New All-Day Session: Designing Modern Data and Analytics Solutions in Azure

At the fall 2018 PASS Summit in Seattle, I'm excited to be co-presenting a full day pre-conference session with my good friend & fellow BlueGranite colleague Meagan Longoria

Why Do a Pre-Con?


I have a natural inclination to share information that I have learned. Being a hands-on techie is something I absolutely love, but I have a bit of educator in my blood as well. And, continually learning new skills is at the core of what makes me happy. All of which means that I aim to teach others in a way that I would want to learn. 

What Will You Learn? 

This session will very much be about planning the architecture and factors around decision-making, presented in a very practical and realistic way (full abstract can be found here). We will build the components for one reference architecture, using scripts that we will provide you. 


The full abstract can be found on the PASS Summit site. To highlight just a few of the topics that you'll hear about:

  • Going to the cloud - What's easier? What's harder? What trade-offs can you expect to make with respect to cost, control, complexity, performance, and security?
  • Cloud design patterns - In what ways are cloud design patterns different from traditional on-premises solutions? How does that change the typical roles for developers and administrators?
  • Schema-on-read - In what scenarios does schema-on-read work extremely well? In which situations is it not ideal?
  • Patterns-based development - What automation techniques can save you time, improve efficiency, and reduce the chance for error? 
  • Architecture - What does a BI/analytics/DW architecture look like if we value the concept of polyglot persistence vs. architectural simplicity? What kind of differences should we be aware of if we are using a distributed architecture? What are the Azure options for supporting data science and self-service BI?
  • Data storage - When do we want to analyze data in place vs. move it to another data store? What technology options do we have in Azure, and what factors do we want to consider for deciding between data virtualization and data integration? In what cases can you take advantage of a data lake in your architecture? 

Who is the Target Audience?

The ideal audience member has some experience as a data engineer, BI professional, or database developer, and is in the early stages of migrating or building solutions in Azure.

This session is broad because the data platform offerings in Azure are broad with many choices and considerations. Our day job *is* planning and building data solutions in Azure. Meagan and I are very excited to help you get started with building a solid data architecture in Azure.

More details and to register: Designing Modern Data and Analytics Solutions in Azure

Time for a Change - Groundhog Day Edition

Back in 2013 I announced I'd be joining BlueGranite's team. Well, it's like Groundhog Day because I'm joining BlueGranite again. Let me explain...

For 3 years I worked as a solution architect for BlueGranite, a data-oriented consulting firm focused on BI & analytics. In the fall of 2016 I made a change to an in-house BI role at SentryOne. And although this past year has been great in many ways, I missed some things about my prior role, company, and coworkers. So, I'm headed back to BlueGranite. I'm looking forward to working on interesting customer projects with the wicked-smart people at BlueGranite. Consulting is a good fit for me because it pushes me to stay current on technology & industry changes, and I really need to be learning something new all the time to be happy work-wise.

SentryOne is an awesome place - these people care deeply about doing good work. I'm happy I spent a year there. Even though it didn't end up being a perfect fit, it helped me identify what I value most career-wise. And, I still get to accompany the SentryOne team at PASS Summit (how cool is that?!?) to deliver a session at their bootcamp on Tuesday, Oct. 31st. During the bootcamp I'll discuss my telemetry project which involved numerous Azure services.

Aspects of the data lake portion of that implementation will be discussed at my pre-conference workshop at SQL Saturday Charlotte coming up on Oct. 13th. (Tickets are still available. Shameless plug, I know, I know.) If you're near Charlotte and haven't registered for the SQL Saturday training event on Oct. 14th, you can find more info here: I'm also delivering the workshop at SQL Saturday Washington DC on Dec. 8th

My husband says this is a little like a woman who remarries her ex-husband. (Yeah, he's a little out there sometimes, heh heh.) I'm not sure that's quite the right analogy, but I certainly am excited to rejoin the BlueGranite team.

Presenting a New Training Class on Architecting a Data Lake

I'm very excited to be presenting an all-day workshop on Architecting a Data Lake at the following events:

  1. Friday, April 13, 2018 as part of SQLSaturday in Raleigh, NC. Registration: Raleigh data lake workshop.
  2. Friday, December 8, 2017 as part of SQLSaturday in Washington DC. Registration is now closed.
  3. Friday, October 13, 2017 as part of SQLSaturday Charlotte, NC. Registration is now closed.

This full-day session will focus on principles for designing and implementing a data lake. There will be a mix of concepts, lessons learned, and technical implementation details. This session is approximately 70% demonstrations: there are 19 demos throughout the day. We will create a data lake, populate it, organize it, query it, and integrate it with a relational database via logical constructs. You will leave this session with an understanding of the benefits and challenges of a multi-platform analytics/DW/BI environment, as well as recommendations for how to get started. You will learn:

  • Scenarios and use cases for expanding an analytics/DW/BI environment into a multi-platform environment which includes a data lake
  • Strengths and limitations of a logical data architecture which follows a polyglot persistence strategy
  • Planning considerations for a data lake which supports streaming data as well as batch data processing
  • Methods for organizing a data lake which focuses on optimal data retrieval and data security
  • Techniques for speeding up development and refining user requirements via data virtualization and federated query approaches
  • Benefits and challenges of schema-on-read vs. schema-on-write approaches for data integration and on-demand querying needs
  • Deciding between Azure Blob Storage vs. Azure Data Lake Store vs. a relational platform

Specific technologies discussed and/or demonstrated in this session include Azure Data Lake Store, Azure Data Lake Analytics, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Blob Storage, SQL Server, PolyBase, and U-SQL:


If you have an Azure account and your own laptop, you will be able to follow along during the demonstrations if you'd like. Demo scripts will be provided with the workshop materials.

If you have any questions, you can contact me via the form on my About page (scroll down to find the form).

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A New Adventure at SQL Sentry

For the last 8 years, consulting roles have offered me a chance to learn and grow and expand my skills. Learning all of the time is really pivotal to my sense of happiness and satisfaction. In particular, BlueGranite has been an absolutely fantastic employer. They have a ton of really sharp people who are smart, motivated, and fun to be around. The leadership team truly values their technical staff, and they are trustworthy. I will miss a ton of people at BlueGranite (especially a know who you are), but it's time for a new adventure.

As of October 3rd I'll be joining the SQL Sentry team as a BI Architect. I'll be the second BI-type of person to join their staff. The first is Jim Benton, who I worked with at a previous employer. In fact, this job change is all Jim's fault - he spoke so incredibly highly of SQL Sentry that I just had to look into this new role they created.

So what will I be doing? Since I don't yet have clarity on what's proprietary information and what's not, I'll just say that I'll be helping with BI and analytics for their product line, as well as internal analytics projects. Some of the projects in the pipeline are going to be seriously awesome.

If you're not familiar with SQL Sentry, they are a software development company. SQL Sentry creates monitoring and performance optimization software for SQL Server, Windows, and some Azure components which are related to SQL Server. They have a variety of paid offerings in their suite of tools, but you can get started for free with a fantastic tool called Plan Explorer

As I write this I'm enjoying a week of leisurely life in between jobs. Well, leisure mixed in with a little closet cleaning and weed pulling that is. I look forward to posting all sorts of new info soon, and it'll be really interesting to see how my technical focus shifts over time.