Blog Post

My Intro to SQLFamily

By trade, I’m a Cognos BI developer that jumped the fence to MS SQL BI a few years ago. My first encounter with SQLfamily was at SQL Saturday #63, April 2, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.

First SQL Saturdays and SQL Rally

I came to a SQL Saturay #63 pre-con to learn more about the BI stack.  There, I met Sri and learned about the North Texas User Group.  I didn’t know anyone in town or in SQL, so after the pre-con Sri Sridharan and the NTSUG people welcomed me into their group, invited me to dinner, invited me to volunteer with some final setup work and then gave me a shirt for doing so.  That evening, I ended up going to dinner with SQLAndy even though I did not who SQLAndy was.  While I was there Sri introduced me to Kristin Ferrier, who runs the OKC SQL user group.

OKC SQL User Group

I came back to Oklahoma and I started attending Oklahoma City SQL Developers Group meetings to continue learning the MS BI stack and network other SQL users.   Through the years, we renamed it to OKC SQL Users Group to avoid confusion that it might just be for developers.  I now see fellow members at all sorts of geek gatherings.

Uhm, is this on… (presenting)

The OKC SQL user group encouraged me and others to present and develop sessions.  I started by presenting a very short session about using SSRS with SSAS cube data.  The session was fun for beginners because it let people who normally would not use MDX to use some MDX properties to do dynamic formatting in SSRS.  The officers encouraged me to submit for OKC SQL Saturday and it was selected.

SQL Saturdays

The OKC SQL Saturday session (available here)  went OK.  From the evaluations, most people were beginners and did learn something.  I also learned that when you are presenting, you can’t please everyone and that’s OK.   I met other presenters from across the nation who had traveled in to speak.  I also stayed busy behind the scenes volunteering.

After that encouragement and minor success, it became easier to submit to other nearby SQL Saturdays.   I decided I could afford to travel to adjacent states, so I submitted to Dallas (163 and 255) and Kansas City (191 and 300).  I was very surprised when I was accepted to both.  Each has it’s own personality, Dallas with gellato in the afternoon and KC with their famous BBQ crawl.    Both were great experiences and I look forward to going back.

After that experience, I made it a point to develop new sessions each year and sometimes update old sessions, as versions changed from 2008R2 to 2012 and now 2014.   I also incorporated other Microsoft technologies such as SharePoint and now PowerPivot.  I’ve even jumped the fence and presented at the local SharePoint user group.

I’m now an officer at OKC SQL and want to make sure I’m encouraging and developing other new speakers.

PASS Summit 2013

Summit First Timer Beanies

The officers in OKC SQL User group encouraged me to join them at PASS but I had no idea what to expect.  I started with a pre-con by Itzig Ben Gan and by the end of the day, my head was ready to explode.  The sessions were all high caliber.  I spent a lot of time on certifications, so I didn’t attend all the sessions I had hoped.   Getting the sessions on video solved that problem and freed me up to network.  I doubt if I’ll make it to Summit 2014, but hope to see everyone next year.

Through the years, I’ve followed more people on Twitter and gotten to know them through the PASS events.  The common thread is that they’ve become good at some aspect of working with data and they want to pass that on to others.   I’ve had people in my life who mentored me and I’ve had those who could have but didn’t.   The people in PASS are definitely part of that first group and that’s what I want to be a part of.


Allen Smith



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