Hundreds gather for SQL event

About 200 people from all corners of the globe converged on campus to network, and to generally learn about the latest developments in the popular database software.

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is used by governments and businesses to manage large databases and data warehouses.

Several businesses set up booths to promote themselves and hand out swag. Quest Software’s dark blue water bottles were especially popular, as people were putting them to use right away.

Tony Kraayenbrink of Confio Software was on hand to meet people and promote his company. Kraayenbrink’s advice to students was to get involved and network with the SQL Server events and PASS chapters (Professional Association of SQL Server).

“I think a lot of people, specifically in the SQL Server community, get a lot of value from networking,” he said.

Philip Ljubicich of MelissaData was also there to meet people and hand out fun-size Hershey’s candies.

“Going to trainings like this is a great way to get exposure. A good basic training in Computer Science is a great start,” he said.

In all, there were twenty different classes during the day, and the speakers themselves handed out free textbooks to audience members who correctly answered questions.

The latest trends in SQL have it expanding and adapting to the new “cloud” environments, and being able to handle increasingly larger and larger databases.

Veteran SQL textbook author Kalen Delaney was on hand to discuss partitioning, the ability to divide a large database into manageable chunks that can be more easily accessed. This will help businesses that would otherwise be wasting time moving data from one hard drive location to another.

Rick Morelan gave a talk about the connections between SQL and XML, or Extensible Markup Language. Inspired by his time as a community college instructor, he’s written his own series of SQL textbooks.

“The assigned textbooks were frankly not good quality, and definitely not good for complete beginners as so many college students are,” he said.

“This industry is changing rapidly and the folks who are nimble and have a broad base of knowledge will find consistent employment,” he said.

Morelan also suggested applying to a temp agency such as Volt or Murphy to gain some experience to go along with the degree or certificate earned when applying for desired career.

South Puget Sound Community College students Nithya Muthuswamy and Lani Haili attended the events. Haili currently has an internship with the state, but as an older man is concerned about his future in a marketplace that expects young, low-wage prodigies.

“I’m concerned because the internship’s coming to an end pretty soon,” he said.

Muthuswamy is currently taking a course in SQL and attended the talks about Advanced Indexing.

“The underlying goal was to give our students a chance to meet people that might be able to hire them, whether as an intern or in a more full-time position,” said Professor Randy Riness, who helped put together SPSCC’s first SQL Saturday three years ago.

“People didn’t know that we have Database Management or Business Intelligence courses, and students got a better understanding of what it’s like working in the industry,” he said.

Student turnout was lower this time than at the last SQL Saturday, but Riness chalks it up to the holiday and the weather.

“The students I talked to said they’re glad they attended, and the guys from the users’ group got good feedback,” he said.

Expect the next SQL Saturday in a year and a half, as Riness has to prepare for classes in the latest Microsoft products such as Office 2013, Windows 8, and SQL Server 2012.