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LobsterPot Solutions™ is proud to be a Gold Competency Partner in the Microsoft Partner Network.

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Improving your data story.

LobsterPot Solutions is an Australian SQL Server and Business Intelligence consultancy, offering consultancy and training services. LobsterPot Solutions specialises in the Microsoft Data Platform, including Power BI, SQL Server and Azure, from data resilience to data analytics, to Big Data and IoT, and of course performance tuning, health checks, and more. With experts in both Melbourne and Adelaide, we can help your organisation become more data-driven.

LobsterPot Solutions is a company of firsts. When the Microsoft Partner Network went live, we were the first company in Australia to become a Gold Competency Partner, the first in the world to gain the Gold Competency in Business Intelligence. Since then we have become the first to employ three Australian SQL MVPs, the first company in the whole Asian region to have an APS / PDW trainer on staff, and have been involved in training other trainers in the region.

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News and Events

Responsibility with data

April 14, 2020

In this article about responsibility with data, LobsterPot Solutions’ Rob Farley explores what it means to be responsible with data, particularly in the current time when everyone has an interest in the numbers about COVID-19.


Developing a data culture when talking is harder

March 18, 2020

Developing a data culture is no easy task. Having a culture where people look to the data to understand what’s going on is incredibly useful no matter whether it’s to address big-picture questions or the minutiae of individual situations. And typically organisations have a lot more data than they expect, so it’s quite realistic to assume that there is probably data that could answer a lot of questions, if only they have a way to get the answers.

I see a number of steps involved in establishing a data culture. Some involve technical hurdles and many are more directly cultural. It’s one thing to be able to demonstrate the quality of some data, but it can be quite another to have people understand and appreciate said quality. Being able to act on data first means knowing you have it.

As consultants (here at LobsterPot Solutions) who help our customers on the journey of developing data culture, we like to work from their sites, and make ourselves available for answering questions about the data. Ultimately, we want our customers to be able to get the answers themselves. Tools like Power BI can help this become a reality. But before they reach that point, it’s good to have them ask those questions of us. Not only does it help clue us up as to the things that we need to include in data models, but it helps demonstrate that they’re thinking about data. That their data culture coming along.

This willingness to ask questions has to filter through a large portion of any organisation trying to establish a data culture. It’s great to have senior management understand the significance of data, but if the people under them aren’t also making that same shift, then there’s trouble coming. What happens if the middle-manager reports up to senior management using an incorrect version of data that the senior manager can see. Having a ‘single point of truth’ for data is very important.

While they’re still on the journey to being able to get the answers themselves, the single point of truth for data might often be the team of people who are developing the analytics system – often the team which my staff or I are helping. We’re very used to having our days consist of the technical and design work that we’re doing towards a self-service reporting environment, as well as workshops and training we’re doing to develop the culture, and also a long list of practical questions about the data. The same questions that will get answered via the models we’re creating, but which are more time-critical and get answered in other ways – queries against a model or cube or warehouse, or maybe even against the operational system (taking care to avoid any kind of impact). These questions are important. Turning these people away prevents the development of a data culture, because their curiosity is extinguished. Their appetite for the answers is dampened, not whetted. I try to encourage everyone to have access to data, even if it’s through me.

Except that I’m not always there. And in a time when an increasing number of people are needing to work from home, maybe there’s nobody physically in the office who is working on the data.

Many organisations have a culture of asking each other questions via email, Teams, Slack, or whatever. But one of the biggest impacts I have is by being physically present, so that people ask who I am, find out that I’m not scary, and start to talk about the data. A lot of the culture around asking data-related questions is knowing how to ask those questions, so being physically present helps.

Suddenly this month, it feels like everyone is working from home.

Australia has reacted quite late compared to many countries, but is now banning large non-essential gatherings, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the restrictions only becomes more severe as time goes on until a solution is found. Organisations across the world are putting out their own advice, and telling people to work from home if they can.

Having teams spread out makes all kinds of communication harder, including those questions about data that I consider so important. If I’m not physically there, are people still wondering the same questions but not getting the answers? At what point do they simply stop wondering?

For me, I think this comes down to prompting the conversation about data. Find ways to tell stories about their data, and start communicating it – emails, SSRS subscriptions, whatever works, to get information out there to pique interest. With a standing invite to ask more questions. This can be put down to educating people about the opportunity with data, or to validate assumptions (this one is particularly useful because if you’re asking someone for help with it, then they’re more likely to look deeper and start to think about the potential), or to push the data through a "Quick Insights" tool to come up with ‘Did you know…?’-style trivia. The more the data can be discussed and be interesting, the more a culture around understanding data thrive.

Pretty soon, conversation should be able to flow more easily even if you’re not there, but communication channels need to be established. Self-service is great, but ideally you can make some sort of a forum for people to share their nuggets of insight. It’s the kind of thing that someone can share with a colleague in a "Hey – check this out" context. It demonstrates excitement about what they’re discovering. It demonstrates that they understand the business that they’re in, what the organisation does, and hopefully where there’s an opportunity for improvement. When people can’t walk up to each other in the same way, an effort might be needed to make this happen – Slack conversations, Team channels, whatever works to develop and maintain social interaction. Then find ways to incorporate data nuggets into the mix.

A data culture doesn’t have to be hard to instigate. It might require some work on the data itself, including data cleansing, modelling, and tools to let people get at the insight. But the key is to let interest in the data thrive, with enthusiasm firing, and to make sure there are ways to let that continue. Find ways to encourage conversation for the sake of your team, and for the sake of the data culture, find ways to encourage conversation about the data as well.


T-SQL Tuesday posts from Rob

October 8, 2019

In December 2009 T-SQL Tuesday started. It was the brainchild of Adam Machanic, who thought it would be quite neat to invite bloggers to write on the same topic. The idea caught on, and next month (November 2019) will see the completion of ten years of T-SQL Tuesday topics.

And our own Rob Farley has participated in every single one of them!

Almost all of his posts can be found at blogs.lobsterpot.com.au (although the occasional one is over at sqlperformance.com), and the topics range from technical to non-technical. They all include a link to the invitation post, where other comments will let you see what other bloggers have to say on the topic. Some months there have only been a tiny number of bloggers, but Rob has been there every month, giving his perspective on things.

Presentation season!

May 27, 2019

It seems to be the time for presentations for the LobsterPot Solutions team again.

Last week, Rob got back from a trip to Poland where he was one of the Special Guest speakers at SQLDay in Wrocław, the others being PASS President Grant Fritchey and SentryOne Plan Explorer’s Product Manager Aaron Bertrand (who has been a Microsoft MVP since 1997!). Rob presented an all-day workshop in his typical computer-free style, as well as two other sessions at the main conference.


Later this week, Kelly will be joining Red Gate’s SQL in the City tour, which is preceding each of the SQLSaturday events in Brisbane, Christchurch, and Melbourne, on May 31st, June 7th, and June 14th. She’s been invited to be part of a panel to discuss DevOps, based on her experience in the BI space.


And Manu is speaking at the three SQLSaturday events. Rob will be joining Manu and Kelly in Melbourne for that one, but it seems that no matter where you are, you’ll be able to catch one of the LobsterPot Solutions team at some point.

Manu’s post on Transactional Replication to Azure

October 27, 2017

Over on our Blogs Site, Manu has put together a great article about Transactional Replication to Azure SQL DB, which hit General Availability this week.

Blog site now live

October 21, 2017

For well over ten years, Rob has been blogging, writing technical articles on a variety of topics. It’s about time we brought those posts in-house, as well as providing a location for other team members to post. Rob will continue to provide articles for sqlperformance.com, but his backlog of posts, along with other new material can be found at:


(Company news will still be posted here at www.lobsterpot.com.au)

PowerShell Intro

September 12, 2017

Rob Farley recently wrote a introduction piece about PowerShell for sqlperformance.com. If you’re a SQL Server user or an Azure user, and you’re not using PowerShell, then you should go and read https://sqlperformance.com/2017/09/sql-performance/need-to-know-powershell

Three Australian MVPs again

January 3, 2017

It’s been a while since we’ve had three Australian Data Platform MVPs within the company. We’ve been there before, in the time between Martin Cairney’s award and Julie Koesmarno’s leaving to join Microsoft. But as of today we’re back at three as the amazing Manohar Punna joins the company (the other two MVPs being Rob Farley and Martin). Manohar writes about it here.

Big SQL Server news

November 17, 2016

There were a couple of big announcements from Microsoft overnight at the “Connect(); // 2016” event in New York. Each of these will potentially be huge for the SQL Server engine.


If you’re in Adelaide, you are hopefully aware that we are hosting a special edition of the Adelaide SQL Server User Group today, with special guest Lindsey Allen, the Group Program Manager for SQL, from Seattle, who is making herself available just for us today to run through all the announcements and for Q&A. More on that at http://adelaide.sqlpass.org, but for the rest of you, read on!
SQL Server v.Next CTP1
The first of these was the announcement that CTP1 of SQL Server v.Next has ben released for public preview. The biggest item on the v.Next platform is that SQL Server will run on Linux, opening the door for many more organisations to have access to the fastest and most powerful database engine on the planet.
The Linux package for SQL Server is available for Ubuntu and Red Hat at http://packages.microsoft.com and also as a Docker Container at https://hub.docker.com/u/microsoft
Once deployed, you can manage your SQL Server on Linux instance using SSMS (using version 17.0) from your desktop as you would for your Windows versions providing a seamless experience across all your SQL Server instances. There are also native Linux versions of SQLCMD and BCP.
SQL Server 2016 SP1
The other major announcement is that starting with SQL Server 2016 SP1 (available right now!), Enterprise, Standard, Web and Express Editions will start to converge in terms of feature availability – with the selected version being used to define the Performance and Operational features.
This is probably the most exciting development with SQL Server since the launch of SQL DB in Azure, bringing the amazing innovations of the past 4 years to everyone. Features such as Columnstore Indexes and In-Memory OLTP will be available to all editions of SQL Server 2016 …. yes, even in Express Edition! This allows developers to code once for the database functionality they need and then can deploy the same code to different Editions for the performance levels required to run their Production workload. 
The different Editions will still however be restricted in terms of e.g. number of processors supported or memory limits. 
Bringing some of this functionality into Standard Edition has long been on the wish list of many ISVs who simply could not afford to force their customers to Enterprise Edition. The unexpected bonus is having the functionality exposed in Express Edition as well. The additional security now available there with Always Encrypted, Row Level Security and Dynamic Data Masking keeps SQL Server well ahead as the most secure database platform available.

Further information can be found on the SQL Server Team Blogs at https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/dataplatforminsider and https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/sqlblog
LobsterPot Solutions and SQL Server 2016
LobsterPot Solutions is a specialist SQL Server consultancy ready to assist you with your plans to upgrade or migrate to SQL Server 2016. Our specialist skills can ensure that you are taking full advantage of the new features available in Standard, Web and Express Editions and bring Enterprise grade functionality to ALL your databases.
Founded in 2008 we specialise in Data Platform and Business Intelligence including Data Warehousing and Reporting technologies. LobsterPot Solutions also has a strong focus on training with most of our consultants being Microsoft Certified Trainers who regularly present at local and international events. This combination allows us to offer advice, mentoring and customised training as part of our standard service offering. 
Email us at contact@lobsterpot.com.au for more information, and for help in realising some of these new features in your environment.

Panellist Martin at the Churchill Club meeting

July 14, 2016

Writing this, the meeting is tonight (July 14th)!

LobsterPot Solutions are sponsoring the Churchill Club’s event that’s being held at The Cluster in Melbourne (which is where our offices are), and Martin has been asked to appear on the panel. It’s a discussion about data – the collection of data, the analysis of data, and the significance of data – so it’s the perfect topic for LobsterPot and Martin.

There’s still time to register (if you’re reading this on July 14th), so hopefully we’ll see you there!