PASS Summit Blogging

October 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , )

During the PASS Summit I have again been given the opportunity to keep my laptop plugged in… as long as I blog about the Key Notes. So, I’m going to do it, power is hard to come by in that place. Once again I can regale you, near real time, what’s occurring in the key note addresses at the PASS Summit. Once more I’ll have the opportunity to jump on to the table while wearing a kilt.

But, this year, you may not want to read me. Instead, you might want to tune into the key notes yourself. PASS is going to transmit them live. You can go to the this link to watch them. Now, I can hear you, literally, thinking to yourself, “Right, just what I need in my life, to listen to some sales hack tell me about some semi-functional bit of software.” Most of the time, you’d be right. But this is PASS. We don’t just listen to sales hacks stumbling through presentations. We’re getting to learn from Dr. DeWitt again this year. I’m jazzed and you should be too. Dr. DeWitt’s presentation last year was simply amazing. In terms of sheer geek fun, it’s hard to beat. This year should be as good, or better.

I’ll also be tweeting all week. Follow hash tag #sqlpass to find out what’s happening from me and all the other Twitterati.

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SQL Rally: Performance Tuning Abstract

October 28, 2010 at 8:00 am (PASS) (, , , , , , )

I get the call, you get the call, everyone gets the call. “Hey, my app/procedure/query/report is running slow.” Now what do you do? You go to my full day session at SQL Rally, that’s what. Assuming you vote for it.

I didn’t post the abstract I submitted for the SQL Rally before because I thought that it would be redudant. However, since it’s not right off the voting page (unless they updated it since I voted), if you’re interested, here’s what I thought I would do for a day. If it sounds good to you, please go here and vote for it.

One of the most common problems encountered in SQL Server is the slow running query. Once a query is identified as performing poorly, DBAs and developers frequently don’t understand how to diagnose the problem and often struggle to fix the problem. This one day seminar focuses exclusively on these two topics. Attendees will learn how to identify the queries that are performing badly and learn how to fix them. We will start by learning how to gather performance metrics, both server and query metrics, using tools available directly from Microsoft such as performance monitor, DMVs and Profiler. From there we’ll move into learning how the optimizer works and how it uses statistics to determine which indexes and other database objects can assist the performance of a query. The session takes considerable time to show exactly how to generate and read execution plans, the one best mechanism for observing how the optimizer works. We’ll then look at other DMVs that can assist you when performance tuning queries. With all this knowledge gathered, we’ll move into looking at common performance problems, how they evidence themselves in the metrics and execution plans, and how to address them. Finally, we’ll explore advanced methods for solving some of the more difficult query performance problems introducing such concepts as query hints, plan guides and plan forcing. Through all of this, best practices and common techniques will be reviewed. Attendees will go home with a working knowledge of query performance tuning, a set of methods for identifying poorly performing queries, scripts to assist in these processes and the knowledge of how fix performance problems in their own systems.

To see the other sessions go here:
BI
DBA
Developer
Misc

Although I would prefer that you voted for me, it’s more important that you vote at all (same thing as in real life). Please go here and select the sessions that you want to see.

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Who You Learn From

October 25, 2010 at 9:01 am (PASS) (, , , )

Less than two weeks to go until the PASS Summit. I’m excited. I’ve managed to cram a ton of activities into this Summit, more than ever before. But, I’m still going to try to go to a few sessions. The question asked, which sessions are you going to? Who do you want to learn from. Who can you learn from?

I’ve got a pretty simple answer. Everybody. There’s not a single person that I work with on my current team that I haven’t learned something from. Sure, there are those that teach you tons and tons, for example, we have a fantastic SSIS guy on our team, that has taught me quite a lot, faster than I could have picked it up on my own.

So, you’re going to the PASS Summit. Is your plan to hit just the big name people? If so, you’re messing up. You can learn from everybody. I’m not saying don’t go to the big name sessions, heck I will, but I’m saying you need to look around at more than just names. Now, that said, before I tell you the people who’s sessions I’m going to, I want to give you one important piece of advice. If you go into a session and within 5-10 minutes you can tell that session isn’t for you, get up & leave. Go to another one, or start chatting people up out in the hallway or down at the PASS booth. Don’t waste your time.

I already listed a number of sessions that I thought were must sees. Unfortunately, I won’t be making it to many of them. I’m pretty busy, presenting on Tuesday & Wednesday and at one of the Lightening Rounds on Thursday. I’m also going to work the Ask the Experts area for the first time ever (please, don’t stop by to play “Stump the Chump.” I know you guys know more than I do. I’m just trying to help) Thursday afternoon. Here are some other sessions that should have made my list, that I plan on attending.

 Tuesday afternoon I’m absolutely going to make it to Aaron Nelson’s (blog|twitter) session on PowerShell, The Dirty Dozen. I saw him present at SQL Saturday in Raliegh. This guy is good. You may not know his name, but I promise, if you’re getting started in PowerShell, or even if you’ve been working with it for a while, you’re going to learn from him. I’ll probably hit a couple of other sessions on Tuesday too.

On Wednesday afternoon there’s a total embarassment of riches. I want to go to four different sessions right after lunch. I’m leaning towards the one on Professional Development Plans, but I’m not sure I want to miss the one Troubleshooting SSRS Performance or the Incredible Shrinking Execution Plan. After that, probably, because of a new emphassis on SSRS where I work, Cooking with SSRS. The last session of the day is easy, Kimberly Tripp’s (blogTales From the Trenches.

Thursday morning is open, assuming I’m still on my feet. I’ll probably hit DBA MythBusters. That’s also assuming that after listening to Dr. Dewitt my brain isn’t completely stuff full. If you only make one keynote, make it Thursday morning’s.

This is going to be an excellent summit. For the names I left out, for the sessions I didn’t mention, I could just list the entire summit schedule and tell you to go to all of them. I’d be willing to bet there are very few, if any, that you won’t learn from. Like I said, everyone can teach you something. Figure out which ones are best for you and go to them. See you there.

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Upcoming Presentations: #24HOP & #SQLSAT46

August 30, 2010 at 8:53 am (PASS) (, , , , )

Blogging has been a bit quiet of late. That’s because I’ve been spending a lot my spare time getting ready for presentations that I have to give. Two of them are in about two weeks.

First, and this one is going to be a big deal, is 24 Hours of Pass: Summit Preview. At the PASS Summit this year I have two spotlight sessions, both on tricks and tools for tuning queries, one on using execution plans and the other on using DMVs. Since the 24HOP presentation is supposed to be a lead-in to the PASS presentations, I decided that before you started tuning queries, you need to know which queries to tune. The presentation is titled: Identifying Costly Queries. I understand there are already nearly 2000 people registered. Let’s see if we can break LiveMeeting on September 15th. And please, try to break LiveMeeting for all the other sessions too. 24HOP this year is spanning two days, plus another four hours, so it’s really 28 Hours of PASS. There are going to be some fantastic sessions by great presenters.

Second, and I’m very excited about this one too, I’m travelling for the first time (not counting driving the car) to a SQL Saturday event. Red Gate, wonderful people that they are, have sponsored my trip to SQL Saturday #46 in Raleigh, NC, on the 18th of September. I’ll be doing an initial run through of my PASS Summit session on using execution plans to tune queries. If you can’t make the Summit this year, but you can make it to Raleigh, this is your chance to see this session. Check out the schedule for this SQL Saturday. It’s going to be a huge deal. I see a whole bunch of MVP’s and authors who are going to be giving you their best stuff. I’ll also be doing a lunch time session on some Red Gate tools (have to pay for the trip). The software they released in the spring is SQL Source Control. It’s a pretty amazing bit of programming that works within SQL Server Management Studio to get your database into source control (and if you’re not using source control with your databases, time to start).

Between getting these, and other, presentations together, working on books (tech edited one, working on chapters on another, getting ready to rewrite the Execution Plans book), actually spending time with my family, oh, and going to work (note, I didn’t say working), my blog posts have suffered a bit. I’ll get back on the stick very soon. Hopefully before Tom updates his blog listings.

If you attend any of the in-person events  where I’ll this fall (and I’m going to four, SQL Saturday #46, New England Code Camp #14, PASS Summit, SQL Saturday #59), please look me up. Say hello. These events are all about networking and building community. The people that go and present expect you to stop them in the hall and talk to them. That’s what this community stuff is all about. Meeting people and making connections.

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PASS Elections

August 23, 2010 at 9:39 am (PASS) (, , )

There are a lot of things I’d like to say about the PASS elections. I was on vacation last week when the news about the slate of candidates broke. I’ve gone through a lot of emotions thinking about this, which is funny, because, really, what does it matter? But, because of the people, and let’s face it, PASS is nothing without the people involved, it does matter. But, I’ve decided to say as little as possible because I’m not convinced I can add constructively to the conversation and that is what is most needed at this time.

First, I want to endorse a few candidates. The people I’m going to endorse, I’m endorsing because I know them personally. I’ve worked with them, I’ve talked to them, I’ve read their stuff. I know these guys. None of this is to question the other people on the slate, their abilities or character, but these are the ones that I can personally recommend. So, I suggest you vote for, in no particular order, Andy Warren (blog|twitter), Allen Kinsel (blog|twitter) and Geof Hiten (blog|twitter).

Finally, the one person I would have liked to have endorsed, because he’s the guy who got me involved with the SQL Server community, who gave me chances to write, who always promoted the Summit, who gave away SQL Saturday to the PASS organization, who has acted in many ways that are positive for our community… well, anyway, I can’t endorse him because he’s not on the slate. I’ve heard the explanations for why that’s true and I still don’t understand it. But, since he’s taking the high road on this, I’ll follow along and refrain from further comment.

Be sure, if you’re eligible, that you vote in the PASS elections. This stuff can be important if you care about the community and the people involved.

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24 Hours of PASS: Summit Preview

August 11, 2010 at 8:58 am (PASS, SQL Server 2008, SQLServerPedia Syndication, TSQL) (, , , , , , , )

Registration is open for the second 24 Hours of PASS this year. This one is going to be a preview of the Summit itself. So all the sessions are tied, in some manner, to sessions being given at the summit.Here’s a link to go and register.

I’m very excited to be able to say that I’ll be presenting in this 24HOP. One of my presentations at the Summit this year is Identifying and Fixing Performance Problems Using Execution Plans. It covers pretty much what it says, methods for fixing performance problems by exploring the information available within execution plans. But, how do you know you have a performance problem? That’s where my preview session comes in. Identifying Costly Queries will show you several ways to gather metrics on your system so that you can understand which queries are causing you the most pain. Once you know which queries need tuning, you can use execution plans to tune them. Whether you’ll be attending the PASS Summit or not, and whether or not you’ll go to my session once you’re there, I think this 24HOP session will be useful to help you understand where the pain points are within your own systems. I hope you’ll attend.

More importantly though, check out all the other great sessions. This is an excellent collection of presenters and presentations. For anyone who has ever said “PASS doesn’t do anything for me,” I want you especially to take a look at the amazing training opportunities being offered by PASS, for free. The volunteers that run PASS do amazing things and this is just one of them. Take advantage of this opportunity and, hopefully, recognize that PASS is doing things for you. This just barely scratches the surface of all that PASS offers.

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Steve Jones to Run for PASS Board

July 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm (PASS) (, , , , )

I couldn’t hide the lead. Steve Jones (blog|twitter) has announced he’s running for the PASS board. I’m excited. I’m almost as excited as if I were going to run. Steve is not simply a major influencer in what we call the SQL Community. He brings two things to the party that I think are going to make him very successful on the board. First, he gets things done. He just does. He’s one of those guys that seems to keep it together, just enough, to accomplish stuff. Second, he has real ideas. He’s not someone who is simply going to iron out a wrinkle or three at the Summit. He’s going to propose stuff that will make a difference. Put those two things together and I think we’ve got reason to celebrate.

Help me out here. Spread the word on this. We need people to be aware of who Steve is and what he does.

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PASS Board Nominations

June 25, 2010 at 8:01 am (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , , )

If you haven’t heard, please allow me to let you in on a little secret. The Professional Association of SQL Server users (PASS) is holding open nominations for the board. If you are interested in running for the board or know someone who should run for the board, get to this location as soon as possible and get their name in.

I feel that PASS does a lot for individual database users all over the world. I know people who take the contrary position and say that PASS doesn’t do anything for them. If you’re of that opinion, that’s great. As a matter of fact, if you’re of that opinion, I’d suggest you should run for the board. Now is your chance to make a difference. Now is the time for you to provide guidance and leadership to start to turn the aircraft carrier that is the PASS organization. Now is your opportunity to help your fellow database professionals with whatever it is that you think the PASS organization should be providing, but isn’t. Now, right now, is when you need to come forward, toss your hat in the ring, put your name in, get involved, make a difference.

Please consider this a personal invitation to help chart a new course for the SQL Server community. You’ve been asked, please take action.

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PASS 2010 Submissions

June 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , , , )

Since all the cool kids seem to be posting the sessions that they submitted to the PASS Summit, nerd that I am, I’ll follow along and do the same. I submitted four sessions, two by invitation for a Spotlight session and two for regular sessions. I tried to branch out a bit from where I’ve been in the past to see if I can start talking about different topics. With that in mind, the first session was: Spatial Data: The Business Case

We’ve all seen the cool presentations showing all the pizza joints near the conference center or all the bicycle shops on a biking route, but what’s the case for spatial data and business? This session sets out to show how spatial data can be of interest to almost any business that has more than one location to worry about. Are weather events or natural disasters affecting your locations? Without the ability to precisely map them, how can you know? Is your new building on a flood plain? If you’re planning a visit to a customer, are there other customers near by that you could also visit? The session focuses on a business case for using spatial data, but it also shows some of the technical means that spatial data can use to solve those cases using the spatial data type, Microsoft Bing Maps and Reporting Services.

The next “different” session was: Database Deployment in the Real World

Deploying databases can be a difficult challenge. This session will provide a general approach to database development and database deployment that seeks to alleviate the issues around getting databases deployed. There will be general methods on display, such as the use of source control as a part of database development, and scripting methods for production deployments. There will also be specific methods using a variety of tools to meet this deployment methodology. Tools from Microsoft, such as Visual Studio and the DTA, and various 3rd party vendors will be demonstrated. The goal of the session will be to provide mechanisms for attendees to apply to their own databases in order to arrive at a safer and more reliable deployment process.

After that I went back to my usual topics: Identifying and Fixing Performance Problems using Execution Plans

This session will demonstrate how SQL Server execution plans can be used to identify problems with the database design, or the TSQL code, and address those problems. The session takes the user through various common issues such as poor or missing indexes, badly written code and generally bad query performance, demonstrating how to identify the issues involved using execution plans. The session will then demonstrate different methods for addressing the issues and show how the fixed query’s execution plans differ. Multiple methods for accessing execution plans including graphical, DMV’s, and trace events are demonstrated. All this is meant to lay a foundation for a general troubleshooting approach to empower the attendee to make their own queries run faster and more consistently.

And even recycled a session from last year, again, as an experiment: DMV’s as a Shortcut to Procedure Tuning

Dynamic Management Views (DMV) expose a wealth of information to the database administrator. However, they also expose information that is vital to the database developer. More often than not people gather performance metrics through server side traces. This session will show how to gather information from the DMVs for currently executing, and recently executed queries. The session will demonstrate combining this information with other DMVs to get more intersting information such as the query plan and query text. I’ll show where you can get aggregate information for the queries in cache to determine which queries are being frequently accessed or using the most resources. I’ll show how to determine which indexes are being used in your system and which are not. All of this will be focused, not on the DBA, but on the query writer, the developer or database developer that needs information to tune and troubleshoot data access. 

There are absolutely glorious sessions that have been submitted this year (and if you haven’t looked them over, you should). The competition is going to be fierce, which will make for an excellent Summit.

Oh, and don’t forget that Wednesday is Kilt Day at the Pass Summit.

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PASS Summit Content Survey Results

April 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , )

The results of a survey conducted by the PASS organization have been posted (thanks to the Board for all their work, again). Since getting to speak at PASS is a competition, I really shouldn’t be pointing this out, because I’d like to speak again. However, if you’re trying to decide whether or not a detailed discussion of Windows Server 2008 Collation would be more interesting to the attendees than a session on Filtered Indexes (it wouldn’t) you can go check it out on the survey. It should help you make better choices for what the attendees want to see. Of course, if everyone runs off and submits sessions on the same four or five topics, that’s going to open up others. Regardless, this is a service to the attendees because we should get more interesting sessions because of this survey. The survey is also a service to potential speakers because we’re going to be able to decide where to focus our efforts.

But you know what, I really don’t know what I’m talking about, so why don’t you just ignore me and get back to working on your slide deck on Collation, lots of people want to see it, really.

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