Archive for March, 2013

A recent presentation I gave about Interviewing Tips provided me with a number of great questions that I thought I would expand on. One that I get often looks a lot like this:

I was curious if you had any suggestions or tips on how to get one’s employer to pay for the PASS summit.  I’ve made proposals many times over the years to have my boss pay for professional training. Sometimes they’d pay, other times not. But, it just seems over the last few years’ employers have become less keen on paying for employees to further their tech skills.

Any thoughts you have are most appreciated.


A few thoughts come to mind quickly…

  • When you are getting ready to ask for a conference such as the PASS Summit. Make a list of some of the challenges you have been facing, or maybe a list of some of the things that you want to make sure you learn about. When you list specific goals you now have a means of measurement to determine success of the event. Sure it is great to just go and sit to absorb as much as you can, but a clear defined goal always helps.
  • If you have been to an event in the past, consider the items that you have learned in the past. If you can show how it has helped you and helped the company I think your chance of success is much better.
  • I am not sure if I am making this point as well as I would like to… In your discussions be sure to stress the things you cannot learn until you know you need to learn them. Let me give you an example. If you were to turn around and try to implement database mirroring and you had never done that before. You will find a number of awesome check lists, some in blogs, with a lot of detail in books on-line. However, if you we sitting down over lunch, I would be sure to bring up things such as making sure you sync jobs and logins. I would mention how you might want to look at a custom index plan if you were on a maintenance plan. Could you find this elsewhere? Maybe, but it takes a bit of research and a lot of time. It is better to know what potential obstacles you may run into well before you find them in your production environment.
  • Inform the company that the event is going to help you build your network. I can’t tell you how many people I know that are strong in areas of technology where I am week. I am not just referring to SQL Server, it is amazing once this network is built on how many people can help you. I am a DBA, I don’t do a lot outside of SQL Server but when I asked my network about RDP Management tools, I found Remote Desktop Manager.
  • If I sat and thought about it I bet there are many more examples I could come up with…

What if the issue is cost? Some companies don’t always have the budget to do these things, I just recently learned of a company whose health costs have gone up each year the last 3 years by 20% a year. Yet the company has not passed this along to the employees. There are ways that you can help lessen the impact and to be honest the time to start is now.

  • Have you considered rooming with someone? This is a big cost, if you can split in half or even thirds would this get your company to send you?
  • Have you considered working with your local users group, or volunteering for PASS? There are many ways to get the basic conference fee covered if you are helping out.
  • Do you have any vendors that are planning on going? Sometimes they are willing to sponsor people to attend the event.
  • Sign up early, the sooner you do the better the price gets. If I remember correctly when you are at a summit, you can sign up for next years at a big discount. The closer you get to the Event, the price normally goes up. As I write this, the cost is $1300 If you were to sign up before Jan 1st time frame I think it was about $1,000.00.
  • Frequent Flyer Miles if you have them.

If all else fails… Remember you are a resource to a company. If they can’t invest in you to make you a better resource for them, should you be investing in you to make you a better resource?

I hope I have passed along a few ideas.

I am looking at the sessions that I want to submit for the PASS Summit this year, and I am debating a new session that I think could be a lot of fun, but I am not sure if I should submit it.  If you could take a few minutes and let me know what you think, it would really be appreciated.

One of the things that people say a lot coming out of my past sessions is they like the relevant experiences that I share. I talk about how companies have done something so very wrong and the downstream effects of those decisions.

I was thinking about a session based on my experiences with the session designed to be funny and fun.  The title would be something along the lines of A SQLShaw case study. It would include mistakes I have made from my first job and solutions for issues companies have faced.

So what do you think?  Would you like to see a session about some of the crazy things I have seen?

Are you testing your backups, If so how? Sure there is a couple options that you can use to help validate backups but does this mean you are 100% sure without a doubt that it can be restored? Have you ever seen a backup file not restore?

Last week I was working on a server that was having a little bit of a storage issue, the vendor was pretty sure after we took a couple steps that the storage would return to normal behavior. Management was not satisfied with the vendors forecast of pretty sure, and as I side note I could not agree more with them. Management knew that a restore process was going to take some time, so rather than wait for the maintenance window when the storage fix was going to be attempted a decision was made to start a restore on a different server. This restore was being done as a just in case… Just in case the fix on the storage side did not work, and they lost a database. So I was off and running with a restore database task.

About two hours into the restore I received an error that stated unexpected end of file. I wasn’t too sure what exactly caused the short file, but I did know it did not sound good, and I could not restore from it. After I did some research it looked like the backup file I was restoring from was much smaller than the backup file SQL Server had created a few days before.

So here is my point…

It does not matter what you do on the backup side of the process, if you do not restore the file, you are at risk of having a bad backup file and then what?

It is good practice to restore your backups on a frequent basis, I may even be as bold as to say that you may want to restore each backup just to verify it. Either way, when you restore these backups it may not be good enough to copy the file to another server and then restore that backup. When you do a test restore you should test it from end to end. This means if you store your backups off-site then request a backup from that off site location and restore that file. If you restore your files with that methodology, not only are you testing that SQL Server created a good backup file, but that all the other pieces work as well. I like to back up and keep only one week’s worth of backups on local storage. As soon as the backup is done, it either goes to tape or another data center. So there are a number of pieces in that backup process, those are the same pieces that are part of the restore process.

Do yourself a favor, test your backups. Do this by restoring your databases from end to end.