What’s It Like to Have a Live Class Season Pass?

I don’t usually post product reviews here on the blog, but Vadim Kulikov (aka BlondeDBA in Slack) recently finished all of the Mastering classes, and he took the time to write a really detailed review. Here it is, unedited:

I heard some folks refer to Brent’s training as “Brent Ozar’s Full Experience”. I really like this description, as it accurately describes the training. For some of us who have been in the DBA industry for some time, training is a mandatory part of the job if you want your skills to remain relevant. However, I noticed that most other trainings that I have taken have one common issue, they help to introduce the subject but you don’t retain much due to the lack of hands-on labs and /or long lecturing often reciting from books-online that provides little practical value. In my opinion, Microsoft is not always the best source of information about SQL Server.

One main thing that sets Brent’s training apart from other is the tremendous practical value. The training is very hands-on. The tools that his team developed are the actual tools Brent uses himself in his consulting business. The class introduces the tools and teaches how to properly use them. You learn how to identify bottleneck(s) and how to develop an approach to come up with the most effective solution for the real-world performance tuning scenarios. I purchased the annual pass and went through all the classes. Below is the list of my favorite things about Brent Ozar’s online training:

1. The class provides hands-on material and demonstrates a comprehensive approach to troubleshooting performance problems and identifying root cause. You will learn how to efficiently (with set time limit) improve the situation or resolve discovered bottlenecks completely.

2. In addition to being technically skilled, Brent is a fantastic instructor. Either its speaking with “Clippy” voice or “taking on a personality” of the SQL Server Engine Optimizer, sharing war stories from his consulting gigs and adding constant humor (at times self-deprecating ?) keeps your attention and remarkably doesn’t get old. I have gone through close to a hundred of hours of Brent’s online training (both free and paid) and often run into the same jokes over and over again and still find them hilarious, which adds levity (Brent does get into complex performance tuning scenarios that can be intimidating) and also helps to remember the material. Brent is very creative with his presentation, often uses analogy with car performance or hospital triage situations which I found to be helpful to understand the subject and retain it for a long time.

3. The classes are well structured and tend to build on previously presented material. So, its recommended to take the fundamental classes first to feel more comfortable with more advanced topics. I would also recommend to go through all the specified pre-requisite training to keep up with the class. While lectures have perfect tempo (not too fast not too slow) but the sheer amount of information presented might be overwhelming for the 1st time. I take notes during the lecture and save the Slack chat as Brent addresses other participant ‘s questions in real time.

4. The ability to watch the recorded class before and after (with purchased annual pass) is by far the best option which sets this training apart from every other I have seen. I replaced my “Audible” with “Brent Ozar” subscription, so I can play the courses on my way to work.

5. The Labs are well-thought-out and could be quite challenging. They reinforce the presented material and also demonstrate the effective use of the First Responder Kit tools. You get to use beefed up VMs with large amount of cores and RAM to bring the lab environment very close to the actual production systems you encounter in the field. I love the option to download the different sizes of StackOverflow database to fit your local environment constraints, so you can practice with the labs at your own pace later on your own server.

Every little aspect of this training appears to be carefully considered and planned. Brent started to record with a green screen behind him, so you don’t have to manage multiple screens when viewing the recorded class later. Little detail but makes a big difference and contributes to a pleasant experience.

6. I purchased the annual pass, so could take all the classes I want multiple times. I love that the class starts so early (6am PST), as it give me an opportunity to do at least the first part of my training undisturbed. Most of us have full time DBA jobs and training is often considered a luxury, that you are supposed to arrange on your own time, so “it doesn’t interfere with your DBA responsibilities” ? Re-taking classes helps to capture the parts you missed the 1st time due to the pressures of your job.

7. Another valuable aspect of Brent Ozar training is that you get to ask questions, at times outside the context of the actual class. The feedback you get – provided you can concisely articulate your issue – is very helpful especially if you can’t afford to hire Brent as a consultant.

8. There are many Senior level DBAs who enter the training and contribute to the class by asking interesting questions or share their own experience deploying a particular solution. You can benefit from someone else’s success or failure. It also helps to see how your skills measure up to other DBAs.

9. Brent is constantly improving his content factoring-in students’ feedback. So, you benefit by taking the same class multiple times. I would, however, wish that the classes’ schedule could be a little bit more aligned with the progression of difficulty of a particular class, so you start with basic like “Fundamentals of Index Tuning ”, then progress to “Mastering Index Tuning” for example, and then followed by the most challenging “Mastering Server Tuning”

I highly recommend the training. You will be amazed how much you didn’t know. It’s kind of embarrassing …?

Wow! Thanks, Vadim – I’m honored that you took the time to write this out. Wanna find out what it’s like for yourself? The next rotation of Mastering classes starts next Monday, and I’m running a one-week Black Friday preview sale for folks who want to sneak in. I’m just burying that here in the fine print because nobody reads that other than you, dear reader, so I figure I should reward you with the ability to get a Live Class Season Pass for under a grand if you’re willing to build your own lab server. Enjoy!

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • I took Fundamentals of Index Tuning, and of Query Planning last week and I absolutely agree with Vadim! I occasionally teach on the side and Brent will inspire me to augment my approach.

  • Ditto on the hearing the same jokes not getting old. The grandpa voice is my favorite. But can we possibly retire the “tempdb is like SQL’s public toilet” analogy, though? Not that it is not accurate. It’s just I’d rather not have toilet images in my mind while working on SQL. Maybe “tempdb is like SQL’s storage closet” instead? Like where you stash stuff for a while, such as the tennis racket and golf equipment for the winter, and take it out later?

    • Bad news: I’m going to be bringing out the public toilet joke a lot more now that SQL Server 2019 is doing Accelerated Database Recovery inside the user database inside of TempDB.

      Because Microsoft has recognized it doesn’t like using the public toilet either. 😉

  • […] And that’s it! See you in class, and hope you have as much fun as Vadim had. […]


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