What do you get with a Pre-Con?

Posted: March 27, 2012 in Events, SQLServerPedia Syndication

Have you ever considered attending a pre-conference session? Do you know what you are going to get or know what one is? A Pre-Conference (pre-con) session is a deep dive session that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a whole day. Traditionally when I am talking to people about conferences I share with them that out of a 60 minutes session they should be looking for an introduction to a topic. Your goal should be to pick out keywords on a topic that you are going to want to research a bit more. In my 60 minute sessions I try to cover those keywords and some of the benefits or limitations to a topic.

In a Pre-Conference I think you should expect a much broader topic. Where in a 60 minute session you should expect to learn some of the in’s and out’s of “Always-On” or Database Mirroring. But in a Pre Con session you should not only learn about “Always-On”, but you may see it in a demo. You should have a much better understanding of a topic and be ready to put it into place once you return to the office.

At the SQL Rally TJay Belt (T|B) and I are going to be doing a pre-con that I would consider to be a little different. Rather than spending a lot of time talking really deep about technical topics in a how-to type session we are going to be trying to cross you over into the arena of Soft Skills. An example of what we are trying to accomplish can be found when reviewing the subject of backups. A technical session on backups will teach you all about the Backup Statement, what it means to truncate the transaction log and how to backup file groups. If you were to compare that to the session TJay and I are doing we would be talking about when and why you should choose a backup strategy, I would tell you all about my opinion that if you are responsible for a SQL Server and you cannot restore it, how you should lose your job. Now granted we are not going to spend a lot of time in Backups and Restores, but during our pre-con session we are going to make sure that approach that topic, then we will see where the questions take us. Still curios as to what you are going to learn?

This Pre-Con is designed to show you the many things that we have to do as DBA that are critical in our day to day lives as a DBA’s. Between TJay and I, I believe we have over 30 years’ experience doing this. Here is a list of some of the things that you can expect from the How to be a DBA – A Utility Database (click on the image for a link to the abstract to the session) Pre-Con:

  • Checklists – These are such a critical part of life as a DBA. Did your databases backup, did they re-index, what about disk space? There is no way that we can compile a complete list of all the items that you should be checking on, however TJay is going to give you a really deep look into what you should be checking on and when. You should come out of this with a list of things that you want to check on your server, and when you should check on them.
  • Utility Database – I am going to build off the checklist session that TJay is already going to have you thinking about. We are going to look at how to automate many of these and how you can build historical reports. This is going to be a very fast paced hour and a half, but don’t worry about keeping up. Scripts will be provided so remember to bring your thumb drives. If you have seen me do this session before, I can promise you that this is all new, the database that supports it remains the same but the data we are getting is all new.
  • Data File Sizes – TJay is going to show you why you cannot just look at the amount of free space on your server and watch that to determine what your needs are for the future. You can track this, you can report on this information and you can forecast what your needs are going to be.
  • Disaster Recovery Options – One of the most common questions that I see on the forums is all about what the best Disaster Recovery Plan is. I am not sure there is a more appropriate place for the “It Depends” answer. After looking at many options on how best to transfer information about this topic, I ended up determining that the best way to look at the answers here is to look at the questions. We will take a case study style look at to what is best for each company based on their requirements. As a group we will talk about these options, so if you are planning to take a little nap after lunch, I am sorry but I plan on keeping you very engaged with this discussion.
  • Release Management – One of the most overlooked areas when it comes to databases in my opinion, what should you have before you make a change, and what is the best way of protecting yourself? TJay has got you covered for these questions.
  • Documentation – TJay is going to finish up the day with a look at what documents you need to have, how to document your systems and what they should look like. This session changes on a regular basis and is a popular session whenever TJay teaches it. Learn from an experienced DBA on what shape your supporting documents should be in.

I hope you have a good understanding that this is going to be an intense session on how to be a DBA. I am sure that there will be a ton of SWAG that we will have to give away, in addition TJay likes to toss out candy before I consume it all. Hope to see you there and we promise we will do everything in our power to make sure that when you return to work on Monday, that you will have a few more items in your tool belt that will make you the office hero.



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