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No sooner has Fall conference season finished then it’s New Year and we start everything all over again! SQLskills (Me, Kimberly, Bob, and Stacia) is doing a *ton* of stuff at SQL Connections this Spring. The conference is in Orlando as usual and runs from April 20th to 23rd, with pre-con workshops on the 20th. From this conference onwards Kimberly and I are the Co-Chairs of SQL Connections – it’s been great fun putting together a killer line-up of speakers and sessions for you.


We’ve got so much cool stuff to talk about that as well as doing a pre-con on the 20th, we’re also doing a pre-pre-con on the 19th (and so is Bob) AND a post-con workshop on the 24th! And if that’s not enough to help us lose our voices during the week, we’re also doing 10 conference sessions between the four of us! Tuesday 21st is Microsoft day and the session line-up is shaping up well - 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 2000 or 2005 for now.



 


Here’s what we’re doing:


Workshops



  • April 19 – Pre-pre-con: SPR301: The Accidental DBA: Survival Tips, Tricks, and Techniques


(Paul S. Randal & Kimberly L. Tripp)


Have you been nominated as “the SQL person” on your team? Are you a developer who’s suddenly found their test database has become critical for your company’s business? Have you become a DBA—even only accidentally—and do you find yourself managing SQL Server database(s) more and more? Are you sure your data is protected? Are you sure your applications can scale? The one thing you NEED now, to manage this system correctly—is knowledge! We’ll cover all of the critical components related to configuring, implementing, and maintaining a SQL Server system. Topics will include an overview of SQL Server components, protecting and maintaining the data, writing effective server-side components (e.g., procedures and transactions), and many other items that all require server-side smarts. Come to this workshop to find out the things you need to know to successfully manage SQL Server from the beginning—a day spent here will save you many more!



  • April 19 – Pre-pre-con: SPR302: SQL Server 2008 Overview for Developers


(Bob Beauchemin)


SQL Server 2008 introduces a number of exciting new features for developers, from support for Spatial Data types to a mechanism to store SQL BLOB data using the NTFS file system, to improvements in any development-related area from T-SQL to SQLCLR to XML. This one-day seminar is meant to get you up to speed quickly on the new features and give you some insight into how to most effectively use them to your advantage with either new or existing development projects. Some of the topics covered include:


  • Spatial data—how to geocode existing data, import spatial reference data, and use spatial queries and indexes for best performance.
  • Filestream data—when to store large binary data in the database or in SQL Server’s filestream data storage. How to read and write filestream data with the system streaming I/O functions.
  • Extended date/time data type support—the specifics of SQL Server 2008′s four new temporal data types and extensions to T-SQL date/time functions.
  • T-SQL enhancements—learn the “zen” behind the new T-SQL MERGE statement, grouping set support, table-valued parameters, change tracking, metadata tracking, and improved syntax.
  • Query Performance Improvements—besides covering T-SQL syntax, I’ll cover how the new T-SQL statements help to improve performance, as well as covering performance and query plan guide improvements to not only “make SQL run faster” but also to stabilize query plans.
  • SQLCLR improvements—covering how to use the improvements in this area, including nullable type support, large UDTs and UDAggs, multi-input UDAggs, and ordered table-valued functions.
  • Service Broker enhancements—diagnose Service Broker setup problems easily using the new SSBDiag utility and set message priorities on a service/contract.


  • April 20 – Pre-con: SPR303: SQL Server 2008 Overview for DBAs


(Paul S. Randal & Kimberly L. Tripp)


SQL Server 2008 offers an impressive array of capabilities for professional developers that build upon key innovations introduced in SQL Server 2005. The use of many of these will have manageability and infrastructure implications for a database—and hence the DBA! There are also enhancements to existing high-availability technologies, plus a variety of new tools to aid in managing performance, scalability, administration, and troubleshooting. This workshop will help you understand how to exploit the new toolset and how to manage a database that makes use of the new features in SQL Server 2008. Come to this workshop so your developers don’t surprise you with new demands once your company upgrades!



  • April 24 – Post-con: SPS302: SQL Server – Put Your Knowledge Into Action (Bring Your Own Laptop)


(Paul S. Randal & Kimberly L. Tripp)


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 will expect a reasonable laptop configuration in order to participate: * Virtual Server or Virtual PC—already installed * At least 1 GB of physical memory w/512 MB dedicated to the VPC environment (2 GB is preferred w/1 GB dedicated to VPC) * 12 GB of physical disk space (20+ GB is preferred) * DVD Drive.


Sessions



  • SDB403: Diagnosis with Extended Events in SQL Server 2008


(Bob Beauchemin)


When I’m doing problem solving, it’s always good to have too much information rather than too little. With this in mind, you’ll need to look at SQL Server Extended Events (XEvent support) in SQL Server 2008. SQL Server 2008 adds support for extended events that works by creating and activating EVENT SESSIONS with DDL statements. In this session, I’ll cover the different event providers, including the event provider for ETW (Event Tracing for Windows) and go over setting up an extended event trace and deciphering the diagnostic information provided.



  • SDB304: PowerShell in SQL Server 2008


(Bob Beauchemin)


PowerShell scripting has become the command shell and scripting interface of choice in Windows, from Exchange administration through Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and everywhere in between. In SQL Server 2008, this functionality comes to SQL Server by means of a PowerShell provider for SQL Server and built-in PowerShell functionality from SQL Server Management Studio’s Object Explorer. This session will focus on how to use the provider to your best advantage and unique features that separate PowerShell scripting from traditional scripting.



  • SDB307: Learn the XML You Need to Manage Your Database


(Bob Beauchemin)


SQL Server 2005 includes support for an XML data type and XML Query languages. Although at first glance it appears that XML support is only a developer tool, looking at the “XML landscape” in SQL Server 2005, this is not the case. There are not only needs for a DBA to know how to manage database objects like XML SCHEMA COLLECTIONS and XML Indexes, but DBA-specific features that require XML and XQuery knowledge. The DBA-specific items that use an XML format in SQL Server 2005 include Query Plans, Deadlock Graph/Blocked Process Information, Eventdata() function—DDL Triggers and Query Notifications, Bulkcopy—XML format files and bulk copying XML, SQL Server Surface Area Configuration tool format, Query Memory Grant Information, Command line input and output From Database Tuning Advisor, and more! With all of the DBA-specific interest items in XML format, it’s not hard to see that knowing XML and XQuery not only makes the DBA able to better manage developer database objects, but enhances the DBA debugging, troubleshooting, and configuration abilities. XML is not a “nice to have” for DBAs any more, with SQL Server 2005 it’s a “must have.”



  • SDB308: Follow the Rabbit: Interactive Session on Database Mirroring


(Paul S. Randal & Kimberly L. Tripp)


If there’s something you want to know about Database Mirroring, we’ve got the answer for you! Bring along your questions as we discuss how Database Mirroring works while setting up and implementing a mirroring solution. We’ll also discuss monitoring and troubleshooting, plus the various failover scenarios. This session might not seem as structured as other sessions, but you’ll be surprised at how informative and fun it is!



  • SDB309: Follow the Rabbit: Interactive Session on Backup and Restore


(Paul S. Randal & Kimberly L. Tripp)


If there’s something you want to know about Backup or Restore, we’ve got the answer for you! Bring along your questions as we discuss how Backup and Restore work, planning a backup strategy, and various restore scenarios. This session might not seem as structured as other sessions, but you’ll be surprised at how informative and fun it is!



  • SDV307: Index Internals and Usage


(Paul S. Randal & Kimberly L. Tripp)


Indexes are arguably the most important structures in a database yet they are often poorly understood and neglected. In this session you’ll be reminded of the internals of indexes but our focus will be on how they are used by the SQL Server engine and what you need to do to make sure they’re kept in optimum health. A myriad of tips, tricks, and optimizations will be discussed and demo’d so that you improve performance immediately.



  • SBI201: Searching Business Intelligence Data in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007


(Stacia Misner)


One great reason to use MOSS as your front-end to business intelligence is the ability to search for all relevant documents regardless of the format used to present the data and thereby eliminate information silos. However, deploying workbooks and reports or creating dashboards only satisfies some requests for information and only if document titles and properties have been created with search in mind. What if you could also search the data itself? In other words, what if you could find all BI reports that include information about a particular product? With a little extra effort, you can enhance MOSS’s search capabilities using the Business Data Catalog to search inside all those Excel 2007 and Reporting Services reports you’ve been deploying to MOSS. Come to this session to understand the technical architecture required to search business intelligence data and to learn how to create Business Data Catalog applications for business intelligence.



  • SBI202: Data Mining for the Rest of Us


(Stacia Misner)


Don’t worry if you don’t hold a PhD in data mining or even if you didn’t take statistics in college. You can still use and, better yet, understand data mining now that Data Mining Add-Ins for Office 2007 is available. Whether you regularly analyze data now or provide technical support for those who do, it’s time to learn how to take business intelligence to the next level in your organization. This session will show you specific examples for exploring common data sets, such as sales and financial data, to find the hidden information in your business. You’ll understand the technical architecture requirements for the Data Mining Add-Ins, learn how to prepare data for data mining, and learn how to apply data mining techniques to specific business problems.




  • SBI307: Troubleshooting MDX Query Performance


(Stacia Misner)


There are lots of ways to optimize your Analysis Services environment, but tuning the server or improving the database design doesn’t help if your MDX queries are not efficient. Learn how to determine whether a query is the root cause of your performance issues and how to use MDX best practices to improve query performance.




  • SBI308: Follow the Rabbit—Interactive Q&A on Analysis Services Performance



(Stacia Misner)


The focus of this discussion is how to adjust database design and server tuning to help you get better performance from your Analysis Services solution. There will be only 5-10 slides covering best practices to get the conversation started, but most of the session time is open for your questions. Come participate in this session for an informative and interactive experience that will give you practical advice to put into practice in your own environment.


So, serious amounts of info, tips, and tricks for you to geek-out on with us and take home to use. We hope to see a lot of you there!


Paul