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Building a Reliable SQL Server for kCura Relativity [Video]

Your users want Relativity to be up at all times. What’s the first step? How much work is involved? What will it all cost? I’ll give you a simple worksheet to get management and the IT team on the same page, and then show you how to turn those specs into a rough project plan and budget.

You’ll learn how to choose between different high-availability methods, and understand why clustering is such a no-brainer choice in this 22-minute video.

Got questions? Join us for our Tuesday Q&A webcast where I’ll answer your Relativity questions.

Announcing sp_Blitz v36: New Database Checks, Hekaton, Azure Files, More

The latest version of our free SQL Server health check adds some nifty new stuff:

  • Checks for non-default database configurations like enabling forced parameterization or delayed durability
  • Looks in the default trace for long file growths or serious errors like memory dumps
  • Checks Hekaton memory use and transaction errors
  • Warns about database files on network shares or Azure storage
  • Added the server name in the output if you enable @CheckServerInfo = 1
  • Discontinued the Windows app version (was prohibitively expensive to get it into the Windows app store)
  • And miscellaneous bug fixes and improvements

Get the latest version in our free download pack, and if you’ve got questions, hit up support.brentozar.com. Enjoy!

I’m on the latest RunAs Radio Podcast

I love going on the RunAs Radio podcast because Richard Campbell is so much fun to talk to. In this show, we talk about the amazing new hardware that has come out lately for SQL Server. Dell and HP have brought out some amazing gear – support for 1.8″ SSDs, 64GB DIMMs, and more. The 2-socket server market is such an amazing space today.

Head over to listen now.

How SQL Server Licensing Works [Video]

You have a sneaking suspicion that your servers aren’t all paid for, and you need to get a rough idea of how SQL Server licensing works. You’ve never bought a box of SQL Server before, and you have no idea where to get started.

Microsoft Certified Master Brent Ozar will break it down into a few simple, easy-to-understand slides and show you the most popular licensing options. He’ll also explain 3 classic licensing mistakes and help you avoid ‘em in this 20-minute video.

To ask licensing questions after watching the video, join our weekly webcast for live Q&A. Not only do we answer your questions, we also give away a prize at 12:25 PM EST – don’t miss it!

Have questions? Feel free to leave a comment so we can discuss it on Tuesday!

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 #SQLPASS Schedule (And a Downloadable Calendar)

Want to see our sessions in Seattle? Add all of our calendar events to our schedule:

Or if you’d rather add individual events:

Kendra Little – World’s Worst Performance Tuning Techniques
Wednesday 1:30PM – 2:45PM, Room 6A

Brent Ozar – CXPACKET and MAXDOP Lightning Talk
Wednesday 3PM-4:15PM, Room 606

Kendra Little – Why Does SQL Server Keep Asking for this Index?
Thursday 3PM-4:15PM, Room 6C

Brent Ozar – Developers: Who Needs a DBA?
Thursday 5PM-6:15PM, Room 6C

Doug Lane – From Minutes to Milliseconds: High-Performance SSRS Tuning
Friday 8AM-9:15AM, Room 6A

Jeremiah Peschka – Dynamic SQL: Build Fast, Flexible Queries
Friday 8AM-9:15AM, Room 6B

Jes Schultz Borland – Are Your Indexes Hurting or Helping You?
Friday 10:15AM-11:30AM, Room 618-620

Great new Microsoft KB article: Recommended SQL Server Updates and Trace Flags

Got a high performance SQL Server 2012 instance? Check out the brand new KB article for recommended updates and configuration options for SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 used with high-performance workloads.

Make sure you expand the following plus sign – this is where all the good stuff is stored:

Expand this.

Expand this.

After expanding it, you’ll get a huge list of categorized advice for trace flags, cumulative updates, MAXDOP settings, and much more:

Detailed performance advice

Detailed performance advice

I haven’t read through the details on this yet, but I’d note that this advice is focused on high performance workloads. Don’t go enabling trace flags without understanding what they do and their side effects.

I continue to be impressed by the documentation Microsoft is putting out. Books Online keeps getting better and better, and this is the coolest KB article I’ve seen in a long time. Way to go, Microsoft!

Developers: You Don’t Need a DBA. I’ll Prove It.

That’s right, you heard me, and I’ll prove it on a really big stage. I’m honored to announce that I’ll be the first speaker at this year’s 24 Hours of PASS: Summit Preview Edition.

On Tuesday, September 9th, join me for my newest session: “Developers: Who Needs a DBA?” Here’s the abstract:

You store data in SQL Server, but you don’t have enough work to keep a full-time DBA busy.

In just one hour, you’ll learn the basics of performance troubleshooting and index tuning. I’m a recovering developer, and I’ll teach you the basic care and feeding of a Microsoft SQL Server 2005, 2008, 2012, or 2014 instance, plus give you scripts to keep you out of trouble.

Register now for free. While you’re there, check the boxes for some of the other 24 back-to-back SQL Server training sessions from community volunteers who’d love to share their knowledge with you. See you there!

Register for our Upcoming Free Webcasts and Contests

We have a lot of fun in the pre-shows for our Tech Tuesday Triage webcasts. Technically we start at 11:30AM Central, but we usually go live at around 11AM Central. We talk about tech topics, what we’re up to, and we take questions from the audience.

We’re trying a new experiment just for fun – giving things away. (We like experiments like that.) In the pre-show, we’re going to draw names from the attendee list, and one of the early attendees will get something cool each week. It might be one of our online training videos, a book, our favorite things like T-shirts or computer peripherals, or free entry into one of our training classes. It’ll be different each week, and it’ll be a surprise during the pre-show.

To be eligible, show up at least 15 minutes before a Tech Tuesday Triage webcast starts, and be good at reading the instructions on the screen. Good luck!

Jes Schultz Borland

Aug 5 – the Mysteries of Missing Indexes

Triage Tuesday 30 minute Webcast starting at 11:30 AM Central
SQL Server is trying to help you – when you run a query, you see a missing index request. Before you run that CREATE INDEX script in production, consider a few things. How helpful will the index be? Is it similar to an existing index? Why is it recommending three indexes that are very similar? Jes will solve some common missing index mysteries in this 30-minute webcast. Register now.


Brent Ozar

Aug 12 – Conquer CXPACKET and Master MAXDOP

Triage Tuesday 30 minute Webcast starting at 11:30 AM Central
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. Register now.


Brent Ozar

Aug 12 – The Right Perfmon Counters for SQL Server

Sponsored by Dell Software – starting at 12:30 PM Central
You need to monitor uptime and performance, but what counters should you focus on? Microsoft Certified Master Brent Ozar will share his favorite counters, explain what they mean, and give you thresholds to watch out for. Register now.


Kendra Little

Aug 19 – What Not to Architect: Application Patterns that Don’t Fit SQL Server

Triage Tuesday 30 minute Webcast starting at 11:30 AM Central
SQL Server’s great for a lot of uses, but not every application design pattern shows off SQL Server’s best side. Join Kendra in this free 30 minute webcast to learn about the top mistakes developers make in architecting solutions with SQL Server. Register now.


Brent Ozar

Aug 19 – Troubleshooting Shared Storage for DBAs

Sponsored by Idera – starting at 12:30 PM Central
Your SQL Server’s data lives on the SAN, and you’re not happy about that. All the Perfmon metrics you gather seem to point to a storage problem, but the SAN admin says the storage is sitting around bored, so it must be a SQL Server problem. Brent Ozar feels your pain – years ago, he was a DBA in the same position, so when his SAN admin quit, Brent took the job. In just 90 minutes, he’ll teach you what’s inside the SAN, why multipathing is so important, how to test storage throughput, and why TempDB should be on local SSDs. Register now.


Brent Ozar

Aug 26 – How to Get Your Query’s Execution Plan

Triage Tuesday 30 minute Webcast starting at 11:30 AM Central
You’ve got a query that’s running too slow, and you need to figure out why. The first step is admitting that you’ve got a problem, but the second step is getting the execution plan. Brent Ozar will show you how to get an estimated execution plan, why you probably shouldn’t, and several different ways to get the actual execution plan. He’ll finish with his favorite resources for learning how to read and improve execution plans. Register now.


Jeremiah Peschka

Sept 2 – Oracle Backup Basics

Triage Tuesday 30 minute Webcast starting at 11:30 AM Central
Database backups are a critical part of being a database administrator. And, let’s face it, many SQL Server DBAs are also responsible for Oracle systems. In this presentation, Jeremiah Peschka covers the basics of Oracle database backups in a way that will make sense of Oracle backups for SQL Server DBAs. Register now.


Kendra Little

Sept 16 – Top 5 Tips for Your First Presentation

Triage Tuesday 30 minute Webcast starting at 11:30 AM Central
Curious how you can give a compelling technical presentation? Join Kendra to learn five important tips on how to select the right topic for your talk, write an effective abstract, construct a coherent presentation, and make it to the podium to give your first presentation. Register now.


Brent Ozar

Sept 17 – What Queries are Killing My Server?

Sponsored by Idera – starting at 12:30 PM Central
You’ve got an in-house application that just isn’t fast enough, but why? You’ve tried running Profiler to trace queries, but it takes too much overhead, and you don’t end up with a really good understanding of what’s going on. In just one hour, you’ll learn three easy ways to catch the killer queries lurking in the shadows. Even better, they’re all completely free. Register now.


Doug Lane

Sept 23 – Introducing sp_BlitzRS

Triage Tuesday 30 minute Webcast starting at 11:30 AM Central
It’s hard to keep up with what your Report Server is doing, especially if your only tool is Report Manager. Now there’s an easier way, using the newest member of the sp_Blitz family: sp_BlitzRS! In this 30-minute webcast, you’ll learn how sp_BlitzRS can help you stay informed of how well your SSRS installation is running, who gets what subscriptions, which reports would benefit from preprocessing, and more! Register now.

Career Planning for DBAs: Your Next Two Years

You’ve been doing this database thing for a while, and you’re ready to get serious about it. What’s the next step?

Step 1: Define your specialty in one sentence.

If you say you do everything, you compete with everyone.

You want to be the only one they want. That means you’re:

  • Actively sought-after
  • Uniquely qualified
  • A very high value for short bursts of time
  • Respected for your opinion
  • Worth more than your competitors (more on that later)

This sounds selfish, but remember – it’s not about you. It’s about your customers (whether they’re internal or external) and your ability to help them.

To pick your specialization, watch my webcast archive How to Get Senior In Your Title. I talk about the different types of DBAs and what they specialize in. Here’s one of the important slides from that session:

Common types of DBAs

Common types of DBAs

Most of you out in the crowd are going to say, “But I do all of these.” Sure you do – today. But we’re talking about where you want to be two years from now if you’re going to really stand out. Not only am I encouraging you to pick one of the columns, but I’m even encouraging you to focus on a specific horizontal row.

Examples of specialties include:

  • “This server has to be reliable. We need AlwaysOn Availability Groups. I know just who to call.”
  • “We need to manage thousands of servers with easier automation. I know the right person for the job.”
  • “Our SQL Servers in VMware are just too slow, and nobody knows whose fault it is. I know who can tell.”
  • “We need to offload our full text search, but we have no idea what to use. I know somebody who does.”

Notice that I’m phrasing these in a one-sentence pain point. You need to be known for resolving someone’s pain. This is the funny thing about business and consulting – you get paid the most to relieve urgent pain, not to provide keeping-the-lights-on maintenance.

The first step in your two-year plan is to write the one-sentence pain you want to resolve.

Step 2: Assess your current skills and your target skills.

Thinking about your one-sentence pain point:

  1. How many times have you relieved that pain?
  2. How many times have you failed to relieve it?
  3. When you hit an impasse, who did you escalate it to?
  4. Have you sketched out a process for diagnosing it? Has anyone?
  5. Have you documented the process for others to follow?

The more answers you have, and the more confident you are giving those answers aloud to someone else, the better your skills are. What, you expected a true/false multiple choice assessment test? Technology moves so fast that often the questions aren’t even right, let alone the answers.

Here’s a longer version of that assessment that I use for my own skills testing:

  1. I don’t know where the pain is coming from.
  2. I can identify the pain in clear terms.
  3. I know several possible root causes of the pain.
  4. I can identify exactly which one is at fault here.
  5. I know several ways to relieve that pain.
  6. I can identify exactly which one is right here.
  7. I’ve documented my triage process.
  8. I’ve hit situations where my process has been wrong, and I’ve learned from it.

From those levels, what level do you think you get paid for?

Surprise – it’s #1. You know plenty of people who are getting paid right now even though they have absolutely no idea where the pain is coming from. However, the higher your level, the easier it is to get paid more. (Don’t think that just because you’re on level 7, you’re making a bazillion dollars – there’s plenty of folks who aren’t great at negotiating their value, either.)

Figure out what level you’re at today, and get a rough idea of what level you want to be at in two years. Now let’s figure out how to get there.

Step 3: Build a 2-year learning plan to make that leap.

Divide the number of levels you want to jump by the amount of time you have. If you want to go up four levels, and you’ve got two years to do it, then you need to progress a level every 6 months.

This sounds really easy, but there’s a problem: you’re probably not repeatedly solving this pain point at your day job. You probably solve it every now and then, but not over and over in a way that helps you refine your technique.

That’s why a 2-year learning plan is really a 2-year sharing plan.

Nothing teaches you something like being forced to teach it to someone else. Heck, even building this blog post (and a presentation on it a few weeks ago) made me flesh out my own philosophies!

But to share, you have to get permission. Start by having this discussion with your manager:

Dear Manager – Recently, we ran into the problem of ____. To get relief, I did ____. Are you happy with that relief? If so, I’d like to talk about what I learned at my local SQL Server user group. I won’t mention our company name. Is that OK? Sincerely, Me

By having that discussion, you’re also making sure the manager is really satisfied with your pain relief efforts and that they saw value in your work. (After all, think of them as one of your first pain relief clients.)

Once you’ve got permission, here’s how you build the 2-year sharing plan: every level jump equals one user group presentation.

  1. Write the user group presentation agenda in 4-5 bullet points.
  2. Write a blog post about each bullet point. (The words in your blog post are what you’ll say out loud in your session – think about it as writing your script.)
  3. Build slides that help tell the story, but the slides are not the story. Don’t transcribe your blog posts word-for-word on the slide.

For example, if you need to hit the level “I know several ways to relieve that pain,” and your specialization is improving the performance of virtual SQL Servers, your user group session could be titled “5 Ways to Make Your Virtual SQL Server Faster.” You’d then write a blog post about each of the 5 ways. Presto, there’s your session resources.

At the end of your 2-year sharing plan, you’ve built up a solid repertoire of material, plus built up your own level of expertise. (You’ve also built up a little bit of a reputation – but more on that later.)

Step 4: Decide what lifestyle works best for you.

How much risk can you tolerate?

  • Some. I could miss a couple of paychecks a year and manage my own benefits if I earned more.
  • Lots. I’d be willing to go without income for a month or two per year if I could earn lots more.
  • None. A very predictable salary and benefits are absolute requirements for me.

This determines whether you should be a full time employee, a long-term contractor that switches positions periodically, or a short-term consultant. In a nutshell, the differences are:

Consultants tell you what to do. They listen to your business problems, come up with solutions, and guide your staff on how to do it. They are typically short-term stints – a couple of days per month at a client, multiple clients at a time.

Contractors do what they’re told. They get a list of required solutions from the business and implement those solutions. They typically work together for long stints, showing up at the same client every day for months at a time, with only one live client relationship.

Full time employees do a mix of this. They come up with ideas, plus implement some of those ideas.

There’s no one answer that’s better for everyone. Heck, I’ve even changed my answer a few times over the last several years! It comes down to finding the right risk/reward balance for your own lifestyle needs, and then bringing the right customers in the door.

Step 5: Decide how you’ll market yourself.

Consultants sell advice, not manual labor, so they have many clients – which means doing a lot of sales.

Contractors sell labor, so they have fewer clients – which means less sales efforts.

Full time employees (FTEs) only have one sales push every few years when they change jobs.

Our company is a good example of the work required to do marketing and sales when you want to scale beyond one or two people:

  • We have tens of thousands of regular blog readers
  • Thousands of them attend the weekly webcasts
  • Hundreds of them email us per month asking for help
  • A few dozen turn into serious sales opportunities
  • Around a dozen will book consulting engagements with us

This funnel approach demonstrates inbound marketing – using lots of free material to get the word out about your services and invite them to contact you for personal help. It’s a lot of hard work – very hard work.

The other approach is outbound marketing – cold calls to strangers asking if they’ve got your specialized pain point, and then trying to convince them that you’re the right person to bring pain relief. (You can kinda guess how I feel about outbound marketing.) Sure, it sounds slimy – but the takeaway is that it’s hard work, and every bit as hard as doing inbound marketing.

But only one of those options polishes your skills.

Inbound marketing is a rare two-for-one in life – it’s both your 2-year sharing plan, and your 2-year marketing plan. You don’t have much spare time, so you need every bit of it to count. Choose inbound marketing, do your learning and sharing in public, and you’ll write your own ticket.

Presto – You’re two years away from success.

No matter what pain you want to solve, how you want to solve it, or how you want to get paid for it, this simple plan will have you on the road to success. Now get started on writing down that one-sentence pain point!

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