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Change Your #SQLPASS Password Right Now.

What you need to do: log into SQLpass.org and change your password. If you use the same password anywhere else, change it on all of those sites immediately as well.

Why you need to do it: anytime you ever logged into SQLpass.org or SQLsaturday.com, or updated your password, or created an account, your password (along with everything else) went unencrypted between your computer and PASS’s web servers. Anyone sniffing network packets along the way saw your username, email, password, etc in clear text. (Think about what a security gold mine this would have been for someone sniffing WiFi at a SQLSaturday or the PASS Summit.) There’s a nice side benefit for updating your account – you also become eligible to vote in the current PASS elections.

Who you need to thank: the vulnerability was discovered by George Stocker on Friday, and PASS HQ finished the fixes & testing on Saturday. That’s a fantastic turnaround time – kudos to PASS for reacting so fast!

Who you should blame: yourself, for not noticing for years that you were putting login information into a web site that wasn’t using https. What kind of data professional are you, anyway? You’re probably even using that same password on multiple web sites, or heaven forbid, your company email. Get it together and use 1Password or LastPass.

Who you should not blame: the current PASS Board of Directors because this has likely been in place ever since PASS set up their current web site, and the current management inherited this little surprise. (You know how it goes – it’s like your ancient SQL Server 2000 in the corner where everybody knows the SA password.)

SSL test results for SQLpass.org - click here to rerun the test, takes about 30 seconds

SSL test results for SQLpass.org – click here to rerun the test, takes about 30 seconds

What’s still left to do: PASS needs to clearly, concisely communicate the severity of this issue to members as well – I really wish they’d set all passwords in the database to null, and force everybody to go through the password-reset process. The SSL setup still needs some work, as shown in the SSL tests, but considering the whole thing was done in 24 hours, it’s one heck of a good first step. (SQLsaturday.com also fails that test.)

Where to go for more information: logged-in PASS members can ask PASS public questions in their blog post comments, email info@sqlpass.org privately, or ask questions here in the comments.

Our Sessions at the #SQLPASS Summit 2014

The session list has been published, and we’re excited to say all of us have been selected to speak at the PASS Summit again this year. Here’s our sessions:

Are Your Indexes Hurting You or Helping You? – Jes Schultz Borland – Queries need your help! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make great decisions about what indexes are best for your workload. In this session, we’ll review the difference between clustered and nonclustered indexes, show when to use included columns, understand what sargability means, and introduce statistics. You’ll leave this session with the ability to confidently determine why, or why not, SQL Server uses your indexes when executing queries.

Developers: Who Needs a DBA? – Brent Ozar – You store data in SQL Server, but you don’t have enough work to keep a full-time DBA busy. In just one session, you’ll learn the basics of performance troubleshooting, backup, index tuning, and security. Brent Ozar, recovering developer, will teach you the basic care and feeding of a Microsoft SQL Server 2005, 2008, 2012, or 2014 instance and give you scripts to keep you out of trouble.

pass-summit-2014

Dynamic SQL: Build Fast, Flexible Queries – Jeremiah Peschka – Dynamic SQL is a misunderstood and much maligned part of a DBA’s tool kit – it can be used to solve difficult business problems, respond to diverse data needs, and alleviate performance problems. Many DBAs reject dynamic SQL outright as a potential source of SQL injections, being poorly performing, or just for being a hacky solution in general. Not so! Jeremiah Peschka has been making extensive use of dynamic SQL throughout his career to solve a variety of problems. In this session, we’ll be dispelling these misconceptions and demonstrating how dynamic SQL can become a part of every DBA’s tool kit.

From Minutes to Milliseconds: High-Performance SSRS Tuning – Doug Lane – Even though you’re an experienced report developer or administrator, performance tuning for SQL Server Reporting Services still feels as bewildering and hopeless as folding a fitted bed sheet. You’ve made your data sets smaller and timeouts longer, but it’s not enough to remove the slowness dragging down your reporting environment. In this session, you’ll learn how design and configuration choices put pressure on your report server and techniques to relieve that pressure. You’ll see how to configure your Reporting Services databases for speed, streamline your subscription schedules, and use caching for high-demand reports. You’ll also learn some design strategies to lighten your report processing load. If you want to maximize the speed of your Reporting Services environment and minimize the pain of performance tuning, this session is for you.

Lightning Talk: Conquer CXPACKET and Master MAXDOP – Brent Ozar – CXPACKET waits don’t mean you should set MAXDOP = 1. Microsoft Certified Master Brent Ozar will boil it all down and simplify CXPACKET to show you the real problem – and what you should do about it – in one quick 10-minute Lightning Talk.

Why Does SQL Server Keep Asking For This Index? – Kendra Little – SQL Server says you’d really benefit from an index, but you’d like to know why. Kendra Little will give you scripts to find which queries are asking for a specific missing index. You’ll learn to predict how a new index will change read patterns on the table, whether you need to add the exact index SQL Server is requesting, and how to measure performance improvements from your index changes. If you’re comfortable querying SQL Server’s missing index DMVs and looking at an execution plan here and there, this session is for you.

World’s Worst Performance Tuning Techniques – Kendra Little – Could one of your tricks for making queries faster be way off base? Kendra Little is a Microsoft Certified Master in SQL Server and a performance tuning consultant, which means she’s learned lots of lessons from her mistakes. In this session, you will learn how to stop obsessively updating or creating statistics, find alternatives to forcing an index, and deal with an addiction to ‘recompile’ hints.

Pre-Conference Session: psych! We didn’t get picked for an official pre-con this year (I know, right?) so we’re building our own lunar lander. Stay tuned – we’ll get things ironed out in the next week or two so you can make your official plans.

Alaska has a SQL Server User Group!

Alaska is on the PASS map!

Alaska is on the PASS map!

I’m really stoked to share the news: Alaska (my home state) finally has a PASS Chapter of its own! The group just got started last December, and officially welcomed into the PASS organization at the end of January. While they don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account yet, they do have a website and a YouTube channel.

The group meets every month and draws about twenty attendees, according to Chapter Leader Greg Burns. (Greg also runs the local SharePoint user group, which has about eighty members.) The audience is a mix of DBAs and developers, mostly.

Curious. Why would I mention the audience?

Because Greg is running a PASS Chapter for the first time, he could use a lot of help. He’s looking for speakers — remote or in-person — to present at upcoming meetings. If you’re interested in presenting to the group remotely, or just looking for an excuse to visit by far the largest state in the union…[prolonged eye contact with Texas]…just drop Greg a line at AlaskaSQL(at)gmail.com.

But wait, there’s more! If you’re a current or former PASS Chapter leader, you probably have some great tips on how to structure meetings, build membership, advertise your group, line up sponsors, and other things it takes to grow a user group. Rather than flood Greg’s inbox with your collective wisdom, let’s assemble them here in the comments so they’re all in one place. I can think of no better way to welcome Alaska to the SQL Server community than to show them how much we help each other.

#SQLPASS #Summit13 Women in Technology Lunch – Live!

Welcome to the second day of #SQLPASS #Summit13! I’ve been having a blast this week – presenting a precon with Brent and Kendra, watching great speakers like Erin Stellato and Bob Ward, chatting at the Community Zone, and walking the vendor booths.

Today is one of my favorite events – the annual Women In Technology Luncheon! Our topic is Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity. We have a great panel – Erin Stellato, Rob Farley, Cindy Gross, Kevin Kline, and Gail Shaw. This is an incredibly diverse and brilliant group! 

12:10 pm – Tom LaRock is kicking off the event! He introduces our moderator, Mickey Stuewe. She reminds us to ask questions and follow along on Twitter using the #passwit hashtag. 

12:12 – Today we’re talking about diversity – making sure everyone is included. Mickey introduces the panelists! Cindy Gross is an MCM and member of AzureCAT. Rob Farley is a business owner and MCM and MVP, and outgoing PASS board member. Kevin Kline, pass president of PASS, MVP, and author – and father of several daughters! Erin Stellato is an MVP and brilliant consultant. Gail Shaw is an MCM and MVP, and contributes to the community in many ways. 

12:14 – Our first question is about fitting in. Gail tells us she doesn’t always fit in – not because she’s a woman, but because she’s a geek. She spends her weekends playing D&D! (I played many years ago. I loved it. I want to do it again!) 

12:15 – Have you experienced subtle cultural differences that make it hard to fit in? Rob says he does see people who exclude others because they are different. But that’s not him. In any environment where there is a large number of the same people, it can happen that there are assumptions. Let’s not forget about religious differences as a form of diversity and exclusion as well – important to remember at a large, international event like this too! Remember to tell people how you value them. 

12:19 – Cindy, how can you tell when you’re being treated differently, and why? She’ll go to a coworker or friend and ask for advice. She has a group of people she can go to for a second opinion. “When I react to something, would I react that way if it came from someone else?” is what she often asks. 

Kevin: There’s a lot of interesting scientific research going on right now. The average person can know about 150 people really well. Beyond that, stereotypes can save time. “They’re like the index pages in a database” gets a good laugh. He talks about the difference between introverts and extroverts. Introverts will internalize and be introspective about comments made towards them. Follow Cindy’s advice – talk to others about a situation or comment that was made and get their advice about it. 

12:26 – Kevin, how do you explain that you think you’ve been treated differently to your boss? Database professionals will spend a lot of time debugging code and resolving problems, but we don’t spend enough time figuring out the people we work with. Why do they get up in the morning? What drives them? Talk to your boss. If you ask them if you made a molehill into a mountain, and he or she says yes, you did – think of it in one of two ways. They could have a very different set of values from you. Or, we may not have properly expressed how this behavior affects our values. You need to have your own “values statement” – and share that with your boss, and even coworkers. (What I hear is: we need to realize that although our job is technology, we work with PEOPLE. You have to be willing to understand and talk to PEOPLE.) 

12:33 – Rob, how do you deal with being on a team when you’re excluded? If you see someone being excluded, you have to speak up. If you see a situation that is wrong and you don’t say something about it, it doesn’t help. You’ll be wracked by guilt. Stand up and be the person who champions what is right. 

Gail says that if the person you call friends are the ones that say you need to change, you might need to redefine who your friends are. She recently had to “break up” with a friend because she wanted Gail to be something she wasn’t. She wasn’t accepting. Sometimes it’s best to burn those bridges. Find friends that are interested in who YOU are and who listen to your concerns. 

12:40 – Cindy says there is so much more than just gender that we need to take into consideration. It could be so many things – your personality, what you support politically or socially. We all have our own stereotypes, too. 

Gail says that she has many male, geek friends. They feel excluded because they would rather stay in and play a card game instead of going to a football game. It’s not just women who feel this. 

12:45 – Erin, how do you establish and build relationships with coworkers in a diverse setting? You have to look at how you build any relationship – you build a common ground. You share interests and beliefs. Find common ground with your coworkers – we can all find something. You have to grow and celebrate that. Use the common ground to make your team better. “You can lead without being the leader.” Reach out to every member of your team – even if a “boss” isn’t doing so. Any good relationship takes time – and that’s OK, you just need to accept that. Find people’s strengths and celebrate the diversity. 

Kevin: Even if you don’t have an opinion on a topic, say that. Don’t say nothing. People take silence as you don’t care, or you agree with what is going on. Introverts will often be quiet, and let extroverts run the show – even when it’s, “Where do we go for lunch?” 

12:50 – What techniques have you seen to make events more inclusive in a professional setting? Kevin says when PASS was being founded, they didn’t have the resources other groups did – like money. They had to be better at people. “The antidote to swagger is humility.” 

12:55 – Best part of the day! Questions from the audience! 

Question from online – how do we celebrate conclusions vs. milestones? Rob says we need to recognize that different people celebrate different things. Even here this week, some people come to Summit to see friends. Some come to work on their career. Some come for specific sessions. We are all different. Recognize that we all need to celebrate – support others in the way they choose to do so. 

“How do we foster compassion in the workplace? There’s a feeling that compassion is the antithesis of a successful team.” Kevin – there’s a ton of research in how to make teams work faster, but what about “how do we make this team higher quality?” Someone has to start by demonstrating it – one person. You have to get the people with influence and authority to model those behaviors. Erin reminds us, “You can lead even if you aren’t the leader.” And if it bothers you that much, sometimes, you may be at the wrong company. If you can’t affect change, you may need to leave. 

“What is the best way to disarm someone who is applying a stereotype to you?” Gail says, there is something in common between you. Be polite. Find that something in common and work from there. You’ll never get someone to stop applying a stereotype by bashing your head against it. Cindy adds that if you try to take it head-on and convince that person that YOU aren’t that stereotype, you’re not solving that problem. The stereotype will still be in that person’s head. Rob says, on the inside, have pity for them. They are missing out on who you actually are. Care for them. Try to get to know them for who they are. 

“I was walking around the expo yesterday and had a conversation. You’re a woman, in technology, you’re a foreigner, you’re an athlete – how are you going to succeed in this industry? How would have you answered?” Erin says, “I would have said, “How am I NOT going to succeed?”” Gail would have said, “Who are you to tell me I’m not going to succeed?” Cindy had a professor call her into his office right before graduation. He commented on her hair color and told her she wouldn’t succeed in the real world. Now look at her! What other people think is irrelevant. 

1:12 – We could talk about this all day, but what is our call to action? 

Gail – take a look in the mirror and make sure you’re not the one doing it. Don’t be the problem. 

Rob – love people back regardless of how they are treating you. Don’t be part of the stereotype. 

Wow, this was inspiring! Thank you to our panelists for being on stage and sharing your experiences. Thank you to those who stepped up and asked questions. Thank you to the audience, both in person and online. I look forward to next year’s event! 

#SQLPASS #Summit2013 Professor DeWitt Keynote

This morning at the PASS Summit, we have the pleasure of listening to Professor David DeWitt talk about Hekaton internals.

I’m actually not going to liveblog this – I’m going to sit back and take in the presentation as an attendee because it’s going to be so damn good, and I’m not going to be able to do justice to it in a live blog post. I need to explain why.

Yesterday, a few of us bloggers were given an advance question-and-answer session with him to talk about – well, whatever. Here’s what I asked him, and keep in mind that the answers are paraphrased. I took notes as fast as I could, and it’s possible probable guaranteed that I misheard things, so don’t take this as a word-for-word transcription. I’m trying to maintain the spirit of what he said.

BGO: Out of your accomplishments this year, what are you the most proud of?

Shipping PDWv2 with Polybase.

Seeing Hekaton emerge in SQL Server 2014 CTP2. I didn’t have ownership of that project at the very beginning – I got it after 3 months – and then I owned it for a year and a half. Seeing it come out the door was exciting.

Professional driver on closed course.

Professional driver on closed course.

I’ve been working on this keynote since July 1st. I went canoeing in the Arctic in 1st of August, and I had to have it done by then, so the month of July was spent banging the talk out. In 75 minutes with 77 slides (with complex animations), I’m trying to explain to the PASS Summit audience something that I would normally cover a couple of lectures to students. It’s going to be complex.

Hekaton is totally different than the relational engine. How Hekaton stores data is just as different from the regular engine as the column store engine is different. Just as we saw Apollo’s column store indexing folded into the mainstream engine over time, we may fold in Hekaton improvements over time too.

BGO: What do you enjoy about speaking at Summit?

The high of doing this. It’s a very appreciative audience, unlike an undergraduate audience. <laughter> In a college environment, I don’t really want people to have laptops in class. They’re probably shopping online.

PASS is a great environment where you can tell people are here because they want to learn voluntarily. It’s all volunteers. Volunteers make such a big commitment to the event.

At the same time, it’s not all fun. There are periods like 2 weeks before where I’m incredibly stressed out. Two years ago I got a 5 on my session feedback evaluations, and then last year I got a 3. What am I going to get this year? I’m really stressed about that.

(Note from Brent: I really do get the vibe that DeWitt cares passionately about the session materials and how PASS attendees receive it. He’s not under fire from Microsoft to produce amazing materials – he is just totally self-motivated to beat expectations of the audience.)

BGO: What’s the toughest part about your job?

Not being able to ship stuff as fast as I want. I’m not at a startup. I’ve come to appreciate what it means to be part of a company that prides itself on delivering really high quality software. SQL Server has a sterling reputation for really high quality. I’ve learned so much about the testing process.

In the upcoming release of PDW, we’ve got a feature coming, and it’s really important to me. It’s what most people would consider a small thing, but it’s very important to me. Unfortunately, we can’t enable it – we can’t ship it to the public because we don’t have enough time to test it. That’s frustrating, but it’s fair, and the bar for testing PDW isn’t even as high as regular SQL Server testing. The bar for SQL Server engine testing is incredibly high.

I could do with 2-3x the number of resources than I have.

I’m old enough to get Medicare, but I still have lots of good ideas. Mike Stonebraker turned 70 this fall. Mike was my graduate TA for my first graduate class. I’ve known him for 40 years. He’s had a lot of successful startups, and he doesn’t need to work, but he has 4 startups and still goes to work every day.

BGO: Is there anything you regret not doing?

I’m envious of Stonebraker and all the startups he’s done.

I was part of Vertica, so I’ve never worked on the Microsoft column store stuff because of non-competes. But being part of a startup would be really gratifying. It takes guts, has challenges, and I’m not sure I would have been successful, but that’s the one thing I regret.

And I wish I would have been better at mathematics.

BGO: What’s the one thing you want people to take away from the keynote?

Building Hekaton was really a serious long term endeavor. We’ve been at it a full 5 years. It was a big deal. It could be the basis for a lot of new SQL products down the road.

For relational database storage, columnar stuff was really the first chink in the armor. It’s processed in vectors, the vectors get combined with bit masking, we use a lot of different query processing techniques. More chinks are coming.

Look at what’s happening with computer hardware, specifically memory prices. There’s a chance technology will drive us to a place where we have large amounts of memory, some non-volatile RAM, we may end up with database systems whose databases are all in memory or near memory (NVRAM). In the next 10-20 years, the Hekaton approach of memory-intensive, core-intensive approach could become the de facto way of storing data as opposed to the disk-based product (the way SQL Server stores data & logs today).

My hope is that people will take those slides and study them carefully for the exam. <laughter> I want them to read them closely and understand why we did it this way.

BGO: So it sounds like it’s not a one-and-done feature like so many others we’ve seen. Development is actively ongoing, and there’s still more investments being made here?

Apollo (column store indexes) came out in SQL Server 2012, and in SQL Server 2014, it’s v2 with updates and investments. PDW v2 is out with more features – except for that one small feature that’s my favorite that we can’t ship. These storage investments aren’t one-and-done – we’re focusing on these.

Hekaton CTP 1 had hash indexes only, and CTP2 adds B-tree indexes. There’s a white paper coming out on the index types we’ll support.

We have lots of exciting things in the language hopper for Hekaton. We’re broadening the language and data type support in Hekaton V2.

BGO: Can I quote you on that? I want to make sure I can actually blog that Hekaton V2 is going to have expanded language support.

<discussions> Yes.


My thoughts on what’s about to go down

For the keynote, DeWitt’s tackling something really challenging. How do you teach database internals – and not just regular internals, but really all-new internals – to a very wide audience? In this room, we’ve got database administrators, BI developers, database developers, and managers. Many of us in here don’t regularly work with latching problems in SQL Server’s current engine, much less a new one.

I admire what he’s trying to achieve, and having read the slide deck, I admire how he’s going to do it. The snark department is going to make fun of his clip art, but pay close attention. In the next 75 minutes, you’re going to learn internals of both the current engine and the Hekaton one. You’re probably not going to deploy Hekaton v1 for existing applications, but if Microsoft continues making payments on this vision, you’re probably going to want v2. Today’s session will explain why.

Watch it live starting at 8:15AM Eastern on PASS’s streaming web site.

#SQLPASS #Summit2013 Microsoft Keynote Liveblog

Charlotte, NC – Your intrepid reporter is onsite at the convention center, settling in at the Blogger’s Table. At 8:15AM Eastern time, PASS President Bill Graziano will take the stage, discuss PASS, and then hand things over to Microsoft’s Quentin Clark for product announcements.

Some of the things I’m looking for include:

  • Attendance numbers on the Summit (was a record-setting 3,894 last year)
  • Graziano recapping his last year as PASS president and introducing the new president
  • SQL Server 2014’s release date, pricing, and edition restrictions (will this be the year Standard Edition is cut down to 4 cores and 32GB of RAM, or will our outcries finally be heard?)
  • A couple of customer stories about how SQL 2014 is already helping them out
  • The next Community Technology Preview (CTP2) download of SQL 2014
  • A strategic vision for Microsoft’s business intelligence products (I wouldn’t expect in-depth BI talk here because that’s where the PASS Business Analytics conference comes in)
  • A Metro-looking PowerPoint slide deck with multiple “pillars” of “synergy” that “surprise and delight” you with “big data” on your “smart devices”

I don’t expect this to be a year of surprises for the core SQL Server product. At this point, the feature set of SQL 2014 is pretty well baked and publicized (Hekaton, buffer pool extensions, better column store indexes, better AlwaysOn AG management, etc). It’s too late in 2014’s development cycle to pull a “one more thing” moment with the engine, and it’s too early to start talking about vNext.

For live updates, refresh this page every few minutes. The latest stuff will be at the bottom. To follow the live stream on Twitter, use http://tweetchat.com and follow hash tag #sqlpass or #summit13. I’ll be using #sqlpass just because it’s been used heavily in the past. You can also watch the live stream here.

8:18 – The room is filled up and the lights are still bright. Stay tuned.

8:21 – Showing a video with attendees discussing what they’re interested in. Hilarious energy from Jes Schultz Borland, Stacia Misner, Christina Leo.

8:24 – Bill Graziano took the stage and he’s introducing the PASS Board. “Please reach out to any of us during the Summit with ideas and questions.” They’re serious about that – they take a lot of notes with your ideas.

8:26 – 700K technical training hours, 227 chapters, 22 virtual chapters, 81 SQLSaturday events, 5 24 Hours of PASS, 2 SQL Rally events – all in the most recent fiscal year.

8:30 – The winner of the PASSion Award this year for outstanding volunteerism is Amy Lewis, and the runner up was Ryan Adams.

2013 PASSion Award Winner Amy Lewis

2013 PASSion Award Winner Amy Lewis

8:33 – Bill has an “ask” for you to sign up as a PASS volunteer.

8:36 – Video intro for Microsoft’s Quentin Clark showing a bunch of statistics about SQL Server. Folksy guitar music in the background. I’m not sure if this is a protest song or what this is.

Microsoft's Quentin Clark

Microsoft’s Quentin Clark

8:40 – When talking to the community and users, he’s heard us say that we want a complete story end to end for our databases. He’s covering the transformation from brick and mortar to e-commerce. The old fear was that retail was going to die and e-commerce was going to take over. As an Amazon Prime member who rarely steps foot in stores, I’m curious to how he’s going to disprove that.

8:42 – OH, I see what he did there. He’s saying that retail and e-commerce is merging – you can buy stuff online and return it to the store. Now, IT is undergoing a similar transformation where we need both on-premise and cloud. This is quite a change from Microsoft’s screaming “WE’RE ALL IN THE CLOUD” in times past.

8:44 – Saying that in the past, Microsoft has done keynotes that were all over the place with software that never actually came out and wasn’t tied together. Today is about stuff that is either generally available now, or will available really soon, and will all tie together.

8:47 – The next Community Technology Preview (CTP2) download of SQL 2014 is available. This is the final public CTP before release.

8:48 – Quentin says Microsoft is “pushing the boundaries” of in-memory performance, better availability, redefining mission critical in the cloud, bringing BI to everyone, etc. I think that’s true for historical SQL Server implementations, but not necessarily other platforms. He’s focusing on Oracle’s columnar in-memory keynote a couple of weeks. Is Oracle really the big competitor in the in-memory database space?

8:50 – Regarding Hekaton’s in-memory OLTP, he says, “We’re not asking you to rebuild your application.”  This just isn’t true – I still haven’t seen a single application that could take the move to Hekaton’s full benefits (compiled SQL and in-memory tables) without schema changes, and schema changes are serious business for existing applications.

8:52 – Demoing an online store with 1mm users, and 20k simultaneous transactions. I gotta be honest: if you’re querying the database live in an online store, you are doing it completely and utterly wrong. Meet Mr. Cache.

Demoing Hekaton

Demoing Hekaton

8:55 – Oh, this demo fills me with rage and sadness. Everything about the tables and the queries is worst practices. This has absolutely no business in a production database and an online store. If your site and your code is this bad, and you refuse to use a cache, then sure, Hekaton is for you.

9:00 – Talking about “breakthroughs in availability in recovery” by allowing AlwaysOn secondaries in Windows Azure, backup to Windows Azure, and data files in Windows Azure. Already covered my very skeptical take on those features.

9:03 – Announcing the Backup to Azure Tool for all supported SQL Server versions. You get encrypted, automated backups to Windows Azure file storage.

9:09 – IT’S A FREAKIN’ FILE SYNC TOOL. You have got to be kidding me. This is disgusting. What a joke. You back up locally and the tool uploads your files to Windows Azure file storage. Golf clap. Across the face.

UPDATE 4PM – turns out this is a filter driver. Your backup goes directly to Windows Azure file storage, and doesn’t reside on local storage. If your Internet connection blips, your backup breaks. This also means you have no local copy of your backups. It’s not designed to be your primary backup method, but more designed to be a quarterly archive of offsite backups. Thing is, I think you’re much better off just copying an existing already-done backup to Windows Azure rather than setting up yet another product to take yet another backup and monitor yet another job. Use one tool to manage offsite backups of all kinds of products, whether they’re SQL or Oracle. However, the MS folks I’ve talked to are really taking that opinion hard – they really believe small businesses will install this tool to get offsite backups. They talk about how small businesses want something simple – but remember, small businesses can’t even handle maintenance plans, much less add yet another backup tool into their environment and configure it correctly.

9:10 – And the Azure demo failed due to network problems. But I’m sure that’ll never happen to you, buddy. You’re much better at networking than Microsoft.

9:16 – Recapping Windows Azure HDInsight, DW Virtual Machine in Windows Azure, PDW with PolyBase. Older announcements.

Quentin-Onstage

Microsoft’s Quentin Clark recapping customer stories at PASS Summit 2013

9:22 – Customer testimonial video from Barcelona. Has a nice beat to it. Evidently people in Barcelona walk through the streets taking pictures with Microsoft Surfaces. I’m sure there’s no propaganda in that video at all.

9:25 – Power* product listing.

9:28 – Excel demo using Skype data. 35TB of data per day. “Let me show you what a typical Skype analyst does.” And then: “We take your privacy seriously, so we’ll show fake data.” If you care about privacy, why do you have Skype analysts and gather 35TB of data per day? Seriously, this is awful given the NSA paranoia, don’t demo this.

9:32 – Merging Skype data with country sources. This is exactly what NSA does. Ugh, what a tasteless demo. Who approves this stuff?

9:33 – “Now I can bring in the locations of the nearest prisons, call in a black helicopter, and track it live with PowerMap.” Wait, they didn’t actually say that. But they should.

9:36 – Demoing on a Surface. Although…not actually clicking anything.

Demoing on a Surface 2

Demoing on a Surface 2

9:39 – Showing Power BI for Office 365 Preview with an equivalent of English Query back from SQL Server 2000. You can put in something like “calls per capita by country” and it figures out the right query to run.

Power BI Mapping demo

Power BI Mapping demo

9:42 – They’re asking for data over and over in different ways, and it automatically interprets how to query the data, and more interestingly, how to render it. Uses Bing maps, bar charts, scatter plots.

9:43 – You can sign up for it now at PowerBI.com.

9:45 – Power BI Contest at http://www.facebook.com/microsoftbi where you can submit BI solutions with Power BI and vote on submissions from others. Top 5 finalists get Surface Pros, top 10 get Xbox Ones.

9:47 – And that’s a wrap. Off to the sessions! Total letdown in terms of what we didn’t hear: release date, pricing on SQL 2014.

Celebrating Two Years of sp_Blitz® (And a New Version)

Two years ago this week, I took to the stage at the PASS Summit 2011 and unveiled sp_Blitz®, my free health check stored procedure that helps you rapidly take over SQL Servers you’ve never seen before.

Some historical highlights include:

  • 117,125 downloads
  • 117 checks (technically much more than that, because we look for variations of stuff)
  • 30 versions (including today’s updates with even more bug fixes)
  • Dozens of public code contributions
  • Analyzes the SQL Server plan cache for performance issues
  • Can store data to a table for analysis over time
  • Can take an input table to skip any checks on any servers or databases

People often stop me at conferences and say two things: they’re so thankful for it making their job easier, and they can’t believe we give it away for free. Between sp_Blitz®, sp_BlitzIndex®, our weekly webcast, our YouTube channelour ebooksour 6 month DBA training newsletter, and in-depth blog posts, we just give a ridiculous amount of stuff away for free. It’s going to get even better at the PASS Summit – I can’t wait to share my next free tool with you guys.

This is why, when we announced that we’re looking for Employee #2, Kendra specifically said in the post:

First, we need to know where you’ve spoken recently and what you talked about. This can include all sorts of public speaking– it doesn’t have to be technical. Next, tell us how you give back to a technical community. (It doesn’t have to be the SQL Server community.)

We wanted to find people who were passionate about making a difference in the community. People who give back to make jobs easier for others. People who openly share their knowledge with the public whenever possible.

That’s also why I’m excited to see my friends again at the Summit this week. This is where the giving-back happens, and it’s where the giving-back people get together. Here’s to another year of giving back.

Make SQL Apps Go Faster – Only 60 Seats Left!

In just a few weeks, Brent, Jes and I will be giving a full day pre-conference session at the SQLPASS 2013 Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our pre-conference will be Tuesday, October 15, 2013.

There’s only a few seats left!

This pre-con’s going to be killer– we’ve got 240 folks registered and ready to learn. Capacity is capped at 300 due to logistics, so as of this writing there’s room for 60 more students.

What you’ll learn

You’re a developer or DBA stuck with a database server that’s not going fast enough. You’ve got a hunch that the biggest bottleneck is inside the database server somewhere, but where? In just one day, you’ll learn how to use powerful scripts to identify which queries are killing your server, what parts of the database server are holding you back, how to tackle indexing improvements, and how to identify query anti-patterns.

This pre-conference session will cover the following topics and more:

  • How wait stats tell you where to focus your tuning
  • How the plan cache shows you which queries are the worst
  • How to make fast improvements by picking the right indexes
  • How to identify and fix the most common query anti-patterns

How much does it cost?

When you register for the PASS Summit, our “Make SQL Server Apps Go Faster” is just $395.

If you’ve already registered for the Summit, email Shannon.Cunningham@sqlpass.org to get in on the fun.

Brent, Kendra and Jes in their final Pre-Con planning session.

Brent, Kendra and Jes in their final Pre-Con planning session.

And for those of you who scrolled down to the bottom of the post in your excitement looking for a call to action,  here’s how to register.

What Does the #SQLPASS Board of Directors Do?

The PASS Board of Directors election is coming up, so I sat down with Allen Kinsel (Blog@AllenKinsel) to get some insight. Allen knows first-hand.

Brent: The PASS Board of Directors election is coming. What exactly do Board members do?

allen-kinselAllen: Board Members set the direction and future vision for the organization. In a more perfect world they might solely be responsible for the strategic direction of the organization much as a typical corporate board of directors is but, because of the unique nature of the organization if a particular director has a passion for how a certain area of PASS should be different they can become quite tactical and put in the actual work to accomplish their goals.

Is it a full time job? How much commitment is involved?

Since it’s an unpaid position, thankfully it is not a full time job. The commitment level is what each director makes of it. If a director has a real passion for something and wants to get it done, they can invest literally as much time as they have to give In order to further their agenda. Otherwise the commitments are typically a few hours a week on average.

How many people are on the Board, and what kinds of backgrounds do they come from?

There are 14 members of the board though only 6 are directly elected by the membership. There are 4 additional board members placed from the founding partners (CA/Microsoft) and an additional 4 on the executive that are elected by the board every other year. The backgrounds of board members change after every election cycle but, typically about the only thing they all have in common is a love of SQL Server. Otherwise board members come from all backgrounds: technical, management, DBA’s, developers, Full time employees, consultants etc…

You’ve been on the Board – what was your favorite part?

My favorite part was certainly my final year of my term where I was able to make significant changes to the way PASS supports chapters and their leaders. Laying out a vision for enabling chapters to have a toolset that rivaled the tools we currently give SQL Saturday leaders and then executing on that vision and seeing how much easier it made new chapter leaders jobs was quite rewarding. I believe that given the support and another year the tools would have fully delivered their initial promise of being everything chapter leaders needed to run a chapter efficiently.

What do you think makes a good Board member?

Many things can add up to make a good Board member but if I had to put one thing on the list, it would be passion. For a person to be truly successful and get things done on the board they need passion. Passion fuels all the other needed aspects of the job. If I could add a second thing to that list it would be experience. As with all things, experience matters. Since experience on a board level is not the easiest thing to find on a resume, the first year serving for most board members can be quite daunting while attempting to find their way.

If you’re a community member looking at a ballot, how do you pick names? Most readers aren’t lucky enough to know people on the ballot personally.

If it is feasible voters should educate themselves on which candidates share their ideals through http://sqlpass.org/elections.aspx prior to voting. If that’s not feasible I would suggest a second good option is relying on the nominations committee’s vetting process to guide how your cast votes. Prior to being put on the ballot the candidates are vetted by a community led group (the nominations committee). Based on their rankings the candidates are listed on the ballot in the order of who they believe will be best for the position.

If somebody wanted to run for the Board a few years from now, what would you recommend they do to start building experience for it?

I’d recommend that they volunteer, get involved and participate in the #sqlfamily any way that they can. In order to truly understand the needs of the community you have to have the pulse of the community and a very effective way to do that is through participation.

My Free Practical Performance Troubleshooting Webcast: 24 Hours of PASS

You’re a developer or DBA stuck with a database server that’s not going fast enough. You’ve got a hunch that the biggest bottleneck is inside the database server somewhere, but where?

In my 24 Hours of PASS live webcast, you’ll learn how to use a powerful script to identify what your SQL Server is waiting on, and then you can focus on the queries (or settings) that are holding you back.

You’ll learn:

  • What SQL Server waits on when it’s executing queries
  • How to query DMVs to identify your server’s bottlenecks
  • How to identify the most common wait types and their causes

Register here and join me live Wednesday, July 31st at 8AM Eastern, 7AM Central, and yes, that’s 5AM Pacific. (Quit complaining – you’re the one who chose to live out with the granola-eaters and the earthquakes.)

Put in your personal info and click Proceed, and then you get a list of checkboxes for each session. Check out the ones immediately after mine:

24-Hours-of-PASS

AWWW yeah, that’s some good free training – and that’s only the first four hours! Register now.

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