Last June, my Special Edition UPDATE commentary focused on "Microsoft's First Annual BI Power Hour" ( http://www.sqlmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=46822& ) at TechEd in Orlando. Now, it's time to prepare for the Second Annual BI Power Hour, which will take place at TechEd in Boston ( http://www.microsoft.com/events/teched2006/default.mspx ) on June 14 from 5:30- 6:45 PM. If you haven't registered for TechEd, you're too late because it's already sold out (sorry), but you still might catch the BI Power Hour--last year, the event occurred at several other large conferences including the PASS Community Summit. (For information about this November's Summit, see http://www.sqlpass.org/events/summit06/index.cfm ).

I don't want to only advertise the BI Power Hour, I also want to comment on TechEd--I have to highlight a conference that annually sells out a few weeks after registration opens, despite increasing in size each year. (Last year, more than 11,000 people attended, and I imagine the show will top 12,000 this year.) TechEd is a good showcase of what Microsoft considers to be important to developers and IT pros--if the topic matters, it'll be on the TechEd agenda. When you take a look at this year's lineup, you'll see that SQL Server will be big at TechEd, and Microsoft business intelligence (BI) has a growing share that overlaps heavily with SQL Server.

This year, TechEd will have a BI track with 30 breakout sessions, and you'll find a huge BI focus in the redesigned Technical Learning Center (TLC). The TLC is a consolidation of all TechEd's interactive resources; so in one, place you'll find BI chalk-talks, BI experts in the Ask the Experts area, BI Hands on Labs (HOLs), and four BI demo areas: SQL Server 2005, Microsoft 2007 Office system, ProClarity, and one yet-to-be-named corporate performance-management demo.

I like the ideas behind the TLC redesign; the center should cut down on trekking to the far corners of the convention center to find all the resources on a given topic. At past TechEds, people skipped those HOLs in some lab in outer Mongolia or missed far-flung chalk-talks and Ask the Experts sessions. But this year, Microsoft hopes more attendees can go to the Ask the Experts area, find answers to their questions, drop in on a chalk-talk, and put all that information into context in a focused HOL.

Not to ignore the rest of the world (thanks for reading despite my self- centered, American viewpoint), TechEd is also happening in many corners of the world--and you might even have a chance of registering. Check out the TechEd 2006 Worldwide site to find international locations: http://www.microsoft.com/events/teched2006/worldwide.mspx

If you're heading to TechEd in Boston, check out the BI track including the BI Power Hour, and be sure to do a few laps in the TLC's BI section. See you there.