Thursday, February 24, 2011

I've Got A New Job

You've probably noticed I've been quiet on this blog lately, eeking out a post every other week on average. I've been pretty wrapped up in SQLRally planning, getting MagicPASS started, and spending time with my family (note: everyone who warned me ahead of time was right, having a 3rd child is a game changer!). But there's one other really big reason I've been busy…

First,  A Brief Background Story
Rewind the clock to the 2009 PASS Summit where Microsoft was pushing all the new BI features of SQL 2008 R2 pretty hard, or at least hard enough that it caught my attention. When I got back to work the next week I was talking to anybody who would listen about how we need to spend some time building a "real" BI solution. At the time we were running queries against an OLTP data warehouse; sure some queries ran painfully slow but overall things still ran in an acceptable amount of time. Jump ahead to Q4 2010 where the data warehouse had grown bigger and now query timeouts were becoming more visible.

It's been a longstanding goal of mine to learn Analysis Services even though I've never had a specific reason to (which is probably why it's remained just a goal). That changed when I discovered one of our managers was pulling data into Excel to analyze and had to run a query that took hours every day. Jumping on the opportunity I figured out how to build a basic cube in SSAS so that the data was ready when the aforementioned manager arrived at the office every morning. It was small win for me that opened the door to bigger things - a new job.

What I'm Doing Now
Since my story involves BI you're probably thinking I've joined ranks with Pragmatic Works (who has been hiring quite a few people lately). You're wrong. Actually, I haven't gone anywhere. I'm still working where I've been for the last 5 years - Channel Intelligence. But I have a new - and very different - job than what I've been doing.

After the new year we kicked off a new initiative to redesign our data warehouse and reporting solution and I'm part of the team building it. I'm going from being a full time production DBA to a Business Intelligence Developer\DBA.

Having spent the majority of my career working in production environments this is a major change for me but a good one. I'm going to get the opportunity to build on my core skills and really dig into the Microsoft BI stack - from SSIS to SSAS to SSRS and everything in between. There's a lot for me to learn but fortunately I've got a good foundation in hardware and the SQL engine to lean on (oh and all the SQL people on Twitter and that I see at SQLSaturdays doesn't hurt either). So despite the steep learning curve in front of me I'm really excited about what I'm working on.

So now you know why it's been a bit quiet here. :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How Can I Help You Go To SQLRally?

I bet by now you've heard of SQLRally, be it from the blogosphere, Twitter, the PASS Connector bi-weekly emails, word of mouth at SQLSaturday or a user group meeting, or one of the other umpteen places that it's been mentioned. Until now our marketing efforts have been focused around building the brand by getting the word out, figuring that if we keep repeating it people will get the message and sign up to attend.

While chatting with attendees during last week's MagicPASS UG meeting in Orlando Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter) and I had an epiphany: we've done a lot to let everyone know what SQLRally is and that they should go but we haven't done a good job of actually helping them get there.  What we discovered is that most people have heard about SQLRally and want to go but for a variety of reasons they aren't…or at least aren't yet - I'm hoping we can find a way to remove whatever barriers are keeping them from signing up.

So here's my question for you:

What can I do to help you go to SQLRally this May?

I'm looking for your honest feedback here. Tell me what's standing in your way and, if there's something I can reasonably do to help, I will.

Tag, you're it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MagicPASS February 2011 Meeting

Feb 2011 Graphic

Register for MagicPASS February 2011 Meeting in Celebration, FL  on Eventbrite

If you're in the central Florida area you're invited to the February 2011 meeting of MagicPASS, South Orlando's SQL Server User Group. We'll have food & drinks, networking, presentations from Andy Warren and Bradley Ball, and swag to give away.

This month's meeting is sponsored by Red Gate Software and Signature Consultants and will also include a brief demonstration of Red Gate's SQL Monitor.

We're changing the meeting format and times to include a bonus "pre-meeting" presentation for those that want to absorb more SQL Server learning. The pre-meeting begins at 5:00 PM and the main meeting begins at 6:30 PM. Pre-meeting attendance is optional - if you can't make it we'd still love to have you come for the main meeting!

Join us afterwards at the Celebration Town Tavern for more socializing and shop talk. (You are responsible for your own drinks)


Pre-Meeting Presentation

Basics of Performance Tuning - Part 1

Speaker: Andy Warren

Abstract: In part one of our three part class on performance tuning you'll learn how to use Profiler, the tool that ships with SQL Server that is used to monitor SQL statements sent to the server. We'll show you how to start a Profiler session, set up the most common events, columns, and filters, and how to create a template so you can easily use the same settings each time. We'll explain how to assess the cost of a query by looking at reads, writes, cpu time, and duration. We'll finish up by showing you how to set up a server side trace - think of it as Profiler without the UI. Knowing how to use Profiler is critical for a DBA, and incredibly useful for a developer.

About Andy: Andy Warren is a SQL trainer focusing on basic administration and performance tuning, he runs the free training site, is currently a SQL Server MVP, blogs daily at, started the SQLSaturday franchise, serves as a member of the Board of Directors of PASS, and was a founding partner in In his remaining free time he’s working on a book for first time managers

Main Meeting Presentation

Page And Row Compression How, When, and Why

Speaker: Bradley Ball

Abstract: Page and Row Compression are powerful new tools. Vardecimal shipped with SQL 2005 SP2, Page & Row with SQL 2008 RTM, and Page & Row with Unicode Compression with SQL 2008 R2. Get an overview into how each version of compression works internally. Learn how your Allocation Units will determine if your data is a candidate for compression. Understand how your tables Update and Scan patterns affect the compression types you should consider. And what you should you take into consideration for additional overhead.

About Bradley: Bradley Ball is a MCITP SQL 2005 & MCTS 2008 Database Administrator with over 10 years of IT experience. Bradley spent 8 years working as a Defense contractor for clients such as the U.S. Army and The Executive Office Of the President of the United States. He is currently a Sr. SQL Database Administrator for Publix Supermarkets. Bradley can be found blogging on

Presenting "Secrets Of SQL Server" Idera Webcast On Feb. 16

On Wednesday, Feb 16th, 3 PM Eastern I'm presenting a webcast for Idera's Secrets of SQL Server series. Presentation details are below. Register here, and I hope to "see" you online tomorrow!

Improving Performance By Scaling Out With Transactional Replication

As databases grow larger in both size and usage scaling out becomes a natural design evolution to improve performance and availability. This presentation will make the case for using transactional replication as one good way to do this. We'll look at how transactional replication is both a high performance and high availability technology, explain the fundamentals of how transactional replication works, demonstrate different ways that it can deployed, and then walk through how to set up a simple publication and subscription.