Author: Stuart Moore

Data Relay 2022 – Call for Speakers open

Data Relay 2022 – Call for Speakers open

need GIF

No conference cam make it without great speaker and their sessions. Data Relay is no exception, so we’re pleased to announce that our Call for Speakers is now open for our 2022 tour. This year we are visiting the following cities/venues:

  • 04/10/2022 – Leeds – Queens Hotel (new venue!)
  • 05/10/2022 – Birmingham – Broadway Plaza Odeon
  • 06/10/2022 – Reading – Microsoft HQ TVP
  • 07/10/2022 – Bristol – The Bristol Hotel

What we’re looking for

We want top notch Data Platform related content ranging from Beginner to Expert. Sessions should be 50 minutes in length, including any time for Q&A

Past topics have included SQL Server internals, Azure Synapse, DataBricks, Intro to Python, Disaster Recovery, ChatDBOps, Azure Data Factory, Automation, JSON in SQL Server, Scala, PowerBI, SSDT, DAX, Kubernetes, IoT, Stream Analytics, DataOps, Data Security and many more.

If you’re not sure your session fits in, please get in touch or just submit it anyway!

You can submit for as many dates as you want

What we offer:

  • We offer a step up from User Groups to speaking to group of 50-100 people
  • If accepted for more than 1 event, you get a seat on the Data Bus that takes us around between venues
  • A chance to network with other speakers and organisers
  • A free lunch
  • Speaker mentoring if you want it.
  • A great time
  • A fun event that’s different to anything else out there

Speaker Selection

To ensure a fair process, selection will be done by a blinded process where the reviewers will only see the abstract. To ensure this process is truely blinded, please do not add any personal/identifying information to your abstract.

The number of days you can attend will not be used during selection. So don’t worry if you can only make 1 date, that still works for us.

Organisers will not be submitting sessions. But will be used to fill in should we have any last minute holes in the agenda.

How to submit

We are using Sessionize again this year due to it’s simplicity. To submit your session head over to ‘Data Relay 2022 Sessions‘. If you fun into any problems please get in touch


If you have any questions please get in touch via our Contact Form, or via Sessionize. We want to help as many speakers as we can, so if you have any concerns or want advice we’re happy to help out.

Data Relay 2022 – We’re back!

Data Relay 2022 – We’re back!

Excited Jimmy Fallon GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Yes, we’re back and in person for 2022!

We’re running a 4 day event running North to South:

  • 04/10/2022 – Leeds – Queens Hotel (new venue!)
  • 05/10/2022 – Birmingham – Broadway Plaza Odeon
  • 06/10/2022 – Reading – Microsoft HQ TVP
  • 07/10/2022 – Bristol – The Bristol Hotel

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, but we’re looking forward to sharing as much Data Platform knowledge as we can.

To keep up to date with everything as it happens please follow us on:

Call for Speakers will be opening on 08/03/2022

Event sign up details will follow shortly afterwards

We look forward to seeing all our old friends and making some new ones on our travels. It’s going to be a lot of fun

Data Relay 2020 events postponed

Data Relay 2020 events postponed

Our friends at SQLBits let us know late last week that due to the current COVID-19 outbreak they were going to have to postpone their event. The only feasible alternative date for their venue and suppliers, unfortunately, clashed with Data Relay.

We agreed that we would work together to make this happen. As Data Relay was at an earlier planning stage our sunk costs were lower and we had fewer contracts signed. So we decided that the best solution for the UK SQL Community was for us to postpone Data Relay and allow SQLBits to have our space in the calendar.

While we are saddened not to be running an event in 2020 we are glad to have helped out SQL Bits to still go ahead.

We will be returning in 2021. Dates are currently being investigated and we hope to be able to lock them down and announce them soon. We will also be keeping an eye on the Covid-19 situation.

Please bear with us as we need to liaise with venues and our sponsors, but good news will come.

2020 DataRelay is coming!

2020 DataRelay is coming!

We’re happy to announce the dates and venues for DataRelay for 2020. This year we’re pleased to be heading back to Microsoft HQ in Reading on the Thursday. The dates and cities for Data Relay 2020 are:

  • Leeds – Monday 28th September
  • Nottingham – Tuesday 29th September
  • Birmingham – Wednesday 30th September
  • Reading – Thursday 1st October
  • Bristol – Wednesday 2nd October

We look forward to opening the Call for Speakers soon, and registrartion for attendees will open in June

The format will stay the same with 3 tracks of great Data Platfrom content from the best speakers in the industry. All events will be free to attend and we’ll be providing lunch as well.

Time to start putting them in your calendar.

New Session option open for submission

New Session option open for submission

There’s been lots of talk recently about the optimum length for a conference sessions. Some people have been saying the standard 50 minute session is great, other saying that a 20 minute session works better

Not being afraid of a bit of A/B testing Data Relay has decided to open up our session submissions to allow both Standard Sessions (50 minutes) and Lightning Talks (25 minutes)

You are welcome to submit as many of each as you want. So if you’ve got a great idea but don’t think it’ll fill 50 minutes, then please submit if for a 25 minutes slot.

Remember you don’t need to do more than 1 event if you don’t want to. So this could be a great way to dip your toes into conference speaking at an event local to you. So if you’re in Newcastle, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham or Bristol then now’s your chance

As always we’re offering feedback and help to first time submitters, please get in touch with us if you’d like some and we’ll help you out.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

SQL Relay becomes Data Relay

SQL Relay becomes Data Relay

Data Relay Logo

We’re aware that some of you may not have been aware of our rebranding last year.

For the last 10 years SQL Relay have been crossing the country bringing free quality SQL Server sessions and workshops as part of a week long tour. As I’m sure most of our attendees are aware, SQL Server is a core part of Microsoft’s Data Platform. But, it is only a part of that Data Platform.

We found that we were bring in topics such as AI, DevOps, PowerShell, Azure, Data Bricks, Python and Machine Learning that don’t alway fit under the ‘SQL Server’ banner

In recognition of this the decision was taken in 2018 to rebrand our event from SQL Relay to Data Relay to show that we’re now covering the whole of the Microsoft Data Platform

Don’t worry, everything you’ve come to expect from SQL Relay will still be preset at Data Relay. 5 days of quality free sessions and workshops at venues around the country

All aboard the Data Bus

All aboard the Data Bus

Data Relay’s unique selling point is that we’re a travelling conference. Every day we setup in a new city, present great Microsoft Data Platform content, take everything down and move onto another city. This means moving our crew, our speakers and the conference paraphernalia every night

How do we get to the next city?

We used to use a small minibus, but this was cramped and didn’t let people have room to unwind or relax.

In 2018 we decided enough was enough, and moved up a good few steps on the conference travel ladder

We now book a 30 seater executive coach with a professional driver. This means larger seats with more room to stretch out. We have a large cargo hold so no need to have your suitcase on your lap or a pop up banner rattling behind you

Now we just cruise between the cities. What you do with the time is up to you. In 2018 we saw all of these options taken up at some point:

  • Sleep
  • Dial back into the office
  • Network
  • Just tune out with music and a book
  • Fix issues with open source projects

We want to keep it nice and chilled on the bus so people can do their own thing without being distracted or annoyed. All of the rules in our Code of Conduct apply as well

All speakers will get a seat between cities they are speaking in if doing more than one, and so will people volunteering to help at multiple events

How many events do Speakers have to do?

How many events do Speakers have to do?

Data Relay is a week long event, where we do 5 one day conferences, each of which is in a different city

So do we expect speakers to commit to a full week of 5 events?

Of course not! We understand that this is a major commitment from the speaker, the speaker’s family and their employer to let them gallivant around the country for a week of fun

Speakers are welcome to submit for as many or as few events as they want to.

If you only want to do 1 day at your local event, that’s fine with us

If you can can only do Monday and Thursday, we’re cool with that

If you want to commit to all 5 days, we salute your resolve

If you want to do just 1 event, and don’t mind which day, we can work with that as well

Basically any combination of the events is fine with us

Your choice of days will NOT impact your chances of selection. The voting panel will NOT see this information when they choose sessions. So all session submissions will carry the same weight no matter how many or which events you want to commit to.

And we know we’re asking you to sign up to dates a long way out, so we’re flexible. We will work with you if things change and work with you to make sure it all works out for you and us. At the end of the day, if we’ve selected you we want you to present your content, so we’ll make sure we do our best to have you present it when and where you want to.

If you’ve any questions, then please get in touch:

    Why Speak at Data Relay

    Why Speak at Data Relay

    We’ve opened our 2019 Call for Papers

    The Call for Papers for Data Relay 2019 is now open. We’re looking for high quality sessions covering any topic related to the Microsoft Data Platform. If you can think of a topic we’ve either had it or accept it. Over the last couple of tours the topics have included

    • SQL Server Data Engine
    • Machine Learning
    • Azure Data Factory
    • R
    • Performance Tuning
    • Hadoop
    • Python
    • DevOps
    • PowerShell
    • Azure Service Bus

    So whatever topic you want to talk about, there’s a good chance we’ll be interested in.

    While we love our regular speakers we are always looking to welcome new people. Whether you’re new to Data Relay or just new to presenting we welcome you all.

    Why should you want to speak at Data Relay?

    So why should you speak at Data Relay?


    One of the best ways to dive deep into a technical topic is to write a presentation about it. Whenever I write a presentation, even on a topic I know, I discover a lot more about the intricacies of the topic and writing the demos exposes new pitfalls I’d never thought about

    And there’s a good chance you’ll pick up some new knowledge as well. When you have so much Data Platform knowledge in one place, it’s inevitable that you’re going to pick some up, either in sessions or in conversations on the Data Bus

    Meeting People

    The UK has a great Data Platform community and a good chunk of it comes along to Data Relay. So this is a great opportunity to meet lots of new people and network

    Career Development

    Lots of employers now want something extra from prospective employees. Showing that you’ve experience of presenting technical content at a national level is a great way to stand out


    Let’s not beat around the bush here. Data Relay is a lot of fun to be involved in. None of use get paid to do it, so there’s got to be some reason we come back every year!

    Paying it Forward

    Many of us have learnt new things from community events or blog posts that have helped us to get where we are. Now it’s our chance to provide new and update content to the community

    We’re here to help

    Data Relay is committed to helping new speakers or those stepping up from Usergroup events. Many of the organising committee have years of presenting experience and are members of Speaking Mentors, and want to help you submit. To encourage you to submit we have the following in place

    • Mentoring on writing a compelling submission
    • Blind session selection to avoid bias
    • Code of Conduct to make everyone feel welcome and safe
    • Pre event feedback on presentations
    • No requirement to do all 5 days, pick those that work for you
    • Flexible on schedules, we can work with you to pick slot times
    • Transport included between events

    And we’re always happy to hear from you if there’s something else that would encourage you to submit. We really do want to make sure we’re presenting the best topics from the best speakers so want to be as inclusive as possible

    If you’re still undecided about speaking at Data Relay then please get in touch and we’ll do our best to convince you: