There’s a palpable buzz in the hallways outside the Lecture Centers at the University at Albany for the 5th annual SQL Saturday Conference. Some of the event’s sponsors like CommerceHub, Datto and Actifio have tables set up with free swag for the nearly 200 conference registrants.
Unlike most software technology conferences, there is no fee to attend this event, which is packed with insights from expert speakers representing a diverse set of industries. With 30 sessions to choose from for beginner, intermediate and advanced SQL users, there’s truly something for everyone.
Inside the cool, dimly lit lecture center room #19, Steve Simon pounds his fist into the table to emphasize a point about his Introduction to Data Mining presentation. “If you test with one hundred percent of that data, it’s gonna be no darn good,” exclaims Simon.
His antics garner a hearty laugh from the students. Simon is walking them through the Microsoft SQL Data Mining Wizard while providing an overview of data modeling and predictive analytics.
Next door in lecture center room #20, speaker Paresh Motiwala presents on Business Intelligence Infrastructure in Azure, which is more technical than the Mr. Simon’s data mining talk. Mr. Motiwala is showcasing different options for efficiently processing large amounts of data. In lecture center room #21, Taiob Ali covers Performance Troubleshooting Made Easier, offering tips on how to determine the root causes of errors or interruptions in service to business applications.
What you notice during these sessions is that the speakers are more than willing to stop what they’re talking about to answer questions from attendees about complex topics. Being able to pick the brains of the speakers about specific business challenges may be the most valuable aspect of the conference. An attendee named Nikita walks out of a lecture center beaming like a kid in a candy store after obtaining a speaker’s email address.
Seated at a nearby registration table is a woman named Ankita. This is her fourth SQL Saturday Conference in Albany and her first as a representative of Xchangeworx, a healthcare technology startup company and SQL Saturday sponsor.
Like many of the other sponsors, Ankita’s company is looking to hire. It’s clear to see she’s a fan of the conference. “They have demos of interesting products and raffle off CDs with software that’s worth hundreds of dollars,” she explains.
Learning, networking and job prospecting are what this event is all about. The fact that this conference is free is a testament to the vitality of the Tech Loop’s software technology scene.