Tag: #sqlfamily

People Aren’t Highly Available

People Aren’t Highly Available

I had a great opportunity to present two sessions at #SQLSatJax (SQL Saturday Jacksonville for those who don’t hashtag) on Saturday, May 14. Both of my sessions talked about high availability as it relates to both on-premises SQL Server and all varieties of Azure SQL. Jeff Taylor (t) and his team did a fantastic job and it was wonderful to be at an event with so many familiar faces but, even better, many new ones! I enjoyed both of my sessions, received some complimentary and constructive feedback, and learned things from the hallway/outdoor courtyard conversations as well.

In fact, it is conversations like those at past events that led me to put a slight twist in at the end of both of my sessions. Make no mistake, both of these sessions (“HA/DR Fails and Fun: I Broke It So You Don’t Have To” and “This Is Fine: Firefighting for the DBA”) are technical. Topics covered run the gamut from Always On Availability Groups to replication, from fault domains in Azure to other gaps in the cloud’s “magic” and how to fill those to keep your data and applications highly available. We delved into rev.io‘s cloud migration journey and how making the decision to migrate to the cloud (as we have) can play into the evolving high availability and disaster recovery needs of an organization.

The twist I added, though, was some slides and discussion at the end of each session about the mental toll that being on-call and responsible for highly available environments can take on the individuals and teams involved in supporting them. I speak from personal experience here. I have triggered personal medical issues because of this. I have left jobs because of this. I have made mistakes that could have cost a company money had our customer decided to punish us (thankfully, they did not).

As I was preparing these sessions in late 2021, it occurred to me that, in all of the Azure SQL/SQL Server high availability sessions I have presented over the years, it never occurred to me to counsel people about the personal toll that it can take. I am glad I started doing this in Jacksonville and look forward to presenting these sessions at other events. They triggered some wonderful post-session discussions about ways to deal with the stress of positions like this and I look forward to having those in-person and virtually as the year goes on.

I write this sitting at the airport waiting to leave on a much-needed vacation. I’m grateful to work at an organization like rev.io with leaders in technology who understand that people need to rest and recharge and I look forward to doing just that. If you find that your current role (and the technical leadership there) isn’t prioritizing your wellbeing, my DMs are open @sqlatspeed or you can email me at matt@sqlatspeed.com. I’m happy to chat about some tips and tricks that have helped me through the years or make connections via #sqlfamily to help find you a new opportunity. Be well – remember that you are not highly available even if you think you are.

T-SQL Tuesday 148: Just Keep Swimming

T-SQL Tuesday 148: Just Keep Swimming

Thanks to Rie Merritt (b | t) for the idea behind this edition of T-SQL Tuesday. The official title is “Advice on Running a User Group”. I do lead the Lexington (Kentucky, USA) Data Technology Group (t) so, in theory, I have some advice to offer on how to run a user group that will be coming up on its fifth anniversary this fall, right?

The truth is that I don’t have any tips that are guaranteed to get you more attendees, more and better sponsors, or a fantastic blend of local and well-known speakers. All those things are good and, based on the posts from earlier today (I’m getting this in just under the gun), there are many people with excellent tips and tricks to offer in these areas. Please be sure to read all of the posts this month to learn all the useful information being shared by fellow members of #sqlfamily.

My advice is simple and I have the one and only Bob Ward (t) to thank for this bit of advice, although he is likely only realizing this if/when he finds out about this post. I do not recall the specific SQL Saturday (it may have been Atlanta or Dallas?) but I was in the speaker room with a few folks talking about the schedule that day. We were all lightly joking about who would and wouldn’t have people in their session because some of us were up against “SQL famous” people. Bob overheard us and said, in a friendly way, something along the lines of “if you’ve helped one person today, you’ve done a good thing”. That may not be an exact quote given that I can’t remember the specific event, but that was the gist and it has stuck with me.

When COVID-19 impacted the world it threw many, many things into disarray. Many people lost family, we lost #sqlfamily (bless you @GarethSwan, for the impact you had on me and so many others), and the rhythm of data community events that we had come to know vanished. Organizers, speakers, and volunteers lost some or all motivation to assist with events, user groups, conferences, etc. This hit me hard and affected many others as well. Much appreciation to all who shared those struggles publicly.

But, through all of this, those somewhat off-handed words that Bob offered in that speaker room in days gone by have continually popped up in my brain. If you’ve seen me helping out, it’s because of those words. If you see me at SQLBits this week, it’s largely because of those words (and somewhat because my wife thought I should leave the house sometimes!). As a wise fish in a movie once said, just keep swimming. Keep doing good. Keep helping people. Whatever your role in a user group is, do it as well as you can. If you’ve helped one person, you’ve done a good thing. It’s good advice for your day, your life, and your interactions with #sqlfamily. Thanks to each of you for everything you do and feel free to reach out if you’d like to chat. Thanks for reading.

Why I Am Running for PASS Board

Simply put, becoming involved in PASS events and the broader organization itself has changed my personal and professional life for the better in a massive way. I want this organization, and the community it represents, to be around for many years so it can provide to others the same opportunities that it provided to me. This year and this pandemic have presented massive, but not insurmountable, challenges to this organization and its future. I want to be a part of channeling everyone’s clear passion for the this community into clear-eyed and clearly communicated decisions that will put PASS on a firm footing for years to come. Connecting, sharing, and learning has never been more important. Let us do what we can to ensure that PASS is here to serve the community for years to come.

If you’ve arrived here from my campaign website on PASS.org, you’ll likely recognize that as my campaign platform statement. I’d like to expound on that, my background in this organization, and a bit more.

Before becoming aware of PASS Summit sometime in 2012, and attending my first Summit in 2013, I thought my life was a DBA would be an endless search of Google and Bing searches in pursuit of a solution for whatever our latest fire alarm issue was about. I didn’t know that there was a community out there to help, and I was intensely shy by nature, so that lack of awareness on my part was infinitely more comfortable for me. That said, we had encountered some difficult issues in our Always On Availability Group implementations and I read a blog mentioning the Microsoft Clinic at PASS Summit 2013. I told my boss that I needed to be there to discuss our list of issues with the engineers and, thankfully, he approved me for the trip. Not only were our issues resolved in the clinic, but my eyes were opened to an entire community of data professionals from different parts of the data platform world and different parts of the real world as well. My first Summit experience honestly blew my mind even though I stuck with the experienced introvert plan of never talking to anybody other than the folks at the clinic and never sharing a table with anybody at every meal. My curiosity had definitely been piqued.

From there, contacts I made at the next PASS Summit (where I actually talked to some people) led me to make some additional contacts at a SQL Saturday that led to me getting a job in consulting. My consulting job mandated that I present a webinar or a live session once a quarter to maintain visibility of the company and myself. Despite my occasional stutter and intense fear of public speaking, I started building sessions to present at virtual and in-person events. As those sessions improved in cohesion and quality, doors were opened to speak at events of many different sizes in different regions of the country and, eventually, all over the world. I was also awarded as a Microsoft Data Platform MVP in 2018 – something not even in the realm of possibility for me when I first became involved in PASS.

I owe nearly all of my professional success, my friendships around the world, and my ability to help mentor and elevate others in this community to PASS and its members. I want it to survive and thrive and I want to be part of the solution so we can, collectively, elevate so many others. Thank you for reading and, if offered, I appreciate your support and vote in the PASS Board elections.