Month: June 2017

SQL Saturday Louisville – I’m Speaking!

SQL Saturday Louisville – I’m Speaking!

As readers of the blog know, the last few weeks have been quite hectic in the racing side of my life, so I apologize for the delay in this announcement, but I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been accepted to speak at SQL Saturday Louisville on August 5th. This will be my fourth SQL Saturday presentation this year (following Cleveland, NYC, and Atlanta). That was a personal goal of mine for 2017 and I am incredibly appreciative of being selected for four SQL Saturdays this year. It means a lot, especially to be selected for my “hometown” SQL Saturday (I hail from Lexington, KY, about an hour from the SQL Saturday Louisville venue).

SQL Saturday Louisville was my first SQL Saturday presentation last year, so it’s cool to bring it full circle and present a new session – “How To Keep Your Database Servers Out of the News” – a year later. I’m excited to give this presentation to a PASS event, as I’ve made a lot of changes to it after its initial creation last year. It’s certainly a subject whose importance increases as time goes on, so I look forward to giving the talk and getting the feedback from the audience.

Beyond me, the speaker’s list for this year’s edition of SQL Saturday Louisville is fantastic. As always, there will be lots of good information disseminated on a wide variety of data platform topics and the presenters are a who’s who of SQL Server and Microsoft data platform experts. If I’ve piqued your curiosity, click here to register for the event.

This year’s event also features three outstanding pre-cons – the information on those can be found in the middle of this page. While all three sessions will be outstanding, I’ll be attending my buddy Josh Luedeman’s (b|t) pre-con on “Building Your Modern Data Architecture”. I had the good fortune to work with Josh before he moved to Microsoft and I’m really looking forward to this session.

I can’t recommend this year’s edition of SQL Saturday Louisville enough. If the outstanding speaker list and great pre-cons haven’t convinced you, don’t forget that here in Kentucky we have delicious, delicious bourbon. Bourbon and free SQL Server training – what a great way to spend a Saturday! Hope to see you there!

Old Habits Cost You Money

Old Habits Cost You Money

As a consultant, I spend a lot of time with customers whose most significant pain point is what they’re spending on SQL Server licensing. In general, they’re all facing a similar scenario: they’ve found an architecture that works for them and as they scale that out for new clients or new users they continue purchasing the same servers (with the same version and edition of SQL Server) that’s always worked. While there’s nothing wrong with that, eventually management starts asking some questions:

  1. Why do we need all these servers when IT says they’re barely using any CPU?
  2. What do all these servers do?
  3. Why we are using X-year-old software?

As DBAs (especially those of us who wear the architect hat as well), we’re in a constant battle between priorities 1 and 1A: ensuring maximum uptime for our customers and spending the least amount of money to achieve that uptime. Settling for an older architecture on an old version of SQL Server does a great job fulfilling priority 1 but, generally, a poor job fulfilling priority 1A. The more money we spend on licensing, the less we have to spend on training, new hardware, etc.

It’s incumbent on us to keep abreast of the evolution in the SQL Server universe. As we’ve seen, Microsoft has massively accelerated the pace of their development in the SQL Server space, whether we’re talking about the database engine itself or Azure SQL Database or something in-between.

Can your company save money and provide required uptime by a move to Azure? Do you need to upgrade to SQL Server 2016 SP1 but downgrade to Standard now that in-memory OLTP, advanced compression, and greater partitioning functionality no longer require Enterprise Edition? Do you need to use something like ScaleArc to ensure you’re leveraging your complete Always On availability group investment?

This blog would be thousands of words long if I delved into every single option, but my point is a simple one. As things in the SQL Server universe change by the month rather than by the year, we all need to keep up with the latest developments and think about how they might make our job easier and/or our architecture less expensive to license and maintain so our company can spend more money on their most valuable resource – us!

Read blogs, follow SQL Server experts on Twitter, attend SQL Saturdays, and make plans to attend PASS Summit so you can stay on the cutting edge of cost-saving developments. If regular operations and maintenance keep you from having the time to reevaluate your architecture, engage a Microsoft data platform consultant (like me!) to help you in that evolution. We all know old habits die hard, but they can cost you and your company valuable resources as well. Engage with the community to help break out of those old habits (and learn cool things too)!

Achievement Unlocked: I Raced at Indy!

Achievement Unlocked: I Raced at Indy!

As Twitter followers of mine may have noticed, I raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend (6/9-6/11) as part of the Open Wheel World Challenge. I competed in rounds 3 and 4 of the Hoosier Tire US Formula First Championship Series. I’ve competed in this series for years, but I’ve only done one race in the last 18 months due to engine issues with the car and commitments for my kids. Between that and the fact that this race was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, let’s just say I was looking forward to the weekend a tiny bit.

This particular weekend was structured differently from a normal US Formula First weekend as we had a practice session on Friday morning, a qualifying session Friday evening, another qualifying session Saturday morning, then a race Saturday afternoon followed by another race on Sunday morning. Below I’ll offer a brief rundown (with a couple pictures) of the weekend for those who are interested.

Friday Morning (Practice 1)

Friday morning’s session, in all honesty, was quite boring. As my final event last season ended up with a blown engine, the first session this weekend was a session spent breaking in the newly rebuilt engine. That means lower RPMs and, honestly, about 80% throttle. While it was a wonderful time to savor lapping at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (road course, but still), it resulted in times 20 seconds off the fast time and a whiny driver! Breaking in an engine is necessary, but definitely frustrating.

Friday Afternoon (Qualifying 1)

Following a change from the break-in oil to racing oil, it was time to get the maximum from the car as we began to set the grid for Saturday evening’s race 1. Unfortunately, after only six laps of the session, my car developed a miss and various other electrical maladies and I was only able to manage a 1:49.73. While that was good enough for 7th in my class, it was a frustrating session that led to a long night diagnosing and fixing the problem with the car. Long story short, the distributor clamp failed and the timing was so far off as a result that the engine would not refire after I stopped in the pits. Were it not for the generosity and knowledge of fellow racers Doug Seim and Dave Dawson, we would have been hard-pressed to make the Saturday morning session. In the end, though, the car was repaired and we were ready to go for qualifying 2 Saturday morning.

Saturday Morning (Qualifying 2)

After the previous night’s repairs we took to the track Saturday morning with high hopes of improving the pace and our position on the grid for race 1 Saturday afternoon. I managed a 1:48.1 in the session (1.6 seconds faster than qualifying 1), but given the competitiveness of the field I was still starting 7th in class (11th overall) for the Saturday evening race. We made some handling changes to the car that we thought would improve it and got ready for race 1 Saturday evening.

Saturday Evening (Race 1)

indy_crash_edited

Race 1 was significantly affected at the start by the incident pictured above. After what was, in my opinion, a delayed green flag, the cars starting in positions 9-20 (roughly) got a flying start while those of us in the front had to throttle back a bit in order to not jump the start. That led to 4 and 5-wide racing down the front straightaway…which led immediately into the incident pictured. Many thanks to Brian Schell for the image above – it is a brilliant shot! As you may see, I’m near the back of the image while my friend Sam Farmiga is being used as a ramp by a fellow competitor who misjudged the braking zone. Somehow, I made it through the melee and soldiered on to a 5th-place finish despite being hit by a lapped car with two laps to go. It was a solid finish, but no trophy. Sunday morning’s goal was a trophy.

Sunday Morning (Race 2)

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Sunday morning’s goal was two-fold. First, I wanted to improve my lap times into the 1:47 range, at least. There were some handling issues with the car that likely prevented race-winning speed, but I thought 1:47 laps were attainable. Second, I wanted a trophy so I needed to be third. One of the grid marshals told me that if I used the duck umbrella (pictured above) I would be on the podium, so I gave it a shot!

Sunday’s race started with two significant incidents. My friend Doug Seim was knocked into the air and out of the race by a fellow Formula First in the second corner and, directly behind us, a massive incident occurred on the front straightaway with 6-8 cars caught up in the melee. That triggered an immediate red flag and a ~25 minute visit to pit lane waiting on the cleanup. Thankfully there were no significant injuries from any of the first lap adventures.

When the race restarted I found a little more pace in the car (breaking into the 1:47 range with several lap times) and my fellow Formula First competitors found a bit of bad luck with reliability. After a furious 4-lap battle to pass some very quick Formula Vees and a 3-lap battle with Sam Farmiga for second in our class, I ended up third at the yard of bricks by a couple feet. I was frustrated at the time, but receiving a third place trophy from Indianapolis with my kids there to watch me (pictured below) soothed the frustration quite quickly.

For the next couple months this blog will return to Microsoft Data Platform-related content, but if you’ve read this far, thanks for reading! Hopefully I get to play race cars another time or two before the 2017 racing season comes to a close.

indy_podium_kids

We Interrupt This SQL Server Programming To Bring You Racing from Indy

We Interrupt This SQL Server Programming To Bring You Racing from Indy

I generally use this blog to let people know about community events where I’m speaking, pass along Microsoft Data Platform-related technical information I’ve found useful, or to participate in T-SQL Tuesday blog parties. For the next few days, however, this blog is going to be home to my updates from my racing debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’m driving in the Open Wheel World Challenge this weekend and, honestly, I lack the words to describe how cool this is.

Every racing driver (or at least every one that grew up in the Midwest of the United States) dreamed of crossing that yard of bricks in any car. The fact that I am able to run at Indy this weekend, in my own car, with family and good friends supporting me is honestly hard to believe. Hopefully we have a good, clean weekend.

After this Sunday, I plan to revert to more disciplined technical blogging. For the next few days, though, I will update this blog with racing updates as often as I am able. If you’d prefer to follow along on Instagram, please search the hashtags #jaygoracing and #sqlatspeed. Talk to you from the track!