Archive for October, 2012

PASS TV

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Events, SQLServerPedia Syndication

Have you seen PASS TV yet?

It is a YouTube channel that has a lot of really great information on it. I recommend you check it out.

This year, I have the honor of presenting a session from the 2012 PASS Summit that will have a live stream to the channel if I understand it correctly. One of the reasons that I am so excited about this opportunity is because I know there are a lot of SQL Server Professionals that really wanted to be at the Summit this year, but for one reason or another are not able to make it. PASS TV gives those people the opportunity to get touch of what is going on at the event.

At the same time there are many people looking at becoming a SQL Server Professional and this might help them see how we as a community support each other and the value of coming to the Summit. As I get more information on how this is going to be played over the internet, I will be sure to pass it along to you.

As of now, here is the information that I have, I know there are other sessions that will be on PASS TV, but I am unable to find a schedule just yet.

My session is going to be Thursday, November 8th 4:25 PM PST to 5:00 PM PST

I believe the feed will be located here – http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2012/

And the Session that I will be presenting on is “The Not SQL skills you need

The motivation behind this topic comes from my years of studying how to be a better DBA. I always thought the skills I needed would all be in SQL Server, such as working with the language, or maintenance of servers. What I have found to be true is that I spend almost as much time (if not more time) outside of SQL Server completing tasks that will lead to work in SQL Server. In other words I have spent a lot of time learning how to do what I want with SQL Server, and not enough time in learning how to manage what I need to get done in SQL Server.

Right now I plan on the discussion to be focused on technical and non-technical Skills that SQL Server Professionals need. Skills like:

  • How to market yourself
  • Why you should get involved in networking and social community
  • Tools that make life easier that you might want to consider using
  • Technology areas that you might want to focus on

I hope to see you there at the Summit, but if I can’t… I hope you have the time to check out this session.

— I have updated the live feed link.

Big Data?

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Career, SQLServerPedia Syndication

This time of the year, a common question that I am asked not only at User Group Meetings, but over email and such is why I am such a big fan of the PASS Summit and why I believe this is a must attend event for everyone. This year I even have the opportunity to have an answer posted on the TechNet SQL Server Blog, that I think is being posted later this week. There are so many reasons as why to attend PASS, but a big one for me is the opportunity to have visibility into SQL Server features that I haven’t had the opportunity to work with. If you are at all like me, my time researching is spent looking at things that will make my current or known future projects even better. I am not spending time like I should learning about features that don’t impact me today, I would love to but I just don’t have all that time.

One of the really neat things about the PASS summit is the ability to attend sessions, make notes on features that I use for reference at a later date, when that information is more relevant to the projects I am working on. Here is a great example; I am really looking forward to attending this session by David DeWitt. A great speaker with a lot of good information, this session will give me some great insight that I might be able to use in the near future.

Big Data Meets SQL Server [DBA-410-S]

During my “Big Data” keynote at the 2011 PASS conference, I introduced the concept of an “enterprise data manager” – a new class of database systems capable of executing queries against both traditional structured data stored in a relational DBMS and unstructured data stored in HDFS, Hadoop’s distributed file system. In this talk I will describe the progress we have been making on this concept at the Gray Systems Lab. Extending the Query Processor in SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse by adding a new table distribution type for data stored in HDFS, we give it the ability to query data stored in HDFS without first having to load the data into PDW. By leveraging a database QP, we can perform real optimization – transform selections, projections, aggregates and other operations on HDFS files into MapReduce jobs and execute them on the Hadoop cluster as part of the query execution plan it generates.

So anyway, this is just one other reason why I really believe the PASS Summit is a can’t miss event. I hope to see you there.

The New Book

Posted: October 18, 2012 in dbUtilities, SQLServerPedia Syndication

A number of months ago Oracle Ace Kellyn Pot’Vin (T|B) had talked with me about being an Author to an upcoming book about SQL Server Best Practices. After a number of discussions with the editors, and a lot of deliberation on my part on what I should write about I joined the team of authors. I got to tell you that this is a great team of Authors and I honored to be even mentioned in the same discussions as them. Here is the list that I pulled from the Apress site. Bradley Ball , TJay Belt , Glenn Berry , Jes Borland , Carlos Bossy , Louis Davidson , Ben DeBow , Grant Fritchey , Jonathan Gardner , Jeremy Lowell , Jesper Johansen , Wendy Pastrick , Kellyn Pot’vin , Mladen Prajdić , Herve Roggero , Gail Shaw , Jason Strate and then there is me… Chris Shaw.

One of the biggest challenges for me to committing to work on a book is the amount of time that it takes to complete the task. There are a number of authors who can write complete books, and continue with other commitments and still do a great job. For me, I think it is difficult to make sure that the information I am trying to pass along is clear and easy to read. I end up re-writing so many parts of it that I think it takes me much longer than other authors. This is why a book like this is so attractive to me; I get the opportunity to work on one chapter that is focused on something I am passionate about without the stress of many more chapters after that to complete is not looming over me.

So I am proud to announce that the Pro SQL Server 2012 Practices book is complete. If you have pre-ordered it I image it will not be long before you get your copy sent over to you. The book is described as:

“Expert SQL Server Practices 2012 Edition is an anthology of high-end wisdom from a group of accomplished database administrators and developers who are quietly but relentlessly pushing the performance and feature envelope of Microsoft SQL Server 2012.”

I hope you like it, and I look forward to hearing your comments about it. If you haven’t ordered it yet, I think you can do so on Amazon here. If you like this style of book with many Authors working on topics they are passionate about, I also worked on the SQL Server MVP Deep Dive Vol. 2 book. All the profits of the Deep Dives book are donated to Operation Smile.


 

Nick Haslam (T|B) is hosting the T-SQL Tuesday question for this month. Nick makes a reference to an older Sci-Fi movie that well to be honest, I am not sure I have ever heard of. I will take his word for it, and assume it is a great movie. It must be a good movie if it got him thinking about the question that has been prompted to us for the month. This month’s question is:

“So, what I’d like to know is, what is your most horrifying discovery from your work with SQL Server?”

It did not take me long to come up with the answer on this one, sure I have a number of stories about different situations that I have been in with SQL Server, here is a few of the notable ones, before I dive deeper into what I think is the most horrifying.

  • At one point in time in my career, a long, long time ago… I was asked by the CFO of the company that I worked for to grant him direct read access to our client table, rather than him having to use stored procedures for the website. For some reason this made me raise an eyebrow, and well end result was I denied the request. I leaned an important lesson that day, do the right thing even if you know it will be over ruled by someone else, or make you look foolish by not cooperating. The CFO when to the President of the company and requested the same access, the President hurried right over to my office and made sure that I carried out the exact permissions. Well, this is a long story, the end result? 6 months later we found out that the CFO passed the list to his wife, and they formed a company in her name. The new company, then directly solicited our customers. Sometimes I really hate it when I am right.
  • I could tell you about company I worked with that ended up building the server room under the water main. Here in Colorado it is not unheard of that we have these break on occasion, well… it did.
  • One of my first “real jobs”, I was working on tracking down an audible alert one weekend. I called my manager, the guy who set up the hardware and when he got there it determined that it was one of the drives in the RAID 5. He pulled the drive to force a rebuild over to the hot spare, but when the noise didn’t go away he determined he pulled the wrong drive, there was another one that was not flashing green as much as the others so he determined to pull that one as well. He had plenty of space on the RAID so he could lose that potential storage. If you don’t know what happened then I will let you in on a little secret. Don’t pull 2 drives of a RAID 5. Because it will turn into a RAID nothing, and your data goes down. What makes a stupid mistake like this approach the top of my list? Well.. He said, “The only mistake I made here was hiring you”. He had a long outage; I had a long weekend (and a new job within 3 hours), and a learning experience that has impacted me 15 years later. Don’t guess at solutions or problems. Develop an educated theory, confirm it to be true, and then test the solution.

So, what is my number 1?

One of my first clients was with a company who had paid for a consulting firm to come in and do a DR plan for him. The quoted him $500,000 for a system that that could be down a week, and had very few data changes. The data was less than 3 gigs, and rarely changed. He and I developed a backup rotation plan, and a way to get new hardware at the local electronics store, for less than 5k. What makes this just sick to my stomach was during the review of his back up process, I noticed a lot of transaction log backups but not a single full backup. When I asked the client, he mentioned that the company that configured the server, made a full backup, gave him the backup on removable media and then told him all he would need from that point was t-log backups. That was 4 years before I reviewed the system, so I checked and he was spot on, there were close to 14,000 transaction log files sitting on the hard disk. I mentioned it looked like we were missing a few (about 16,000), and if he know where they were. He replied yes, he needed some added space so they had been deleted.

Here is a client who things his system is recoverable and how paid for that service. Yet there was no way I could recover it without all the files, and even if I had them no telling how long it would have taken to restore 35,000 T-Logs. I felt a lot of satisfaction in helping my first client. This was all done remotely and I had a chance to meet him in person a year later. He and his employees thanked me for my help with a card and took me to dinner.

Remote Desktop Manager Product Review

Stating the obvious:

As a SQL Server Professional, I spend most of my time working within SQL Server.

What about the not so obvious:

There are so many aspects to my professional life that have nothing to do with SQL Server, things like email, managing tasks or to-do lists, creating power points, and keeping all my remote connections secure and organized. Think about the large amount of sensitive information that you have to retain to just simply connect to the servers that you need to work on;

  • Server Name (not always as obvious and friendly as you might like)
  • User Accounts
  • Passwords

And those are just for starters. There are service accounts, administrative accounts, dev accounts and the list goes on and on. A couple years ago I found a tool that Microsoft had called the Remote Desktop Connection Manager; this tool allows me to save all my remote connection information, and access it from one place. There are a number of basic functions that make life a lot easier for me, however as I added more and more to it, and wanted it to do just a little bit more I found the tool to be lacking in what I needed it to do. That is how my search started.

Before too long I ran across a product by Devolutions called Remote Desktop Manager. A couple inquiries on twitter were giving me more information than I could ever want. It did not take long for me to be off and running. There are a number of features that I like but some of them make my management of connections so much easier, for me I like the ability to tie into KeePass to save my credentials or I can just save them to my local machine, and the ability to group my connections in folders and sub folders.

The more that I work with the tool, I am finding places where I can store personal information for my own use, or there is the ability to use a central repository where I can share connection information with other people that I am working with. The first question that comes to mind is how secure this is, but there is the ability to set default credentials and then over ride them for Individual users.

The flexibility in how I organize my servers in the User Interface help me find and narrow down what I am looking for quickly, each one of the sessions (connections that I make to a server) that I start, uses saved information such as server name, user account and password all ready to go.

The purpose of this post is to share what I have been using as a tool to help me navigate around the servers and connections that I use when I have so much information to keep track of. This is so much more secure than the many options that I have used or seen used in the past, and the speed to access the information or the servers is incredibly fast and easy.

There is so much more to this tool that I cannot do it justice with a simple product review. After I installed the tool, I was connected to servers using VPN and remote desktop in an organized fashion in just minutes. Remote Desktop Manager was so easy to set up and configure that I was back to working on the many needed task before I could take the time to look at all the features.