On almost every survey of the best places to work, employee training is listed as one of the factors that will boost an employee’s satisfaction with a company. And I have found that to be definitely true in my case. Recently, my company sent me to a 5 day training class that dealt with business intelligence (BI) (http://www.sqlskills.com/sql-server-training/iebi/). The instructor for the class, Stacia Misner (http://datainspirations.com/), was very knowledgeable on a variety of BI subjects. When I initially looked at the schedule for the class, I thought … wow … the instructor is very ambitious in trying to cover that much material. Amazingly she did it, but it was at a quick pace. Now, I would NOT recommend this class to a person that has never been exposed to BI. It just simply moves too fast and has too much depth. However, if you have had some exposure to BI and want to learn a lot more, this may be the class for you.
Why did I enjoy the class?
- Content – The class went from installation to configuration to application and integration – for all facets of the BI stack (SSIS, SSAS, SSRS, PowerPivot, and SharePoint). This was unique because many classes may focus on just one of these areas for multiple days, since there is so much to learn. Additionally, the instructor not only showed the big picture of BI, but also dived into the technical implementation.
- Peer discussion – At my job, we have some challenges to our business intelligence solutions. This is due to the fact that some of our applications follow the multi-tenant data architecture (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa479086.aspx), with separate databases for each tenant. So, being able to discuss some of the ideas on how to handle that with my classmates and instructor was very beneficial.
What did I learn from the class that I can apply now?
- Techniques to performance tune BI stack – In the past, I haven’t always concerned myself with performance tuning some parts of the BI stack (SSIS, SSAS), as much as I would have done with the database engine. My rationale was that users were more directly affected by a slow database, and thus I would give it more attention. And as long as the integration packages ran and cubes were built before the users needed the data, it was fine with me. However, with my current role, many of these processes that traditionally run overnight are now extending more into the day, and thus are requiring me to give them more attention to their performance.
- Developing the presentation layer – Although I am not in a role that directly works with the presentation layer, the instructor made it clear that some of the choices we make “upstream” will affect the presentation layer options and decisions. So, because I now know a lot more about the presentation layer, I can make better decisions that will make it easier on the users.
So, I would have to say that I really enjoyed my training class. And this class would be one I would recommend for those who are involved or wanting to get involved with business intelligence.