We're just under two months away from SAS Global Forum 2011, and I'm feeling pretty good.
Oops, I shouldn't have said that. That's going to come back to bite me, I'll bet. But I've already checked off so much on my to-do list!
First, I got myself invited to attend. As a SAS employee, attending SAS Global Forum is a privilege and I consider myself lucky that I get to go. It's a ton of work to get ready, and it's like a roller-coaster ride once the conference begins; it will be over before you can say "Thank you. Thank you very much." But it's always a rewarding experience. This will be my 9th SAS Global Forum (née SUGI), but my first trip to Las Vegas. (And I can promise you: that won't be my last Elvis reference.)
Next, I landed an invited paper slot with Susan Slaughter, esteemed coauthor of The Little SAS Book series (with Lora Delwiche). Our paper is titled "Social Networking and SAS: Running PROCs on Your Facebook Friends," and it's part of the new Social Media section that was added to the conference this year. We've got great examples of how to use SAS to run reports on your Facebook friends and with Twitter content. For me, this is just a fun way to show off a huge list of my favorite technologies: SAS Enterprise Guide, FILENAME URL, XML LIBNAME engine, ODS Graphics and PROC SGPLOT, some custom .NET programming, data quality functions, and more.
Now that we've got the paper almost completely written (whew!), I can turn my attention to one of my core activities to prep for the conference: staging software to show off. SAS sets up and staffs a huge "demo room" every year at the conference, and there is tremendous preparation that goes into it. For my part, I'll help to install and test the deployments of the very latest versions of our BI offerings (including SAS Web Report Studio, SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office, SAS Enterprise Guide, SAS Information Delivery Portal, and SAS BI Dashboard). We stage these products on servers ahead of time, and then ship those server machines to Las Vegas. Some of us will arrive a couple of days before the conference kickoff to make sure that everything "boots up" and is operational.
After staging the servers that we ship ahead, we then get to stage additional laptop machines with additional content. We use the laptops to connect to the server machines, just as we know customers might do in their enterprise. We also use the laptops for "super demos" and paper presentations. Trust me: you can fit a lot of SAS software on a laptop.
Even though I've done a lot already, there is still much more to do to prepare for this conference. I've done this enough times that I know what to expect...except that I also know to always expect a few surprises. Who knows? Perhaps I'll even have an Elvis sighting.