In Support of PASS Board of Directors Nominee Ryan Adams

Reminder: Opinions are my own.

There are four candidates running for three Board of Director positions this year (in alpha order):

  • Ryan Adams
  • Argenis Ferndandez
  • Tim Ford
  • Jen Stirrup

You can read more about each candidate through links on PASS’ Elections page here. I do know all four candidates personally – some a bit better than others – and I know that they are all great individuals who have all contributed in numerous ways to the SQL Server Community over the years.

But this post is specifically about Ryan Adams and why he’ll be getting my vote for a Board of Directors position. I support Ryan because I don’t just know him, I have worked with him. I had two opportunities to work closely with Ryan in the last three years on PASS-related teams.

I first got to know Ryan in late 2011 when I took over the PASS Performance Virtual Chapter. I put out a call for volunteers in November 2011 to help run the team. Ryan applied with the intention of managing the web site , but I recognized that he came to the group with a lot of experience already (at that time he was on the board for the North Texas User Group, he was a Regional Mentor, and he was helping to organize SQLRally), and I needed to leverage that. I convinced him to handle marketing for the group, and though we didn’t know each other well in the beginning, our small team came together through regular conference calls. We all had different responsibilities, and we were off and running. We created (in my opinion) a very solid VC over the course of the year. Ryan was an integral part of that success. He created his own goals and figured out how to meet them. He set up new avenues for marketing the VC meetings, and came up with some great ideas along the way, including the Performance Palooza. We held the first one in December of 2012, and the Palooza has continued to this day for the Performance VC (its attendance this year grew 175% compared to last year).

At the end of 2012 I stepped down from running the team, as I had only committed to a year, and I also felt it was good for someone to have another opportunity in a leadership position. Ryan stepped forward without hesitation; he was a natural fit. This was confirmed when we finally met in person at the 2012 PASS Summit for a dinner to celebrate our year, and Ryan was already thinking ahead to 2013 and making plans. Ryan has continued to run that group and it has continued to grow over the years, now averaging 200-300 attendees per session.

I again worked with Ryan in 2013 when we were both members of the PASS Nomination Committee. I was again impressed. The NomCom requires its members to review applications by a specific date, and also attend meetings and candidate interviews. Collectively, we all tried to meet deadlines and attend every meeting – I’m not sure that Ryan missed any. During our candidate interviews Ryan asked thoughtful questions, and provided great insight and evaluation during our follow up discussions. Post-nominations, he gave critical consideration to the process that we went through provided both big-picture and detailed analysis of it, contributing to the changes that occurred for our nominating committee and the next.

In the last three years I have watched Ryan continue to contribute to the community through his volunteer responsibilities and his speaking. He’s become a solid speaker, presenting at many SQL Saturdays and the PASS Summit. He is comfortable in front of large and small groups and has excellent written and verbal communication skills. He has in-depth knowledge about PASS and how it works, which he’s been accruing since he started helping out the North Texas User Group all those years ago. Ryan has the ability to take on projects and responsibilities, take action, and see them through the end. He gets thing done. He has a positive attitude and he’s a critical thinker. I know Ryan would be a solid member of the PASS Board of Directors, and it’s been a privilege to watch him grow as a leader within our community.

Best of luck to all the candidates in this year’s election, and I encourage every voting PASS member to take time to learn about each candidate so you can vote based on data.  Read through each candidate’s page on the PASS site, and if you still have questions, visit the election forum and/or attend the Town Hall and Twitter chat events.  The board makes a lot of decisions that affect the SQL Server community – it’s a good idea to know who’s representing you.

Don’t Hard Boil Your Next SQL Server Upgrade

SQL Server upgrades and hard-boiled eggs. What do these two things have in common? Probably nothing, but last week Jon and I were having a conversation about an upgrade I need to do for one of our clients. Now I can’t go into specifics because of the NDA, but I can give you some of the pieces:

It’s a two-node cluster, there are two instances of an older version of SQL Server Standard Edition, they want to upgrade to a recent release of SQL Server, there’s replication involved…and we may or may not reuse the existing servers.

Now, I like talking through different options for this kind of challenge with someone else on the team, and Jon loves this type of thing. I love solving problems, it’s one of my favorite parts of my job. I think that Jon thrives on it. We’ll discuss some project or process and I will have an idea for how to do it, and then three hours later I’ll get another email or a phone call from Jon that starts with, “Well you could also…”

Our conversation about upgrading was interspersed with a conversation about getting into better shape and eating better (yes I’m usually going in three directions at once, aren’t we all?), and Jon mentioned hard-boiled eggs because they are a good breakfast protein. I asked him if he was still buying them already boiled…because he used to do that. He said no (hooray!), that one of his friends now boils them for him in big batches (nice friend!). Then he mentions how difficult it is to boil eggs.

And I’m thinking, “Are you kidding me?” He’s one of the smartest people I know and boiling eggs is a challenge? So I sent him the steps below, which is this which is an adaptation of instructions provided in Cook’s Illustrated (great cooking magazine if you’re interested):

  1. Place eggs in a large pan and enough cold water so that it’s at least 1” above the eggs. Add a splash of vinegar.
  2. Place on burner and set to high.
  3. When the water starts to boil, set a timer for 5 minutes.
  4. When the timer goes off, turn off the burner, set another timer for 7 minutes, let the eggs sit in the hot water.
  5. When the timer goes off the second time, drain the hot water, fill with cold water and ice.
  6. Let sit for a couple minutes, then either drain and put in the fridge, or peel and eat.

And Jon replies with this (yes I know the image is large, it’s so you don’t have to click on it to read the text! :)

Upgrading is easier than boiling eggs

Upgrading is easier than boiling eggs

I laughed. A lot. I was thinking, “I’ll take boiling eggs over an upgrade any day, no matter how much I love SQL Server.”

And then yesterday I decided to boil a couple eggs for breakfast. I put them in the pan with plenty of water and a splash of vinegar, turned on the burner, and then went to my office (just 20 feet away) to work on my Insider Video. Forty minutes later (yes, 40) I remembered the eggs. I forgot to set a timer. I always set a timer, but yesterday I just forgot. I ran to the kitchen…there was about an inch of water left in the pan. I was lucky. Nothing destroyed, the eggs were even edible! But here’s the thing…

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done something before, and how well you know the steps involved and KNOW that they work. Sometimes unexpected events happen or a single step gets missed that causes a problem (or a disaster).

Need a real-life example? Jon had a customer that wanted to remove partitioning for a huge table. They had gone through the steps many times in a Test environment, and they were all documented. When it came time to run the process in Production, however, the step to disable the nonclustered indexes on that table before removing partitioning was missed. As a result, the nonclustered indexes (on that extremely large table) were rebuilt three separate times. The step was in the documentation, and had been done during the tests, but for some reason wasn’t done during the process in Production.

So back to that upgrade…we’re still planning for it. If I get approval from the customer, I’ll share the details and let you know how it goes. Until then, keep making those checklists and testing your upgrades. You just never know what’s going to happen.


Today I opened up a SQL Server ERRORLOG and saw these two messages repeated every 20 seconds or so:

Starting up database ‘AdventureWorks2014′.

CHECKDB for database ‘AdventureWorks2014′ finished without errors on 2015-08-23 02:15:08.070 (local time).  This is an information message only; no user action required.

When you initially see these two messages repeated over and over, it might seem like SQL Server is caught in some issue with recovery.  Or you might think it’s running CHECKDB over and over.  Neither are true.  The database has AUTO_CLOSE enabled.  (And you see the CHECKDB message because it’s reading the boot page and noting the last time CHECKDB ran successfully…to see what updates that entry, check out my post What DBCC Checks Update dbccLastKnownGood?)

When AUTO_CLOSE is enabled, after the last user exits the database, the database shuts down and its resources are freed.  When someone tries to access the database again, the database reopens.  You might be thinking that for databases that are not accessed that often, this might be a good thing.  After all, freeing resources and giving them back to SQL Server for use elsewhere sounds useful.  Not so much.  There’s a cost associated with that shut down, and a cost to open the database back up when a user connects.  For example – shutting down a database removes all plans for that database from cache.  The next time a user runs a query, it will have to be compiled.  If the user disconnects, the plan is freed from cache.  If someone connects one minute later and runs the same query, it has be compiled again.  You get the point: this is inefficient.  And really, how many databases in your production environment do you really not access?  If you’re not accessing the database, why is it in a production instance?  If you want a few more details on AUTO_CLOSE, check out the entry for ALTER DATABASE in Books Online.

I am sure (maybe?) that there are valid cases for having AUTO_CLOSE enabled.  But I haven’t found one yet :)

On top of the resource use, realize that every time the database starts up, you’re going to get the above two messages in the ERRORLOG.  In the log I was looking at, there were multiple databases with this option enabled, so the log was flooded with these messages.  In general, I’m a huge fan of cycling the ERRORLOG on a regular basis (just set up an Agent job that runs sp_cycle_errorlog every week), and I try to reduce “clutter” in the log as much as possible.  This means don’t enable a setting like AUTO_CLOSE which can put in all those messages, and use trace flag 3226 to stop logging successful backup messages (they still go to msdb).

Oh yes, to disable AUTO_CLOSE:




Backup checksum default option in SQL Server 2014

The SQL Server team snuck in a new server configuration option in the 2014 release (I bet thanks to this Connect item even though it’s still Active), and it’s not documented so I just stumbled upon it recently.  If you run:

SELECT * FROM [sys].[configurations] ORDER BY [name];

you’ll see that there are 70 rows in the output (in 2012 there were 69) and the new one is:

backup checksum default

The option is disabled (set to 0) by default.  To enable it, simply run:

EXEC sp_configure ‘backup checksum default’, 1; GO RECONFIGURE WITH OVERRIDE; GO

As a quick reminder, adding the CHECKSUM syntax to the backup command forces SQL Server to verify any existing page checksums as it reads pages for the backup, and it calculates a checksum over the entire backup.  Remember that this does not replace CHECKDB (check out Paul’s post – A SQL Server DBA myth a day: (27/30) use BACKUP WITH CHECKSUM to replace DBCC CHECKDB – for more details).  So what does this server option do?  Well, since it’s not yet documented (I filed a Connect item here) I did some testing to confirm what I was expecting.

Within Management Studio I ran a simple backup statement:

BACKUP DATABASE [AdventureWorks2014] TO  DISK = N’C:\Backups\AdventureWorks2014_checksumtest.bak';

Then I checked the output in msdb:

SELECT [bs].[database_name], [bs].[backup_start_date], [bs].[backup_finish_date], [bs].[has_backup_checksums], [bs].[user_name], [bm].[physical_device_name] FROM [msdb]..[backupset] [bs] JOIN [msdb]..[backupmediafamily] [bm] on [bs].[media_set_id] = [bm].[media_set_id];

Backup information from msdb

Backup information from msdb


Check it out…with the server option enabled, I don’t have to include the CHECKSUM syntax to have SQL Server perform the backup checksum.

If you’re running SQL Server 2014, I highly recommend enabling this option for your instances, and if you rely on Glenn’s scripts for instance reviews, I know he’s adding a note about this to the next set :)

PASS Summit 2014: WIT Lunch

Two posts from me in one day?  What’s up with that?!  Well, today at the PASS Summit we also have the WIT luncheon, where Kimberly Bryant, who is the founder of Black Girls CODE, will be speaking.  I am live-blogging this event as well, so watch this post for updates starting around 12:15PM EST.  If you want to learn more about Black Girls CODE, check out this MSNBC interview.


Denise McInerney is introduced first – she asks how many people were at the first WIT lunch, back in 2002 (I am pretty sure Denise has been a part of WIT since its inception – a long-time leader within the community).  The WIT luncheon has grown a lot in the past 10+ years – today’s lunch has over 900 attendees.  Denise brings out Kimberly Bryant – such a different setting this year, just Denise and Kimberly on stage.  Denise is going to ask a few questions, then open it up to the audience and people watching on PASStv – you can tweet your questions and include the #passwit hash tag.

Black Girls CODE is a non-profit organization started in the Bay Area in 2011.  What really drove Kimberly to make a change when she recognized that her daughter, who was 12 at the time, might be following in her footsteps.  Never thought her daughter was an engineer.  But she was a heavy gamer (World of Warcraft, D&D) and spent a lot of time on the computer.  Her daughter was at the age where she could learn and create with a computer – and that was a life-changing moment for her.  Her daughter first wanted to grow up and be a game tester :)  Once she went up to a programming camp, she saw that the environment actually allowed her to create, not just be a participant.  As a parent, Kimberly noticed that she was only one of three girls at the summer camp, and the only person of color at the camp (out of about 40 campers total).  At that point, Kimberly knew she had to make a difference, not just for her daughter, but for other daughters.

Question from Denise: “Why is still so hard to get girls and young women interested in technology?”  Kimberly cites a Girl Scout study that showed tha tif you surveyed girls BEFORE they get to middle school, over half the girls show an interest in STEM, but by the time they get to high school it’s less than 5%.  In some cases, girls don’t have support from parents and teachers.  There are fewer opportunities for girls to flex the STEM skills.  Kimberly says she hates the pink aisle.  Do Legos need to be pink?  (ES: They don’t, I grew up without pink or purple Legos and played with them all the time.)

What type of programs does Black Girls CODE run?  The secret sauce is the environment of girls in the environment to do coding and engineering and they have relatable leadership – the women that come in to teach the programs.  Over 75-80% of the instructors are women.  They are reflections of what the girls can become, and that gives the girls the ability to see the possibility.  Kimberly had a counselor who said, ‘You’re good in math and science, you should go into engineering.”  Kimberly didn’t know what that looked like – what does an engineer do, what do they look like?  But if you’re able to actually see that, suddenly you have an idea of what you can really do.

Denise asked what languages are taught via Black Girls CODE?  Kimberly explained that in the beginning they didn’t know what the girls would be willing to learn, so it was open in the beginning.  The goal was to always teach them Ruby – and Kimberly had a core team that knew Ruby.  Also did some testing with Python, but do a lot with open source learning.  Have also started to talk to organizations about coding – she has talked with Lynn Langit, and Lynn’s program (Teaching Kids Programming) teaches Java.

Question from Denise: How can people who want to bring STEM education to kids get started doing that?  There are so many opportunities for technology professionals.  We are at the beginning of this code movement – but we are lacking in teachers that can teach these skills.  Look for opportunities to give back in the school district where your kids are.  We need more than after-school programs and camps.  Black Girls CODE has over 2000 volunteers across the US, there are multiple chapters.  There is a need to talk to students and parents about what we (as women) do in our careers.  (ES: I find it interesting that she mentioned that parents need to hear that discussion as well.)

Kimberly believes that kids can start learning about technology at grade 1.  (ES: I agree – my kids have had a tech class since kindergarten.  Last year, as a 3rd grader, my son put together a PowerPoint presentation.)  Starting to introduce technology in high school is too late.  We need computer science to be counted as a high school credit – it shouldn’t take the place of math or science, it’s in addition.

Denise: Many companies have released diversity statistics.  Does Kimberly talk to attendees about the culture of tech and what it might be like to have a career in tech.  Kimberly states that they do – they try to prepare students to be active participants, and also prepare them for what challenges they might face within the data environment.  Changing the community is not quick thing – it’s a continual effort and requires some difficult conversations (then followed by action).

Over half of the women who enter tech fields drop out at the half way point.  Kimberly says she can relate to this personally.  She understands what it’s like to get in to the career and then see the glass ceiling.  Often, women don’t have the support network to break through that glass ceiling.  The role of mentors, sponsors, and advocates is so important.  On average, most women CEOs come to one company and stay there for 20+ years – that’s how the majority of women CEOs get there.  Women need to stay in the pipeline longer in order to get to the top – but a welcoming and positive environment will help.  Advocates and sponsors for women, within those communities, are needed.  Need more male advocates and mentors to help women get to the next level.  Also, women need to be willing to take the risk to get to that next level.

Denise opens up the discussion for questions from the audience.  It’s mentioned that only 15% of attendees here at PASS Summit are women.  (ES: Really?  15%?)

One of themes from today and Kimberly’s message: mentors are needed.  Both and male and female.  Kids need role models, college students need them, women in technology need them.  (ES: I’d argue that everyone needs a mentor.  Ask yourself: can you be a mentor to someone?  I bet you can.  And don’t be afraid to go ask for – seek out – a mentor for yourself.)

Work culture cited as a top reason that women leave technology.  How do we change that?  Kimberly says to hire more women.  If there’s a company with its heart in diversity, and there’s isolation in the company still, need to change it from the ground up and from the top down, and to do that, need to get more women into the organization.  (ES: That’s not a complete answer, in my opinion, I think it’s more than just getting more women into a company.  You have to understand what the barrier is – what’s the resistance?  Then, you need to figure out how to change that.  And I don’t know if it’s a one-size-fits-all in terms of the barrier – there might be a huge variety of barriers.)

Input from an attendee: go to local school career fairs and talk about IT.  The issue isn’t having to choose between two candidates, it’s trying to get one qualified candidate.

Jes asks how we can get kids to understand that technology skills are important – they’re not just a degree.  Kimberly – we agree, technology skills provide just one tool in a person’s toolkit.  This is why it’s important to get computer science into school, so then it becomes a tool that they can use as they’re learning science, math, and even in non-science courses.

As women we need to be advocates for each other.  (ES: Agreed, we do.)

Kalen has a challenge to parents: talk to your boys about smart women and how they’re not someone to fear.

One of my mentors, Allen White, stands up to ask a question.  Allen has been in IT for 40 years.  He asks, “What can I focus on so I don’t make “bad” choices, since I am not a female, nor a person of color?”  Kimberly tells him to be cognizant, make his company inclusive, to help someone who’s “different” from him.  He’s done all that :)

PASS Summit 2014: Day 2

We’re kicking off Thursday’s PASS Summit keynote in about 5 minutes, and the good news is that I have network connectivity today and I’ll really be live-blogging today.  Stay tuned for updates throughout the morning!

Ok, I guess I need to start with this picture of Brent Ozar and Grant Fritchey:

Brent and Grant with their rainbow leggings to support Doctors Without Borders

Brent and Grant with their rainbow leggings to support Doctors Without Borders

Brent and Grant will be wearing these lovely leggings today when they present as part of an effort by to help raise money for Doctors Without Borders.  You can still donate!

8:15 AM

We’re off and running with Adam Jorgensen, PASS EVP of Finance.  Adam is going to provide an update about the financial status of PASS.  Funny enough, doing this at Summit satisfies the requirements of the by-laws.  The largest source of revenue is the PASS Summit (not a surprise): 96% of the revenue for PASS is generated by Summit and the Business Analytics conference.  The money raised goes to provide activities throughout the community, and there are reserves of over one million dollars (pretty good).  These funds protect the PASS Community in case the Summit is cancelled due to a natural disaster.  In fiscal year 2016, PASS wants to focus on projects already scoped and also provide funds for new projects that are yet to be determined.  PASS publishes the budget every year.  The community members have access to this, and starting in 2016 portfolio-level budgets will be published so it’s easier to drill into the areas of PASS which interest members the most.  The focus in 2015 includes conferences, the global alliance program, investing in IT, community events, data culture, and the business and data analytics community.

8:22 AM

Adam finishes up and PASS President Tom LaRock comes on stage.  Tom takes a few minutes to say goodbye to members who are ending their term on the board, including Sri Sridharan and Olivier Matrat.  Sri managed the Volunteer profile within PASS and did a phenomenal job trying to bring more volunteers into the community to help PASS.  Tom also introduces new Board members: Sanja Mishra and Grant Fritchey.  Next up is Denise McInerney, EVP of Marketing.

Denise mentions that over 5000 people are watching today’s keynote online on PASStv in over 113 countries.  Denise starts by talking about her involvement with PASS, which started back in 2002 with a session she attended by Kimberly Tripp. (ES: SQLskills shout out!)  Denise then got involved locally and at the national level.  When you volunteer for PASS you help other members, and you broaden your own network.  A point from Denise: many of the people she met in the beginning are the ones she still turns to.  Denise announces this year’s PASSion Award winner: Andrey Korshikov, who is based in Russia and a SQL Server MVP and BI Developer.  Andrey is a PASS Regional Mentor and the founder of the Russian VC.  He’s managed four SQLSaturdays and three Russian editions of 24 Hours of PASS.

Denise also mentions those who were also nominated for the PASSion award – but I couldn’t type them all fast enough :)  She then highlights the PASS Outstanding Volunteers that have been recognized through the year and asks them to stand and be recognized.  (ES: It takes a village – there are so many fantastic people who contribute to this community.) 

On Friday, from 2:15 to 2:45, in room 307/308, there will be a Business Analytics Direction Board Discussion.  If you want to provide feedback about the Business Analytics Conference (taking place April 20-22, 2015 in Santa Clara, CA) and/or this direction that PASS is going, please attend the discussion.  Denise also reminds people to update their PASS profile, particularly if you want to volunteer and and get involved.

The next PASS Summit will be in Seattle, October 27-30, 2015.  Registration is already open!

 8:35 AM

Dr. Rimma Nehme finally takes the stage for her keynote: Cloud Databases 101.  She is a Principal Research Engineer at the Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab.

Dr. Nehme has been watching this conference for the past 5 years, and starts by thanking the organizers for inviting her, and mentions Dr. DeWitt.  And she was thinking about how she could be like Dr. DeWitt, and then realized, “trying to be a man is a waste of a woman”.  She won’t try to be like Dr. DeWitt, she will just be herself.  Yes.  Dr. Nehme was born in Belarus, she knows a little bit about databases from an academic and real-world perspective, and she is learning a lit bit about business too.  (Dr. Nehme is getting her MBA in her “spare time”…seriously…and did I mention that she’s also a mom of two kids?  SO impressive.)  Dr. Nehme is a big fan of the PASS Community.

Today’s topic is: What is a cloud database?  Our roadmap for today:

  • Why Cloud?
  • What’s a Cloud Database?
  • How are they built?
  • What’s my role as a DBA?
  • Summary

Cloud technology is still relatively new, and it has “Shiny Object Syndrome” around it.  Dr. Nehme’s goal is to explain why cloud is special.  Basic equation to remember is that cloud = service.  More precisely defined: the cloud is computing and software resources that are delivered on demand, as a service that is always on, accessible from anywhere, and at any time.  This is also known as the 5the utility.  Why is it called cloud computing?  Blame the network people (not database people).  Cloud computing characteristics:

  • on-demand self-service – demand for resources can be filled automatically
  • location transparent resource pooling – resources are pooled to several customers
  • ubiquitous network access – all resources available over the network that allows data exchange
  • rapid elasticity – capability provided on-demand when needed, then releases
  • measure service with pay per use – resource charges as based on the quantity used

Think about it: one woman or a man, and a credit card, can tap into some of the largest computing solution in the world.

A brief history: the wave of computing started in the 1960s.  The concept of computation was born in this time by one of the MIT professors.  In the 1990s, the first cloud application was offered.  In the 2002, Amazon Web Services was launched, and Windows and Google launched offerings in the 2008 timeframe.

Question: Where does the cloud live?  In a data center.  Let’s go on a virtual tour of a Microsoft Data Center.  The data center in Chicago looks like a fancy trailer park.  What’s inside those big containers?  Lots and lots of servers.  When we think of a data center we think of lots of servers, raised floors, etc.  There is more to it, there are transformers, cooling towers, chillers, UPS’, powers, and people.  One way to describe a data center is by its efficiency.  Optimizing for energy efficiency is a good thing.  We are socially responsibility to pay attention to our use of resources.  One way that efficiency is calculated is by using PUE = power usage effectiveness.  The formula is the total facility power divided by IT equipment power.  This is valuable as a broad efficiency ratio.  The PUE ration for a modular data center (hosting cloud resources) is 1.15, whereas for a traditional data center it is 2.0.  Interestingly enough, the cooling for the modular data center is 0%.  One example of how this is done is swamp cooling (aka evaporative cooling)…put cold water in front of fans.  ES: Rob Farley tells me this is how its done in Australia.  Data centers have significantly evolved since the late 1980s.  There are over 100 data centers in more than 40 countries – more than 1 million servers.  What does Microsoft consider with site selection?  There are over 35 factors, the top 3 are proximity to the customers, energy and fiber infrastructure, and the skilled workforce.

The main takeaways for why cloud: elasticity, no cap ex, pay per use, focus on business, and fast time to market.  This is why cloud computing is special.

What is a cloud database?  Everything in the cloud is a service.  So you’re getting a database, as a service.  Cloud services has 3 layers: infrastructure, platforms, and applications (and these are also all services).  The Microsoft Cloud has the same thing – infrastructure services, platform services (e.g. Windows Azure, SQL Azure), application services.  When you have a data center on site, you manage everything.  When it’s infrastructure as a service, part of that stack is outsourced to a vendor.  With platform as a services, you’re responsible for the application and data – everything else is outsourced to the vendor.  With software as a service – you outsource everything.  Dr. Nehme takes this and then does “pizza-as-a-service” analogy:

  • On Premise = you buy everything and make the pizza at home
  • IaaS = take and bake (pick up the pizza, you cook it at home)
  • PaaS = pizza delivered
  • SaaS = dining in the restaurant

IAAS in the database world – you must still manage provisioning, backups, security, scaling, failover, replication, tuning, performance, etc.  Dr. Nehme calls this lift and shift – take an earth version of a database and put it in the cloud.  Existing applications don’t need to be modified.  Just need to point to version of the DBMS in the cloud.

PAAS = DBMS as a service – select the cloud vendor, select a DBMS.  Here, the cloud vendor manages provisioning, backups, security, tuning, failover, etc.  There might be some changes to the language surface compared to an earth version of a database.

SAAS = select the cloud vendor, select a cloud app (SharePoint).  The whole stack is outsource to the cloud vendor.

Database as a service examples:

  • Managed RDBMs (SQL Server)
  • Managed No SQL (Doc DB, MongoHQ)
  • Cloud-Only DBaaSS (Dynammo DB, Google F1)
  • Analytics-as-a-Service (HDInsight, EMR)
  • Object Stores (Azure storage, S3)

Why virtualization?  It’s a huge enabler for cloud computing.  Unfortunately, many servers are grossly underutilized.  Virtualization developed to put resources back to work.  However, there are bottlenecks with these resources.  What can be virtualized?  CPU, network, memory, and disk.  Keep in mind that there is no free lunch.  Virtualization comes with limitations.  Lose direct access to the computing resources.  Now have an indirect path.  Also, hiding the details of physical resources is unfortunate in terms of configurations.  In addition, virtualization always causes some degree of performance penalty.  Use cases are consolidation, migration and load balancing, and high availability.    For consolidation, if CPU requirements are high for one server, and IO requirements are high for a second server, consolidating those two might be ideal (and can also equate to energy-savings).

With migration and load balancing, assume one machine with a VM with a RDBMS that gets overloaded.  It could be migrated to another machine to help maintain performance.  And with high availability – one machine with a VM and then backup machine with VM image, will detect a failover, restart the image so the server stays up and available.

There are four common approaches to multi-tenancy (with a lodging analogy):

  • Private OS (SQL Server in a VM) – private apartment
  • Private Process/DB (MongoHQ) – private room
  • Private Schema (Azure SQL DB) – share room
  • Shared Schema (SalesForce) – share bed

What’s the big deal with this?  When you consider database as a service, what are the requirements for your database, for your data?  If application independence is important, don’t go with a shared schema approach.  You must do cost-benefit analysis.  Given pros and cons, what works best for you?

Service Level Agreements…when people talk about the cloud they talk about SLAs.  It’s a common understanding about services, guarantees, and responsibilities.  There is a legal component and a technical component.  Service level objectives are measurable characteristics such as performance goals, deadlines, constraints, etc.  Think of this in terms of availability and “nines”.  If you require four nines (99.99%) up time, that’s about 4 minutes of downtime per month.  Three nines (99.9%) is about 43 minutes per month.  Just one nine can make a big difference.  Container based hardware is three nines-reliable, but with SQL DB they are delivering four nines-reliability.

Three main concepts behind Azure SQL DB:

  • Account – 0 or more servers
  • Server – 1 or more databases
  • Database – standard SQL objects

This was designed with high availability in mind.  This means that there are multiple replicas of data.  There is a primary and two secondaries.  If a node goes down, the secondary becomes a primary, then replicate again so end up with two secondaries.  Reads are completed on primary, writes replicated to secondaries.  Four layers:

  • client – used by application to communicate directly to SQL Database
  • services – the gateway between the clients connecting to the SQL DB and the platform layer where computation occurs; provisioning, billing, routing for connections
  • platform – physical services that support the services layer above, includes SQL Server, management services
  • infrastructure – IT admin of physical hardware and OS

Applications connect to the internet, go to the Azure cloud, get to the load balances, hit the gateway which are connected to the SQL DB nodes, and then under all that is the scalability and availability fabric which does failover, replication and load balancing.  What does the SQL node look like?  It’s a machine with a SQL instance with a single physical database for the entire node.  The database files and logs are shared across every logical database – might be sharing log files with someone else.  Each logical database is a silo with its own independent schema (sharing a room analogy).

What we if create a database or run a query, how does it work?  The Azure service will identify where to put the primary database (when creating a new one), then put secondaries on two other machines.  When a user comes in to do a query, the SQL Azure gateway service will identify where the primary is located, get to it, perform computation, and return results to user.  If you want to know more – go to the sessions here at PASS :)

Next up: my role as a DBA.  From Dr. Nehme: “I have to be honest, I tried to put myself in your shoes.”  She asks, do we still need a DBA in the cloud era?  Dr. Nehme says yes.  Cloud doesn’t have to an either/or choice.  You can augment on-premise systems with cloud (remember the stretched tables example for yesterday).  This is the time to refresh your skills and adjust to this era in the cloud.  The cloud was not designed to be a threat to DBAs.  The number of DBAs vs. the number of database apps vs hardware computer capacity.  The number of DBAs is much smaller than both.  This is where cloud computing can help.  Address issue of underutilized hardware and alleviate some of the work of overburdened DBAs.  Dr. Nehme’s recommendation is to take current skills, add cloud skills, and call yourself a Cloud DBA.

Some key things to remember:

  1. cloud database = a service, designe dto reduce admin and operational costs (pay as you go, elasticity), there is a wide spectrum of solution (rent a database, cloud database).
  2. If you get confused about cloud deployment options, remember the pizza analogy
  3. Do the cost benefit analysis, and you need to embrace the cloud.  It presents a lot of opportunities.

Dr. Nehme finishes up and takes a minute to thank Dr. DeWitt and has him come on stage. She hints at possibility a keynote with both of them in the future.  I’d love that, but I’d also be happy to just hear Dr. Nehme again :)  Great session.  Perry is overwhelmed…

Perry after Dr. Nehme's talk...

Perry after Dr. Nehme’s talk…


Edit: 10:09AM In my original publishing I referred to Dr. Nehme as Rimma…and I think it’s because Dr. DeWitt always refers to her that way (and she refers to him as David).  I updated the post to fix that.  And also wanted to add a new pic (Dr. Nehme’s keynote and having the chance to chat with her was one of this week’s highlights):

Dr. Nehme and me

Dr. Nehme and me

PASS Summit 2014: Day 1

It’s Day 1 of the PASS Summit, I’m live-blogging the keynote, and I can’t get on the internet. My DR strategy (hotspot on my phone) is failing as well. This may be late getting posted, but that’s ok. The show must go on.

Perry and I, ready for the keynotePerry and I, ready for the keynotePerry and I, ready for the keynote

Perry and I, ready for the keynote

This morning we’ll hear from the Microsoft team, including:

  • T.K. “Ranja” Rengarajan, Corporate VP of the Data Platform, Cloud & Enterprise at Microsoft
  • James Phillips, General Manager of Power BI at Microsoft
  • Joseph Sirosh, Corporate VP of Information Management and Machine Learning at Microsoft

While setting up at the blogger’s table this morning, PASS EVP of Finance and Governance Adam Jorgensen introduced me to Brendan Johnston, who joined the PASS team five weeks ago and is going to work on marketing for PASS. I had a couple minutes to hear where he came from (Sony) and what he’s been working on so far (getting better messaging out to the community, including some additional communication in the weeks leading up to the Summit). He’s been busy already! I’m interested to see how PASS works to bring in data professionals who still do not that PASS exists. It’s a challenge to bring a group that doesn’t know you exist into the fold.

8:21 AM

And we’re off, with PASS President Tom LaRock kicking off the day.

This is the 16th annual Summit. As a reminder, PASS TV is streaming the keynote today and tomorrow! Also, I’ll be on PASS TV today (Wednesday) at 2:50PM PST :) Tom points out that over 50 countries are represented here at the Summit from thousands of companies, including first-timers, veteran members, leaders, volunteers, and Microsoft employees.

“This is our community.”

“The people who are next to you will help shape your career, and you shape yours.” ES: I have Allen White on one side of me, Glenn Berry on the other.  Yes, these two have shaped my career.

Tom introduces the PASS Board and asks attendees to share thoughts, comments, questions, and concerns with them throughout the week. On Friday at 1:15PM the Board will have an open Q&A in room 307 and 308.

The Summit started in 1999. Microsoft and CA Technologies had a vision of a community that would focus on Microsoft technology. With the content and networking from that first Summit, the community began to grow. Today, the PASS community reaches over 100,000 data professionals in over 100 countries with 285 chapters world-wide. PASS has provided over 1.3 million training hours since its inception.

Tom asks where you will be in 15 years. ES: Allen says to me: Retired. Ha, he’s a funny guy :) When we grow our skill set, we grow our opportunities.

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” –James Cash Penney

Tom states that this quote represents PASS, as PASS has become a cornerstone in our careers. We say to others “come with me, and check this out.”  Tom challenges us to get involved and grow. The best connections you can make are only a handshake away, right here, this week. Talk to someone. Connect, share, learn. Tom reminds people to not let growth end after Summit. Stay engaged throughout the year.

This year PASS has amazing opportunities for attendees –this includes 200 training sessions and instructor-led workshops, the chance to get certified, the SQLCat team, Women in Technology, Community Zone, and more.  Tom also takes a moment to mention the partners for the Summit. Without the sponsors, this would not possible. ES: Please, PLEASE, take the time to visit the sponsors this week and thank them for all that they do.  And I’ll give a shout out to one sponsor, SQL Sentry, right here for all they do for the community, including this morning’s #SQLRun which had over 100 people.  Nicely done Jes and SQL Sentry.

8:40 AM

The Microsoft team takes the stage, with Ranga up first. I had a chance to hear this team earlier in the week, and I was very impressed, especially with James Phillips. I probably shouldn’t have a bias, but his passion and past experience will serve this community well, I believe.

Ranga starts with his background – born in India, came to the US, received his education under Dr. DeWitt at Wisconsin (ES: one of my personal favorites – Dr. DeWitt, not Wisconsin) and then went to Silicon Valley and has been there since. Ranga’s family includes two daughters that he is encouraging to get into tech.  Ranga tells a story about how he loves maps (so do I!) – I find this funny for a man since they never ask for directions (ohhhh, so sorry!). Ranga loved MapQuest, and then GPS (ES: though his wife doesn’t like the GPS Jane’s voice…I don’t either, have you ever heard her pronounce Spanish street names? Hilarious).

There is an incredible number of devices proliferating right now. These devices are growing at astronomical rates. With these devices comes a lot of data generated and consumed, which is projected to grow – 41% every year. EVERY YEAR?!?!?! How will we handle this? Projecting 1.6 trillion dollars with this data based on trending. Can see personal instances where you can see how data is changing how you work and live. This a HUGE opportunity for us. At Microsoft, data is the thing that will light up future productivity. When we talk about productivity, we think it’s coming in the form of different types of data, and people wanting that data. NOW. The opportunity and challenge is take that data and make a difference for everyone. People use that data to make decisions in their life. Microsoft creates the platform to provide the insight to make those decisions.

This data culture will allow everyone to do more and achieve more in their decisions. It’s a cycle – if you capture data and manage it, and get insights from it, and you visualize and make decisions…it creates the need for more data. Microsoft experiences this now. This data platform is divided into granular areas with multiple capabilities. Ranga wants to talk about capturing and managing it. Must combine data across multiple areas (cloud, on-prem) and this platform must be comprehensive. Success from Microsoft is a solution that doesn’t require compromises, it is a culture of AND (not OR), and you CAN have it all. Microsoft can do in-memory and on disk, optimized for the hybrid environment (don’t take sides for on-prem and cloud, do you what’s right for your business!), structured and unstructured data, scale up or scale out. No limit on what you can do with this data.

Key characteristics necessary to do more and achieve more:

  • Capture diverse data
  • Achieve elastic scale
  • Maximize performance and availability
  • Simplify with cloud

Ranga talks about the technologies that can help with this:

  • Azure Document DB (NoSQL DB service, schema-free, ACID to eventual consistency)
  • Azure HDInsight (Apache Hadoop service with HBase and Storm)
  • Analytics Platform System (Polybase (SQL and Hadoop) appliance
  • Azure Search (Fully managed search service for mobile apps

For scaling, need to scale up and scale out. Microsoft has:

  • SQL Server 2014 with Windows Server 2012R2 (scale up to 640 logical cores, 64 vCPUs per VM, 1TB of memory per VM)
  • SQL Server in Azure VMs (new massive G-services VMs – base on the market)
  • Azure SQL Database (taking scale out approach – hyper-scale across thousands of DBs)

“Use the best tool for the job.”  ES: Yes. I ask “What problem are you trying to solve?”

Tracy Daugherty from Microsoft takes the change for a demo – I met him the other night, good guy. He’s talking about how to find inventory he wants to move (orange pumpkins…Halloween is over, time to get that product out the store and make way for holiday decorations!). Tracy is using Azure DB for the inventory, and showing JSON code that gets uploaded to update customer facing pages. When capacity increases, need to be able to support that – and can be done via elastic scale. Tracy talks about sharding which can be time-based, based on size, etc. It’s effectively one database, but broken out and spread across multiple shards.

This example is one of combining multiple products into one solution – get the right tools. We are at the beginning of the amazing possibilities here. All of these services are available in preview right now. Tracy notes: a new feature was GA’d last week (made generally available). Tracy wants to take main database and make sure it’s replicated across regions via geo-replication. Tracy picks a server over in Asia, and it replicates the existing database across the world in three easy steps.

Ranga says Microsoft provide the best up-time for any solution – four nines (99.99%). SQL DB is on a tear. The same engine is used for both SQL DB and SQL Server. There are a million databases running in SQL DB, and Microsoft is now truly understanding what data professionals go through. All fixes deployed to SQL DB get deployed to the next box version of SQL Server. SQL Server 2014 is getting great reception, the in-memory OLTP is incredible – no one else is able to do that. One engine can handle multiple workloads. Microsoft is taking advantages of all the things happening in Azure. On-prem you can connect to the cloud in a trusted manner which will allow you to extend your solution naturally.

Think about the world of differently. We have looked at data as carefully orchestrated. The new world says, take the data, put it in the right engine, and leave it in the cloud. Know that you can get insight from that data at any time. Azure is now becoming the new data layer. Ranga mentions Stack Overflow (ES: I see Brent do a fist pump..but then some frustration as Stack’s solution is misrepresented) and all that they are able to do with their commodity hardware and SSDs – it scales out well. They use the software in very clever ways. This is awesome to see. Ranga also mentions Samsung who has seen 24x improvement in performance with in-memory OLTP.

Ranga announces a major update to Azure SQL DB later this year that will be in preview. It represents an incredible milestone for Microsoft. This includes:

  • Leap in TSQL compatibility
  • Larger index handling
  • Parallel queries
  • Extended events (ES: YES!)
  • In-memory ColumnStore for data marts

More capabilities will roll out across multiple environments.

9:18 AM

Ranga brings Mike Zwilling, one of the Microsoft engineers, up on stage. A little background – holiday season, expecting an increase in transactions. People also want more real time insight. What if you could run analytics directly on OLTP data? (ES: Funny enough, I know companies that do that right now.) Mike gives a URL that viewers can go to and “buy” something – this is going to generate workload. Mike then shows the performance live. He shows the live view on the OLTP data, and shows performance via PerfMon.  (ES: I still love PerfMon.) Mike points out that the supporting table is using in-memory OLTP and nonclustered columnstore.

Mike talks about new functionality coming – the ability to stretch a table into Azure. (ES: I find this EXTREMELY exciting, I have a customer that benefit from this right now.) History tables, for example, can be stretched to exist the local server as well as into Azure. The older data is moved, behind the scenes, to Azure.  (ES: Awesome. The only thing I don’t love? There’s a DMV to look at rows moved to Azure named db_db_stretch_stats. Dear MS: you need to take stats out of that name. Please.) Mike demos how, in the event of a failover, you can restore the local database, and when it finished it is synchronized with Azure to bring it to the same point in time as what’s on-prem. Pretty cool. Ranga explains that the stretch concept is a logical – have an on-prem database that you extend, and it occurs in an invisible way.

9:28 AM

Joseph Sirosh takes the stage, he spent about 9 years at Amazon before joining Microsoft about a year ago. PASS is an amazing community. Communities come together to learn. Joseph wants to do the wave. (ES: Huh. Didn’t see that one coming. We’re going to do “PASS community rocks” as wave. We’ll do this if you want Joseph, three times. I’m a cheerleader and I’m not loving it. Where are everyone’s spirit fingers? Golf clap from Allen.)

On to machine learning – this is something Joseph is EXTREMELY passionate about. He mentions Storm. (ES: Did I ever tell you that my husband wanted to name our son Storm? That was voted down immediately.) Azure machine learning is about learning patterns in the past and anticipating what will happen in the future. Joseph brings Sanjay Soni to the stage. He asks how many people love Christmas shopping. I don’t. It stresses me out. More with Pier 1 and something about last minute shopping (that sounds familiar). Sanjay wants to figure out what items to put on end-caps. He’s going to talk about using Kinect sensors. Gather data about where shoppers spend their time. What products they are lingering around. This is cool, but as a consumer, I don’t like it. The heat map was created using PowerMap in Excel. Looking at last three days of data – behind the scenes. Azure data factory – something new in the Azure portal. SSIS to the power of X in the cloud – all kinds of data sources coming in.   Browser-based authoring environment. 1500 lines of code with a third-party app to do the analysis that 100 lines of JSON code does. JSON is a definite buzz technology this week. I do appreciate Sanjay’s enthusiasm. Rugs and furniture was the hot data to put on the aisles. (ES: SERIOUSLY? Steve Jones tells me to lighten up. This from a man wearing a red hate with stripes on it. Maybe he needs to be more serious?!? :) Ok, so real-time the hot items are candles (?) and bar & wine. I told you…not rugs and furniture. Wine is NOT surprising. The product is real-time dashboard. It’s the information coming from the sensors, data going into an Azure database. With only 14 lines of code can do stream analytics (versus 1000 from other vendors). Streaming is incredibly powerful.

“Let’s predict the future so we can change the future.”

Azure machine learning – look at loyalty customer information. Predict what a customer will buy based on their last purchase. (ES: Hm. I’m going to start messing with the data and buy random stuff.  (From where is this crankiness coming from?!?!) Are you getting junk emails from retailers that accurately predict what you’re going to buy? Is it wine? Ok.)  Last demo from Sanjay, on his phone, he’s a member of the loyalty program. The app welcomes him, and gives him a list of products he might be interested in, based on previous purchases. This includes beer mugs. The app called into machine learning. Fascinating. And really scary.

9:49 AM

James finally takes the stage. He is new to Microsoft, here for just over two years. Came from the Valley and spent that time building two companies. He is running the data experiences team. Running the Power teams and analytics. How do we bring data to people?  (ES: ok, I admit that I’m fading)

James mentions that he was watching the Twitter feed backstage. That’s risky, and impressive. Do you change the angle of your talk?

One thing that makes Microsoft different: the ability to tie back from the clout to on-prem. Microsoft is looking to build a data culture using PowerBI multiple capabilities. James moves into a demo, which he does himself. Props for that. Sticking with Pier1 for the demo (he kind of has to, but recognizes the feedback that’s been given on Twitter). James wants to get a pulse on the business – does this using a PowerBI dashboard – it’s a diagnostics component. James wants to understand why there’s a trend with candle purchases. Me too. James searches for a variety of pieces of information he wants to see, pins that information to his dashboard, and then arranges it in a way that the wants to see. I admit, the flexibility of the dashboard is pretty slick. The challenge is understanding how to get there.

(ES: Seriously, I love that James is doing his own demo.)

10:02 AM

James finishes up, and Ranga comes back. He thanks Pier1 for their help with the demos. One more thing from Ranga…the Azure Machine learning is available for free on a trial basis today. Ranga wants us to use that today. Again, he states that Microsoft is building an amazing data platform. Think of what we’re seeing today as a comprehensive platform.

“Be the hero of your data-driven business. Think through the one thing that captured your imagination, and then go connect and learn with that. This is the time for data. The world is excited about data. You are the guardians of data. Together we can change the world. We can do more together!”



Let’s Get Ready to Summit!

Friends…the conference season is upon us (and could I have thought up a cheesier title for this post?!).   In less than two weeks the PASS Summit kicks off in Seattle and I am very much looking forward to a week of all things SQL Server. I will be in Seattle a full week, but it seems that’s never enough time to see everyone.  I’ll be posting here and on Twitter – with hopefully more pictures this year!  If you are not attending Summit, let me know if there’s something you want to hear about, or see, and I’ll see what I can do.  If you will be there and want to say hi or catch up, let me know! Even better, let me tell you where I know I will be to increase our chances of running into each other :)

Sunday, November 2

  • The MVP Summit kicks off in Bellevue, and most of my day will be spent absorbing as much as I can about what’s coming in SQL Server vNext.

Monday, November 3

  • Another day of MVP Summit…my eyes might be glazed over by the end of the day.

Tuesday, November 4

  • My pre-con with Jonathan kicks off at 8:30AM! If you haven’t signed up for a pre-con, there is still time… Jon and I are covering everything about Extended Events we can possibly can fit into one day: Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Extended Events. We finalized our slide deck last week when we were in Chicago teaching IEPTO2, and my only concern is whether we can get through all the material (maybe not?!). Whether you’ve been a devout user of Trace and Profiler for years, or have never used it in your life, this session will have everything you need to embrace Extended Events and be off and running in SQL 2012 and 2014. I am *so* looking forward to this day.  Oh, and check out the preview that Jon and I did with PASS…Jon’s answer to the first question still makes me laugh.
  • In the evening I plan to attend the Summit Welcome Reception – one of the best times to see A LOT of people and at least say hello.

Wednesday, November 5

  • I am kicking off the day with #sqlrun, organized by the best-roomate-ever, Jes Borland.
  • During Wednesday’s keynote, I will be sitting at the blogger’s table, live-blogging the event (any guesses on what vNext news the Microsoft team will share?).
  • After the keynote I plan to attend sessions throughout the day and will probably spend some time in the Community Zone.

Thursday, November 6

  • I will again be at the blogger’s table for Rimma Nehme’s keynote. I am looking forward to Rimma’s talk! I met her briefly before Dr. DeWitt’s keynote last year; she helped him put together that session and then surprised him by attending and lending her support.
  • I will be sitting at the blogger’s table during the WIT luncheon as well, and I love the slight change in format for this year. The past few years the luncheon has had a panel discussion so several individuals have the chance to share their stories, which I find fascinating and inspiring. However, I always struggle with an “action item” – what can I do to make a difference? Therefore, I’m extremely interested in hearing Kimberly Bryant talk about her non-profit, Black Girls CODE, and hopefully getting ideas for ways I can get more involved.
  • Thursday ends with my regular session which starts at 4:45PM: Five Execution Plan Patterns to Watch For. Thursday is a busy day. I think this is the first time I’ve had a session land in the application development track, which is cool. If you’re not sure where to start in a query plan, this is a session for you. I assume that attendees already know the basics of plans, and how to capture them, so we’ll just jump right into talking about the patterns I often see. As usual, I’ll have lots of demos :)

Friday, November 7

  • Sleep in. I’m kidding! I have nothing planned for Friday so I will be attending sessions, meeting people, and catching up with anyone I haven’t seen yet.

Saturday, November 8

  • Flying home…for once I don’t have a flight at o-dark-hundred and I get home in time to put my kids to bed before I unpack and tell my husband all about the week. Ok…let’s be honest, I’ll probably fall asleep with the kids as I’ll be so exhausted. But it will be worth it.

And just in case you’re wondering, here’s the Summit session schedule for the entire SQLskills team (unfortunately, some sessions overlap):


Pre-Con: Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Extended Events [Erin and Jonathan]
Pre-Con: Performance Troubleshooting Using Waits and Latches [Paul]


Dealing With Multipurpose Procs and PSP the Right Way! [Kimberly] 4:30PM – 5:45PM
Analyzing I/O Subsystem Performance [Glenn] 4:30PM – 5:45PM


Advanced Data Recovery Techniques [Paul] 1:30PM – 2:45PM
Solving Complex Problems With Extended Events [Jonathan] 1:30 – 2:45PM
Five Query Plan Patterns to Watch For [Erin] 4:45PM – 6:00PM


Going Asynchronous With Service Broker [Jonathan] 9:45AM – 11:00AM

I look forward to seeing good friends and meeting new ones in a couple weeks.  If we’ve chatted on Twitter or email and haven’t met in person (or if we haven’t chatted but you follow my blog!), let me know if you’ll be at Summit so we can connect.  Safe travels everyone, see you soon!

edit added October 22, 2014, 3:40PM EDT:

p.s. For those of you do attend Summit, two requests.  First, introduce yourself to people.  When you sit at breakfast or lunch, or when you find a seat in a session, take a second and say hello.  You never know who you might meet and what might develop.  Second, please thank the volunteers and the PASS staff for the time and effort they put in to create an amazing event.  It takes a lot of people to make the Summit run smoothly, and many of those people are volunteers, and a good number of them work behind the scenes and are not visible to most of the community.

What I Wish I Had Known Sooner…as a DBA

Mike Walsh posted 4 Attitudes I Wish I Had Earlier as a DBA, and tagged a few people to respond. Here goes…

  1. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Interacting with colleagues who have had different experiences and know more about certain topics is the fastest way to grow, both personally and professionally. While it’s nice to be known as a person who can answer almost every question, where’s the challenge (and fun) in that?
  2. Take vacations, and don’t take your laptop with you. I have taken my laptop on way too many family trips. This doesn’t serve anyone. I’m not fully engaged in my time with my family, I don’t give my full attention to my customers because I’m stressing out about not spending time with my family, and my co-workers are just thinking, “What the heck?” If Jon or Glenn go on vacation, I am more than happy to fill in and do whatever is needed because they need that break. We all do. So stop worrying. You have earned this time. Leave the laptop at home.   Turn off your phone. Stop checking Facebook and Twitter. The world will still be there when you return.
  3. Take the time to mentor others. You didn’t get to this spot on your own, and that new DBA is never going to be able fill in for you when you’re on vacation and want to be completely disconnected (see above). You don’t just have to mentor one person, you can mentor many, in different ways and it doesn’t have to take a significant amount of time.  At my previous job, when I worked with anyone in Technical Support I would explain what we were doing, why, and talk them through the process.  This took maybe an extra 10 to 15 minutes.  If they asked questions, I knew immediately they wanted to learn more and I repeated that process every time I helped them going forward.  Eventually, they could troubleshoot basic database issues without me, freeing up my time.  At a leadership course I attended the facilitator said, “You should always be trying to work yourself out of your current position.” That means you’re teaching someone how to take over yours.
  4. Save every script you write. I love writing T-SQL. Sometimes I think I should have been a developer. In the beginning, I didn’t save many scripts, so when a similar problem came up I had to start over. At first I didn’t mind, because I got to write some code and I’d try to remember how I did it last time and how to make it better. Then I didn’t have enough time, and writing that code became a bottleneck. Also: organize your scripts. Everyone has different methods, one of mine is to use the same first word to name scripts with a common task. For example, Check_Baselines.sql, Check_Backups.sql, Create_DB.sql, Create_RG.sql. Find a system, stick with it, start saving.

I’m not tagging anyone in this post by name, but if you’re thinking “I wish she had tagged me” then you’ve just been tagged.

Helping First Time Presenters

Nic Cain (@SirSQL) has a blog post that I highly recommend reading if you attend User Group meetings or SQLSaturdays: An Open Letter To SQLSaturday & User Group Organizers.  I think Nic tells a good story with a very relevant example of how a new speaker could have a negative first speaking experience.  And he has a great call to action for organizers and presenters.

I suggest that we raise that call to action to include veteran speakers.  For example…my local user group is the Ohio North SQL Server User Group.  To anyone who is also a member of this group and wants present at a local meeting: let me know.  I am more than happy to help you get started, provide feedback, and be there for your first session.  Further, I’m attending SQLSaturday #304 in Indianapolis next month.  If you’re presenting there for the first time and want me to be there for your session, let me know!

This is an open offer, with no expiration, and I do hope that someone takes me up on my offer.  And I would be remiss if I did not mention the following individuals who were there for my some of my first sessions and supported me:

  • Allen White (@SQLRunr) – my first session was at our user group in December 2010, and Allen stood in the back the entire time, in my line of sight in case I needed him
  • Mike Walsh (@mike_walsh) – with whom I co-presented at my first SQLSaturday in Feburary 2011, something I would recommend new speakers consider (it’s not a great fit for everyone, but I enjoyed presenting with Mike)
  • Kendra Little (@kendra_little) – who sat in on my first solo session at that SQLSaturday in 2011, and laughed at my jokes :)
  • Rob Farley (@rob_farley) – even though Rob fell asleep during my first solo Summit session (Friday afternoon, end of the week, jet lag, and too many late nights, etc. :), he provided feedback I still remember to this day
  • Ted Krueger (@onpnt) – he helped me fine tune one of my favorite sessions (during a speaker dinner no less…I still owe Jes for that) and then sat through it and helped fill in some gaps when I needed help

To those of you that have been speaking for a while, I encourage you to seek out potential speakers – whether it’s in the community or at your office – and offer your help.  And for new speakers, please do not be afraid to ask for guidance.  Everyone starts at the beginning, with the same pile of nerves and fears about what could happen.  There are so many people who are willing to help make the process easier – seek them out, and have fun!