Category: Community

(Halfway) Around the World in 18 Days

(Halfway) Around the World in 18 Days

Greetings! I’m excited for some of the technical posts that I’m working on, but before I’m able to publish those I wanted to share the details of my speaking schedule for May. I’m incredibly fortunate to have these speaking opportunities, and I’m incredibly excited to share them with you and to share my presentations with the attendees at these events!

My epic May begins this weekend with SQL Saturday Jacksonville on May 5th. I’m looking forward to catching up with some friends in the area, but I’m also looking forward to my first presentation in Florida! I’ll be presenting my “How to Keep Your Database Servers Out of the News” session. I really enjoy this session because it lends itself to a lot of interactivity with the group as we talk through various challenges people have had and the questions those challenges bring to their mind. If you’re attending, I look forward to seeing you and hearing your questions. If you’re not attending, click here to register and I’ll see you there!

The following weekend, on May 12th, I’ll be presenting at SQL Saturday Finland in Helsinki. It is an understatement to say that I’m excited for this one. My wife has requested that I bring Kimi Raikkonen home with me, and while I’m pretty sure she’s going to be disappointed in my failure to do that, I’m thrilled that I’m meeting my goal by speaking there! I set a personal goal to do at least one international presentation in 2018 and I’m incredibly grateful to the organizers of SQL Saturday Finland for selecting my session on “New Features and New Speed in SQL Server 2016 (and 2017) Always On Availability Groups”. I last presented this session at SQL Saturday Cleveland in February and it went really well and seemed to help some folks with challenges they were having, so I’m excited to bring this one to an international audience. If you’d like to register, click here to do that.

Following my presentation in Finland, I’m hopping a quick 3-hour flight to England to present “Feelings Quantified – Ranking Football Clubs By Supporter Sentiment” to Tech Nottingham. I’m thrilled that I was able to work this out with the organizers and they’ve been absolutely wonderful to me as we’ve worked to get this setup. This will be the second time I present on the Azure Logic Apps and Azure SQL DB guts of the Men in Blazers Mood Table I blogged about here in December and the first time it will be to a crowd who calls it football instead of soccer. ūüôā When I arrive in London on 5/13 I’m taking a few hours out, before hopping the train to Nottingham, to catch Tottenham’s (my favorite English football club) final match of the season and final match at Wembley Stadium before moving to their new stadium in the fall, so it’s going to be a soccer-ful/football-ful couple of days! Come On You Spurs! If you’re interested in learning more about this event, information can be found here.

After that journey, I head back stateside for a couple days off in New York City before presenting my “Data To Impress Those That Sign The Checks – Azure Logic Apps, Social Media, and Sentiment Analysis” session at SQL Saturday New York City. This session is the American-ized version of my mood table presentation (less soccer emphasis and slightly more technical focus) so it will be interesting for me to present both versions of this talk a few days apart. Also, it is no exaggeration to say that attending SQL Saturday NYC in 2015 changed the course of my career, so I definitely encourage you to register. Click here to do that. The organizers do a great job with this event, it’s in a great city, and I’m very appreciative of being invited to speak at an event that’s been so significant in my professional growth. I hope to see you there!

Lastly, I wrap up my journey right where I’m sitting as I finish this blog: my home office. IDERA Software has been kind enough to invite me to present a Geek Sync on 5/23 with my “Where Should My Data Live (and Why)?”. This session is great for data professionals in an environment where they’re being encouraged to expand the organization’s data estate to the cloud. It offers several real-world examples of how cloud and on-premises deployments can work together and complement each other. We also go over some pros and cons of the cloud vs. on-premises and dispel some myths as well. I hope to “see” you there. Click here to register and hear my run my mouth for an hour on May 23rd!

I know I keep saying it, but I am grateful to the organizers of all of these events for allowing me to speak to their groups. I can’t wait to meet #sqlfamily from other parts of the world, see places I’ve never been, and hopefully share a little knowledge along the way. Thanks for reading and hope to see you at one of these events!

They Let An Impostor Speak at PASS Summit?

They Let An Impostor Speak at PASS Summit?

Earlier this week the folks at PASS reached out to last year’s speakers asking us to share a story of how speaking at PASS impacted us professionally or personally. The first idea that popped into my head was to blog about how speaking at PASS Summit lends you a bit of unique professional credibility in the SQL Server/Microsoft Data Platform world – because it absolutely does. That said, I figured a lot of folks would blog, tweet, or make videos around exactly that subject and likely handle it more creatively that I would have. So, while speaking at PASS Summit has definitely had a positive impact on me professionally, I decided to blog about what I believe the biggest impact of my speaking at PASS Summit 2017 has been – a weapon I can use to battle impostor syndrome. I saw myself as the impostor I mentioned in the title of this blog.

If you’re unfamiliar with impostor syndrome, it is described (via Wikipedia) as “…a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to¬†internalize¬†their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud””. As I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know more and more people in the SQL community over the last few years, I realize that many, if not most, speakers suffer from impostor syndrome. This is true for both first-time speakers and even speakers who would all consider “rockstars” in the community. I remember sitting in a speaker room at a SQL Saturday last year and hearing one of the presenters wonder aloud (as they left the room to give their session) “Is this the day these people figure out I have no idea what I’m talking about?”. I’ve certainly battled this and, while it’s gratifying to realize others struggle with this, that’s not necessarily particular helpful to keeping that “impostor” voice quiet!

When I received the email that I had been selected to speak at PASS Summit 2017 I was sitting with my kids as they finished some homework. They were initially quite alarmed when I screamed and ran down the hallway with my arms in the air. Once I came back to them and explained why I was so excited they looked at me with blank stares for a while until my son said “so people are actually going to pay to hear you talk?”. He was shocked! That was also when it really began to sink in for me what a big deal this was going to be.

While I am always incredibly gratified and humbled when I’m selected to speak at any event, my previous speaking experience has been confined to SQL Saturdays and user groups. Those are wonderful opportunities but, as I often joke at the beginning of my sessions, “you are guaranteed to get your money’s worth from me” because those events are free to attend. If I disappointed an attendee at one of those (and I’m sure I have), I haven’t cost them any money.

While people often describe Summit as a “massive SQL Saturday”, the fact that people were spending their own (or their company’s) hard-earned money to attend ratcheted up the pressure for me. That said, once the talk was complete and I had fielded questions (and some compliments) from the folks that attended, that pressure transformed into some measure of validation. The fact that people spent money to be there and that 60-70 of them took the time to attend and applaud my talk was validating and invigorating to me. Now, when that impostor syndrome voice on my head gets louder, I can remind it that I spoke at PASS Summit. And I hope do it again to keep that voice at bay!

Coming 12/8/17 – Premier League Mood Table How-to

Coming 12/8/17 – Premier League Mood Table How-to

Greetings GFOPs (and others who have clicked on this post)! There were a few mentions on social media that I’d be publishing two blogs here this afternoon. The first was going to be a high-level, layman’s explanation for how the Premier League Mood Table I did for Men In Blazers (b|t) works and the second was going to be a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of how I built it, the mistakes I made, the ways I fixed those mistakes, and just how flipping cool Azure Logic Apps and Social Sentiment Analysis are. That second blog will form the foundation for a SQL Saturday/conference talk I intend to submit and present throughout 2018 (feel free to contact me if this interests you and your user group/conference/organization).

These blogs were originally timed with the 12/1 release of MIB’s latest Raven (their newsletter for readers who don’t listen to their podcast – register here¬†if you’re not a subscriber) containing an interview with me, thus the handful of tweets and other social posts mentioning today as the day to take a look at my site.

Unfortunately, in typically suboptimal MIB fashion, the 12/1 Raven has been delayed until 12/8, thus Mauricio Pochettino (and I) make the sad face above. My blogs will be released in conjunction with that Raven, so we’ll see you back here next Friday. If you’re interested in soccer and/or data and/or social media analysis potentially relevant to your company, it will be worth a read. Have a great weekend and see you back here Friday, December 8!

 

Coast to Coast in the Next 30 Days!

Coast to Coast in the Next 30 Days!

It would be an understatement to say that I’m excited about this month in my SQL community life. While I have multiple submissions out to European conferences in the first half of 2018, this month’s highlights are two confirmed speaking engagements that I have: SQL Saturday Charlotte on October 14th and PASS Summit on November 3rd.

As my previous post mentioned, I used to live just south of Charlotte and haven’t been back in years, so I’m looking forward to seeing some friends in the area along with meeting and reconnecting with more #sqlfamily.

While Charlotte is going to be a great event (and you should definitely register here), the coolest thing to happen this month will be my PASS Summit speaking debut on Friday, November 3 at 11 AM local time. I’m incredibly proud to have been selected to speak at Summit and am looking forward to unveiling new elements and new demos during my “Where Should My Data Live (and Why)?” session.

This session is all about trying to open more traditional database administrator’s eyes to the opportunities that cloud platforms and technologies give them to leverage and extend their existing on-premises implementations and deployments. I look forward to sharing what I know and learning from the crowd about their own experiences so I can improve this talk in the future as I continue to speak and our data professional world continues to evolve. Hope to see you in Eastern time or Pacific time in the next 30 days!

SQL Saturday Charlotte – I’m Speaking!

SQL Saturday Charlotte – I’m Speaking!

I’m excited to announce that I’m speaking at SQL Saturday Charlotte (#683) on Saturday, October 14, 2017! I’ll be speaking on the final time slot of the day and giving a new talk of mine – “Where Should My Data Live (and Why)?”.

I’m really excited about this opportunity for a couple reasons. First, any opportunity to attend a SQL Saturday means I’m guaranteed to learn something, whether it’s a technical fact, a presenting tip, or something else. I think SQL Saturdays are, hands down, the finest free technical training available in the data professional community. Secondly, I used to live near Charlotte (Fort Mill, SC) so that weekend should be a great opportunity to get caught up with both professional colleagues and old friends who call the Charlotte area home. I haven’t been to Charlotte since PASS Summit 2013 – it will be great to get back!

Click here to register – and I can’t wait to see you at SQL Saturday Charlotte on 10/14!

 

 

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!