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2020 is definitely a year to remember

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I think we can all agree that 2020 is definitely a year to remember. Like others mine have been for a number of reasons.

We all know that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a huge impact. Obviously, that’s something most of us will remember this year for. However, I want to highlight some positives as well.

Because as well as the huge impact the pandemic has had some interesting updates have also happened.


Due to COVID-19 there been a lot more online activity within the Microsoft Data Platform Community in 2020. Lots of events have turned virtual. In addition, new events have appeared including the DataWeekender conference which I cover later in this post.

It shows a great spirit within our community.

I think a lot people did not expect the announcement from PASS recently about the fact that it will cease to exist after January 2021. It has rocked the community.

However, I’m certain that if everybody in the Data Platform community worldwide works together something good will happen in 2021. Lots of members of the community have ideas and they all have the right to be heard.

Of course, it will take some time. Because it will take some planning. Plus, we still have to see what happens with the existing PASS assets.

In the meantime, there are already some new resources available online.

For example, Microsoft have reached out to the community to offer resources here. In addition, there is a Data Saturdays initiative which has started here which I have already submitted to.

Another useful resource is a new call for data speakers service available for both speakers and organizers here.


As far as personal updates go, this has been a busy year for me.

Luckily, before the pandemic broke out in Europe, I was able to present at SQL Saturday Edinburgh in person before it all started. I had no idea back then that it would be my last trip back to the UK this year.

In fact, for the first time ever I presented two separate sessions at the same event. I remember it well for a couple of other reasons as well. Including the fact that it was the last time I presented my adventure-based session I had presented around Europe for a couple of years.


In reality, once the pandemic escalated things were getting stressful for a number of reasons. Including the fact that my wife is a keyworker, we couldn’t see our friends and most of my family were all in another country. So, I had a lot on my mind.

At the same time, I could see that Data Platform events were starting to get cancelled. Knowing how much work people put into these events it was a hard thing to watch. I still remember now how heartbroken one organizer came across in their email about it.

Due to some ideas I had, which I talked about in a post here, I ended up becoming one of the organizers of the DataWeekender conference. Something I am proud to have been a part of twice this year and I can confirm we will be returning for a third one next year.

Outside of DataWeekender I’ve also been co-presenting a lot with Sander Stad and writing a large number of blog posts as well. Both of which I covered in a T-SQL Tuesday post here.

With everything going on helping others has helped me out a lot as well.

Azure DevOps Duet

Especially when we co-present ‘Azure DevOps Duet’. Because we make sure that session is different every single time. Anybody who saw earlier versions of the session can see for themselves in the latest recorded version below.

Azure DevOps Duet – dataMinds edition

In fact, I’ve promised in the post here that I will demo the faster version of the pipeline deployment at whichever event we present ‘Azure DevOps Duet’ in first next year. However, be aware that we have two new sessions we have started to submit to events for as well.

In fact, the video we have done for this years Festive Tech Calendar is a pilot for one of them.

Until recently, the only people who knew the details about the other new session is me, Sander and Magnus Alkvist. However, as some of you may have seen last week our other new session for 2021 is called ‘GitHub DevOps Duet’. It is about using GitHub for Data Platform deployments.


As well as the above I managed to find the time to pass the AZ-400 Microsoft exam. In doing so I became a Microsoft Certified DevOps Engineer Expert. Of course, it helped that I used Azure DevOps daily for work as well as for personal use.

Another thing I was able to do this year was to become a Microsoft Certified Trainer. Because I currently have eighteen active Microsoft certifications it opens up some interesting possibilities for me.


Without doubt, apart from the pandemic there were two other things that definitely took me by surprise.

First was the fact that I became a presented the MVP award by Microsoft for Data Platform.

In all honesty, I was a bit overwhelmed by the news at first. I’d just found out the person responsible for the stabbing incident me and my wife stopped a few years ago had been sentenced. In addition, the day before I had received my Dutch residency card and I honestly thought that would be the biggest event for me that weekend until I got the email.

I am very honoured and humbled to have been presented with the MVP award. If I am honest, even though it’s been over a month I am still getting use to it. However, it does keep me motivated to keep giving back to the community.

2020 is definitely a year to remember
MVP disc

Second was more recent. I’ve recently finished an assignment for a client. I worked with an amazing team and the farewell and feedback they gave me left me speechless.


At the start of the year, I was planning an extended holiday in Australia. Due to the pandemic, I was not able to go.

However, I have turned a negative into a positive and used the extra holiday to have some time off. Because as well as the above I have been doing my day job. In fact, up until December my longest break this year was a long weekend.

With this in mind I finished just after the start of December this year. It’s the longest break I would have had from work for a long time.


Even with the pandemic happening there’s been so many significant updates it’s hard to keep up with them all. I did an overview about updates to SQL Server related services in Azure. If you read the post here, you will see that was impressive by itself.

When you look at the other updates for Azure you will see that loads have updates have been delivered this year. Including the announcement of new services like Azure Purview (which was renamed to Microsoft Purview in April 2022).

Of course, other vendors have also produced significant updates. For example, Amazon AWS has produced a large number of updates as you can see here. Including the recent Babelfish for Amazon Aurora offering which is currently in preview.

Personally, I think it’s great that during these hard times new offerings are still being delivered. My advice is to look out for these changes because they can end up being relevant for you. If not now, then probably in the future.

Final word

Now another year is done, and 2020 is definitely a year to remember. Both personally and for the industry.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens next year. Both personally and at a community level. Because I have some personal plans for next year as well.

Only thing left for me to say is Happy New Year.

Published inFood for thought

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