Before we get started, if you've noticed my job title in the accompanying image I ought to let you know that giga.io is currently in stealth mode, which means it's not actually trading yet. Cool domain though, eh?
SQL in the City London 2015
On Friday, 16th October I attended SQL in the City in London, which is a SQL training conference run by Redgate. This is the third time I've been and the second time I've paid (£50) to attend, in addition to losing a day's wages due to being self-employed.
Unlike last year, I didn't inveigle my way into getting my company logo on the screen in the middle of a talk this time, but I had fun nevertheless.
One of the first things that struck me was the repeated references to git. After the first few minutes it really did feel like Redgate were in love with git. Indeed, the overarching theme for the day for me was the way Redgate have recognised that people like to do things their own way, so they are tailoring their tools to work the way people want to work. This is a smart move.
It's nice when companies acknowledge (and accommodate) the fact that lots of people are already using certain tools (e.g. different version control providers) and are not necessarily willing (or even able) to change. Taking the approach of if you can't beat them, join them, rather than trying to get prescriptive seems sensible to me.
For example, consider DLM Dashboard, which is free. It integrates with just about anything via a service such as IFTTT or Zapier (ultimately by sending out email notifications which are intercepted by the third party service and then acted upon). Whilst this is by no means unique, it does mean that you can automate the creation of Slack alerts, or Trello cards and many other things besides. Check out Redgate's blog post on the subject and, if you want more detailed information, there's also a post explaining Slack integration.
When I see this sort of thing it makes me think that the company concerned might actually know what they're doing. Again, this is not unique to Redgate, but rather than getting into an argument about who does what best, let's just agree that this is a good thing.
Incidentally, part of the reason for the enthusiastic support of git is that it's great. If you'd like to learn (possibly more than you ever wanted to know) about git, you could read this free Apress book, Pro Git.
A (tiny) bit about the venue
You can see a bit about the venue - etc.venues, 155 Bishopsgate - on the event website.
- The facilities were very good;
- The rooms felt sufficiently spacious;
- The AV kit worked well;
- There was a seemingly unlimited supply of good coffee;
- Lunch was nice.
The atmosphere at these events is always pretty good. I met some new people and met up with some old friends. And it was great to be able to speak to people like Steve Jones and Grant Fritchey (and the other presenters too)1.
What about the presentations?
As you might imagine, part of the purpose of events like these is to sell software. However, it seems that Redgate tries to do this by giving what appear to be useful and well-polished demonstrations of the capabilities of their software. In fact, I don't really need to tell you about the presentations as you can watch them on YouTube.
Actually, SQL Instant Clone is worthy of mention. If you ever need to create test databases which are broadly similar to your production database, you should definitely check out this blog post about SQL Instant Clone. And watch the keynote video for a few minutes, from this point onwards, too. You can make copies of large databases with small differences in seconds (obviously it's only storing the differences). Clever stuff. It's not available until next year, but you can sign up to the beta if you like.
Any free stuff?
- Lunch? - Yep;
- Coffee, Beer, Wine? - Yep. The booze came later on in proceedings;
- Big foam fingers - Yep;
- A physical book (you remember those, don't you?) of my choice? - Yep;
- Lots of free books, etc on a USB stick? - Hmmm, kind of...
Annoyingly, whilst the conference passes came with a cool integral USB stick, mine was empty2. However, after I tweeted them about this...
... they got back to me with a link to download the contents: http://www.red-gate.com/community/entrypage/usb.
Some final thoughts about SQL in the City London 2015
It was good fun. I met some nice people and learnt some useful stuff. I'll probably go again next year.
Some final thoughts about Redgate
Back in the day (possibly 2007 or 2008, I don't remember precisely when) I was offered an interview at Redgate. They were in Cambridge and I wasn't and, to cut a long story short, I elected not to bother. In retrospect, I think that was a mistake. I have no idea if I'd have managed to get as far as receiving a job offer, but I should at least have tried3.
Three or four years later (in 2011) I attended the Fogbugz and Kiln World Tour in London. Here's a video of the Seattle version of that talk. The reason I'm mentioning this is that I spoke to Joel Spolsky at the end of the talk4 and asked him the rather specific question of where he considered to be the best place for a Microsoft stack developer to work in the UK. You can guess where this is going, can't you? He said, "Redgate".
Have a look at their benefits page. It's pretty tempting.
That's not really name dropping; they are a friendly bunch and chatted with loads of people. ↩
Don't worry. I didn't just insert a random USB stick into my computer. I used my wife's laptop... ;-) ↩
I hope this doesn't come across as a kind of job application/love letter to Redgate. It isn't meant to. These days I am even less able to relocate and am therefore spared any potential embarrassment that might arise were I to make another application. ↩
That's not really name dropping either. I'm fairly confident that he won't remember the conversation and he probably hasn't regaled many people with the tale of the time he met Tom Chantler... ↩