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I ended up speaking at two events this last week. Now if timezones and flights weren’t enough to confuse someone, I was speaking at both an Oracle AND a SQL Server event- yeah, that’s how I roll these days.
I arrived last Sunday in Salt Lake, which is just a slightly milder weather and more conservative version of Colorado, to speak at UTOUG’s Spring Training Days Conference. I love this location and the weather was remarkable, but even with the warm temps, skiing was still only a 1/2 hour drive from the city. Many of the speakers and attendees took advantage of this opportunity by doing just that while visiting. I chose to hang out with Michelle Kolbe and Lori Lorusso. I had a great time at the event and although I was only onsite for 48hrs, I really like this event so close to my home state.
I presented on Virtualization 101 for DBAs and it was a well attended session. I really loved how many questions I received and how curious the database community has become about how this is the key to moving to the cloud seamlessly.
There are significant take-aways from UTOUG. The user group, although small, is well cared for and the event is using some of the best tools to ensure that they get the best bang for the buck. It’s well organized and I applaud all that Michelle does to keep everyone engaged. It’s not an easy endeavor, yet she takes this challenge on with gusto and with much success.
After spending Wednesday at home, I was back at the airport to head to Reykjavik, Iceland for their SQL Saturday. I’ve visited Iceland a couple times now and if you aren’t aware of this, IcelandAir offers up to 7 day layovers to visit Iceland and then you can continue on to your final destination. Tim and I have taken advantage of this perk on one of our trips to OUGN, (Norway) and it was a great way to visit some of this incredible country. When the notification arrived for SQL Saturday Iceland, I promptly submitted my abstracts and crossed my fingers. Lucky for me, Ásgeir Gunnarsson accepted my abstract and I was offered the chance to speak with this great SQL Server user group.
After arriving before 7am on Friday morning at Keflavik airport, I realized that I wouldn’t have a hotel room ready for me, no matter how much I wanted to sleep. Luckily there is a great article on the “I Love Reykjavik” site offering inside info on what to do if you do show up early. I was able to use the FlyBus to get a shuttle directly to and from my hotel, (all you have to do is ask the front desk to call them the night before you’re leaving and they’ll pick you back up in front of your hotel 3 hrs before your flight.) Once I arrived, I was able to check in my bags with their front desk and headed out into town.
I stayed at Hlemmur Square, which was central to the town and the event and next to almost all of the buses throughout the city. The main street in front of it, Laugavegur, is one of the main streets that runs East-West and is very walkable. Right across this street from the hotel was a very “memorable” museum, the Phallilogical Museum. I’m not going to link to it or post any pictures, but if you’re curious, I’ll warn you, it’s NSFW, even if it’s very, uhm…educational. It was recommended by a few folks on Twitter and it did ensure I stayed awake after only 2 hours of sleep in 24 hours!
As I wandered about town, there are a few things you’ll note about Iceland- the murals of graffiti is really awesome and Icelandic folks like good quality products- the stores housed local and international goods often made from wool, wood, quality metal and such. The city parliment building is easily accessible and it’s right across from the main shopping area and new city development.
On Saturday, I was quick to arrive at Iceland’s SQL Saturday, as I had a full list of sessions I wanted to attend. I was starting to feel the effects of Iceland weather on my joints, but I was going to make sure I got the most out of the event. I had connected with a couple of the speakers at the dinner the night before, but with jet lag, you hope you’ll make a better impression on the day of the event.
I had the opportunity to learn about the most common challenges with SQL Server 2016 and that Dynamic Data Masking isn’t an enterprise solution. Due to lacking discovery tools, the ability to join to non-masked objects and common values, (i.e. 80% of data is local and the most common location value would easily be identified, etc.) the confidential data of masked objects could be identified.
I also enjoyed an introduction to containers with SQL Server and security challenges. The opening slide from Andy says it all:
Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it? 🙂
My session was in the afternoon and we not only had excellent discussions on how to empower database environments with virtualization, but I even did a few quick demonstrations of ease of cloud management with AWS and Oracle…yes, to SQL Server DBAs. It was interesting to see the ease of management, but how easy it was for me to manage Oracle with the interface. I performed all validations of data refreshes from the command line, so there was no doubt that I was working in Oracle, yet the refreshes and such were done in AWS and with the Delphix Admin console.
I made it through the last session on the introduction to containers with SQL Server, which included a really interesting demonstration of a SQL Server container sans an OS installation, allowing it to run with very limited resource requirements on a Mac. After this session was over, I was thankful that two of my fellow presenters were willing to drop me off at my hotel and I promptly collapsed in slumber, ready to return home. I was sorry to miss out on the after event dinner and drinks, but learned that although I love Iceland, a few days and some extra recovery time may be required.
Back in 2002, as a Junior DBA, I was informed by the senior DBAs I worked with that I MUST become part of my regional user group, (RMOUG). This was considered a requirement for any educated Database Administrator or Developer of the time and as those who I respected instructed, I became a member and attended my first Rocky Mountain Oracle User Group Training Days in February, 2003. I was impressed with the level of technical content of the sessions, the opportunity to network with others in my local Oracle community and that I was able to take the new knowledge I had learned and apply it to my job immediately. I was appreciative of the advice I’d been offered by my fellow DBAs and rest assured, shared this tip with others in the community as my career progressed.
By 2008, it was recommended that I begin to present after starting my first iteration of the DBA Kevlar blog and although not what you would call an impressive session, (as happens with many, I bombed my first ever presentation) but didn’t give up and improved as I gained experience.
In 2011, I approached Tim Gorman and Ron Bich, making them aware that I had time that I would like to volunteer to RMOUG, (I didn’t let anyone know at the time I had the time as my divorce was fast approaching, which ended up benefiting Tim Gorman extensively, but that’s another story… :)) I felt the organization had given so much to me and as my children were older, it was time to offer some of that time and energy back to the community. Tim talked me into submitting a campaign statement to the board of directors and I’ve been part of this organization ever since, starting out as the Membership/Vendor Director, creating the Social Media Director position and for the last three years, the Training Days Conference Director. RMOUG was insightful enough to ensure that even though I’m now with Oracle, moved me to a board member emeritus, which allowed me to continue to contribute to the community and while eliminate my voting, which is something Oracle employees are not allowed to do as part of an Oracle user group board, (note to those that have avoided putting hard working Oracle employees in spots on board of directors, it can be done and don’t waste these valuable resources, folks.)
A board position is one of service, not of privilege. You shouldn’t look to gaining a board position because you want special privileges or opportunities. You are there to volunteer your time and service to the community, plain and simple. I have the support of my manager at Oracle, Pramod Chowbey, which is something to be recognized and rewarded when a company supports volunteerism and communities. It’s not about what RMOUG can do for Oracle, but what Oracle feels that they need to offer to the user groups community. My manager understands that when I’m wearing my RMOUG hat, there mustn’t be any conflict with my Oracle employment, (assisted by a conflict of interest form signed each year and a whistle blower policy to ensure that this is followed to the letter…) I am here for the membership, which includes the hours volunteered towards this great user community. The membership need the time and support of the volunteers who run this great organization. It also can’t exist without the support of its members. If the members don’t invest in the user group, there is no way for it to survive.
So here is my challenge to you: wherever you are, whatever area of Oracle you specialize in- find your regional Oracle user group and become a member. Pay dues, attend events and contribute your time. I hear from so many that say, “Oh, I’ll go next time” or “It’s not like they’ll miss me.”
Yes, yes they will. With so many free events being offered by companies that aren’t aware of the local user group community, the time and effort of those running these groups to keep them fresh and find new technologies/platforms to keep the groups alive and healthy, it is up to you to keep your user group from going extinct.
If you aren’t aware of your regional Oracle user group, here’s a list of Oracle User groups and their links. Although there aren’t any links, this page has a monstrous list that with a little web research, will lead to any that are missing from the IOUG page. Just like being part of your community in your town, place of worship or family, this is the one that is clearly a large part of your life- your career.
Now, I need to get back to building out the last hands on lab for the Quarterly Education Workshop for RMOUG and prepare for opening up the call for papers for Training Days 2016, but I think you get the idea how important this is to me. Giving back is paving the way for the technologists of tomorrow and the only way that happens is to be part of it.