I greatly enjoy doing presentations on a variety of topics, such as Big Data, Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence, SQL Server, Azure, and personal development.  If you would like me to do a presentation, just email me to ask!  Below are descriptions of presentations I have done before, along with other possible topics:


Relational databases vs Non-relational databases

There is a lot of confusion about the place and purpose of the many recent non-relational database solutions (“NoSQL databases”) compared to the relational database solutions that have been around for so many years.  In this presentation I will first clarify what exactly these database solutions are, how they compare to Hadoop, and discuss the best use cases for each.  I’ll discuss topics involving ACID vs BASE, scaling, data warehousing, polyglot persistence, CAP theorem, and SQL Server 2016 and PolyBase.  We will even touch on a new type of database solution called NewSQL.  If you are building a new solution it is important to understand all your options so you take the right path to success.

4/13/16, New Jersey SQL User Group (info) (slides)
4/19/16, Enterprise Data World, San Diego (info) (slides)
5/14/16, PASS SQL Saturday Rochester, NY (info) (slides)
5/25/16, 24 Hours of PASS: The Evolution of the Data Platform (recording) (slides)
8/11/16, New York SQL Server Users Group (info) (slides)
2/1/17, LEAP Norway, Redmond, WA (info) (slides)
5/20/17, PASS SQL Saturday New York City, NY (info) (slides)
6/3/17, PASS SQL Saturday Philadelphia, PA (info) (slides)

Should I move my database to the cloud?

So you have been running on-prem SQL Server for a while now.  Maybe you have taken the step to move it from bare metal to a VM, and have seen some nice benefits.  Ready to see a TON more benefits?  If you said “YES!”, then this is the session for you as I will go over the many benefits gained by moving your on-prem SQL Server to an Azure VM (IaaS).  Then I will really blow your mind by showing you even more benefits by moving to Azure SQL Database (PaaS/DBaaS).  And for those of you with a large data warehouse, I also got you covered with Azure SQL Data Warehouse.  Along the way I will talk about the many hybrid approaches so you can take a gradual approach to moving to the cloud.  If you are interested in cost savings, additional features, ease of use, quick scaling, improved reliability and ending the days of upgrading hardware, this is the session for you!

5/14/16, PASS SQL Saturday Rochester, NY (info) (slides)
12/10/16, PASS SQL Saturday Providence, RI (info) (slides)
2/25/17, PASS SQL Saturday Boston, MA (info) (slides)
5/17/17, Big Data Symposium New York City, NY (info) (slides)
12/9/17, PASS SQL Saturday Providence, RI (info) (slides)
3/24/18, PASS SQL Saturday Rochester, NY (info) (slides)

Big data architectures and the data lake

With so many new technologies it can get confusing on the best approach to building a big data architecture.  The data lake is a great new concept, usually built in Hadoop, but what exactly is it and how does it fit in?  In this presentation I’ll discuss the four most common patterns in big data production implementations, the top-down vs bottoms-up approach to analytics, and how you can use a data lake and a RDBMS data warehouse together.  We will go into detail on the characteristics of a data lake and its benefits, and how you still need to perform the same data governance tasks in a data lake as you do in a data warehouse.  Come to this presentation to make sure your data lake does not turn into a data swamp!

6/4/16, PASS SQL Saturday Philadelphia, PA (info) (slides)
12/10/16, PASS SQL Saturday Providence, RI (info) (slides)
4/29/16, PASS SQL Saturday Rochester, NY (info) (slides)

Is the traditional data warehouse dead?

With new technologies such as Hive LLAP or Spark SQL, do I still need a data warehouse or can I just put everything in a data lake and report off of that?  No!  In the presentation I’ll discuss why you still need a relational data warehouse and how to use a data lake and a RDBMS data warehouse to get the best of both worlds.  I will go into detail on the characteristics of a data lake and its benefits and why you still need data governance tasks in a data lake.  I’ll also discuss using Hadoop as the data lake, data virtualization, and the need for OLAP in a big data solution.  And I’ll put it all together by showing common big data architectures.

3/27/18, Agile Big Data Processing Summit (info) (slides)

Choosing technologies for a big data solution in the cloud

Has your company been building data warehouses for years using SQL Server?  And are you now tasked with creating or moving your data warehouse to the cloud and modernizing it to support “Big Data”?  What technologies and tools should use?  That is what this presentation will help you answer.  First we will level-set what big data is and other definitions, cover questions to ask to help decide which technologies to use, go over the new technologies to choose from, and then compare the pros and cons of the technologies.  Finally we will show you common big data architecture solutions and help you to answer questions such as: Where do I store the data?  Should I use a data lake?  Do I still need a cube?  What about Hadoop/NoSQL?  Do I need the power of MPP?  Should I build a “logical data warehouse”?  What is this lambda architecture?  And we’ll close with showing some architectures of real-world customer big data solutions.  Come to this session to get started down the path to making the proper technology choices in moving to the cloud.

5/20/17, PASS SQL Saturday New York City, NY (info) (slides)
12/9/17, PASS SQL Saturday Providence, RI (info) (slides)

Differentiate Big Data vs Data Warehouse use cases for a cloud solution

It can be quite challenging keeping up with the frequent updates to the Microsoft products and understanding all their use cases and how all the products fit together.  In this session we will differentiate the use cases for each of the Microsoft services, explaining and demonstrating what is good and what isn’t, in order for you to position, design and deliver the proper adoption use cases for each with your customers.  We will cover a wide range of products such as Databricks, SQL Data Warehouse, HDInsight, Azure Data Lake Analytics, Azure Data Lake Store, Blob storage, and AAS  as well as high-level concepts such as when to use a data lake.  We will also review the most common reference architectures (“patterns”) witnessed in customer adoption.

Client presentation (slides)

What’s new in SQL Server 2017

Covers all the new features in SQL Server 2017, as well as details on upgrading and migrating to SQL Server 2017 or to Azure SQL Database.

Client presentation (slides)

Azure SQL Database Managed Instance

Azure SQL Database Managed Instance is a new flavor of Azure SQL Database that is a game changer.  It offers near-complete SQL Server compatibility and network isolation to easily lift and shift databases to Azure (you can literally backup an on-premise database and restore it into a Azure SQL Database Managed Instance).  Think of it as an enhancement to Azure SQL Database that is built on the same PaaS infrastructure and maintains all it’s features (i.e. active geo-replication, high availability, automatic backups, database advisor, threat detection, intelligent insights, vulnerability assessment, etc) but adds support for databases up to 35TB, VNET, SQL Agent, cross-database querying, replication, etc.  So, you can migrate your databases from on-prem to Azure with very little migration effort which is a big improvement from the current Singleton or Elastic Pool flavors which can require substantial changes.

Client presentation (slides)

Introduction to Azure Databricks

Databricks is a Software-as-a-Service-like experience (or Spark-as-a-service) that is a tool for curating and processing massive amounts of data and developing, training and deploying models on that data, and managing the whole workflow process throughout the project.  It is for those who are comfortable with Apache Spark as it is 100% based on Spark and is extensible with support for Scala, Java, R, and Python alongside Spark SQL, GraphX, Streaming and Machine Learning Library (Mllib).  It has built-in integration with many data sources, has a workflow scheduler, allows for real-time workspace collaboration, and has performance improvements over traditional Apache Spark.

Client presentation (slides)

Microsoft cloud big data strategy

Think of big data as all data, no matter what the volume, velocity, or variety.  The simple truth is a traditional on-prem data warehouse will not handle big data.  So what is Microsoft’s strategy for building a big data solution?  And why is it best to have this solution in the cloud?  That is what this presentation will cover.  Be prepared to discover all the various Microsoft technologies and products from collecting data, transforming it, storing it, to visualizing it.  My goal is to help you not only understand each product but understand how they all fit together, so you can be the hero who builds your companies big data solution.

Client presentation (slides)

Microsoft Data Platform – What’s included

The pace of Microsoft product innovation is so fast that even though I spend half my days learning, I struggle to keep up. And as I work with customers I find they are often in the dark about many of the products that we have since they are focused on just keeping what they have running and putting out fires. So, let me cover what products you might have missed in the Microsoft data platform world. Be prepared to discover all the various Microsoft technologies and products for collecting data, transforming it, storing it, and visualizing it.  My goal is to help you not only understand each product but understand how they all fit together and there proper use case, allowing you to build the appropriate solution that can incorporate any data in the future no matter the size, frequency, or type. Along the way we will touch on technologies covering NoSQL, Hadoop, and open source.

Client presentation (slides)

Introducing Azure SQL Database

Azure SQL Database (SQL DB) is a database-as-a-service (DBaaS) that provides nearly full T-SQL compatibility so you can gain tons of benefits for new databases or by moving your existing databases to the cloud.  Those benefits include provisioning in minutes, built-in high availability and disaster recovery, predictable performance levels, instant scaling, and reduced overhead.  And gone will be the days of getting a call at 3am because of a hardware failure.  I’ll also talk about the new SQL Database Managed Instance that offers nearly 100% migration compatibility with SQL Server.  If you want to make your life easier, this is the presentation for you.

Client presentation (slides)

Introducing Azure SQL Data Warehouse

The new Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW) is an elastic data warehouse-as-a-service and is a Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) solution for “big data” with true enterprise class features.  The SQL DW service is built for data warehouse workloads from a few hundred gigabytes to petabytes of data with truly unique features like disaggregated compute and storage allowing for customers to be able to utilize the service to match their needs.  In this presentation, we take an in-depth look at implementing a SQL DW, elastic scale (grow, shrink, and pause), and hybrid data clouds with Hadoop integration via Polybase allowing for a true SQL experience across structured and unstructured data.

Client presentation (slides)

Benefits of the Azure cloud

The cloud is all the rage.  Does it live up to its hype?  What are the benefits of the cloud?  Join me as I discuss the reasons so many companies are moving to the cloud and demo how to get up and running with a VM (IaaS) and a database (PaaS) in Azure.  See why the ability to scale easily, the quickness that you can create a VM, and the built-in redundancy are just some of the reasons that moving to the cloud a “no brainer”.  And if you have an on-prem datacenter, learn how to get out of the air-conditioning business!

Client presentation (slides)

Implement SQL Server on an Azure VM

This presentation is for those of you who are interested in moving your on-prem SQL Server databases and servers to Azure virtual machines (VM’s) in the cloud so you can take advantage of all the benefits of being in the cloud.  This is commonly referred to as a “lift and shift” as part of an Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solution.  I will discuss the various Azure VM sizes and options, migration strategies, storage options, high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) solutions, and best practices.

Client presentation (slides)

Introduction to DocumentDB

DocumentDB is a powerful NoSQL solution.  It provides elastic scale, high performance, global distribution, a flexible data model, and is fully managed.  If you are looking for a scaled OLTP solution that is too much for SQL Server to handle (i.e. millions of transactions per second) and/or will be using JSON documents, DocumentDB is the answer.

Client presentation (slides)

What’s new in SQL Server 2016

Covers all the new features in SQL Server 2016, including SP1.

Client presentation (slides)

Building an Effective Data Warehouse Architecture

You’re a DBA, and your boss asks you to determine if a data warehouse would help the company.  So many questions pop into your head: Why use a data warehouse?  What’s the best methodology to use when creating a data warehouse?  Should I use a normalized or dimensional approach?  What’s the difference between the Kimball and Inmon methodologies?  What’s the difference between a data warehouse and a data mart?  Is there any hardware I can purchase that is optimized for a data warehouse?  What if I have a ton of data?  Join this session for the answers to all these questions.  You’ll leave with information that will amaze your boss and lead to a big raise… – or at least lead you down the correct path to adding business value to your organization!

11/14/2012, South Florida PASS
2/27/2013, PASS DBA Virtual Chapter (recording)
4/12/2013, PASS Business Analytics Conference (slides)
4/13/2013, PASS SQL Saturday Chicago (slides)
6/13/2013, Pragmatic Works (slides) (recording)
7/31/2013, 24 Hours of PASS: Summit Preview (slides) (recording)
9/3/2013, PASS DBA Fundamentals VC (slides) (recording)
9/10/2013, Houston PASS (slides)
10/17/2013, PASS Summit 2013 (slides)
5/8/2014, PASS Business Analytics Conference (slides)
9/27/14, SQL Saturday Boston BI Edition (slides)
2/10/15, PASS Rhode Island User Group (slides)
6/6/15, PASS SQL Saturday Philadelphia, PA (slides)
10/27/15, PASS South Jersey User Group (slides)

Building a Big Data Solution (Building an Effective Data Warehouse Architecture with Hadoop, the cloud and MPP)

As a follow-on to the presentation “Building an Effective Data Warehouse Architecture”, this vendor-free presentation will explain exactly what Big Data is and its benefits, including use cases.  We will discuss how Hadoop, the cloud and massively parallel processing (MPP) is changing the way data warehouses are being built.  We will talk about hybrid architectures that combine on-premise data with data in the cloud as well as relational data and non-relational (unstructured) data.  We will look at the benefits of MPP over SMP and how to integrate data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices.  You will learn what a modern data warehouse should look like and how the role of a Data Lake and Hadoop fit in.  The Big Data boom brings new challenges to those of you who define the architectures to create and consume business-critical data.  You will need guidance on the best solution for your data warehouse going forward.  This presentation will help to give you that guidance!

2/24/15, Pragmatic Works (slides) (recording)
10/17/15, SQL Saturday Boston BI Edition (slides)
12/12/15, SQL Saturday Providence, RI (slides)

Finding business value in Big Data (What exactly is Big Data and why should I care?)

I often hear from clients: “We don’t know much about Big Data – can you tell us what it is and how it can help our business?”  Yes!  The first step is this vendor-free presentation, where I start with a business level discussion, not a technical one.  Big Data is an opportunity to re-imagine our world, to track new signals that were once impossible, to change the way we experience our communities, our places of work and our personal lives.  I will help you to identify the business value opportunity from Big Data and how to operationalize it.  Yes, we will cover the buzz words: modern data warehouse, Hadoop, cloud, MPP, Internet of Things, and Data Lake, but I will show use cases to better understand them.  In the end, I will give you the ammo to go to your manager and say “We need Big Data an here is why!”  Because if you are not utilizing Big Data to help you make better business decisions, you can bet your competitors are.

8/26/14, Tableau Users Group (slides)
3/21/15, PASS SQL Saturday Richmond, VA (slides)
5/16/15, PASS SQL Saturday Rochester, NY (slides)
5/26/15, Big Data Virtual Chapter (slides)

How does Microsoft solve Big Data?

So you got a handle on what Big Data is and how you can use it to find business value in your data.  Now you need an understanding of the Microsoft products that can be used to create a Big Data solution.  Microsoft has many pieces of the puzzle and in this presentation I will show how they fit together.  How does Microsoft enhance and add value to Big Data?  From collecting data, transforming it, storing it, to visualizing it, I will show you Microsoft’s solutions for every step of the way.

5/16/15, PASS SQL Saturday Rochester, NY (slides)

Big Data: It’s all about the Use Cases

Big Data, IoT, data lake, unstructured data, Hadoop, cloud, and massively parallel processing (MPP) are all just fancy words unless you can find uses cases for all this technology. Join me as I talk about the many use cases I have seen, from streaming data to advanced analytics, broken down by industry. I’ll show you how all this technology fits together by discussing various architectures and the most common approaches to solving data problems and hopefully set off light bulbs in your head on how big data can help your organization make better business decisions.

12/14/15, Data Analytics Summit, Harrisburg University (info) (slides) (video)

Hadoop and the Enterprise Data Warehouse

You already know about big data and its benefits and you are ready to build a big data solution.  Now you need help in understanding the best architecture to use for your use case.  Should you use Hadoop for everything, or use a hybrid approach using a RDBMS, Data Lake, MPP, and cloud?  I’ll discuss the various data platforms of a hybrid approach, explain the logical data warehouse, and talk about which is using the best tool for the job (polyglot persistence).  I’ll show you the most common ways Hadoop is used to complement data warehouses.  If you are an architect trying to determine how big data and Hadoop affects the enterprise data warehouse, this is the presentation for you.

Hybrid cloud: Improve your on-prem SQL Server 2016 databases with Azure

This presentation will discuss hybrid cloud scenarios where you can use the Azure cloud to supplement your on-prem SQL Server 2016 databases.  There are now many options for high availability and disaster recovery.  I will cover features such as AlwaysOn AG, StretchDB, Azure SQL Data Sync, Log Shipping, SQL Server data files in Azure, Mirroring, Azure Site Recovery, and Azure Backup.

HA/DR options with SQL Server in Azure and hybrid

What are all the high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) options for SQL Server in a Azure VM (IaaS)?  Which of these options can be used in a hybrid combination (Azure VM and on-prem)?  I will discuss how data is stored in Azure, and then go over the HA/DR options such as AlwaysOn AG, Always On FCI, Basic Availability Groups, Database Mirroring, Log Shipping, Backup to Azure, SQL Server data files in Azure, Azure Site Recovery, Azure VM Availability Set, and Azure SQL Data Sync.

6/3/17, PASS SQL Saturday Philadelphia, PA (info) (slides)

Introduction to Microsoft’s Hadoop solution (HDInsight)

Did you know Microsoft provides a Hadoop Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)?  It’s called Azure HDInsight and it deploys and provisions managed Apache Hadoop clusters in the cloud, providing a software framework designed to process, analyze, and report on big data with high reliability and availability.  HDInsight uses the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) Hadoop distribution that includes many  Hadoop components such as HBase, Spark, Storm, Pig, Hive, and Mahout.  Join me in this presentation as I talk about what Hadoop is, why deploy to the cloud, and Microsoft’s solution.

Client presentation (slides)

Microsoft and Open Source Software

You may be surprised to find out how much Microsoft is now embracing open source software (OSS).  Just about any app, language, device, or OS works with Azure: Chef, puppet, java, Hadoop, MySQL, mongoDB, Red Hat, just to name a few.  Then there is SQL Server on Linux and HDInsight, which under the covers is Hortonworks.  In fact, 60% of all images in Azure Marketplace are based on Linux/OSS and 30% of VMs on Azure run Linux today.  Come to this presentation to hear more about Microsoft’s strategy to enable developers using any framework on any device or OS to create and power the world’s apps and services that run anywhere.

Overview on Azure Machine Learning

Machine learning allows us to build predictive analytics solutions of tomorrow – these solutions allow us to better diagnose and treat patients, correctly recommend interesting books or movies, and even make the self-driving car a reality.  Microsoft Azure Machine Learning (Azure ML) is a fully-managed Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) for building these predictive analytics solutions.  It is very easy to build solutions with it, helping to overcome the challenges most businesses have in deploying and using machine learning.  In this presentation, we will take a look at how to create ML models with Azure ML Studio and deploy those models to production in minutes.

Client presentation (slides)

Introduction to PolyBase

First introduced with the Analytics Platform System (APS), PolyBase simplifies management and querying of both relational and non-relational data using T-SQL.  It is now available in both Azure SQL Data Warehouse and SQL Server 2016.  The major features of PolyBase include the ability to do ad-hoc queries on Hadoop data and the ability to import data from Hadoop and Azure blob storage to SQL Server for persistent storage.  A major part of the presentation will be a demo on querying and creating data on HDFS (using Azure Blobs).  Come see why PolyBase is the “glue” to creating federated data warehouse solutions where you can query data as it sits instead of having to move it all to one data platform.

Client presentation (slides)

Modern Data Warehousing with the Microsoft Analytics Platform System

The traditional data warehouse has served us well for many years, but new trends are causing it to break in four different ways: data growth, fast query expectations from users, non-relational/unstructured data, and cloud-born data.  How can you prevent this from happening?  Enter the modern data warehouse, which is able to handle and excel with these new trends.  It handles all types of data (Hadoop), provides a way to easily interface with all these types of data (PolyBase), and can handle “Big Data” and provide fast queries.  Is there one appliance that can support this modern data warehouse?  Yes!  It is the Analytics Platform System (APS) from Microsoft (formally called the Parallel Data Warehouse or PDW), which is a Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) appliance.  In this session I will dig into the details of the modern data warehouse and APS.  I will give an overview of the APS hardware and software architecture, identify what makes APS different, and demonstrate the increased performance.  In addition I will discuss how Hadoop, HDInsight, and PolyBase fit into this new modern data warehouse.

5/3/14, PASS SQL Saturday Dallas (slides)
5/22/14, Pragmatic Works (slides) (recording)
8/12/14, Central New Jersey SQL User Group (slides)
9/30/14, Beyond Tech-Ed, Rochester, NY (slides)
10/7/14, Beyond Tech-Ed, Hartford, CT (slides)
10/9/14, Beyond Tech-Ed, Cambridge, MA (slides)
4/1/15, APS roundtable with Pragmatic Works, Cambridge, MA (slides)
Presented to dozens of Fortune 500 companies over the last year

Azure Stream Analytics

Azure Stream Analytics (ASA) is an Azure Service that enables real-time insights over streaming data from devices, sensors, infrastructure, and applications.  In this presentation, we provide introduction to the service, common use cases, example customer scenarios, business benefits, and demo how to get started.  We will quickly build a simple real time analytic application that uses an IoT device to ingest data (Event Hubs), process and analyze data (Stream Analytics) and visualize data (PowerBI).

Client presentation (slides)

Cortana Analytics Suite

Cortana Analytics Suite is a fully managed big data and advanced analytics suite that transforms your data into intelligent action.  It is comprised of data storage, information management, machine learning, and business intelligence software in a single convenient monthly subscription.  This presentation will cover all the products involved, how they work together, and use cases.

Client presentation (slides)

What exactly is Business Intelligence?

BI is the “Gathering of data from multiple sources to present it in a way that allows executives to make better business decisions”. I will describe in more detail exactly what BI is, what encompasses the Microsoft BI stack, why it is so popular, and why a BI career pays so much. I will review specific examples from previous projects of mine that show the benefits of BI and its huge return-on-investment. I’ll go into detail on the components of a BI solution, and I will discuss key concepts for successfully implementing BI in your organization.

4/13/2013, PASS SQL Saturday Chicago (slides)

Best Practices to Deliver BI Solutions

If your company is planning to build a data warehouse or BI solution, you need to be aware that BI projects have high failure rates. Gartner says between 70% to 80% of corporate business intelligence projects fail. And with “Big Data” adding more complexity you can expect even more failures. However, the major causes of these failures are well known and can be avoided by implementing a set of best practices.

I have worked on dozens of end-to-end BI projects and have seen my share of successes and failures. I will talk about the reasons BI projects fail and share best practices and lessons learned so your BI project will fall into the “successful” category.

8/6/2013, Pragmatic Works (slides) (recording)
5/10/14, PASS SQL Saturday Houston (slides)
9/27/14, SQL Saturday Boston BI Edition (slides)
10/4/14, SQL Saturday Charlotte BI Edition (slides)

Why a Company Should Consider DW/BI

What is a data warehouse and why should a company use one? What is business intelligence and why should a company use it? I’ll answer those questions, as well as discuss BI concepts, the types of BI solutions and the BI lifecycle. And end with a discussion about the Microsoft BI stack.

Client presentation (slides)

Power BI Made Simple

A demonstration-heavy presentation of Power BI, showing you how all the various tools and technologies work together: Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View, Power Map, Power BI sites, Data Management, Power BI Admin center, Power BI for mobile, and Power BI Q&A.  Updated to show Power BI Desktop, the latest features in Power BI, and Excel 2016.

With so many tools it can be hard to understand not only the purpose of each tool, but how you can develop a solution that uses the features of each tool.  This presentation will help to make this more clear and also show you the “power” in Power BI.  It really is a game changer.

Client presentation (video) (slides)
12/8/15, Tech Tuesday, NYC (slides)

Introduction to Microsoft’s Master Data Services (MDS)

Companies struggle with consolidating the same set of data from multiple systems to accurately report on critical business information.  For example, having customer lists in multiple systems that often have the same customer in more than one list, sometimes with a different spelling.  Master Data Services is bundled with SQL Server 2012 to help resolve many of the Master Data Management issues that companies are faced with when integrating data.  In this session, James will show an overview of Master Data Services 2012, including the out of the box Web UI, the highly developed Excel Add-in, and how to get started with loading MDS with your data.

12/20/2012, PASS Data Architecture Virtual Chapter (recording)
2/12/2013, Houston PASS (slides)

Overview of Microsoft Appliances

Learn how SQL Server can scale to HUNDREDS of terabytes for BI/DW solutions.  This session will focus on Fast Track Solutions and Appliances, Reference Architectures, and Parallel Data Warehousing (PDW).  Included will be performance numbers and lessons learned on the very first production PDW deployment in the world and how a successful BI solution was built on top of it using SSAS.

Learn about all the different appliances and how they can save you a tremendous amount of time and money instead of building on your own: HP Business Decision Appliance (BDA), HP Business Data Warehouse appliance (BDW), HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance (EDW), and HP Database Consolidation Appliance (DBC).

If you are involved in the decision-making in your company for purchasing one or more servers to be used for SQL Server, this session will make you aware there are options outside of the usual ordering a server and internally installing the hardware, OS, and SQL Server.

3/13/2012, Houston PASS
4/21/2012, Houston SQL Saturday
4/11/2013, PASS Business Analytics Conference (slides)

Top BI enhancements for SQL Server 2012

SQL Server 2012 has an abundance of new features and enhancements, with business intelligence (BI) being one area given a lot of attention. Microsoft understands the importance of BI and continues to make things easier and more powerful for BI developers and end users. In this session I will cover the most important of these new features, broken out into the logical areas seen in a full end-to-end development of a BI solution: data integration, data management & warehousing, and end-user reporting.

3/12/2013, Houston PASS (slides)

End-User Microsoft BI tools – Clearing up the confusion

Excel, SSRS, Report Builder, PowerPivot, PerformancePoint, Power View. Which one should I use? I will discuss the pros and cons of each and give demos of all the tools so you know the best tool for each situation.

Given two types of underlying data sources (a data warehouse and a OLAP cube built from the data warehouse) there are many different possible presentation layers (client tools) that serve different user communities with varying usage profiles. There is a lot of confusion on what is the best tool to use. This presentation will hopefully clear up the confusion and give you some guidance on the best tool for each situation.

Client presentation (slides)

Methods for Populating a Data Warehouse Each Day

Designing and creating the process to extract the data from the source system is usually the most time-consuming task in the ETL process if not the entire data warehousing process. Source systems are usually very complex, with tables and fields in the databases that are difficult to understand and poorly documented. This makes determining the data which needs to be extracted a challenge. And usually the data needs to be extracted on a daily basis to supply all changed data to the data warehouse in order to keep it up-to-date. Moreover, the source systems usually cannot be modified, or its performance or availability adjusted, to accommodate the needs of the data warehouse extraction process. The focus of this session will be the technical considerations of having different kinds of sources and extraction methods. We will discuss the most common techniques used for extracting data from source databases and the ways to determine the data that has changed since the last extraction.

Transitioning from self-service BI to corporate BI

Self-service BI is all the rage as many power users are using PowerPivot to build their own reports.  But what happens if those users want to make those reports available to everyone?  How do you make those reports available to the enterprise?

Self-service allows power users to build PowerPivot reports, proof-of-concept reports, and ad-hoc queries.  This session will discuss these benefits, then talk about how to take those reports to the next level, which is team/workgroup BI via PowerPivot for Excel and PowerPivot for SharePoint, and the next level after that: corporate/organizational BI via SSAS.

Master Data Management (MDM) Hub Architectures

There are three basic styles of architecture used for Master Data Management hubs: the registry, the repository, and the hybrid approach.  I will provide details of all three so you can make the most informed decision when creating your MDM hub.

The Master Data Management (MDM) hub is a database with the software to manage the master data that is stored in the database and keep it synchronized with the transactional systems that use the master data.  There are three basic styles of architecture used for Master Data Management hubs: the registry, the repository, and the hybrid approach.  There are also a few other popular variations.  I will provide details on all these styles as well as present real-world examples so when you come away from the session you have a solid understanding of all the styles and then have the confidence to determine the right architecture for your company.

Professional Development

Enhancing your career: Building your personal brand

In three years I went from a complete unknown to a popular blogger, speaker at PASS Summit, and a SQL Server MVP.  Along the way I saw my yearly income triple.  Is it because I know some secret?  Is it because I am a genius?  No!  It is just about laying out your career path, setting goals, and doing the work.  It’s about building your personal brand and stepping out of your comfort zone.  It’s about overcoming your fear of taking risks.  If you can do those things, you will be rewarded.  I will discuss how you too can go from unknown to well-known.  I will talk about building your community presence by blogging, presenting, writing articles and books, twitter, LinkedIn, certifications, interviewing, networking, and consulting and contracting.  Your first step to enhancing your career will be to attend this session!

5/10/14, PASS SQL Saturday Houston (slides)
5/30/15, PASS SQL Saturday New York City, NY (slides)
3/19/16, PASS SQL Saturday Boston MA (info) (slides)
12/3/16, PASS SQL Saturday Washington DC (info) (slides)

Learning to present and becoming good at it

Have you been thinking about presenting at a user group?  Are you being asked to present at your work?  Is learning to present one of the keys to advancing your career?  Or do you just think it would be fun to present but you are too nervous to try it?  Well take the first step to becoming a presenter by attending this session and I will guide you through the process of learning to present and becoming good at it.  It’s easier than you think!  I am an introvert and was deathly afraid to speak in public.  Now I love to present and it’s actually my main function in my job at Microsoft.  I’ll share with you journey that lead me to speak at major conferences and the skills I learned along the way to become a good presenter and to get rid of the fear.  You can do it!

4/29/16, PASS SQL Saturday Rochester, NY (info) (slides)
6/3/17, PASS SQL Saturday Philadelphia, PA (info) (slides)
9/23/17, PASS SQL Saturday Boston BI Edition (info) (slides)

How to build your career

In three years I went from a complete unknown to a popular blogger, speaker at PASS Summit, a SQL Server MVP, and then joined Microsoft.  Along the way I saw my yearly income triple.  Is it because I know some secret?  Is it because I am a genius?  No!  It is just about laying out your career path, setting goals, and doing the work.

I’ll cover tips I learned over my career on everything from interviewing to building your personal brand.  I’ll discuss perm positions, consulting, contracting, working for Microsoft or partners, hot fields, in-demand skills, social media, networking, presenting, blogging, salary negotiating, dealing with recruiters, certifications, speaking at major conferences, resume tips, and keys to a high-paying career.

Your first step to enhancing your career will be to attend this session! Let me be your career coach!

3/24/18, PASS SQL Saturday Rochester, NY (info) (slides)

How to Make a LOT More Money as a Consultant

James will show you the ropes on how to double your income by going from a salaried permanent employee to an independent consultant. James will discuss: Differences between perm, consulting, contracting; Understanding how placement/consulting companies work; Salary vs W2 vs 1099; Using social media (blogging, twitter, LinkedIn) and job boards; Certifications; Most in-demand skills; Developing the needed technical and communication skills; Interviewing and resume tips; How to negotiate; Networking yourself; and the additional risks and higher expectations that go with being a consultant.

1/10/2012, Houston PASS (slides)

Become a BI Independent Consultant!

If you are bold enough, you can enter the world of independent consulting and watch your income soar! BI is hot and with a little effort you can step out of your “comfort zone” and enjoy the benefits of being your own boss. James will show you the ropes on how to double or even triple your income by going from a salaried permanent employee to an independent consultant. James will discuss: Differences between perm, consulting, contracting; Understanding how placement/consulting companies work; Salary vs W2 vs 1099; Using social media (blogging, twitter, LinkedIn) and job boards; Certifications; Most in-demand skills; Developing the needed technical and communication skills; Interviewing and resume tips; How to negotiate; Networking yourself; and the additional risks and higher expectations that go with being a consultant.

What is it like to work at Microsoft?

James has worked at Microsoft for the past year. Before that, he was an independent consultant as well as having worked as a permanent employee and contractor and numerous companies. What is different about Microsoft? What is it like to see how things work “behind the curtain”? How does it compare to what he anticipated it to be like? Come join this session to find out more working for Microsoft: benefits, compensation, training, career advancement, work-life balance, travel, types of jobs, etc. We will leave plenty of time to ask questions!

4/18/15, PASS SQL Saturday Boston MA (slides)

Transitioning to a BI role

Business Intelligence is an extremely hot career.  If you are a DBA or have another IT position, how can you transition to a BI role?  I will describe what exactly BI is, what encompasses the Microsoft BI stack, why it is so popular, and why a BI career pays so much. Then I will delve into the steps to take to become a BI expert and how I made the transition, going from a salaried DBA to a high-in-demand and high-income BI consultant.  If I can go from a complete unknown to building a personal brand that allowed me to present at the PASS Business Analytics conference in just two years, so can you!

2/13/2013, PASS Professional Development Chapter (recording) (slides)
10/19/2013, PASS SQL Saturday Charlotte (slides)
10/17/15, SQL Saturday Boston BI Edition (slides)

Other topics:


  • Introducing the Azure Data Lake
  • Introducing the Azure Data Catalog
  • Hadoop: cutting through the hype to find out how it can help you can how it cannot
  • SQL Server Analysis Service (SSAS): The perfect source for BI
  • Why You Need a Data Warehouse
  • The future of BI

Professional Development

  • How to use LinkedIn to enhance your career
  • How to nail that Interview: Tips and tricks, PLUS The art of negotiation: How to negotiate your salary/pay rate
  • How to find a contract/perm job: Networking yourself so the jobs find you by building up your personal brand
  • Blogging: All you need to know to start blogging and reap the benefits
  • Consulting vs contracting vs perm: Pros and cons of each
  • Step out of your comfort zone: keys to a high-paying career

2 Responses to Presentations

  1. Pingback: Want me to do a presentation? - SQL Server - SQL Server - Toad World

  2. Dhananjay says:

    Thank you so much James….. hope you recognized me… I have seen most of training from you (Pragmatics Work) , those was really fantastic and awesome …. I have been working completely in MSBI/MSSQL technology last 10 yrs and hearing that Power Bi,Power Pivot/query etc is also good in market now , so I am confused that which one is in best demand in coming future for best career path.

    Is it good to continue MSBI/Power etc with MS technology or can take risk and learn and switch to BIGDATA and Hadoop. As I know Hadoop required good Java and DBA/Networking etc knowledge in high expert level , please guide me .

    91 9963004441

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *