Pre-Conference Schedule – Day 1

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The precon has 5 tracks:  2 DBA sessions, 2 BI sessions and 1 DEV session

All tracks start at 09:00 AM until 17:00 PM with breaks and lunch in between.


The Data Analysts’ Toolkit: R and Power BI

by Jen Stirrup (United Kingdom)

JenStirrupJen Stirrup is an award-winning, world recognised Business Intelligence and Data Visualisation expert, author, data strategist, MVP, and technical community advocate who is repeatedly honoured with peer recognition as one of the top 100 most global influential tweeters on Big Data topics.

Jen is an elected member of the Board of Directors for the Professional Association of SQL Server, holding the seat for Europe and holder of the Virtual Chapters portfolio worldwide.

Jen has over 16 years experience in delivering BI and dataviz projects for companies of various sizes around the world. Jen has presented at TechEd North America and Europe, Summit, SQLBits, as well as at SQLSaturday and other SQL events in the UK, in the US and on many occasions across Europe such as Hungary, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Bulgaria, Austria and the Netherlands. Therefore she works hard! She has proven evidence of being extremely involved in the SQL Community across the UK, Europe and the US, and has been for a number of years now.

She has also presented preconference sessions in Microsoft Business Intelligence and Data Visualisation for SQLPass, SQLSummit and at various countries around Europe.

When she is not working for the SQLFamily, Jen jointly runs a Copper Blue Consulting based in Hertfordshire with Allan Mitchell, where they helps business leaders derive value from their Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint and Office365 investment both here in the UK, Europe and the US, and more recently in Africa.

Jen has also won awards for her blog and community work, most notably from SQLServiaPedia as runner-up for best Business Intelligence blog. She is a former Awardee of PASS’s prestigious PASSion Award in 2012.

Blog | Twitter | Interview


Module 1: Introduction to Data Visualisation and Dashboarding Theory 

In this module, we will look at an overview of theory and scientific evidence about data visualisation. Understanding the ‘why’ can help to make us better at the ‘how’, regardless of the technology.We will also look at an overview of the Power BI suite of tools.

Module 2: Introduction to R for Business Analysis

In this module, we will look at an overview of R for business analysis and data analysis. We will look at its most commonly used features for implementing statistical and data analysis.

Module 3: The Big Picture: Putting Microsoft Power BI and R together 

Delegates will have different degrees of experience with different tools, so it is important to paint broad brush strokes to show off the technology working together. We will look at the following technologies in an end-to-end environment:

  • R
  • Power Pivot
  • Power Query
  • Power View
  • Excel

Module 4: Further Data Visualisations  

Learn about visualisations in accordance to theory and practice put forward by gurus such as Stephen Few and Edward Tufte. We will cover the complexities of displaying multivariate data since is potentially more complex by visualisations.

Module 5: Putting it all together – Dashboards

We will look at creating dashboards in Power View and Excel.To summarise, this precon aims to deliver a breadth of data visualisation knowledge, underpinned by cognitive psychology theory to provide deeper understanding of data visualisation, translated into Microsoft Power BI functionality.


Performance tuning for the SQL Server Developer

by Klaus Aschenbrenner (Austria)

Klaus Aschenbrenner provides independent SQL Server Consulting Services across Europe and the US. Klaus works with SQL Server 2005/2008/2012/2014 from the very beginnings.

In the years 2004 – 2005 Klaus was entitled with the MVP award from Microsoft for his tremendous support in the .NET Community. Klaus has also written the book Pro SQL Server 2008. Further information about Klaus you can find on his homepage at

Blog | Twitter | Interview


Are you a developer writing T-SQL queries for SQL Server databases? You are already mastering the basics about T-SQL, but you want to to reach a higher level in T-SQL to write better performing queries? Join my precon where I will talk a full day long about how to improve your T-SQL skills to solve complex problems, and how to further speed up your queries by applying a good indexing strategy to your T-SQL queries.

During the precon we will cover the following areas:

Module 1: Query Processing Basics

  • Set Theory
  • Predicate Logic
  • Relational Model
  • Logical Query Processing

Module 3: Temporary Data & Aggregations

  • Temp Tables
  • Table Variables
  • Common Table Expressions
  • Aggregations and Pivoting

Module 3 & 4: Working with Windowing Functions

  • Window Aggregate Functions
  • Ranking Functions
  • Distribution Functions
  • Offset Functions
  • Query Tuning Guidelines
  • Parallelism Optimizations


SQL Server 2014: What’s in it for you?

by Pieter Vanhove (Belgium)

Pieter VanhovePieter Vanhove is a SQL Server MVP and Database Consultant at Kohera in Belgium and has been working with SQL Server since 2000. Performance tuning, SQL audits, migrations and training are part of the job.

Pieter has also a profound knowledge in implementing high availability and disaster recovery solutions and loves the new Azure stuff. Together with the SQLUG in Belgium, he helps organizing SQL Server Days and is also a regular speaker at Belgian and international events.

Blog | Twitter | Interview


Upgrading to a new version of SQL Server is always a difficult decision for most companies. Hey… everything is just working fine, why should we upgrade? However, SQL Server 2014 has many new features that can definitely justify an upgrade. Are you curious about how these might give your organization any benefits? In this pre-conference, we will dig into the new features of SQL Server 2014. We will put a strong focus on the new Windows Azure and hybrid cloud functionalities like

  • Backup and Restore Databases to/from Windows Azure Storage
  • Maintain Database Replicas on Windows Azure Virtual Machines
  • Store SQL Server Data Files in Windows Azure Storage
  • Migrate existing SQL Server databases to Windows Azure Virtual Machines

Of course, there are a lot of other features that we cover during the day like In-memory OLTP engine, Buffer Pool Extension, Updateable Columnstore Indexes, Enhanced Windows Server 2012 Integration, new cardinality estimation and many more… The session is bulk loaded with demos and it will give you a good idea which features can be helpful in your environment or not.


All About Execution Plans: The key to understanding how SQL Server is processing your queries is the execution plan

by Grant Fritchey (USA)

Grant FritcheyGrant Fritchey is a Microsoft SQL Server MVP with over 20 years of experience in IT, including time spent in support and development.

He has worked with SQL Server since 6.0, back in 1995. He has developed in Visual Basic, Visual Basic .NET, C# and Java.

Grant volunteers at PASS. He has authored books for Apress and Simple-Talk and joined Red Gate Software as a Product Evangelist in January 2011.

Blog | Twitter | Interview


This full day session focuses on the execution plan. We will start right at the beginning and talk about the compile process. We’ll also go over how, and more importantly, why, plans are stored in cache and how they are removed.

We’ll spend time exploring the key differences between actual and estimated plans, and why those descriptions are more than a little misleading. We’ll also show you assorted methods to obtain a query’s execution plan and what the differences and tradeoffs of each are.

A full day class on execution plans would not be complete without spending time learning to reading them. You’ll learn where to find useful information in execution plans, what the common operators are and how to decipher the sometimes cryptic messages the plans are sending to you. We’ll also debunk some myths surrounding query operators and execution plans.

All of this is meant to further your understanding of how queries work in order to improve the queries you’re responsible for. With this in mind, we’ll show how you can use execution plans to tune queries. All of the information presented will be taken from real world examples. We’ll build on the information through the day so that at the end, after following us through multiple examples at your own computer, you’ll have a stronger understanding of how to read, interpret and actually use execution plans in your day-to-day job. 


Implementing Tabular Model Solution: The Essentials

by Julie Koesmarno (Australia)

Julie KoesmarnoJulie Koesmarno, SQL Server MVP, MCSE Data Platform and Business Intelligence, is a SQL Server and BI consultant at LobsterPot Solutions, with a bachelor’s degree in IT.

She has over 10 years of experience working with SQL Server for large-scale and multi-million-dollar OLTP and ETL projects as a SQL Server developer and system analyst/designer.

Her recent projects include delivering a SQL Server 2012 data warehouse and BI solutions for a leading finance company in the US and Australia.

Blog | Twitter | Interview


Are you a database developer and wondering how to jump to the Analysis side of the world of data?

SQL Server 2012 introduces a new flavour of SSAS, delivering fast access to insights via self-service and user friendly applications such as Excel and Power View, as well as familiar reporting applications such as Reporting Services; by taking advantage of In Memory databases in Analysis Services (most commonly known as Tabular Models).

Featuring a full day workshop packed with demos, our aim is to introduce the Tabular Model and develop the essential techniques for building a successful Tabular Model Solution for both self-service analysis and corporate BI. No prior knowledge of Tabular Model or Analysis Services is required.

In this session, you will learn the life cycle of Tabular Model implementation and designing analytical Data Visualisation with Tabular Model back-end.

This full day session will feature the following topics:

  • Introduction to developing Tabular Model in SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT)
  • Designing the data model
  • Enriching the data model with calculated measures and data analysis in DAX
  • Overview of querying data model with DAX
  • Administering and Securing Tabular Model
  • Gotchas, Tips and Tricks in Tabular Model Development
  • Near Real Time strategy in Tabular Model
  • Delivering Insightful Data Visualisation and Reporting


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