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Allen White

SQLCruise Alaska was Amazing

You'd think that providing in-depth SQL Server training on a cruise ship would be an excuse for a vacation disguised as a business trip, but you'd be wrong. This past week I traveled with the founders of SQLCruise, Tim Ford and Brent Ozar, along with other top professionals in the SQL Server world - Jeremiah Peschka, Kendra Little, Kevin Kline and Robert Davis - and me.

The week began with Brent presenting a session on Plan Cache Analysis, which I plan to start using very soon. After Brent, Kevin presented a four-hour leadership training session. He's recorded a set of training videos which will really help IT professionals make the transition to management.

After spending the day snorkeling in Ketchikan, Alaska with Snorkel Alaska, I presented a short session on SQL Sentry's Plan Explorer and announced Wayne Sheffield as the winner of the Power Suite from SQL Sentry for having the "hairiest execution plan". SQL Sentry paid for my cruise and travel as their representative, and I'm really grateful to them for the opportunity. They have a great suite of products, and they're great people, and that makes me proud to recommend them, as well as to represent them. Following the contest, Jeremiah did an interesting session called "Killer Techniques for Database Performance" where he went into really great detail about the real cost of accessing data in applications.

Tuesday was mostly a sightseeing day, as we spent the day in Juneau, where I did a tour called "Glacier View Bike and Brew", put together by Cycle Alaska. A van picked us up and took us north to the University of Alaska Southeast on Auke Lake, and we rode nine miles on a bike to Mendenhall Lake where we got great views of Mendenhall Glacier, then on to the glacier visitor center. Then they drove us into Juneau to a pub where we had a beer tasting of the different blends from the Alaskan Brewing Company. We reboarded the ship and cruised out to Sawyer Glacier to see that spectacular site, and on the way participated in a storytelling session in Brent's suite. Some great stories were told, and Darcy Williams won an Amazon Kindle Fire for the best IT story told.

Wednesday was spent in Skagway, where Tim arranged a van tour up through the White Pass which the gold rush prospectors had to traverse to get to the fields near Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. We followed that up with lunch and beverages at the Skagway Brewing Company, or "BrewCo", as they call it locally.

After taking advantage of sightseeing primarily for three days, we got back into the serious training on Thursday, where I did a shortened version of my PowerShell pre-con. It's hard to get a real comprehensive "PowerShell for SQL Server" session in four hours, but I think I covered it well enough to get people familiar enough to get real work done, and showed some advanced features to show them what they can do once they get up to speed. After my session, Kendra did a session called "Sports Medicine For High Transaction Databases" where she talked about benchmarking and methods to help your high volume transactional systems to perform under heavy load. The day ended with Robert doing a session on "Recovering Data and Databases" where he talked about how data is stored, how it's backed up, and how to recover from corruption.

The last day of the cruise started with Brent, this time talking about Scaling SQL with Solid State, where I learned that even putting solid state drives in place may not solve I/O subsystem performance problems, and how to plan for the best performance using them. We followed that up with the Idera Iditarod Challenge, where the cruisers had to answer SQL questions and perform additional challenges, and winners Malathi Mahadevan and Max Gomeniouk each won an Amazon Kindle Fire from Idera. We ended the day visiting Victoria, BC.

The best part of the cruise, aside from the great training, was getting to know the cruisers and spending real time with them. It's often hard when working as a database professional because we seldom work in a team, and it can be difficult to know what questions to ask when presented with a problem. This training is unique because we spend time together, not just in class, but visiting the sights, and talking about SQL. After a week together we all have new people we can go to with questions and ideas, to see if they're valid or to get problems solved. I'm truly impressed with the work that Tim does in making the cruise a success for everyone, and I hope you'll consider signing up for one of next year's cruises. Check it out at


Published Sunday, June 3, 2012 2:08 PM by AllenMWhite
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August 3, 2012 4:52 AM
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About AllenMWhite

Allen White is a consultant and mentor for Upsearch Technology Services in Northeast Ohio. He has worked as a Database Administrator, Architect and Developer for over 30 years, supporting both the Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server platforms over that period.

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