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Rick Heiges

News about SQL Server and the SQL Server Community

  • Speaking at Atlanta.MDF on March 12

    I am fortunate enough to be speaking to a user group with a really cool name - Atlanta.MDF (Microsoft Database Forum).  Although I visit Atlanta often, it usually involves running from one councourse to another and rarely do I get the chance to visit the user group.  I have made it to the user group on several occassions in the past, but it has been several years.  This will be my first presentation to the group.

    I will be speaking about Database Consolidation - something I have been doing for years. Here is my abstract:
    SQL Server Consolidation Strategies - There are many approaches to SQL Server Consolidation. Each organization has unique business rules that impact the decision on which approach fits their needs best. This session will discuss the various approaches from Instance Stacking / Virtualization to Appliances and where they "fit". There will also be a discussion on the methods for data collection from Perfmon to Powershell and the Microsoft MAP Toolkit. Data Collection is only part of the process. Strategies to uncover the business rules are also discussed as these will be the true limiting factors of how far a consolidation effort can go.

    Please register at

    Please join me if you can; I'd love to see you!

  • Rick Review: SQLTeach - SQL345 - 10-Mar-2010 - Kimberly Tripp

    SQLTeach (Part of the DevTeach Conferences in Canada) has enjoyed success for many years.  I enjoyed the opportunity to speak at and attend SQLTeach at various times over the years.  Since SQLTeach is part of DevTeach, the "feel" of the event is very different from PASS or SQLRally or even a SQL Saturday where SQL is the primary focus.  It does however afford an opportunity for me to understand the challenges of those who need to work with SQL either in a direct or indirect manner.  SQLTeach / DevTeach records sessions and post them on the web for anyone to consume (login required, but a login may be created for FREE).  Here is where I found this video:

    The session that I selected to review is by one of my favorite speakers, Kimberly Tripp.  In this session, Kimberly once again simplifies a concept that is often treated as black magic.  The session is entitled "Optimizing Procedural Code".  This demo-heavy session covers many different options that are available to impact optimization.  Do you know the various options to force out a cached plan? Is recompiling bad? What else can I control to help optimization?

    Check this session out and consider attending the next SQLTeach/DevTeach (especially if you are already in Canada). 


  • Rick Review: Day 3 Keynote PASS Summit 2011 - Big Data-What's the Big Deal?

    I recently did a Rick Review of the Day 3 Keynote from the 2008 PASS Community Summit that featured Dr. DeWitt speaking on new technology that ended up in the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) edition of SQL Server 2008 R2.  I decided to also listen again to the Day 3 Keynote from the 2001 PASS Community Summit.  While I listened intently to the keynote on Day 3 of this past summit, something seemed to be somewhat familiar.  Had I heard some of these concepts before?  The keynotes from the most recent PASS Summit may be found here.  The theme of PDW and Map/Reduce seem to be similar (at least at a high level) where data is split up into smaller chunks and selected sets of data are then combined to answer the query.  Once again, Dr.DeWitt is entertaining as he simplifies a complex topic for the audience.  Having access to this recording is great, but being there first hand was even better with a sense of respectful awe in the audience. It is no wonder that the Day 3 Keynote is a favorite of the PASS attendees.  If you haven't had the chance yet, I invite you to view the recording and perhaps learn something new.

  • Rick Review: Day 3 Keynote of the 2008 PASS Community Summit

    Am I stuck in the past?  Not really, but I like to blog about the recordings that I have recently watched.  There are a lot of recordings out there on the PASS website and other places. 

    Recently I have had the good fortune of exploring some of the neat technology behind the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) in SQL Server 2008 R2.  In order to get myself grounded in some of the basics around what PDW was all about, I decided to review the Dr. DeWitt keynote (Day 3) from the 2008 PASS Community Summit.  The link to the WMV file is near the bottom of this page.  As I watched the recording, I could recall the excitement of learning about this new technology.  Whether you were fortunate enough to see this live or not, this recording demonstrates how a very smart person can explain such a new technology in a simple manner.  I believe that once you watch this session, you'll want to watch the other keynotes by Dr. DeWitt as well.

  • Rick Review: SQLBits7: Consolidating Data Collection with SQLDIAG and SQLNexus

    I ran across this recording about 3 months ago.  It is a recording that is open to everyone.  It was recorded at SQLBits 7 with Christian Bolton as the speaker for a session entitled: "Consolidating data collection with SQLDIAG and analysing it all with SQLNexus".  I found it very informative and hope that you will too.

    SQLBits is a UK based conference that occurs twice a year and I can't wait to attend one personally from the stories that I have heard.  They record the sessions and make each one available for FREE access - AMAZING!  You can find this session at the following URL:  The imbedded video has both a video of the speaker speaking to the audience as well as a full screen capture of the presentation to make the replay even more vivid.

    Christian walks through the basics of using SQLDIAG for Data Collection initially.  He then turns his attention to SQLNEXUS as a tool to analyze the data collected in SQLDIAG.  He goes through how to configure SQLDIAG to collect the necessary data (perfmon and SQLTrace data) with the SQLDIAG process in order to discover the items needed for further analysis.  If you need to perform a relatively quick analysis of a server, check this video out to discover your "pain points" for a particualr server.

    After viewing this webcast, I am positive that you will find that using SQLDIAG along with SQLNEXUS will make your job easier.


  • Rick Review: PASS Summit 2011 - DBA-104-S

    I recently got my DVD set from the PASS 2011 Summit and started to look through all of the sessions that I missed.  Wow!  I can't wait to go through all of these!  It will take me a while.

    Since this is a new year and many people are often greeted with new challenges (like a new server to manage), I decided that this session would be a good one to review.  It is by Brent Ozar and titled "BLITZ! The SQL - More One Hour SQL Server Takeovers".

    Essentially, Brent shares with the audience his experience of being handed a SQL Server that someone else managed and being told that it is now his to manage.  He went through the thought process of what to do first - what was important to know about this server.  In short, he developed scripts that reveal information about the server such as when it was last backed up, had a consistency check, which sp_config settings had been changed from default, etc.  In other words, he wants to do a Blitzkrieg on the server to take it over.  He encourages the audience to go through the script and learn what is really happening and to not just run it blindly as this script is continually evolving.  In fact, he has come up with a way to get the latest script "automatically" from the cloud when you want to run the script.

    I watched this session on my fresh DVD set, but you can watch it here if you attended the summit:

    For more information on the Blitz script and to see a training video, click here:



  • Rick's Review - Goal for 2012

    One of my goals in 2012 is to blog on a more consistent basis.  One idea that I have for keep this goal is to blog about a webcast or session recording that I listened to.  I often listen to webcasts / session recordings while working.  It helps to keep me "current".

    So I will be starting a series called "Rick Reviews" which will be providing a summary and key things that I learned from a webcast or recording.  I hope that you find these useful and can help point out some resources that you may not have been aware of.  The first one will be out shortly.

  • Be Prepared to ask the CSS and SQLCAT folks your toughest questions....

    As I alluded to in my blog series on "What to expect at the 2001 PASS Community Summit", the SQL Clinic will once again be in full swing.  See the following blog post on how to best be prepared to get your question answered.


  • PASS Summit 2011 - What you can expect at the Conference - Summary

    As I finish up preparing for the Sep 20 (@1pm ET) webcast, I thought a final blog post may be appropriate in order to quickly reference many of the areas that I have touched upon.  Naturally, much of this information is geared towards First Timers, but Alumni are welcome to join in the webcast as well and are encouraged to help spread even more tips/tricks around to all who attend.

    1. General Overview
    2. Planning Your Learning Itinerary
    3. Meals
    4. More Than Just Sessions  - And Be Prepared
    5. Networking
    6. After Hours
    7. Social Networking Tools
    8. Logistics

    Register HERE for the webcast.  It will be recorded and be available for replay shortly thereafter.

  • PASS Summit 2011 - What you can expect at the Conference - Part 8

    In this post, Logistics centered around how to get to downtown from the airport (SEA - commonly referred to as SEA-TAC for Seattle - Tacoma).

    As you would expect, the Seattle airport is almost always busy.  Some airports have periods where almost no activitiy is going on.  That is rare here.  Signage is good throughout the airport on how to get to Baggage CLaim and Ground Transportation.  If your flight comes into the "N" or "S" satellite terminals, you will need to take at least one train to the main terminal.

    Denny Cherry has a recorded webcast that does a great job on going over all of the options on getting to downtown.  You can find it here.  He will go into more detail than I will about transit and after hours as well.

    Rental Cars are available at SEA-TAC, but I believe that if you are truly coming for the summit that it will be a huge waste of money.  One thing to note is that there are several rental car companies that require a shuttle to get to and makes it a little more difficult to return but are cheaper.  If you do rent a car, you will need to park it somewhere.  The convention center parking is convenient, but not cheap.  Hotels also charge $20 - $30 per night.  There are severall rental car locations downtown.  If you truly need to rent a car to get somewhere for a day or perhaps to explore the scenery before/after the Summit, I'd recommend planning accordingly.

    Taxi Cabs and Town Cars are also readily available.  Fares (with a tip) will run about $45-$55.  If you share a cab with two other people, the cost isn't that bad.  The benefit of course is that you get taken directly to your hotel and do not need to wait until the shuttle is full before leaving.

    Shuttle Express also offers a Shuttle service (which is sometimes a bus) to downtown hotels.  Costs for using this service runs about $15 and you can also purchase a round trip ticket at a discount.  I've used tis service on several occassions.  On occassion, you may have to wait until a shuttle is full enough to go.

    There is also a fairly new Light Rail service to downtown which costs about $3.  There is a stop (Westlake) which is about 2 blocks from the Sheraton.  This is Pine between 4th and 5th. Walk up Pine to 6th. Turn Right - Sheraton is one block ahead.  The Light Rail service does NOT run 24 hours per day.  This option may not be available depending upon you departure time.  Denny does a great job discussing this in his webcast.

    If you are planning to spend some additional time in Seattle before or after the confeence, check out the PASS Summit "Explore Seattle" webpage located here.

    See you in Seattle!


  • PASS Summit 2011 - What you can expect at the Conference - Part 7

    I really don't think that you can get the full flavor of the Summit unless you delve into Social Networking.  There are multiple vehicles for social networking.  Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Yelp are all tools in the Social Networking Toolbox.  At the Summit, the best one of these is Twitter.  With twitter, yo can eavesdrop on conversations, get tips in real time, and find out where people are hanging out at. 

    Here is a YouTube video that is pretty good about Twitter.  There are other ones out there as well.

    I recommend that you use a twitter client like TweetDeck on your PC and also on your smart phone.  The interface makes it easier to use than the plain vanilla web page.  In your twitter client, you can create custom "feeds" to target a particular word or idea.  You can have multiple comuns on your client with many of these "feeds" that you follow.  These words that you target are often referred to as hashtags.  Here are some common hashtags to follow:

    • #sqlpass
    • #sqlhelp
    • #firsttimers
    • #sqlkilt
    • #sqlkaraoke
    • #24hop
    • #sqlrally
    • #sqlsat

    Once you start using twitter, you''ll understand more of what all this means.  Brent Ozar has put together a great primer on twitter that may be found here.  Closing thoughts on Twitter:

    • You don't have to create an account to get value out of it.  You can just follow some of the hashtags listed above - especially #sqlpass
    • Get on twitter and try it out before you get to the summit
    • Follow #sqlhelp and learn a LOT about where you can find great resources for SQL Server.
    • make up your own hashtags like #JustSayin or #KilroyWashere or #whatever
    • When choosing a "handle", consider incorporating "SQL" as part of it.  Members of the SQL Community are more apt to follow you and value your tweets if they know you are a SQL Server Professional.

    Another application (targeted for mobile devices) that can be valuable is FourSquare.  FourSquare also integrates with Twiiter and FaceBook.  It works best with smart phones with GPS enabled.  Essentially, you check-in to a location such as a restaurant , bar, Conference Center, etc.  As part of the "check-in" process, you can add a "shout" to your check-in that may be tweeted and/or set to update your FaceBook status.  This is optional, but it can help with networking.  Check out FourSquare.

    The third social networking property that holds value is LinkedIn.  There are many discussion groups affiliated with PASS.  It is a great way to connect with other SQL Professionals once you get home.

    There is also a PASS YouTube Channel.  Check out the videos from last year's summit!  Of course, PASS is also on FaceBook.  Another social networking tool that you may find useful is YELP.  It is particualrly good at helping to find a good restaurant near by.

    Flickr - Many folks who are shutterbugs or just want to share photos do so via Flickr and the #sqlpass or #PASS2011 hashtags.  I look forward to seeing a lot of pictures from everyone this year. 

    Bottom Line:  Get on Twitter Now!  Follow #sqlpass and #sqlhelp.  Get involved in the conversation.


  • PASS Summit 2011 - What you can expect at the Conference - Part 6

    Now that I have covered just about all of the "official" Summit activities, it is time for a blog post about "After Hours" activities.

    There is a webpage that lists some of the activities that we are currently aware of.  You can find that page here.

    Monday Night Networking Dinner - Last year, Andy Warren and Steve Jones started a Netowrking Dinner (Food / Drink is your own responsibility). It will be Monday Evening at Lowell's.  More information is available on the link provided above.Follow general #sqlpass on twitter to see what's going on.

    Photo Walk - Pat Wright and Tim Ford started this tradition several years ago.  Essentially, Pat / Tim coordinate a place / time to start on a tour of Seattle.  Bring your camera andprepare to have a great time discovering Seattle.Follow #photowalk on twitter to obtain more information.

    SQL Kilt Day - It will be Thursday this year.  Several years ago, three SQL Community leaders decided to wear kilts one day. Many more joined in last year (even some vendors).  I don't havve an exact count, but I suspect that thee were at least 50 people wearing kilts last year.  I suspect that number will be over 100 this year. Wearing a kilt on #sqlkilt day will definitely bring you some attention.  :-)

    SQL Run - Running is a favorite fitness activity of quite a few members of the SQL Community.  Would you like to run with some others who are attending the conference?  Follow #SQLRun on twitter to find out when/where to meet up for a run.

    SQL Karaoke - What happens when you mix an open mic, SQL Professionals, and some libation together?  SQL Karaoke at a Dive Bar.  See the Link above for more information on locatoin.  This year it will be on Wednesday Evening and now enjoys a limited sponsorship by NEC and Genesis Hosting Solutions. Follow #SQLKaraoke for more information - especially on Wednesday.

    SSC / Redgate Party - SQL Server Central and RedGate will be hosting another party right after the Welcome Reception on Tuesday night. More info may be found here.

    Other Vendor Parties - Many other Vendors will also host parties or other get togethers. Be sure to visit all of the vendors in the Exhibit Hall.  I encourage you to visit all of the vendors and perhaps score an invite to an "after hours" event.

    There is more, but I don't know about it yet.  Denny Cherry has put together a website that lists "after hours" events that he is aware of.


  • PASS Summit 2011 - What you can expect at the Conference - Part 5

    One of the most valuable parts of the entire Summit experience is the networking that goes on. In this post, I will go over some of the opportunities for you to network with others.  Once again, this post will not focus on "after hours" activities which will come later.

    Badge and Ribbons - Once you get to the Summit and pick up your materials, you will have a badge.  The badge will have the following information on it:

    • Nick Name
    • Full Name
    • Company Name
    • Where you are from
    • Twitter Handle

    You will also receive at least one ribbon (Alumni or First Timer).  You may notice that some people have more than one ribbon.  These ribbons identify how a person contributes to the SQL Community.  Be curious.  When you see a person with more than one ribbon, ask them about it.  It is a great way to start a conversation.  These people are very interested in meeting YOU. 

    Don Gabor - We have asked Don Gabor to once again run a 2 hour Networking Workshop on Tuesday.  It is inexpensive ($70) and a great way to invest in yourself to make the most of the Summit.  You can go online and modify your registration add this mini-pre-con or sign up onsite.  Don will also be leading a special Speed Networking Session during the First Timer Orientation.  I want to particularly encourage First Timers to take advantage of this session based on feedback from former First Timers.

    Big Brothers / Big Sisters - There is also a Big Brothers / Big Sisters orientation program.  It is not too late to sign-up.  We match a willing and eager Alumni with a small grooup of First Timers via email.  The Big Brother/Sister will then contact the First Timers prior to coming to the summit to answer any questions or to simply "break the ice" before actually getting to Seattle.  If you are a First Timer, I encourage you to take advantage of this program.  If you are an Alumni and would like to help out some First Timers, your help will be appreciated by the First Timers and the entire PASS organization.  Visit here to sign-up.

    Other places to Network at the Summit:

    • Welcome Reception (Tue Evening)
    • Expo Hall Reception (Wed Evening)
    • Attendee Party (Thu Evening)
    • Breakfasts
    • Lunches - especially Chapter, WIT and Birds of a Feather
    • Expert Pods
    • Before the Keynotes
    • At the PASS Booth
    • Anywhere!

    Remember that only you can make the most of your Summit Experience.  I have outlined a number of opportunities where you can network with others who are doing the same thing.  Go Forth and Network!


  • PASS Summit 2011 - What you can expect at the Conference - Part 4

    The Summit is much more than just geat content from excellent speakers.  There is a great deal of other stuff going on at the Summit to really enhance your experience.  In this post, I will not focus on the "after hours" events.

    Do you want to get your hands dirty with Denali?  Perhaps you downloaded the latest Denali bits, but you just never got a chance to install them.  Or perhaps you just really don't know what's new with Denali and don't know exactly where to start.  This is where the Hands-On Labs come in.  We will have a room set aside staffed with knowledgable assistants to help you get your hands dirty with Denali.  This is a great place to go right after you see a session on Denali and want to play around with a feature a little more.

    Do you have a nagging SQL Server problem that you just can't seem to get a resolution to?  Are you unsure of Best Practices for a server with 80 cores or want to know the latest on Virtualizing SQL Server?  The SQL Server CLinic is for you!  CSS (those MSFT support folks who know KB articles by heart) folks along with the SQLCAT team will be in full force here to tackle your toughest problems or to just simply answer a question.

    In addition to these great resources, there will be Expert Pods located in the hallways close to the session rooms.  These are tables that will be staffed by MSFT Developers, MVPs, and MCMs. Each Expert Pod will have a sing indicating the general topic that they are there to provide assistance upon.  Did you ever wonder "why" a particular feature works the way it does?  You can probably meet the guy who wrote that piece of code and get a great explanation of just hoy something was done one way and not another.

    We also want you take advantage of special events that occur during the Lunch period.  Each day, there will be an optional event to include with your lunch:

    • Wed - Chapter Lunch - Come meet Local Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors who cover your geographic area.  Also learn about Virtual Chapter that are "Topic-based" chapters that normally meet once per month online!
    • Thu - Women In Technology (WIT) Luncheon - This event keeps growing in popularity every year.  Lunch is served while a panel discusses trendy topics in the Industry.  Thursday is SQLKillt day. You do not have to be a woman to attend; and yoou do not need to wear a kilt either.
    • Fri - Birds of a Feather Lunch - MVPs and MCMs will host lunch tables during the lunch period to share their expertise on a particular topic.  This is a great way to get into a much deeper conversation with an expert and to expand your personal network.

    Did you want to Meet the Board of Directors and share feedback about the Summit and PASS organization?  The PASS Board Meet and Greet will be held on Friday at the beginning of Lunch.  More details to follow.

    One area that you will go by on a daily basis is at the base of the long escalators that take you from the 4th floor to the 6th.  In this area, there will be a Book Store featuring books on SQL Server and BI.  As you would expect, many of the authors of these books are in attendance and would be delighted to sign your book.  Be sure to leave some room in your suitcase for a new book.

    Don't want to lug you laptop around but still need to check email?  The Internet Pavillion is the place to go.  This area will be easily accessible during Summit Hours.  PCs are available for you to browse the internet, check your email, or print out a boarding pass.  Wired Network connections for those wishing to use their own laptop are also available.  The PCs and wired connections are set upon high top tables for quick / brief access to the net.

    As you can see, there is more to do at the PASS Summit than merely attend sessions.

  • PASS Summit 2011 - What you can expect at the Conference - Part 3

    Another question that you may have is "What about food?  What meals are included?  Should I budget for meals?"

    Breakfast:  A Continental Breakfast will be served from 7-8am in the Meal Hall on the 4th floor across from Registration Wed - Fri

    Lunch: This meal is usually more substantial.  It is often quite good.  Your typical Conference Food with multiple buffet lines.  I can't recall, but occassionally, the lunch on Friday is a box lunch.

    Dinner: Dinner is not officially a meal provided; however, there will be food served at the Welcome Reception (Tue 6:30-8pm), the Expo Hall Reception (Wed 6:15-8:15pm), and the Attendee Party (Thu 7-10pm).

    Snacks: There is normally a morning and afternoon snack break usually consisting of Beverages / Snacks (like cookies, pretzels).

    Overall, most of your meals are taken care of during the conference. Another item to tout when calculating the ROI for your funding.  :-)


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