This past Saturday, I made the relatively short (3 hour) drive north to Oklahoma City to participate in their first ever SQL Saturday event. I have to say that this was one of the best SQL Saturday events I’ve attended, which is especially notable since it was their first such event. The venue they chose was the Moore Norman Technology Center, which was well suited for the site and layout of this event. The big room used for the opening keynote by Steve Jones was subdivided (using remote-controlled motorized room dividers – very cool!) into the three rooms required for the three tracks. Although one of the rooms had some audio and video issues, the facilities were more than adequate, and building staff were on hand to help out with the few issues that came up. Lots of parking, wide hallways, and plenty of restrooms made the facility easy to navigate.
This SQL Saturday had just three tracks, the smallest number of any such event I’ve attended. It worked out well, though – the tracks were broken out by discipline (DBA, dev, BI) so each timeslot offered a variety of topics.
I got to present two sessions in the BI track: I did my T-SQL vs. SSIS session that I originally wrote for SQL Rally, and I also offered an introductory BI session that briefly covered SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS. Each of my sessions was well attended – 48 in the first, and 66 in the second – with lots of audience interaction. By the way, my slide decks and code samples are available on the Presentation Notes page of my website.
The OKC group hosted a speaker dinner the night before, as well as an attendee reception after the event on Saturday. Unfortunately, the notification about the attendee reception was sent out late during the week before the event, and as a result there wasn’t a big turnout on Saturday. However, a good number of speakers showed up on Friday night. The OKC group was kind enough to buy a generous round of appetizers both nights.
This was a well organized event, so I don’t have much to critique. Here are a few observations I made:
- Signage was lacking. Although the building was easy to find using GPS, I didn’t see any signs at all pointing to the building, which entrance to use, etc. Fortunately, it was not a huge building, and even though I entered through the wrong door I was able to quickly find my way.
- Volunteer shirts – I was asked a lot of questions about logistics and such (where are the restrooms? What time is session <X>?) simply because I had a speaker shirt. I like having the event staff wearing different colored shirts so they can quickly be identified as someone in the know.
- Communication. As I mentioned, the word about the reception went out late last week. Even though it was branded as an “unofficial” event, I think there would have been a better turnout had the message gone out sooner.
Apart from those issues, I thought the event went very well. Hats off to Matthew Brimer, Kristin Ferrier, and the rest of the Oklahoma City SQL crew for hosting an excellent event.
As an aside, we had a significant representation from the Dallas area at this event. I didn’t get an exact count, but there were at least 10 speakers from the Dallas area, and at least another 10 attendees. Among those in attendance:
- Ryan Adams (with whom I shared a car and room)
- Russ Loski
- Greg Galloway (my colleague at Artis Consulting)
- Sri Sridharan
- Sean & Jen McCown
- Paul Hunter
- Shawn Weisfeld
Thanks again to the OKC crew for having us! Congrats on a great event, and we look forward to it again next year.