For IT/Dev Connections 2017 we’re happy to have Track Chair alumni, Tim Ford, back to head-up and manage the content for the Data Platform and Business Intelligence track. Tim has been instrumental in leading this track for several years. From a personal perspective, I truly appreciate Tim’s ability, experience, and expertise to concoct a masterful symphony of relevant and deeply technical content for track that can sometimes seem like an afterthought.

Data is the basis of all technology. Without data flow, we can’t monitor, implement, deploy, or troubleshoot and the business simply cannot run. That’s one of the primary reasons why a profession in this field is always sustainable and always a great option and why Tim’s leadership here has been critically important.

Things have changed mightily in this area. Tim gives his thoughts below on what to expect from this track for IT/Dev Connections 2017…


It’s really difficult to come up with the “biggest” single change  for this industry but the push towards a “Cloud First” strategy by most major players in the data arena is a likely candidate. Regardless of whether an entity’s complete data footprint is Cloud-based or not it’s not going to be long before there is some aspect of your data being hosted in the Cloud. This means that as a Data Professional you need to not only understand the core technical foundations you’ve worked with for years or decades but now also need to become knowledgeable with the off-prem equivalents and all that goes into connectivity, management, and seamless integration back to your on-prem environments. If you were to ask me a year from now I’d say, without a doubt, SQL Server running on Linux is one of the biggest challenges with the biggest opportunity.

And, this area is absolutely where the biggest changes will be exhibited. This is where I can bring SQL on Linux, SQL running in Docker Containers, and the likely rise of more instances of Microsoft SQL Server running on Linux servers rather than Windows servers. The need to understand and performance tune an entirely new operating system is going to be a challenge to many Database Administrators out there. It’s best to start now rather than later. There is also the continued rise of the Data Scientist. I just had Buck Woody, a Senior Technical Specialist for Microsoft, aboard SQL Cruise. We had him covering five hours plus networking time around Data Science and the math involved as well as R language integration into SQL Server. DBAs and other data professionals have been able to skate by without needing to know anything but the basics of math but that is about to change; and If you want to advance in your career change fast.

The focus this year is that there is no focus: as I mentioned already the ground is shifting under the feet of the Data Pro. We’ve been warning of this for at least the last four years now. That means I’ll need to select sessions that not only still focus on the core of SQL Server but also delving into Azure SQL Database, possibly Azure SQL Data Warehouse (if we get submissions), Power BI, R, and other evolving subjects. Have no fear though we will still be providing outreach to the other tracks and provide sessions around understanding the Microsoft Data Platform from the perspective of the accidental DBA knowing that not everyone comes to IT/Dev Connections with a strong background in SQL Server.