Last week I was in Great Britain for SQL Bits 7. This was the first conference outside of the United States that I have attended, and I was honored to attend SQL Bits 7 as a speaker during Friday’s Sessions. The city of York is absolutely beautiful, and full of history. While I didn’t really have the time to go sight seeing while I was there this time, I did get the opportunity to take a short walk on Thursday after I arrived (mainly I was just trying to stay awake and make it to 7pm after flying overnight and not getting any sleep). Jet lag was a constant problem for me, I really hate flying East from anywhere, to include my return flight from PASS Summit.
The conference itself was well organized, and the MVP’s that put it together do a fantastic job managing such a big event. Jamie Thompson (Blog|Twitter) walked around and captured videos of the speakers and attendees at SQL Bits that you can see online here:
I wish I could say that I attended most of the sessions during the event, but that never seems to be the case when I go to conferences. I missed the first session on Friday since I was speaking during the second block of time and I wanted to run through things one last time before actually presenting, and I needed to track down the transition slides that needed to be added to the end of my presentation from the SQL Bits guys. I had hoped to catch Christian Bolton’s (Blog|Twitter) “Consolidating data collection with SQLDIAG and analysis with SQLNexus” session after my own, but I ended up answer questions from my own session for the next session block instead. After lunch I was able to attend Buck Woody’s (Blog|Twitter) session on “Creating a Business Continuity Plan”, as well as Rob Farley’s (Blog|Twitter) session on “Understanding SARGability (to make your queries run faster).” The “Buck Woody Show” as always was a treat, and Rob’s session was very good as well.
I am really happy that all the sessions were recorded because in many of the session blocks, there were multiple sessions I wanted to see, including Brent Ozar’s “Virtualization and SAN Basics for DBAs” session that was scheduled at the same time as my own. I will certainly be checking out all the sessions when they become available online.
Saturday’s free day sessions were equally as awesome as Friday’s paid sessions. I made it to Brent Ozar’s “SQL Server Storage - 1,000GB Level” session and the SQLCAT teams “Panel Discussion with the SQLCAT Team” session before lunch. Brent covered a lot of ground with regards to storage for SQL Server, and from what I saw, he could have easily have talked all day about the topic, oh wait he actually did in his pre-con session. The CAT team Panel Discussion lead by Mark Souza (Twitter) and Thomas Kejser (Bio) offered answers to questions from the crowd about SQL Server.
Following a half hour lunch break, there was a block of time set aside for sessions by the event sponsors, and on Saturday I sat in on the SQL Sentry (Web|Twitter) presentation “Expert Query Analysis with SQL Sentry” which was done by Greg Gonzalez (Blog|Twitter). Over a year ago I committed to doing a review of the various monitoring tools that were available for SQL Server, a commitment I have yet to fulfill unfortunately, and one of the tools I evaluated at the time was SQL Sentry, so I figured it would be nice to see what was new in the product.
One of the items that caught my eye was a new Query Plan Viewer that Greg demonstrated as show in the (sorry its fuzzy, but it came from my blackberry) following image:
What is really cool about this, is that the tool isn’t only a part of their new release of Performance Advisor, but it is also going to be offered as a standalone free community download as well. There are a number of interesting features associated with the tool that makes it better than the existing plan viewer in SSMS. You can see the number of rows, or the size of the data being moved from operator to operator without having to hover the mouse over the arrow, the object names are not truncated on the screen, and the most expensive operations are highlighted for easy identification. The app can open .sqlplan files saved from Management Studio, as well as a proprietary format that can be exported from Performance Advisor, and it has the ability to load a plan from the Windows clipboard as well. Greg showed some side by side comparison’s of plans in SSMS and the Query Plan Viewer and most people in the room liked the display on the Query Plan viewer better. I'm looking forward to the tools release so that I can play with it.
The afternoon on Saturday I spent chatting with a number of people attending the conference. One of them was a member of the MSDN forums that I’ve known for about two years now, Ashwani Roy (Blog|Twitter). It is always great when I get to meet people that I interact with regularly online in person. I also spent some time chatting with Kevin Kline (Blog|Twitter) and Brent Ozar (Blog|Twitter) about the virtualization and consolidation work I have been doing in my own environment lately.
SQLBits was incredibly fun, and despite some hang ups during my flights home I’d love to be able attend again if the opportunity arises.