Category: Community

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)!

SQL Saturday #652 (Atlanta) – I’m Speaking!

SQL Saturday #652 (Atlanta) – I’m Speaking!

Usually my view of Atlanta is quite similar to the image above – as a Delta Medallion member and frequent traveler I see the airport in Atlanta quite a bit. That said, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be speaking at SQL Saturday 652 in Atlanta on Saturday, July 15. If you haven’t registered, they’re getting closer and closer to capacity so please register here before it’s too late!

I’m looking forward to ramping up my blogging next month, but the current priority is prepping my race car for its debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a little over two weeks at the Open Wheel World Challenge. Please forgive the brevity of this blog, but rest assured both the technical and racing content on this blog will ramp up quite a bit in the next several weeks. For now, go register for SQL Saturday Atlanta if you’re in the area and I hope to see you either there or at Indy!

How I Became A…SQL Server Data Professional

How I Became A…SQL Server Data Professional

This morning I saw a tweet from SQL Cyclist (b|t) that linked to a post of his about starting a collection of “How I Became A…” centered around career paths in the database world. I encourage all of my readers to contribute to this – I suspect there are a lot of interesting stories about how we all ended up our current career path. Mine may not be the most dramatic or interesting, but I think there is a good lesson in it about giving somebody a nudge to pursue something at which they’ll be successful and companies developing and promoting from within when they can. Beyond that, you should reach out and thank those people that helped you along the way.

Fifteen years ago (let’s all pretend it wasn’t that long ago!), I was working as a support analyst for an enterprise asset management software company in the southeast US. I had graduated from Clemson with a CIS degree and my work experience consisted of general IT support even though my academic background was in software development. I was a fairly decent support analyst so my name did periodically come up in attaboys and things of that nature that got me a bit of notice outside my immediate support team.

An opportunity arose to directly help a couple of customers with reports and queries they were putting together within our software or within Oracle Discoverer. My manager suggested to me that I would be a good fit with those customers so I worked directly with them while continuing to take normal support calls. I had taken care of a SQL Server box (among many other servers) at a previous job but that and a senior level database course at Clemson were my only real exposure to databases not called Access. I enjoyed helping customers put their data together to work for them and the customers were complimentary of my efforts. My company started advertising for a QA Release Engineer position whose duties mostly consisted of care and feeding of a variety of database servers and creating/maintaining build scripts for test builds of our products. Between my development education, IT background, and the fun I’d had working with customers to build queries and reports, this position seemed like the next logical step in my career. While the details of that interview process will make a good blog post someday – the end result is that I got the position and I loved it. That position turned into a SQL Server DBA position when my wife and I moved to Kentucky in 2005 and now I’m a database consultant – a role that I absolutely love.

The short version of the story is this – we get where we are through a combination of hard work, a bit of luck, and managers/leaders in our organization seeing potential and encouraging us to realize. If you’re in a leadership position, do everything you can do to develop the potential of the folks on your team. If you’re not in a leadership position, work as hard as you can at your current role and take those new opportunities when they’re offered. Most importantly, take time to thank those leaders that helped you get to be where you are today. Thinking through this story today I realized I have a few folks I need to thank!

SQL Saturday NYC (588) – I’m Speaking!

SQL Saturday NYC (588) – I’m Speaking!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at this year’s edition of SQL Saturday New York City (#588) on May 20th! From a personal perspective, it’s fair to say that attending the 2015 edition of SQL Saturday NYC changed my professional life and it’s meaningful to not only be able to attend this year’s event, but to actually be on the speaking roster with so many people who have influenced my career, if only from blogs and books. I look forward to meeting them in person (and you as well).

This year’s speaking roster is absolutely outstanding (despite my presence dragging down the average!) and I cannot recommend highly enough registering for the event. It will fill up, and you absolutely won’t want to miss out on this day of free training from a who’s who of SQL community rockstars. Come for the speakers, make sure you visit the sponsors, and network with your fellow Microsoft data platform professionals. It may change your professional life, as it did mine.

Although I never need an excuse to visit the Greatest City in the World, those of you who may not be local would be well-served to submit a training request to attend this event. Not only do you get free Microsoft data platform training from some of the very best speakers in the community, you might get a night (or two) in a fantastic city as well.

Although the Empire State Building won’t be lit up to honor my Clemson Tigers (as it was in the image above), I can’t wait to get to New York, see old friends, make new ones, and present my Top 5 Always On Availability Group Tips session. I hope it helps you save a few sleepless nights and improves the care and feeding of your Always On Availability Groups. I’ll see you in May!

Announcing T-SQL Tuesday #87 – Fixing Old Problems with Shiny New Toys

Announcing T-SQL Tuesday #87 – Fixing Old Problems with Shiny New Toys

T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog party for the SQL Server community. It is the brainchild of Adam Machanic (b|t) and I am thankful for the opportunity to host this month’s edition. The concept is straightforward – each month a blog hosts the party and everybody who wants to contribute can write a post about the topic that is selected.

I’ll get into a few more specific rules at the bottom of this post, but first let’s dive into this month’s topic!

This Month’s Topic: Fixing Old Problems with Shiny New Toys

While the SQL Server ecosystem is constantly evolving, it seems like that evolution has sped up considerably in the last year or two. From the constant improvements in Azure, to the rapid changes in Power BI, to the powerhouse release of SQL Server 2016 last year, those of us whose professional life resides within the SQL Server world have a multitude of new tools in our toolbox.

What I’d like to see from the blog responses for this T-SQL Tuesday is how you’ve used a “new” Microsoft data platform toy to fix an old problem. We’ll define new toys as something from SQL Server 2014’s release date until now. We’ll even accept a SQL Server vNext response if you’ve got one!

Did you work around a database design/performance issue by using memory-optimized tables and natively compiled stored procedures (brought to us in SQL 2014)? Did you use Power BI to present data visualizations to a client in a way you couldn’t have previously? Did you use SQL 2016’s mobile reporting ability to extend SSRS reports to a mobile client and solve an issue that way? Did you solve an archival issue by stretching your database into Azure? Basically, did you solve a data problem with a cool new Microsoft data platform toy?

I think many of us settle into old habits when it comes to solving problems with our data, so I can’t wait for the responses to this topic to see what cool new things people are doing to solve some old problems.

The Fine Print (aka The Rules)

  • Your post must be published between 00:00:00 UTC and 23:59:59 UTC on Tuesday, February 14th (yes, feel free to throw a Valentine’s joke or two into your blog)
  • Include the T-SQL Tuesday logo in the top of your post and link your post back to this one (preferably via a comment on this post, but a trackback is OK as well)
  • If you’re on Twitter, tweet your post using the #tsql2sday (if you’re not on Twitter, get on it!)

 

SQL Saturday #595 – I’m Speaking!

SQL Saturday #595 – I’m Speaking!

While I cannot promise that my session this Saturday will be nearly as exciting as LeBron’s block in last year’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals, I am honored to say that I’ll be speaking at SQL Saturday #595 this Saturday in Cleveland, OH.

While my understanding is that the event is at capacity, given the vagaries of Midwestern weather there may be a few late cancellations. If there are, and you’re on the wait list, you’ll get in to see an awesome day of free, live training from some of the SQL Server community’s foremost experts and speakers…and I have a session as well. 😉 Go ahead and register here if you’re interested or just take a look at the sessions here.

I’ll be presenting my Top 5 Tips to Keep AlwaysOn Always Humming and Users Happy session. I’ve presented this as a webinar for Pragmatic Works and as a SQL Saturday session and it’s been well received. The tips are derived from real mistakes that I’ve made or that I’ve seen made so I think the real world information can be a big help, especially if you’re new to designing and maintaining Always On Availability Groups. I hope to see you there this Saturday!

T-SQL Tuesday #84: Growing New Speakers

tsql2sday-150x150Thanks to Andy Yun for hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday #84: Growing New Speakers. This is a topic near and dear to my heart as I made my first presentation at SQL Saturday 531 in Louisville, KY in August. Since I’m a rookie, I’m not going to pretend that I have any brilliant tips for new speakers beyond the ones that I am sure are being shared throughout the community today. You should definitely practice your demos, you should definitely practice your speaking, and you should definitely go watch other experienced speakers to see how they approach a session, how they handle the room, and how they manage questions. However, none of that matters if you don’t commit to speaking and presenting to the community and that is where I want to focus this post.

Speaking in front of a group of people is not something that comes naturally to me. I am, as some in the community are, a bit of an introvert. I don’t come charging out of bed in the morning fired up to speak to a large room full of people. That said, I am fortunate enough to work at a place where I am encouraged to share my knowledge with the community. While that encouragement is important, my first session taught me two important things.

The first important thing that I learned is that any real world experience you have is useful to the community. While you may think something you are doing is boring or old hat to everybody, it’s not. Everybody is in a different place in their career journey and could be receptive to the information you have to share.

The second important thing I learned is that the community of SQL Server data professionals is full of wonderful, supportive people. Even if it’s not your natural inclination, volunteer to speak. Beyond that, if possible, go to the speaker’s dinner and introduce yourself to people. You may glean some knowledge, you may make some important networking connections, and you may even make some friends.

As I said, some or all of this may not come naturally to every single one of us. In my experience, it’s worth forcing yourself through that wall and out of your comfort zone and presenting to the community. In fact, my experience was so positive I volunteered to do it again and will be presenting two sessions at SQL Saturday 552 in Lincoln, NE on Saturday, November 19. Come see me and introduce yourself!

 

My Rookie SQL Saturday Outing

My Rookie SQL Saturday Outing

Last Saturday (8/6/16) I had the pleasure of doing my first community presentation at SQL Saturday 531 in Louisville, KY. During a great speakers’ dinner Friday night at Brick House Tavern + Tap I had the opportunity to meet a few members of the #sqlfamily and get some solid advice for my rookie presentation the next day.

My presentation the next day went fairly smoothly despite a visit from the demo demons (courtesy of what seemed to be a flaky system hooked up to the projector) that deprived my session of some of the demos I intended to present. I genuinely appreciated each and every person that attended the session and I hope the Always On tips and tricks I shared are or will be a help to their organizations.

In short, if you’re not attending SQL Saturdays, why not? It’s tons of free training from experienced people and you’ll meet good people as well. And, if you’ve attended a few SQL Saturdays (as I have) and have tips and information to share, why not try your hand at presenting? It was a rewarding, invigorating experience and I can’t wait to present again in the near future.

If I still haven’t convinced you to involve yourself in SQL Saturdays, check out Chris Yates’ blog for a great breakdown of why SQL Saturdays can be one of the best investments you can make in your career.

 

SQL Saturday #531 – I’m Speaking!

SQL Saturday #531 – I’m Speaking!

I’m honored to have been selected to speak at SQL Saturday #531 in Louisville, KY on August 6. I’ll be presenting the session that accompanies the first blog post on this site (http://bit.ly/290Oamz), “Top 5 Tips to Keep Always On Always Humming and Users Happy”.

If you’d like more information about the event, please follow this link: http://www.sqlsaturday.com/531/EventHome.aspx. If you would like to go directly to registration (remember, it’s free!), click here: https://www.sqlsaturday.com/531/registernow.aspx.

SQL Saturdays are fabulous ways to get FREE training and meet others in the SQL Server community. I look forward to seeing you there!