About three years ago my manager came up to me and said “We need someone to learn SSIS, you’re it.” So I started with my favorite approach. I picked a project, in this case monitoring backups on multiple servers, and then developed it using the new (to me) technology. This method gave me a quick (relatively) but very spotty understanding of SSIS. Fortunately I realize my knowledge is going to be incomplete and I go to my second favorite approach next. I bought a book on the subject to fill in the gaps. On the advice of Amazon I selected Knight’s 24-Hour Trainer Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services by Brian Knight, Devin Knight and Mike Davis.
Over the last few years I’ve recommended this book to everyone and anyone who’s wanted to learn about SSIS. I have to say that it is probably one of the best technical books I’ve ever read. I say this for a number of reasons. First I didn’t find any technical or editing errors. Now that doesn’t mean there weren’t any. It just means I didn’t notice them. Second was the layout of the book. It’s broken out into 49 “lessons”. Each lesson is about bite sized subject, for example “Manipulating Files with the File System Task”. They run around 3-7 pages each and consist of a description of the subject, then an example to try on your own. If you are having a hard time wrapping your head around a subject, each of them also has an associated video on the accompanying CD.
So what did this mean for me? Personally I dislike long chapters, or long descriptions of short subjects. I get board. In this book the lessons were small and concise enough they kept my attention and I was able to absorb them easily. I worked through the book in a layered approach. I quickly skimmed lessons I was already familiar with. If I wasn’t familiar with the subject, or if after skimming I realized I wasn’t as familiar as I thought, I then read more carefully and tried out the example. Most of the time this was enough, however on the occasions where I needed a bit more help, I went to the CD and watched the video lesson. By the time I finished with the book I was comfortable that I now had a reasonably good knowledge of SSIS. I wasn’t an expert, and I’m still not, but at least I was fairly sure I wasn’t missing anything major.
Unlike a lot of technical books I would say this book is equally helpful for someone who is first learning SSIS, letting them pick up each subject as slowly or as quickly as they want, or someone who already has some knowledge and either wants a refresher or to fill in some gaps. On top of that weather you are someone who learns better by reading, trying out examples, watching videos or some combination of the above then this book has it.
I’ll say it one more time. I really liked this book! Now if only they had similar books on high availability subjects I would have had a lot easier time on the administration certifications.