now

Presciient Training on R, Data Science & Predictive Modelling

  • Training led by the ever interesting Dr Eugene Dubossarsky in September across Canberra, Sydey & Melbourne – Sydney dates below:
  • Introduction to R and data visualisation – 9/10 Sep
  • Predictive modelling, data science and big data – 11/12 Sep
  • Data analytics for fraud and anomaly detection, security and forensics – 16/17 Sep
  • Advanced R – 18/19 Sep

Register Now

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SQL Server Data Warehouse Training in Sydney – July 28

The eagle eyed among you may have noticed I’ve added a big countdown banner to the right of the page announcing a course “Build your Data Warehouse in SQL Server & SSIS with the BI Monkey“, running for 2 days from July 28.

The course is aimed at giving an overview of how to build and manage a Data Warehouse using the SQL Server platform as a base. It’s aimed to be a solid mix of Data Warehouse theory and hands on development to get the concepts locked in. For full details see my new “Training” page, but the key outcomes are:

  • Learn how to get the Architecture right and keep your solution flexible
  • Understand the whole lifecycle of a DW project
  • Get hands on with the tools you need to move data


The high level agenda is:

  • The Three Main Data Warehouse architectures – Kimball, Inmon & Data Vault
  • SSIS Basics – Projects, Control Flows and Data Flows
  • Moving Data with SSIS
  • ETL Control Frameworks
  • Database considerations
  • How HDInsight (Hadoop) fits in
  • Code Management with Team Foundation Server
  • Testing
  • Build Automation
  • Deployment
  • Management
  • MDS, DQS and other useful Microsoft Toys

Click the button to register now – look forward to seeing you!

Eventbrite - Build your Data Warehouse in SQL Server & SSIS with the BI Monkey

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What’s new in SQL Server 2014 – Full Day Workshop in Sydney

Shameless plug time – I’ll be demoing HDInsight at the event below in Sydney on May 28th – grab a ticket here. The text below is pretty much a straight copy from the event website, so hop over there for up to date details. There’s some great and knowledgeable speakers… and me :)

SQL Server 2014 Jump Start

Mission Critical Performance, BI, Big Data and Cloud

When: 28th of May, 9:00 AM to 5 PM

Where: Saxons, Level 12, 10 Barrack Street, Sydney NSW 2000

  • Discover the impact of cloud technologies on Business Intelligence
  • Accelerate your solutions with in-memory databases
  • Enable analytics for your users with the latest wave of self-service solutions

Register today and join our special event featuring SQL Server experts and guest speakers from Microsoft.

In this full day event, you will learn about the new features and enhancements to Microsoft SQL 2014 and Power BI, as well as how to create business value through features such as in-memory databases and Power BI reporting.


Who Should Attend:

  • IT professionals or DBAs using SQL Server Enterprise, with multi-terabyte OLTP or OLAP databases, interested in increased scaling, high availability, and performance
  • BI developers or administrators interested in an overview of the SQL Server big data analytics platform
  • Data professionals interested in the options for SQL Server hybrid solutions both on premise and in the cloud



  • Victor Isakov (MVP, MCT, Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft Certified Architect: SQL Server)
  • James Beresford (www.bimonkey.com)
  • Iman Eftekhari (MCSE, MCITP: Business Intelligence)
  • Dean Corcoran (Microsoft)
  • Shashank Pawar (Microsoft)



  • 09:00 am: Opening by Microsoft
  • 09:30 am: Session 1: SQL Server 2014 editions and engine enhancements
  • 10:30 am: Morning Tea
  • 10:45 am: Session 2: Data analytics and BI
  • 11:45 am: Session 3: Cloud and Big Data
  • 12:15 pm: Lunch
  • 01:15 pm: Demo 1: Database enhancements
  • 02:45 pm: Demo 2: Self-service BI in the Cloud
  • 03:30 pm: Afternoon tea
  • 04:00 pm: Demo 3: Big Data

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SQL PASS DW/BI VC on Youtube!

Enough acronyms for you?

SQL PASS (Professional Association of SQL Server) runs what they call “Virtual Chapters” – that provide online training and activity – I presented to one last year as a practice run for my TechEd session. The BI/DW chapter is run by local SQL MVP Julie Koesmarno (perhaps some of you know her as Ms SQL Girl).

Anyway – the VC has now caught up with this wacky Youtube fad thing and got themselves a Youtube Channel. There’s a couple of videos I’m going to get stuck into sharpish – the Data Vault (subject for future blog post) and BIML (same) ones. There’s lots more and plenty to come, so bookmark it as a new and useful resource.

So thanks Julie – I’ve added a link to her blog on the blogroll & to the YouTube channel under training resources.


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Passed 70-448: SQL 2008 BI Developer

Hurrah! At long last I finally got round to taking 70-448: SQL 2008 BI Developer and passed!

Test Exams

As well as blowing my own trumpet, there is also a point to this post about studying for these exams – and specifically using practice exams. This is a bit controversial – as evidenced by this recent thread in the MSDN SSIS Forums. Some exams are a brain dump – like Test King – and if you just want to learn the questions and answers, then that will serve you well, but your certification will be worthless once people find that you don’t actually know what you are talking about.

I’ve been using Transcender‘s exams to get me through 70-448 (and it’s 2005 predecessor) and found in useful because it helped me understand what kind of questions I’d be facing, but also where I needed to study. So rather than a rote learning exercise, I used them as a springboard to guide where I needed to study.

I’m not going to endorse Transcender particularly – I found myself having to correct far too manyof their questions where either the question was misleading, or the answer was simply wrong. To their credit they did actually respond to the issues I raised and corrected them, but it’s frustrating when you review your answers from a practice run and come to the realisation that the exam itself was wrong.

I’ve also found their customer service unacceptably slow – being a consultant I migrate laptops and o/s a lot and have burnt through my allotted product activations – I’ve had to request a manual activation code. I did this 4 days ago and am still waiting…

Also, the Exam Sucks – a bit

Some of the critiques levelled above at Transcender’s practice exam also apply to the real thing. Some of the questions and answers are vaguely worded or use terms that don’t match the product itself.

However my biggest bugbear is the scope of the exam. There’s quite a few questions on things that bear no relevance to the day to day experience of a BI Developer. I point heavily to the questions on SSRS Configuration files which in practice are rarely touched, or the emphasis on the use of Checkpoints in SSIS which most people avoid due to their poor implementation. But I guess this is true of many exams regardless of subject so is a bit forgivable.

Regardless, I still think certifications have their value – they force you to study areas you are less familiar with. It won’t make you proficient, but it will at least make you aware of capabilities. Experience, however, still trumps a bit of paper :)

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SSAS Training Resource

I have added a link to Craig Utley’s excellent SSAS training video resource site LearnMicrosoftBI.com, which contains training videos on a variety of subjects in SSAS – dimensional modelling, Actions and the one I found most useful explaining the tricky but critical subject of Attribute Relationships (Video SSAS 109). Recommended for anyone starting out in SSAS or needing concepts clarifying.

Registration is required to download the videos (not sure why) – but it seems to generate no spam so not a big issue, and the content is very high quality for free content.

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Learning SSIS – first steps

I will be starting my series of posts on SSIS components shortly but for now I’ll introduce the resource that got me started on moving from DTS to SSIS.

LearnIntegrationServices.com offers a series of easy to follow videos – just recordings of the tutor’s screen as he walks through various SSIS concepts and techniques. Unless you are an American (or perhaps even if you are) his sense of humour will slowly drive you nuts, but it’s a small price to pay. According to the website today a 60 day subscription costs a mere 70 US Dollars, and gives plenty of time to yank down all the videos you are interested in. There are some free videos available so you can gauge the suitability to your learning style.

I advise having a PC with SQL Server / BIDS installed on it to play with as you watch – I found trying to replicate the tutor’s actions – and try other things – a helpful way to embed the knowledge quickly.

In case you are wondering, i’m not being paid for this, nor have I been asked to – it’s simply a good, cheap resource.

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Passed MCTS BI

Phew, managed to pass my MCTS (2005 BI) this morning – this makes me the one of less than 3,000 in the world!

It’s been a long road, i’ve learnt alot – though I still struggle with Data Mining, and I think the exam puts far too much emphasis on what is a complex and little used feature. But glad it’s over…   now to go for MCITP.

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