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OK, it’s about that time again – the Fall conference season – is here! Building on our co-presented Database Maintenance workshop at SQL Connections in Orlando, Paul and I are doing a *ton* of stuff at SQL Connections this Fall. The conference is back at the Mandalay Bay hotel and officially runs from November 5th to 8th, with pre-con workshops on the 5th. But, after Spring, we decided to significantly add recovery content to our maintenance content that we decided to have our maintenance content as a pre- pre-conference workshop on the 4th and then on the 5th, we have all new content on Disaster Recovery and Lessons Learned. AND, after the week of sessions, we decided to add a HANDS-ON (bring your own laptop) post-con workshop on the 9th! Our day off is Tuesday the 6th as it’s Microsoft day… with a session line-up looks great with lots of juicy details about SQL Server 2008 – as well as some best-practices sessions for those of you who are happy with SQL Server 200x for now.



 


 


Here’s what we’re doing:


Workshops



  • November 4th – Pre-pre-con: SPR301: SQL Server Database Maintenance: From Planning to Practice to Post-Mortem


No matter how much effort you spend on the design of your database, if you don’t maintain it in production then it will suffer from performance and manageability problems. The key to continued performance and smooth operations is a well thought-out and automated database maintenance plan. This full-day workshop has three sections: planning, practice, and post-mortem. Planning for database maintenance actually starts with database design, so one of the things covered will be how to avoid design choices that limit database maintenance or contribute to maintenance problems. We’ll discuss a laundry-list of maintenance problems and then explore how to tell if you need to mitigate them, strategies and best-practices for doing so, and how to avoid having your mitigation choices cause unforeseen and undesirable side-effects. Topics covered will include database files (shrink, grow, virtual log files, log size/management), consistency checks and corruption detection, fragmentation, statistics, backup/restore (options, granularity, strategies) and recovery models. The workshop will vary between 200-400 level covering ALL the key concepts of maintenance features. Finally, we’ll spotlight some real-world examples where people made good and bad choices and discuss how you can repeat or avoid them, respectively. If you’re wondering how to bring your database back under control, and keep it there, then this full-day workshop will help you tame maintenance problems whether you’re a full-time system administrator or a reluctant DBA.



  • November 5th – Pre-con: SPR303: SQL Server Disaster Recovery: From Planning to Practice to Post-Mortem


Every DBA’s nightmare is having down time and data loss and not knowing how to recover. However, designing and implementing a successful disaster recovery strategy is easier said than done. It’s about asking all the right questions and figuring out all the best answers for your situation. This full-day workshop has three sections: planning, practice and post-mortem. Planning is a critical part of disaster recovery, but the most-often disregarded. Topics we’ll cover here include: How do you choose technologies to fit requirements and effectively use key features of SQL Server 2005? How do technology choice affect workload performance? Putting a well-thought out plan into practice requires even more planning and in this section we’ll discuss technology implementation, building step-by-step recovery/operation guides for when disasters happen, and, most importantly, testing your plan by simulating real problems. In the final section, we’ll spotlight some real-world examples where people made costly mistakes and show you how they could have been avoided with a little planning and practice. If you’ve ever had nightmares about disaster recovery (or actually had a disaster!) and been at a loss for what to do, then this full-day workshop will give you the direction and technical details you need for success!



  • November 9th – Post-con: SPS302: SQL Server – Put Your Knowledge Into Action (Bring Your Own Laptop)


After a week of learning and watching demos – spend your last conference day putting your knowledge into action and diving deeper into the implementation details. Bring your own laptop to install our VPC environment setup with hands-on lab exercises to walk you through some of our most important features in Database Maintenance and Disaster Recovery. All labs will be ILLs (instructor-led labs) with supporting hands-on lab content *and* you will walk away with your own copy of the DVD to continue the exercises back at your office. You can attend without a laptop but your experience will be significantly better with one! This is meant as an advanced workshop and you’re expected to bring a reasonable laptop configuration in order to participate: * Virtual Server or Virtual PC – already installed * At least 1GB of physical memory w/512MB dedicated to the VPC environment (2GB is preferred w/1GB dedicated to VPC) * 12 GB of physical disk space (20+ GB is preferred) * DVD Drive


Sessions



  • SDB351: Follow the Rabbit – Interactive Q&A on Availability


In this session, Kimberly Tripp and Paul Randal will have only 5-10 slides. The focus of this session is on mixing availability technologies to create the best overall architecture to minimize downtime and data loss. In general, we’re going to focus on best practices and then open up to your questions so that you can drive the discussion! This session might not seem as structured as other sessions, but you’ll be surprised at how informative and fun it is! Grab your lunch and come back – we’ll probably still be hanging out!



  • SDB350: SQL Server Table Strategies – Designing for Performance and Availability


Often tables are designed based solely on the data that needs to be tracked (here’s a column name, here’s a data type – done!). Unfortunately, design does not usually take into account how the data is going to be used OR how SQL Server uses the data. Knowing the internals of table structures as well as the optmizations that come with good design will make your database truly scalable. Come to this session to learn some internals as well as various design strategies such as vertical and horizonal partitioning. Additionally, are there any other features that require changes in your design and thinking? For example, online index operations impact design because of the limitations that exist with partitioning and LOB columns. If you want to scale, you need to be here!



  • SDB347: SQL Server Indexing for Performance – Finding the Right Balance


In terms of performance tuning, there are few silver bullets. If I had to choose ONE area that improves performance the most (when designed appropriately!), it’s indexing. However, indexing strategies depend on the data and even more so, the usage of the data. Come to this session to see what indexing strategies help the base table the most as well as how to optimize your worst performing queries.



  • SDB348: SQL Server Indexing Strategies – Are You Sure?


Knowing tips and tricks to indexing is extremely helpful and will help you to solve “known” problems. But what’s lurking in the unknown? Is SQL Server using your indexes? Or, do you have a bunch of useless indexes? Finally, SQL Server 2005 has an answer! SQL Server 2005 DMVs (Dynamic Management Views) can provide you with valuable information about your current indexing strategies, what should be removed, and even what’s missing. Do you know how to find this information, leverage it, and then programmatically respond to it? Come to this session to figure it out!



  • SDB349: Follow the Rabbit – Interactive Q&A on the Storage Engine and the Relational Engine


In this session, Kimberly Tripp and Paul Randal will have only 5-10 slides. Each slide cover topics for discussion as well as the reason(s) for why something might be behaving badly and/or things to try to solve your problems. In general we’re going to focus on best practices and then open up to your questions so that you can drive the discussion! Paul will focus on the SE (Storage Engine) and internals and Kimberly will focus on the RE (Relational Engine) and query tuning/performance. This session might not seem as structured as other sessions, but you’ll be surprised at how informative and fun it is!


At this event, you’ll be able to get what most conferences offer (and that’s breadth – in terms of session choices, etc.) but with the large number of workshops and the detailed planning that went into sequencing the conference sessions, you’ll also get depth that no other conference offers. Serious amounts of tips and tricks for you to geek-out on with us and take home to immediately apply.


It’s going to be a great week. We hope to see you there!!


Kimberly (and Paul)