SQL SERVER – Learning SSIS – Where Do I Start? – Notes from the Field #014

[Note from Pinal]: This is a new episode of Notes from the Field series. SQL Server Integration Service (SSIS) is one of the most key essential part of the entire Business Intelligence (BI) story. It is a platform for data integration and workflow applications. As wikipedia says – It features a fast and flexible data warehousing tool used for data extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL). The tool may also be used to automate maintenance of SQL Server databases and updates to multidimensional cube data.

andyleonard SQL SERVER   Learning SSIS   Where Do I Start?   Notes from the Field #014

In this episode of the Notes from the Field series I asked SSIS Expert Andy Leonard a very crucial question – How to learn SSIS and where do we start with it? Andy was very kind to answer the questions and provides plenty of information about how a novice developer can learn SSIS from the beginning and become expert in the technology.

Where Do I Start?

I often meet people who want to learn SSIS but don’t know where to get started. There are several great places to learn SSIS.


I recommend the Stairway to Integration Services at SQL Server Central, but I am clearly biased – I wrote it (and I’m still writing it…). The stairway is a systematic walk-through laden with images which, I believe, helps when learning something new.


There are lots of good books on SSIS. You can learn something from all of them. At Amazon, you can find an assortment of books by the major publishers such as Apress, Microsoft Press, and Wrox – as well as self-published works – by simply searching for SSIS.

Free Training

There are a number of online resources where you can obtain free training. Individuals and companies offer training on YouTube, Vimeo, and other online video websites. The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) stores recordings of Virtual Chapter meetings and various presentations.

You can also obtain free training at events such as SQL Saturday or local SQL Server user groups. The Linchpin People blog contains some free SSIS video training.

Free training is usually good training, but not always. One caveat about free training: You often get what you pay for.

Paid Training

You can opt for professional training delivered in-person, remotely, or via video. There are several sites that provide excellent SSIS training via video. Some are subscription services for which you pay a yearly or monthly fee. Others allow you to purchase a course of collection of courses.

In-person training is usually the most expensive option. Why? Remember: you get what you pay for. Many students who attend the Linchpin People SSIS training courses report learning more during the Day 1 morning session than they knew entering the classroom. In-person training is the best and fastest way to obtain a working knowledge of SSIS.

Why So Much?

So why does in-person training cost so much? First, the curriculum must be developed. This may sound trivial – putting together some slides and talking points and a handful of exercises – but it is not. I spent almost a year developing the labs for Linchpin People’s course: From Zero to SSIS. Why so long? Several reasons. I wanted the content to:

  1. Represent real-world data (No one’s data is as clean as AdventureWorks).
  2. Build from a central starting point (spiral-out).
  3. Emphasize the techniques and SSIS components and tasks you will use as an SSIS Developer, not deliver a survey of all SSIS components and tasks (some of them don’t work very well, after all).

(Shameless plug: I am personally delivering From Zero to SSIS 19-23 May in Reston Virginia, and SQL Server Integration Services 2012 Design Patterns 8-11 Sep in London, England.)

Time and Hard Work

There is no substitute for spending time working hard to learn anything, and SSIS is no different. In fact, learning SSIS will take more time than learning almost any other technology. Why? Integration Services is a software development platform for moving data. Learning it well requires understanding both database technology and software development.

As I tell students in my SSIS training, “If it was easy, anyone could do it.” Many people are not interested in learning something difficult. The result is there are not enough SSIS developers to do all the available SSIS work. So if you learn SSIS, you should enjoy some measure of job security.

Working in Information Technology requires a commitment to lifelong learning. You should not expect to be able to learn one version of SSIS – or one version of any technology – and be able to work in that version of the technology for the next 20 years (you will be fortunate to be able to work in a single version of a technology for 20 months!). If you don’t like “keeping up,” Information Technology is not the right field for you.

You will need to invest time to learn SSIS, and you will need to continue investing time to improve your SSIS skills and keep up with changes in new releases of the technology.


You can learn SSIS. You need to make up your mind that you are going to learn it and let nothing stop you. Treat each obstacle as “something to overcome.” Accept no shortcuts. Do the work. Put in the time.

I have the utmost confidence in you. You can do it.

If you want to get started with SSIS with the help of experts, read more over at Fix Your SQL Server.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

7 thoughts on “SQL SERVER – Learning SSIS – Where Do I Start? – Notes from the Field #014

  1. Pingback: SQL SERVER – Expanding Your Skills – Notes from the Field #015 | Journey to SQL Authority with Pinal Dave

  2. Pingback: SQL SERVER – Contest Post – Notes from the Field – Learning Performance Tuning and Database Health | Journey to SQL Authority with Pinal Dave

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