SQL Relay 2016


If you wanted a really simple review of SQL Relay 2016 in a nutshell, it’d be this: it was awesome. Although for the purpose of this blog, I’ll elaborate a little further…

SQL Relay is an annual event, which is entirely free for attendees, so you can fill up on as much coffee, food and knowledge as you want for no cost at all! Pretty awesome, right? Plus, with speakers from Microsoft and other big names from the tech industry, it’s always full of interesting talks.

The idea behind SQL Relay is to make high-quality training available and accessible. As it’s free, it doesn’t require any training budgets and it takes place during business hours so it doesn’t impinge on your home life. All in all, it’s a fantastic idea and a great event; I couldn’t recommend it more. 

Talking about tech

After I’d armed myself with a coffee, I headed over for the first talk of the day from Mark Smithson, co-founder of Digital Morphosis. Mark talked about all things .NET Core and Docker. As a .NET developer, it’s always interesting to see what technology other developers and agencies are using so this was an insightful talk. Plus, there are just so many options out there that you never really know what to go for until you’ve tried it. That’s why it’s important to go to regular talks from experienced developers like Mark. 

I’ve been a developer for years, and until yesterday, I wasn’t aware that .NET Core was available as a cross-platform service, which means in runs on Windows, macOS and Linux. As a rare breed of developer who uses a MAC within a .NET house, it was incredibly beneficial to see the demo being created on a MAC. I’ve actually already downloaded it myself, so thanks for that, Mark!

Swiss cheese and security

Next up was a talk from John Martin. He gave us a breakdown of standard security practices that are crucial and should be followed in regards to SQL servers including database design, database location and the technical attributes. It’s always good to know that you’re following all of the necessary steps when listening to a security guru talk, but there’s always more to learn. 

The most useful bit of information I took from John was his ‘Swiss cheese’ theory when explaining the importance of using layers of security. He explained that Swiss cheese has holes in it, the same as software. Using one piece alone, you can put your fingers through the holes. But if you layer many slices on top of each other at different angles, the holes are no longer accessible. The same theory should be used with security to make it more difficult for your software to be compromised. I’ll be honest, any analogy that uses cheese will generally win me over! 

There were plenty of other talks and things to see on the day, but it was those two that stood out the most for me. 

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