Three weeks ago Integro/Microsoft held a seminar with about 35 participants - driven mostly by Integro sales - where I presented on Reporting Services (part of the Microsoft SQL Server stack). The main idea of the presentation was to list the necessary items you need to have a successful implementation.
The audience asked me so many questions, it became quite clear how strong the momentum for this new SQL function has become. Primarlily, the drive is because licensing for alternatives is so expensive. The reality is, RS is pretty well stocked with features and with the Microsoft brand, people are willing to dabble with an early version with the promise of improvements.
The Denver Microsoft office tries to arrange a minimum number of events like this with local partners and gives them a type of "credit" they spend to qualify for their positition as a partner. To our benefit, we get to work with Carl Dubler, the dry-witted SQL Server champion who in earlier years inspired me to dig so deeply into the SQL stack.
Get this, Carl's follow-up email said something (and I quote from memory here), "Jerry Nixon is the number one advocate for Reporting Services in the region." How about that? It didn't actually say I knew what I was doing - but I will have to take what I can get.
Last Tuesday, the local BI quasi-user group called Analytic Avenues, mostly a marketing engine for local Microsoft partner Immedient, had me as a "guest speaker" to basically repeat the content of the earlier Reporting Service presentations. I would guess 20 people were there representing a completely different segment.
The venue for this didn't allow for much dialog with the audience and what questions they did ask were not very illuminating. It's frustrating that SQL 2000 RS has certain features and when they lack people say SQL 2005 has the answer. Even if it does, a new version of SQL Server is not trivial - a 2005 implementation will include new administrative knowledge, probably updates to backup software and unknown hardware minimums.
I don't know, it's true we can address some issues with the next version, but I like to meet people where they are - as much as I can.
I have not made any major appearances since DevDays 2004. I will unlikely present at DevDays this year (very unlikely) since - for one - it is a vehicle Microsoft uses to pat individuals on the back who MSFT likes by giving them exposure; not all deserving individuals are good presenters though.