PASS Summit: Wrap-Up

This week has been awesome!

On Monday, I attended Red Gate’s SQL in the City at McCaw Hall at Seattle Center, a beautiful facility near the base of the Space Needle.  We had a full day of sessions, and everything went off without a hitch.  My session was in one of the last slots of the day, and I still had an a full room of around 100 people who were engaged and asking some great questions.  I’ll post the most recent copy of the slides soon for those who may be interested.  Thank you to Annabel and the rest of the Red Gate crew – you put on a fantastic event!

Starting on Tuesday, I switched to the PASS Summit, the largest SQL Server conference.  Almost 5900 data professionals – DBAs, developers, and BI pros alike – from 50 countries turned out for this year’s conference.  Tom LaRock, PASS’s president, led off the Wednesday keynote with notes about PASS’s performance over the last year.  One of the statistics blew my mind: collectively, PASS (including user groups, SQL Saturday, and other events) has produced over 1.3 million training hours, just in the last year alone.  That’s an incredible accomplishment!  The focus then switched to Microsoft’s data platform.  TK “Ranga” Rengarajan, Microsoft’s relatively new Corporate Vice President for Data Platform, continued with a description of Microsoft’s vision for the platform’s direction.  Included in their vision is a lot of reliance on Azure to push the envelope, including new features such as DocumentDB; elastic scale; Azure Search; and GeoDR.  He was followed by Joseph Sirosh, another CVP, who spoke to Microsoft’s Azure Data Factory, Stream Analysis, and Machine Learning tools; and James Phillips, yet another CVP, who spoke about Power BI, Power Query, and Power Pivot.  Announcements were few this year, but they did announce a major upgrade for Azure SQL Database by the end of the year; and an upcoming capability of on-premises SQL Server to “stretch” its data onto Azure with almost no coding.  I’ll be interested in trying both of those when they come out.  Thursday’s technical keynote was equally awesome.  Dr. Rimma Nehme of Microsoft’s Jim Gray Research Lab discussed cloud computing, and she did it in a way that was both accessible to those who were not familiar with it and interesting to those who were.

On Thursday, I participated in the inaugural Summit Idol competition.  Unfortunately, I did not do well – I had psyched myself out ahead of my round and did not speak well – but a very deserving speaker won the competition handily, and I learned a lot.  Thanks to all who organized and competed in this event!  I sincerely hope that it is held again next year.

Last but certainly not least: thank you and farewell to all my #sqlfamily, both new and old.  The Summit wouldn’t be the same without all of you.  I’ll see you next year!

UPDATE 11/12/14: The slides for the Red Gate presentation have been posted to my Presentations page.

And now for something completely different…

In Monty Python’s Flying Circus, they would sometimes switch sketches with the line, “And now for something completely different”.  I’m reminded of that as I’m writing this, looking down at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains on my way to my seventh PASS Summit, for as familiar as this conference is to me now, especially in its home venue of Seattle, this year will be completely different for a number of reasons.

Kingfisher TechnologiesFirst, I’m not attending this year’s Summit as an employee.  I’m overdue in announcing it, but about six weeks ago, I left my previous job as a database administrator for GreatAmerica Financial Services to strike out on my own as an independent consultant.  I am now proudly the founder and principal consultant of Kingfisher Technologies, a new consultancy based in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor.  My focus will remain on SQL Server, with our primary offerings being in the areas of performance, architecture, and security.  More details about our offerings will be on our company website, (as soon as we can get it finished).  It’s been a wild ride the last six weeks, and I’m looking forward to much more!

Second, I’ll also be speaking in Seattle for the first time!  I couldn’t be more excited that I have not one, but two, engagements this year.  On Monday, I’ll be speaking at Red Gate’s SQL in the City conference on the topic of challenges and opportunities for database source control. I’ve been a passionate advocate of this for a number of years now, and I’m thrilled to be able to share some of what I’ve learned about it with the attendees at that conference.  If you’ll be in Seattle on Monday and haven’t already registered for it, please do consider attending – the last SQL in the City I attended was a very fun event, and although it does have a distinctive Red Gate vibe to it (in a good way), they have a lot of good content.  It’s a great way to start out your week.

I was also selected this year to be one of the first-round contestants in the PASS Summit’s inaugural Speaker Idol competition!  Twelve of us were selected from the pool of applicants.  Each of us will give a five-minute presentation before a panel of judges on either Wednesday evening, Thursday evening, or Friday morning.  The winner from each of those rounds will give a second presentation at the finals on Friday afternoon, with the overall winner receiving a guaranteed speaking spot at next year’s Summit.  To say I’m honored to be among the twelve selected is an understatement!  If you can, come to the Speaker Idol session on Thursday evening (5:00p in Room 400) to support me – I plan to give an overview of disk performance for DBAs, and I could use a room full of friendly faces!

This is going to be an awesome week!  If you’re at Summit, please stop me in the hall and say “hi”.  I’d love to meet you!  I’ll also be in the Community Zone on Friday morning – a great place to meet other Summit people and find out more about your local chapter and SQL Saturday – and I may be around the “Consultants’ Corner” booth in the exhibit hall from time to time.  See you there!

SQL Saturday Minneapolis Wrap-Up

Last week, I attended SQL Saturday Minneapolis and presented my session “SQL Server Features That Will Blow Your Mind!”.  Thanks to all who came!  Even though my session was in the last slot of the day, you were a very engaged group, and it’s always fun to teach to a group like that.  I’ve uploaded the latest copy of my slides and demos to my site; you can find them on my Presentations page.

I also had the privilege of attending David Klee’s pre-conference session on virtualization.  In all of the SQL Saturdays I’ve attended, I’ve never been to a pre-con, but this one certainly won’t be my last.  It was a great day and a great topic.  If you get the chance, register for this session – even if you already know quite a bit about virtualization, you’ll certainly come away with something new.

And finally, I have to say thanks to the organizers of SQL Saturday Minneapolis.  They always put on a fantastic conference, and this year was no exception.  Thanks, everyone!  I look forward to coming back next year.

Wrap-up catch-up

Thanks to all who have attended my recent sessions!  This has been quite a busy summer with a number of firsts, some of which I’ll talk about in this post.

In June, I presented two sessions at my home SQL Saturday in Iowa City: “SQL Server Features That Will Blow Your Mind!” and “Get Involved”.  I had fantastic crowds for both with a lot of great questions.  I also had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion with my friend David Klee about discussing infrastructure needs with your admins; that experience was a first for me, but it certainly won’t be the last.  All in all, we had a great crowd at our sixth SQL Saturday, and we had a great time putting on the event!

One person asked me after the “Features” session in Iowa City if I had any suggestions for books to get more information on the topics.  I’m very late with the answer (and I sincerely apologize for that), but I haven’t forgotten!  For those wanting to find out more about these features, I would highly recommend two books that are always at hand on my bookshelf: Itzik Ben-Gan’s Microsoft SQL Server 2012 High-Performance T-SQL Using Window Functions is all about window functions and how they can be used to your advantage; and Kalen Delaney’s excellent SQL Server Internals books (Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Internals and Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Internals) contain sections on sparse columns, filtered indexes, and snapshot isolation.  Grant Fritchey’s SQL Server Query Performance Tuning also contains a short but well-written section on filtered indexes, and Microsoft’s Books Online also has good information on all four features.

In July, I spoke for the first time at Iowa Code Camp in Iowa City.  Iowa Code Camp is a similar event to SQL Saturday but is focused on a wide array of developer-oriented topics.  I met quite a few new people and attended sessions on several topics that were new to me.  I presented the “Features” session at this conference to a large group that was very engaged with the topic.  Thanks for all of the great questions!  While I can’t make the fall event, I’ll definitely be submitting to Code Camps again next year.

On September 13, I spoke at SQL Saturday in Kansas City, my second trip to that event.  I presented the “Features” session to that group, as well, and also had a great group there.

And finally, on September 20, I spoke for the first time at SQL Saturday in Denver, presenting “Service Broker: The Queue Continuum”.  The attendance was smaller for this session, but no less interested in the topic.  Thanks for the great questions and feedback!  I spoke to a few of you after the session, and I have some great ideas for revisions to the session that will help it become even better.

One question was also asked in the Denver session about whether Database Mail could be throttled. At the time, I said that I wasn’t sure but that I thought that you could. I was incorrect; Database Mail does not have any direct control over that. However, you could work around that by creating a holding queue in Service Broker and only releasing a certain number of messages per hour. I apologize for the confusion!

The slides and demos for the latest versions of both sessions are on my Presentations page.  Thanks again to all who attended, and thanks to the organizers and volunteers for all these events!


SQL Saturday Chicago Wrap-Up

Yesterday, I had a fantastic day at SQL Saturday #291 in Chicago.  I had the privilege of teaching a packed room – thanks to all of you who came to my session!  It was a very diverse group with a lot of great questions, which always makes giving the session fun.  I’ve uploaded a new version of the slides and the complete set of demos to both the SQL Saturday site and my Presentations page.

Thanks also to all of the organizers and volunteers!  As always, all of your hard work is very much appreciated.  Events like this wouldn’t happen without all of your efforts.