March 2013 Spotlight: Denis Reznik

SQL Server MVP and Ukrainian PASS Chapter Leader Denis Reznik talks about widening the technology stack, thrifty SQLSaturdays, the challenges and opportunities in growing a small community, and the value of catching a #sqlbeer after chapter meetings.

Tell us about your life with SQL Server – what are you doing now, what path did you take to your current position, and what excites you most in the world of data today?
I was introduced to SQL Server at university, and all my jobs after that directed me further along this career path. I began working closely with the database at my first job as a .NET developer with DB Best Technologies, and I continued extending my SQL Server knowledge and skills from there. I must credit our UNETA professional developer community and its leader – and my good friend – Vladimir Leshchinsky (Tw | LI) for also playing a major role in my professional growth. Working together, we’ve helped grow the UNETA community, and I’ve taken my knowledge to the next level.

I am currently a senior database architect at The Frayman Group, which develops software for US lawyers. I really enjoy what I am doing, solving interesting problems and completing complex tasks. These days, I’m very interested in heavy workload applications and the data solutions behind them. I’m excited about the latest enhancements around relational databases, NoSQL, Big Data, Massive Parallel Processing, SQL Server in-memory features, and cloud computing. All these capabilities give us a wide stack of technologies that we can use to build the best solution for our specific projects.

As leader of the Ukrainian SQL Server User Group, what are you seeing as the biggest challenges and opportunities for SQL Server professionals in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe right now?
While it may sound strange, the biggest opportunity is also our biggest challenge – a small community. On the one hand, having a small community is a challenge as we seek to bring people together and grow participation. On the other hand, we can really get to know each other, and we have a huge opportunity to reach people who have not heard about PASS and the value of connecting, sharing, and learning from each other.

In Ukraine, there are a lot of high quality SQL professionals with deep knowledge of databases. We also have active volunteers who are inspired by the idea of community growth. We have an engaged audience of people who work with data and want to learn. So we have everything needed for growing a strong community. We also work and communicate closely with other SQL Server communities, especially in Russia. I really appreciate the help of these other #SQLFamily members and community leaders, especially PASS Regional Mentor for Central and Eastern Europe Andrey Korshikov (Tw | LI). And local SQLSaturdays and other events – such as this month’s 24 Hours of PASS: Russian Edition March 21 and SQLRally Moscow March 28 – are also an incredible help in building the community.

You organized the first SQLSaturday in Ukraine and have helped launch a number of PASS Chapters in the Ukraine and Russia. What are your top tips for other community members who would like to host a SQLSaturday in their area or start or grow a PASS Chapter?
I really enjoy helping user groups get started, such as the new Donetsk SQL Server User Group. I recently relocated to Kiev, and am now helping that SQL Server User Group and its leader, Konstantin Khomyakov (Tw | LI), organize meetings and prepare for SQLSaturday #219 Kiev.

One thing I’ve learned from my work with SQLSaturdays is to not expect a lot of money from sponsors – at least to begin with. Your event can still be successful, but you should be prepared to organize SQLSaturday with a minimal amount of money. When you have a proven track record, more sponsor support usually follows. Another important tip is to be an active member of a SQL community. Take part in conferences and user group meetings, talk with people, share your experiences, and don’t be shy. The more friends you have in the profession, the more great speakers you know and the more reach you have in the community to invite attendees. Speakers from five countries presented at the first SQLSaturday conference in Ukraine, and I knew each of them personally. I really appreciated their support – thank you, guys!

You’re active on Twitter (@DenisReznik) and LinkedIn – what value do you get from these channels? What would you tell database pros who are not on social media?
I’m not a very active blogger, but I really like Twitter and find a lot of value in LinkedIn. Social media is a fun and valuable way to share your thoughts and interesting resources and learn what fellow SQL Server pros are finding useful. I also get a good sense of industry news and trends from people with the same interests as me – a kind of digest of what is new and important. In addition, social media is truly an essential channel for sharing important or urgent information. For the first SQLSaturday in Ukraine, for example, it was the main information channel. Using social media and blogs, we gathered more than 100 registrations in just 2 weeks.

What’s something uniquely Ukrainian that you do at your user group meetings?
We have a very similar mentality with Russian people and a special tradition – we organize #sqlbeer and other fun social gatherings after the main event. :)

As a SQL Server MVP, what are the hottest topics you see in the SQL Server community right now? If you could give your SQL Server colleagues around the world one piece of advice this year, what would that be?
There is one topic that will be interesting forever – SQL Server internals. Presentations on this topic have an incredible draw for our audiences. As for new SQL Server features, the hottest topic is the trend toward in-memory technologies. As a SQL Server MVP, I can say that you will see many interesting changes and features in this area in the next release of SQL Server. One more piece of advice: Even if you love SQL Server very much, keep an eye on the Windows Azure Database.

What is your favorite time-saver at work?
My main time-saver does not involve any tool or program – for me, it is all about concentration. When I am focused, I am very productive. In addition, SQL Server Integration Services has saved me a lot of time on various projects requiring the transfer and transformation of data.

Tell us a little about what you like to do when you're not working or focused on SQL Server or the database community.
I love traveling. I enjoy every opportunity to visit the US. I usually take a car for a few days and drive along American roads with my friends to see interesting and picturesque places. I’m also a sports fan – I love football (you call it “soccer” in the US :), basketball, volleyball, snowboarding… – and at the MVP Summit 2013, I even played American football, which was very exciting! I also enjoy good books, good movies, and good music.

If I weren’t a technologist, I would be…”
Growing up, I alternately wanted to be an astronaut, a doctor, a professional football player, a hacker, a journalist… – everything caught my imagination. Now, I think I would have to say that if I weren’t in technology, I’d be a doctor, a profession dedicated to helping people.

What does community mean to you?
Community means professional and personal growth for the community members. Instead of working and learning in silos, IT specialists share their knowledge and experience with their colleagues from other companies, industries, and countries; learn something new; and improve their professional and communication skills. I don’t remember who said it, but I totally agree with this sentiment: “There can’t be strong developers, without strong community.”

Read more community profiles: 2013 | 2012