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Allen White

  • Open Letter to the Ohio North SQL Server Users Group


    It's been ten days since our SQL Saturday, when I announced that I was stepping down from my position as President of the Ohio North SQL Server Users Group, and feel I should share some of my thoughts with you, the people that've made our group the envy of many in the worldwide SQL Server community.

    Roughly ten years ago I started attending the user group meetings, and taking an active part. Over those ten years the group evolved into an organization independent of any one company, affiliated with the worldwide PASS organization, and one that has a large number of members who are willing, not only to share their knowledge and experience with SQL Server, but who are willing to help spread that knowledge and experience through events like the SQL Saturday we just held.

    My appreciation for the efforts everyone invested is unbounded. You all are very much an active part of the wonderful organization we have.

    Specifically, I have many people to thank. The people who've volunteered as officers of the group when we put formal words behind the group - Brian Davis, Erin Stellato and Tim Cepelnik - thank you for helping in so many ways, from taking responsibility for any number of tasks, to being my sounding boards and friends.

    To the people who've volunteered in so many different ways to make this group function smoothly, including Paul Hiles, Adam Belebczuk, Craig Purnell, Colleen Morrow, Sam Nasr, Paul Popovitch, Jason Willis, Mike Rachocki, Steve Smith, Jeff Mlakar, Cory Stevenson, Dave Gabele, and many others over the years - thank you. We wouldn't be where we are today without you.

    To the people who helped us organize the group legally (even though I didn't finish the task) - Michael Slade and Sarah Dutkiewicz - thank you so much. Your experience and guidance helped us get off on the right foot, and your volunteer efforts with our early events was invaluable!

    To the people at Microsoft who supported us, gave us a space to meet, and provided the connection with Microsoft that helped legitimize the group - John Miller, Bruce Szabo and Lori Olson - thank you. It's been a real pleasure getting to know you, both personally and professionally.

    To everyone who's stepped up to speak to our group, people like Mike Hays, Carlton Ramsey, Jim Arko and so many more, thank you. We are a better group because of your willingness to overcome that fear of speaking in public and share your knowledge with all of us.

    To say that I'm proud of this group is indeed an understatement. Every year PASS makes a big deal about the user group sending the most members to the Summit (which, naturally, groups in the Pacific Northwest tend to dominate), but this past year we had FIVE members present at the Summit. I don't have any way to verify this, but I believe that no other group has had so many individual members present in a single year!

    Now, I'm not going away. I'll be around, and will help in any way I can to keep this group moving forward. It's time, though, for others to grow in the SQL Server community in ways that I've been able to over the last ten years. You grow by challenging yourself to take on responsibilities you don't know you can achieve. The cool thing is that if you set a goal you have a pretty good chance of reaching it, so I'm stepping aside so others can achieve goals they've set.

    And it's your job, individually, to help the group continue to grow, and in ways I can't possibly imagine. Please, step up and volunteer to help. Come to the meeting on March 3 and pick a new set of officers who'll set a new course for the group, to bring SQL Server to more people.

    I'll bring an end to this long-winded ramble, but I'll do so by saying it once again.

    Thank You!

    Allen White
  • Tribal Awards Winner

    Yesterday I received the news that I was the winner of the Tribal Awards in the category of Best Free PowerShell Script. This award means a great deal to me, as it's for something I gave to the community to share both a useful tool and a way to teach people more of the benefits of PowerShell.

    Thank you to Red Gate and Simple Talk for putting the awards together, to promote the efforts of those who make the SQL Server community the best technical community available, and thank you to everyone who voted, who took the time to acknowledge what people are doing to make their lives better in our own unique way.


  • PASS Summit 2014 Day 2 Keynote

    Adam Jorgensen, PASS Executive Vice President of Finance, came out to talk about the financial health of the PASS organization.  PASS gets $5.9M revenue from the annual Summit, and $1.3M from the BA Conference. Other than that it receives $82K from Chapters and Events, and $260K from other sources. The money raised by the community goes back to the community, via the Summit, the BA Conference, SQL Saturdays, Virtual Chapters, etc.

    Tom LaRock came out to thank Sri Sridharan and Olivier Matrat for their service on the PASS board. He then introduced Sanjay Mishra as the Microsoft board rep, and Grant Fritchey as the newly elected board member.

    Denise McInerney came out to talk about all the viewers watching from all over the world. She talked about the personal growth path that brought her from a lonely DBA to where she is today as PASS Executive Vice President of Marketing, and how everyone here at the Summit can do the same thing by just reaching out to others.

    She announced that this year's PASSion award winner is Andrey Korshikov, a SQL Server MVP and PASS Volunteer for the last 3 years. She also recognized those nominated for the award, and the monthly Outstanding Volunteer nominees.

    Denise talked about the Business Analytics conference scheduled for April 20-22, 2015 in Santa Clara, California, and a board discussion about that conference on Friday afternoon at 2:15pm.  She also talked about the Community Zone and how you can become an active part of a local chapter, or even starting one.

    She announced that next year's Summit will be in Seattle, October 27-30, 2015.

    Dr. Rimma Nehme, Principal Research Engineer, Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab
    Cloud Databases 101

    Dr. Nehme talked about her background, why she has an accent (born in Belarus), how she knows about databases, and how she's learning about business administration, and how much respect she has for the PASS community.

    Cloud technology has all kinds of misconceptions, she referred to as "Shiny Object Syndrome".

    Cloud Computing is defined as computing and software resources that are delivered on demand, as a service, that is always on, and accessible from anywhere. (You can blame networking people for the name "cloud", based on the old network diagrams indicating a network cloud for WANs.)

    The characteristics of cloud computing include on-demand self-service, location transparent resource pooling, ubiquitous access and elastic capacity. It offers quick and easy deployment for solutions with almost no need for provisioning. It doesn't require any capital expenditure, so ramp up is quick and easy. With the pay as you go model, it makes the cost benefit analysis simple.

    She talked about the history of computing for the "masses", starting with the mainframe world of the 1960s, the arrival of Salesforce in the 1990s, Amazon Web Services in 2002, and on.  She then showed us insight into the Cloud Data Center. Pictures of the Chicago Data Center looks like an indoor trailer park, but each of those containers contain thousands of servers. The data center is evaluated based on it's efficiency, and improving the Power Usage Effectiveness reduces the effective cost of the computing resources we're using in the cloud. Traditional data centers have a PUE value of 2.0, where the modular systems have a PUE value of 1.15.

    Why Cloud? Elasticity, No Cap Ex, Pay per use, focus on business, and fast time to market.

    Cloud service has three main layers. Infrastructure, platforms and applications.

    She equated cloud services to a model she called 'Pizza as a Service'. Self-managed is like buying all the ingredients and making the pizza and enjoying it at home. Infrastructure-as-a-Service is like buying a pre-packaged set of ingredients, but you make it and eat it at home. Platform-as-a-Service is like ordering a pizza for delivery to your home, and Software-as-a-Service is like going out to the restaurant and enjoying your pizza at their location.

    Dr. Nehme then explained virtualization and how it brings efficiency to the use of servers, using a house example, where the resources available in the house can be scaled up as required. Cloud services use virtualization to maximize use of the servers in the data center. She continued her analogies talking about Service Level Agreements. Azure SQL DB SLAs are 99.99% (four nines), which translates to about 53 minutes of down time per year. Azure SQL Database is designed with high availability in mind. A single database has up to three replicas at any given time.

    The question is asked, "do we still need a DBA in the Cloud era?" and the answer is unequivocally Yes! With the idea of augmenting on-premises infrastructure with cloud resources, with the ability to "stretch" on-prem database historical data into the cloud, a DBA is just as critical to the process now as ever before.

    After a standing ovation for Dr. Rehme's discussion, Dr. David DeWitt came out to acknowledge what a great presentation she gave.
  • PASS Summit 2014 Day 1 Keynote

    Tom LaRock opened up the keynote with his official "Hi Tom!"  Not just the thousands in the room but people logged in from around the world. People representing over 50 countries, over 2000 companies.  This is our community, and those present will help you grow your careers. Since 2008, PASS has provided 1.3 million technical training hours.

    TK "Ranga" Rengarajan - CVP Data Platform

    Ranga started with a bit of background, growing up in India, then studying under Dr. David DeWitt, then joining first Digital Equipment Corporation, then Sybase.

    There's been an explosion of data sources which drives an explosion of data, which drives businesses to learn more. Every year the amount of data generated grows by 40%, and there has to be a way to manage that data. It's an enormous opportunity for us. This data is going drive future productivity. We have an opportunity and a challenge to provide solutions to the problems that this data generates. The new data culture will allow everyone to do more and achieve more in their careers.

    The Microsoft data platform allows you to capture and manage that data. It's a comprehensive data platform that encompases all the ways you can capture and store that data. The platform works in memory and on disk, on premises and in the cloud. It handles operational data and real-time data, structured and unstructured data, scale-up and scale-out solutions.

    We need to capture diverse data with no limits on what you can do, via elastic scale. Maximize the performance and availability, and simplify with cloud solutions.

    Azure DocumentDB is a NoSQL DB service that's schema-free, with ACID to eventual consistency models supported.  Azure HDInsight is a 100% Hadoop service for the flexibility and scalability that that provides. The Analytics Platform System provides the Polybase (combining SQL and Hadoop in a single platform) appliance.

    The SQL Server platforms available are SQL Server 2014 on Windows Server 2012 R2, SQL Server in Azure VMs, and Azure SQL Database solutions, all to provide elastic scale.

    Ranga announced a major update to Azure SQL Database, allowing you to do more with the cloud. Improved TSQL compatibility, larger index handling, parallel queries, extended events and In-memory ColumnStore for data marts are features included in the new update.

    Joseph Sirosh - CVP Machine Learning & Information Management

    Joseph spent about 9 years at Amazon before joining Microsoft and hasn't ever seen anything like the PASS community. The "PASS Community Rocks!"

    With data you want to understand the past, analyze the present, and predict what's next. Azure Data Factory is a platform like SSIS in the cloud to manage the data you have both on-prem and in the cloud. Azure Stream Analytics allows you to manage data in motion, analyzing the data in the present. Azure Machine Learning allows predictive analytics to be available to more organizations.

    Sanjay Soni demonstrated Pier One using Microsoft Kinect to analyze the traffic patterns in the Seattle store. The Kinect sensor allows them to see exactly where customers are spending their time in the store.  Using the Azure Data Factory they can manage the data from the Kinect data to provide quality analytics on that location data.

    James Phillips - GM Data Experiences

    James joined Microsoft two years ago after starting two companies in Silicon Valley.

    Data is just a bucket of potential until you get it to users. We're not only removing the overhead, but continuing to provide oversight capabilities.

    Simplify the data discovery with PowerQuery and PowerPivot. Deliver faster time to insight via Power BI and Q&A, which is a natural language query in Power BI. Connect to on-premises data via Data Refresh to schedule the Power BI data refresh and Interactive Query to view Analysis Services data via Power BI. Finally, enable a data culture using Live Dashboards and Drill Through capabilities, all provided via Power BI.

    Renga came back out and shared that Azure Machine Learning is now available for free, all you need is a login via Microsoft Live ID.
  • Developing New Speakers

    There's a lot of discussion about the process of bringing new speakers to a level that allows them to be ready and able to present at major conferences like the PASS Summit.  Andy Warren (@sqlandy) wrote a blog post about a speaker challenge and Brent Ozar (@BrentO) wrote about Speaker 47.  Erin Stellato (@erinstellato) responded to An Open Letter To SQLSaturday & User Group Organizers by Nic Cain (@SirSQL) with a post about Helping First Time Presenters.

    The most important thing to remember when helping develop and improve the breadth, depth and range of presentations is that we all started someplace.  At every user group meeting of my group, the Ohio North SQL Server Users Group,  I share what others call my "spiel". I share it in every user group meeting of other groups I attend, and in every presentation I give, be it a SQL Saturday, the PASS Summit or any other event I've been invited to speak.  Here's what I say:

    There isn't a person in this room who doesn't have some knowledge that we can all learn from. In other words, every one of you has something that I can learn from, but the only way that can happen is if you get up here and share it with the rest of us. It does two things. One, we get to learn from you. Two, you get to learn more about something you're already passionate about. You have to know more about something to present it, than to just do it every day. By sharing it with us we learn from you and you learn it better.

    Now I don't mean for someone to get up the very first time and expect to be at a level that's ready for a major conference. That takes experience. That takes understanding that someone in the audience isn't really interested in your topic, and it's OK if they get up and leave. That also takes understanding that someone in the audience wants to prove that they know more than you know about your subject. I've seen this happen to both new speakers and to very experienced ones.  Those of us who have been on the speaking circuit for a while have dealt with those people, and I encourage this group to help the newbie by letting the offending audience member know that their comments can wait until after the presentation is over.  (There's no "good" way to handle this kind of heckler, and it's best to get them to shut up or leave.)

    I like Erin's idea about a "buddy" system, to help each other out. It allows us to provide new speakers the kind of feedback they won't get on an evaluation form, and it provides moral support.  I feel extremely proud that five people from our user group in Cleveland will be presenting at this year's PASS Summit, including both Erin and me. I think this stems from my "spiel" and the supportive approach we take during user group meetings where new speakers present.

    Brent has some good points about the PASS Summit requiring the best speakers. The rating system in place doesn't objectively allow for ratings to be used exclusively, though. Speakers often get bad ratings because of things out of the speaker's control, things like the temperature of the room, the random disturbances outside the room, poor audio or video projection systems, etc.  There also doesn't seem to be a way to let attendees know what to expect, and even when it does, attendees often pay little attention to prerequisites or session goals. Everyone has their own agenda, and that's the criteria by which the speaker is rated.  I don't know how to fix this, but it deserves some attention.

    Most importantly, while we need to see the speakers we know will "deliver the goods", we also need fresh faces and new ideas. My "spiel" is my way of encouraging new speakers, and I think we're successful. SQL Saturdays offer a great avenue for new and experienced speakers to learn from each other.  I ask my experienced colleagues to lend a hand and help new people wherever possible, and attend their sessions, even if it's a topic that you already know thoroughly. (I once attended a "Basic T-SQL Backup" session by my friend and SQL Server MVP/MCM Sean McCown and learned things about backup I hadn't known, after using backup for 20 years.) By attending these sessions you provide support to the new speaker, you can intervene in the case of a negative attendee scenario, and you also just might learn something.

    We're all in this together, and we all grow with each other's help.


  • Why Your Abstract Wasn't Selected

    We're anxiously waiting to hear from PASS which sessions were selected for the 2014 Summit in November.  It's a big job to go through the hundreds of submissions and pick the sessions that will appeal to the people who will be paying over $1,000 to attend this annual event.  As I am also waiting to hear the results, I saw this article addressed to actors who didn't get cast for the part they worked so hard to audition for, and it seemed appropriate to address the same issues for would-be Summit speakers.

    So, given that I've been a speaker at many events, and rejected from many events, and have been, as a PASS Chapter leader and SQL Saturday organizer, in a position to select the sessions for an event, I hope I bring a little bit of perspective to the process.  With that in mind, here's a list of reasons that may affect why your submission wasn't selected.  (Note that I am not and never have been on the selection committee for the PASS Summit, so nothing that I say here reflects discussions that have directly impacted the Summit selection proces.)

    1)  Your abstract was interesting, and your title was engaging, but Microsoft submitted a session almost identical to the one you submitted, and as the co-founding member of PASS, and the reason we're all able to attend this great event, they have some pull.  If they want to present the session in question, their session will take precedence over yours. There's nothing wrong with your submission, it just got bumped by another.

    2)  Your abstract was interesting, your title was engaging, and it seems like it'd be a good session, but another session almost identical to yours was submitted by an industry leader, someone who has strong name recognition and has a great reputation for delivering sessions that fill the session rooms and consistently rates high in evaluation scores.  Remember that the goal of the conference is to get as many paying attendees as possible, and having a person who's known to put "butts in the seats" is going to take precedence to your session.  This isn't about you, this is about what's best for the conference.

    3)  Your abstract was interesting, your title was engaging, but there were too many sessions submitted for that particular track, and since they only had so many slots to fill, they had to draw the line somewhere.  It may not seem fair, and it may seem to you that there should be more sessions in that particular track, but the conference organizers had made there determination before session submission how many sessions were to be selected for each track, and there were just too many sessions in that one.

    4)  Your abstract was good, the title was interesting, but you'd had some problems before with meeting what the attendees expected from the presentation.  Remember that they're paying a lot of money, both in conference fees and travel expenses, to be at this event.  The conference organizers have to know that the presentations will be at the top level to justify those expenses, and they chose another session that more closely aligns with that goal.  You can work on those problems at user group meetings and SQL Saturdays to correct those issues and that'll reflect well in future events.

    5)  Your abstract was good, but the title was dull.  This is hard. How do you come up with a title that'll grab people's attention, but without going over the top? The best thing to do is to look at the sessions over previous events and see what wording grabs your attention.  It has to reflect what you're planning to deliver, but a session title like "Improving Query Performance" just isn't going to attract many people to your session.  Remember, the title will attract people to your abstract, and that will bring people to your session.  (Unless you're Conor Cunningham, and then everyone will come to your session because you're Conor Cunningham regardless of the title or abstract.)

    6)  Your title was good, but your abstract was dull.  Dull is hard to define, but it could be uninteresting, or too long, or is written in a way that tells the attendee that this session may not live up to the title's promise.  It's important to be concise, but accurately convey what the attendee should expect to gain by attending your session. It's also important to be enthusiastic about your subject, because if you aren't, why should they be?

    7)  Your title was dull, your abstract was worse.  Sorry, but this happens, too.  Look at the sessions from Summits past and work on developing titles and abstracts that will appeal to the selection committee.  Remember, this conference isn't about you, it's about getting people using SQL Server to come to the biggest SQL Server conference on the planet, and it needs to be the best.  You have good ideas, you just need to work on presenting them in a way that's attractive.

    So, those are my thoughts. I hope that sessions I submitted will be selected this year.  One of the things I love to do is to share what I've learned with others, to help them grow as SQL Server professionals. Hopefully I'll get to do that again this year.

    Best of luck to all of you.


  • Just an Ack Will Do

    In the 1980s one of my principal responsibilities was enabling communications between retail point-of-sale systems and the host computer where we processed those transactions. Communications protocols were many and varied, and I had to figure out their nuances and get the registers to talk to the hosts.  Success was most often achieved when, after sending a message to the remote system, I received back a message called an Ack, an acknowledgement that the message had been received successfully.

    In recent attempts at communication (via email, mostly), I've been finding that the receiving party doesn't feel the overwhelming need to let me know that the communication was received, and this is extremely frustrating to me. I have taken to asking questions that need to be answered, just to ensure that the message is being delivered.  (I really already know the answer, but it gets the respondent to acknowledge the message.)

    Communication is key to success, whether it's a project, a business relationship (or any type of relationship, really), and without two-way communication assumptions can be made that could cause that relationship, or database servers, to break down, and that's generally a bad thing. I try to avoid bad things.

    So really, send an Ack. It's not hard and lets the sender know you're there, and the project is still on track.


  • [Speaking] SQL Saturday #295 - Las Vegas

    On Saturday I'll be presenting one of my favorite sessions, Manage SQLServer Efficiently w/PowerShell Remoting, at the Las Vegas SQL Saturday.  Here's the abstract:

    You have more and more servers to manage and less time to accomplish everything. You're writing scripts to automate those tasks but they still take time to run. PowerShell remoting allows you to manage servers without the overhead of Remote Desktop, and allows you to run processes on all your servers simultaneously. In this session we'll walk through how PowerShell remoting works, how to set it up, and how you can save time getting things done more quickly.

    I've been talking about using PowerShell to manage SQL Server for a long time now, but the ability to manage multiple servers simultaneously just feels right.  I even built a new set of VMs to demonstrate the scripts using SQL Server 2014, which just became available yesterday!

    I look forward to seeing you at SQLSaturday #295!


  • The 2013 PASS Summit - Day 2

    Good morning! It's Day 2 of the PASS Summit 2013 and it should be a busy one.

    Douglas McDowell, EVP Finance of PASS opened up the keynote to welcome people and talked about the financial status of the organization. Last year's Business Analytics Conference left the organization $100,000 ahead, and he went on to show the overall financial health, which is very good at this point.  Bill Graziano came out to thank Doug, Rob Farley and Rushabh Mehta for their service on the board, as they step down from their positions.

    Tom LaRock introduced the new executive board, including Adam Jorgenson as the Executive Vice President, and Denise McInerney as the VP of Marketing, and he introduced the new incoming board members, Jen Stirrup, Tim Ford and Amy Lewis.

    The PASS Business Analytics Conference will be in early May in San Jose, California, and next year's PASS Summit will be in Seattle from November 4-7.  Tom invited everyone to the WIT luncheon here in the Cisco Crown Ballroom, to the Birds of a Feather lunch tomorrow, and to the Community Appreciation Party tonight at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

    Today's keynote speaker is David DeWitt, Technical Fellow at the Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab, to talk about Hekaton, What, Why and How.

    Dr. DeWitt seems to think we'll be board with his talk and he couldn't be further from the truth.  He always explains really complicated things in a way that the rest of us can really understand.

    He calls Hekaton an "OLTP Rocket Ship". It's memory-optimized, but durable, and fully integrated into SQL Server 2014. It's architected for modern CPUs. 

    OLTP performance has benefitted from CPU performance improvements, etc., but the hardware improvements have pretty much maxed out.  Hekaton essentially "means" they're going for 100X performance improvement.  How do we get there?

    Pinning tables in memory still has problems.  Performance still limited by latches and locks, and interpretation of query plans.  Latches must be used to protect data in the buffer pool, but cause contention for other processes attempting to read the same data.

    Hekaton uses lock-free data structures, it uses versions with timestamps and optimistic concurrency control, and it's compiled into a DLL to improve performance dramatically.  SQL Server now has three query engines under the hood: Apollo (the Column Store index processor), the relational query processor, and Hekaton.  Essentially uses versioned views of data using the optimistic model to provide high-speed throughput.  Dr. DeWitt's discussion was detailed and thorough, and it would greatly benefit you to view the recording if you didn't see it live.


  • Speaking - Automate Your ETL Infrastructure with SSIS and PowerShell

    Today at 4:45PM EDT I'm presenting a new session using PowerShell to auto-generate SSIS packages via the BIML language.  The really cool thing is that this session will be live broadcast on PASS TV! You can view the session by clicking on this link.

     If you have questions for me during the session, you can send them to me via Twitter using this hashtag:


     Brian Davis, my good friend from the Ohio North SQL Server Users Group, will be monitoring that hashtag and feeding me the questions that I can answer during the session.

    I look forward to hearing from you on this great topic.


    Update: The session (to me) went really well, and I appreciate everyone who attended. I've uploaded the slides and demo scripts to this post.  AW.


  • The 2013 PASS Summit - Day 1

    It's SQL Server Geek Week once again! Every year at the PASS Summit the SQL Server faithful descend on the city of choice for the annual Summit, and this year it's Charlotte, North Carolina.  Once again I've been given the privilege of sitting at the bloggers table, so my laptop is on a table!

    So far this week it's been great seeing people I get to see just once a year. I attended Red Gate's SQL in the City event on Monday, and saw some great sessions from Grant Fritchey, Steve Jones and Nigel Sammy.  On Tuesday I was invited to attend the Biml Workshop, put on by Varigence, and you'll see a lot of great things happening in the BI space in the near future from them.

    This morning started off with a 3.3 mile run, organized by Jes Borland, and sponsored by SQL Sentry, called #sqlrun, and that was a great way to start off the event.

    Bill Graziano pointed out that over 700,000 technical training hours have been provided by the PASS organization, including chapters, virtual chapters, SQL Saturday, 24 Hours of PASS and SQL Rally events. Without the volunteers who make these events happen, we couldn't reach nearly as many people.  He also introduced Amy Lewis as this year's PASSion award winner, for outstanding volunteer effort.  Amy was one of the people recently elected to the PASS Board of Directors for the coming year.  He also thanked Ryan Adams in a special "honorable mention" for his volunteer work, and thanked all the PASS volunteers for making these events happen.

    The keynote speaker this year is Quentin Clark, Corporate VP at Microsoft for the Data Platform Group.  He starts out by saying that today's talk is about "listening to you".  Instead of everything being about "the cloud", they're now talking hybrid solutions, and that's great, because not everything should be pushed to cloud solutions.  He announced the SQL Server 2014 CTP2 is now public and available for download.  He also confirmed that these are the final "production ready" bits, so it should be feature-complete.  (At last night's get-together I was told that it's "almost" ready, so I'm sure if there's anything glaring that's a problem, it's still fixable, but it better be critical.)

    With the new features in SQL Server 2014, including the Hekaton bits, SQL Server can provide up to 30X OLTP performance gains, up to 100X faster star join queries, and up to 90% disk space savings over previous offerings.  There's no need to rewrite existing apps, and it's incorporated into the core engine, not a special add-in.

    Tracy Daugherty, Program Manager at Microsoft, came on stage to demonstrate some of the new in-memory features of SQL Server 2014. He built a demo that simulated 20,000 users simultaneously performing the same actions he's performing during the demo.  The first steps is game recommendations generated in 6.2 seconds, and the purchase completed in 4.0 seconds.  In converting to use in-memory features, he got a 9x performance boost doing the same exact activity.  The recommendations came up in 0.7 seconds, and the purchase in 0.1 seconds.  The hot list generation baseline took 26 minutes to build, and after conversion to in-memory technology, it took 0.4 minutes.

    Quentin also announced the ability to back up SQL Server for all supported versions os SQL Server (2005-2014) to Windows Azure, so you've got instant off-site backup, without having to spin up your own off-site storage solution. AND they've added the ability to encrypt the backups when creating the backups! (This is really a great new feature, to protect your backups from unauthorized access.)  Tracy demonstrated a feature called smart backup, which automatically figures out whether or not a "significant" amount of change has occurred, and if so, automatically kicks off a backup.  They've provided a free download that allows you to backup databases in SQL 2005, 2008 and 2012 to Azure storage, with encryption.  Yes!

    Data warehousing and "big data" is also being targeted for hybrid solutions, with a focus on using HDInsight, data warehouse virtual machines and PDW spread across on-premises and in the cloud for better performance.  Using the new technology, one company has reduced DW load times from days to hours.

    The Power Suite (Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View and Power Map) provide "real-time" insights for everyone, according to Quentin. He said that "everyone can ask the question", so they're trying to simplify the ability to get answers to those questions.  Kamal Hathi, Program Manager, came out to demonstrate the Power BI features. The simplicity of the way he pulled data from the source with simple questions reminds me of what they tried to do with "English Query" in SQL Server 2000 days, but it looks effective.

    If you go to, you can participate in a Power BI contest, to show how you are pushing boundaries with Power BI. Top ten winners get the new XBox One.

  • Fall 2013 IT/Dev Connections Sessions

    This week I had the honor of presenting two sessions at the IT/Dev Connections conference in Las Vegas.  My two sessions were Manage SQL Server 2012 on Windows Server Core with PowerShell and Manage SQL Server Efficiently with PowerShell Remoting.  I think both sessions went well, and the attendees indicated that they will be able to use what I presented as soon as they get back to the office, and to me that's the best praise I could get.  I meant to post the session materials the next day, but I was busy taking advantage of the conference to attend other great sessions myself.

    So here's the slide deck and demo scripts from both sessions, and thank you for attending my sessions!


  • PASS Elections and Great Candidates

    The candidates for the PASS Board of Directors are a great group of people, and I consider each one of them friends. Each one of them, if elected, will do a great job bringing their talent and experience to the task of leading this organization that has helped all of us become better at everything surrounding SQL Server.  There are two candidates, specifically, that I believe are best suited to the demands (and there are incredible demands) and responsibilities of the board of directors.

    Allen Kinsel has proven that he understands the requirements and commitments of the PASS director.  He opened up the process of how the selection process worked as Program chair and as head of the Chapter program has helped countless user group chapters come into being and thrive.  I think this success warrants a return to the board.

    As founder of SQL Cruise Tim Ford has built an organization that provides both great SQL Server training and fun times with family, both personal family and #SQLFamily.  During these trips attendees spend time learning SQL Server, getting to know each other and the instructors, and building the relationships that make what we do so rewarding.  He's also taken the helm of the SQL track at SQLConnections. His volunteer experience with PASS goes back over 10 years and so brings a track record of service along with his leadership and dedication.

    As I mentioned before, the other candidates are friends as well, and each one of them will do well for PASS, but I felt it important to single out both Allen and Tim, and I hope you'll carefully consider your choices and cast your vote when the polls open.


  • Are We Losing a Standard (Edition) Data Recovery Technology?

    One of the coolest technologies Microsoft released with SQL Server 2005 was Database Mirroring, which provided the ability to have a failover copy of a database on another SQL Server instance, and have the ability to automatically failover to that copy should a problem occur with the primary database. What was even cooler was that this new technology was available on Standard Edition! Mom and Pop shops could afford to implement a high availability solution without paying an extra tens of thousands of dollars in license fees, and still have a service they could rely upon. This new technology was continued with SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2, with the same edition rules, and now lots of companies embrace it fully.

    When we first started discussing Availability Groups, the new "Always On" technology that was introduced with SQL Server 2012 with Microsoft, the development team told us that it would "leverage" the clustering services technology built into the Windows Operating System. I was extremely upset with this decision because at that time, clustering services was only supported in the Enterprise Edition of Windows Server. (I was vocal enough about it that Michael Coles (blog) started calling me "Mr. Standard Edition".)

    The good news about Windows Clustering Services is that it's now supported in Standard Edition on Windows Server 2012.

    The bad news about Availability Groups is that it's only supported in Enterprise Edition of SQL Server 2012. Oh, and by the way, Database Mirroring is now deprecated.

    Now, deprecated doesn't mean it's gone, just that it's scheduled to be removed from the product in a future release. (Isn't that comforting?)

    Personally, I think that in the interest in competing with Oracle and DB2, Microsoft is abandoning the client base that got them to the point where they CAN compete with Oracle and DB2, and that isn't good, for the client base or for Microsoft. Customers have come to rely on Microsoft to put out a great product at a reasonable price. This focus on Enterprise Only for all mission-critical features puts SQL Server out of reach for startup businesses. (Yes, I know there's now Windows Azure SQL Database, but if you're in a place where your internet connectivity isn't always reliable you have no reasonably priced solution.)

    My request to Microsoft is to please continue to support Database Mirroring, and remove the "deprecated" label from that technology. It works, it's reasonably easy to implement, and it provides some level of comfort that ensures that businesses can continue to operate if a server fails for any reason.


  • Tech Ed Demos for "Manage SQL Server System and Performance Data with PowerShell"

    This morning I presented my session Manage SQL Server System and Performance Data with PowerShell at Tech Ed NA in New Orleans. We had a good sized audience who were very responsive and had many great questions. I had a great time presenting and the feedback I've gotten so far tells me the audience enjoyed it as well.

    I really appreciate everyone's coming out for the session and look forward to doing it again at Tech Ed Europe in Madrid later this month.  I've attached the slide deck and demos for everyone to try out.


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