SQLbits 9 is over! I visited the conference (Oops, I did it) again, and again it was a great experience for me and worth the time and money.
My SQLBits “adventure” already began on Wednesday. After a little stressful journey from Dusseldorf to Amsterdam Schiphol and then to Liverpool I was finally there, at the Adelphi Hotel. And what happened first? Nick Harshbarger from SQLSentry recognized me again and said “welcome, nice to see you”. It´s always good if you already know someone.
Once I dumped my luggage in my room it was time to get in contact with a few people. And this time it wasn’t that difficult for me since it felt quite familiar. Instead of wasting my time at a hotel bar I could even help a little bit by stuffing the “swag bags”or putting the SQLBit agendas into the plastic pockets. That was also the time when I met Mark Broadbent (twitter | blog) in person and I finally redeemed my beer token . I also had the chance to get to know Christina E. Leo (twitter|blog) since she also lend a helping hand on Wednesday evening.
All in all this was already a great evening and the conference did not even started yet…
Thursday – Training Day
I decided to go for “Upgrading your DBA Skills to SQL Server”. This session was hosted by Christian Bolton (twitter|blog) one of very few Microsoft certified Architects. And Christian really did a great job when talking about the following topics:
- Introducing SQL Server Denali
- Upgrade Planning tools
- Utilizing Windows Server Core
- Security Enhancements
- Using Column Store Technology to revolutionize query performance
- ALWAYS ON Failover Clustering and other HA improvements
- ALWAYS ON Availability Groups – Deep Dive
- Advanced Troubleshooting with Extended Events
To write in detail about every module would just blast this blog entry. So here are only a few facts or interesting information taken from this session:
- Updates can be included during setup, in offline environments you can provide the setup routine a location where you have placed SQL Server relevant update packages
- Distributed Replay function (for upgrade scenarios, index tuning etc. pp.), you can now run workload from different clients
- Windows Server Core support (keep in mind that not every component is supported, for example SSRS)
- user defined server roles (I already have so many ideas…)
- column store technology (Project Apollo) which is NOT ONLY for DWH environments, but optimized for scans
- AlwaysON Clustering and the usage of Availability Groups: yeehaaw, great stuff. Now you can have real read-only mirrors of a database (readably secondary!)
- Recovery Advisor: point the advisor to a backup folder and you’ll get a timeline of what you can restore (nice to have for those who aren´t that familiar with restore processes)
On Friday and Saturday I´ve visited different sessions. Here´s a short overview:
as a “light” starter I attended
- Simon Sabin’s (twitter|blog) session – “Performance tuning from the field”. Simon showed us common “bad” T-SQL practices and how to resolve them. And he really hates scalar functions.
- “READPAST & Furious: Transactions, Locking and Isolation” by Mark Broadbent. A really cool session about, well, Transactions, Locking and Isolation. I really have to try all the examples by myself. Mark also introduced his version of the lock compatibility matrix (thanks for sharing). I really like Marks approach of talking about topics he stumbled across in the past and then asked himself: What the hell happened here?
After lunch, it was time to visit one of the sponsor sessions. So I went for
- “Gruesome, Grotesque and Gory – Horrors Stories from the World” of IT presented by Quest and hosted by MVP Kevin E. Kline (twitter|blog). Like last SQLbits, it was great fun and Kevin really was an awesome host.
- “Advanced SQL Server 2008 Troubleshooting” with Klaus Aschenbrenner (twitter|blog). I used this session as a little refresh, since I visited Klaus’ full training day at SQLBits 8. But guess what? I still could learn something new. For example I wasn´t aware of the fact that a thread only exists for 4 ms on CPU and the other time is wait time (key word:Query lifecycle and total response time). Did you know that you can query the RingBuffer Connectivity to determine the authentication time for AD accounts? Valuable from the beginning to the end. But next time Klaus needs a 90 min slot
Last session for me on Friday was
- “RoboDBA – How do you manage a large environment” by André Kamman (twitter|blog). This session also was a lot of fun (maybe again the most entertaining session). André is one of the most relaxed presenters I´ve seen so far. And I like his approach “It works for me”. I hope André doesn´t get angry if I share one of his pro tips: “First get yourself a coffee, then go to your desk”
Ok, I´m guilty. I did not attempt the first session this morning, because I was too tired (hey, there was a casino night before…)
So I started with
- “Working with Server Side Traces” presented by Christina E. Leo (twitter|blog). Christina was a little bit nervous in the beginning but for no reason. Well, there was a reason: It was the 2nd time ever that Christina was doing such a presentation. I could not believe it, since she did very well. And I got some ideas to improve my own trace scripts.
- “SQL Server Upgrade: take help from tools and best practices” hosted by Satya Jayanty. In my opinion the slides were a little bit overloaded, so you had too much to read while listening to Satya. But still there was much valuable information. I may have to watch the recordings.
Then it was time for
- “Finding the limits” by SQLCAT member Thomas Kejser (blog). What an outstanding session! Thomas showed us in a good mix of entertainment and professionalism that today IO isn´t a bottleneck anymore if you use the proper techniques.
During lunchtime it was time again for a Quest Software Trivia Quiz. A lot of interesting questions were you still could learn something.
Then the last to Sqlbits 9 sessions:
- “Through the virtual looking glass – monitoring virtualized SQL”. Gavin Payne (twitter|blog from Coeo really was a good host and there was everything in the session you need to know when you want to monitor virtualized sql servers. Gavin already wrote a blog post, a sum up of his own session. You can find the demo scripts and the slides there was well.
- LogParser-quicker than SSIS, easier than BCP” by Jonathan Allen (twitter|blog) was the last session for this day. I never really used LogParser before although I have it on my client PC in the office. But since Jonathan showed a lot of tips and tricks I now want to give it a try. Jonathan also has a whole blog post series about LogParser.
So, these where the sessions I´ve attended this year….. or “Oops, I did it again”.
But what about the “Come together” in my blog headline?
Well, this year I got to know a lot of people at SQLBits. Not only during the short breaks in or between the sessions, but also at night at the awesome post event parties. And I think that´s also an important part why you should go to SQLBits. You can attend a lot of really good sessions about SQL Server, BUT you can also get in direct contact with a lot of people who share the same interest and you can exchange a lot of knowledge. And you can have a lot of fun as well
Side note: those parties were really great. Chris Testa-O’Neill´s gig with his band Tripod was a night to remember and a lot of fun. But also the Casino night was a great idea. Ok, I lost all my tokens within 10 minutes but it´s the taking part that counts!
To get a few impressions, you can find some pics I´ve taken here.
So, now it´s time to thank the SQLBits committee for another awesome event. There´s a lot of blood, sweat and tears but you made it an outstanding event.
A special thank you to Mrs. & Mr. Fatherjack for the company on Saturday evening at the tapas bar. It was really a pleasure meeting you.
Also: thx to “the gang” who hang out with me after the tapas bar at “The Ship and Mitre”.
Last but not least: Mark, Thomas, Alicia, Christina & Ron, André, Klaus, Ola and so many other awesome people (look at all the pictures ). It was so much fun hanging out with you. We will meet again at SQLBits X. <- (unwanted pun but I like it )