Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

SQL Saturday San Antonio #550

Posted: August 8, 2016 in Events

SQL Saturday San Antonio #550

This weekend I am heading north to the great city of San Antonio, TX.  I am excited to see what the organizers have put together for us.  This is the first time San Antonio is hosting a SQL Saturday and from what I have seen so far it should be a great event.  I was looking at the lineup of speakers and sessions and I know from experience this is an event well worth attending.

At this event I will be speaking about common mistakes that I have seen clients make when it comes to their SQL Server environments, specifically as how these mistakes impact the servers. Here is the full title and abstract.

Tips for SQL Server Performance and Resiliency

After working 20 years in the industry on hundreds of SQL Servers clear patterns emerge. These observations of patterns and best practices directly relate to the health of the server.  During this session we will review the patterns of healthy SQL Servers and identify unhealthy behavior that clearly shows servers that are at risk.

We will review shared patterns, configuration and practices.   Which of these repeating patterns represent healthy Servers and which of these patterns are shared with servers that are having issues daily.

These patterns are so clear in fact that I many SQL Servers will benefit from the application of at least one if not more of the tips we will cover.  At the end of this session attendees will have the tools to identify and correct common issues that impact SQL Servers Performance and Resiliency.

If you are in town on Friday I recommend you check out one of the Pre-Con sessions.  I know both Kalen and Tim who will be presenting the bellow topics and I can ensure you both of these sessions are money well spent investing in your future.

What the Hekaton? SQL Server’s In-memory OLTP

Presented By Microsoft MVP Kalen Delaney

SQL Server In-Memory OLTP, will completely change the way you think about data management. But once you make the change, you won’t be sorry! In this session, you’ll find out how Microsoft is able to give up to 40X performance improvement!

Early bird pricing has ended!

Register Now for $199

Building Better SSIS Packages

Presented By Microsoft MVP Tim Mitchell

There’s nothing magical about building rock-solid SSIS packages, but it does take some discipline, experience, and a library of best practices. That is exactly the aim of this course: to demonstrate a set of proven practices that help frame the development of enterprise-ready SSIS packages.

In this full-day presentation, we will walk through each of these five facets of well-built packages, discussing and then demonstrating ways of applying these practices to design better SSIS packages

Register Now for $169


SQL Saturday Changes

Posted: July 27, 2016 in Events, News
Tags: ,

If you keep up on all the news coming out of PASS then you might have seen the recent changes that are going to be made to the SQL Saturday offering starting Jan 1st, 2017.  If you haven’t had a chance to see the news yet, you can take a look at it here:  Making SQL Saturday Sustainable.

In short there are a couple things PASS is addressing with this post, one is related to how PASS will sponsor SQL Saturdays in the future. The second has to do with event timing…  Taken from the PASS Blog the statement says:

“The event timing restriction means that events within the 600-mile radius cannot occur on the same weekend or one weekend prior or after.”

The timing restriction is what concerns me. I have been working with SQL Saturdays for some time now, in a few different roles, I have been an Organizer, a Sponsor, a Speaker and an attendee.  My thoughts are pretty jumbled up (much like this blog post), so I decided to look at each of these roles and consider what my goals were at SQL Saturday from each perspective.

As an Organizer – I wanted to bring SQL Saturday to Colorado Springs.  Denver is not far away (60 miles or so), however, we are considered a large city and have a number of SQL Server Professionals in the area. We could have had our own event, and my goal here may have been somewhat selfish, but I wanted to have an event that was local to my city I wanted an event where we could learn, network and have a bit of fun.  If you ever attended one of the early Colorado Springs SQL Saturdays, I think you would agree we tried to bring all those things together.

As a Speaker – I have a few reasons why I speak at these events. Speaking is a great way to improve myself professionally. Being able to address an audience has helped me a lot in my career. I am also a firm believer in the best way to know a subject is to teach it.

As an Attendee – I think this one is self-explanatory, I go to the events as an attendee because I want to continue to grow my skill set.

As a Sponsor – I had two goals when I sponsored SQL Saturday events.  First, I wanted to generate new sales leads. Second, I wanted to get my branding out there in front of potential customers. Developing new leads was a very short term goal, while branding recognition was a longer term goal.


Need some intro here to transition. Maybe something like: In each of these roles I faced different types of challenges. These vary from role to role, but here are my experiences.


Organizer Challenges

There are many challenges that face the organizer today: volunteers, space, and time to work on the event.  However, based on the policy change and my opinion, the biggest challenge is the money. There are so many things that need to be paid for.  Speaker shirts, speaker gifts, the space, lunch, swag and even insurance. Granted your event does not require you to have a speaker shirt or a speaker gift, but you do need a space to have the event. There are also other management costs that need to be considered. Currently, there are only a couple ways that an organizer can bring in money. Charging for lunch and finding sponsors.


Speaker Challenges

As a speaker, my biggest financial concern is getting to the event?  There are a few ways I can get to an event as a speaker.  I could pay for my own travel, however, if I were to do that it would really limit how many of these events that I could attend.  My company could pick up the travel, but in a similar fashion as an individual, the money bucket isn’t bottomless.  There is the option of a presenting a pre-con but then there is a risk that there may not be enough attendees to cover my travel expenses.

Granted, as a speaker, I am one of many people willing to go to an event, so if I can’t afford to go, there are others that might be able to.  The end result is, as a speaker, I can reach my goals. I would like to go to more events, but there are enough that are close enough to me that I can stay pretty active.


Attendee Challenges

In the time that SQL Saturday has been around there have been over 400 events so far. In my mind it is really easy to see why. The platform has great education quality for little to no cost to the attendees.

Consider this, a new movie is about to be released and the quality of the entertainment is top notch with great actors, writers and directors. Would you go?  Maybe not if you don’t like movies, or if you are not a fan of the actors in the movie, but if the movie was free would you go then?

I think when you look at the fact that quality education is being delivered for little to no cost, you would have to consider the event a success.  You know what they call a free movie with great actors?  Television, and even if you pay for television, you are going to get the commercials.


Sponsor Challenges

As a sponsor I want to be involved with as many events as I can, however, very few companies have the marketing budget that can allow for sponsorship of every event.  This means that the sponsors have to pick and choose.  As a sponsor with a limited budget, it is my responsibility to the company I work for to ensure I get the biggest bang for my buck.  If I know there were three events in Colorado last year, I would think there will be at least three events this year.  If each of the event’s demographics for attendees is close to being the same, why not pick the largest event and sponsor that event?

The reality is these events cost money.  The more I think about this, the more I think that PASS may have taken what they believe to be a proactive step.  This move is going to force events to plan more with other nearby events (not a bad idea anyway), but I am not sure this is the right way to go about it.

If we go back and look at the movie example that I mentioned before, what PASS is doing is saying we can’t run the same program on channels near each other at the same time.  I am not sure I understand that rational.  In like fashion does this mean they should consider moving the dates of the PASS Summit so that it is not located distance or time-wise with other conferences that may be going on at the same time?

I am sure there were a lot of discussion about this before making the decision, but I can’t help but think that there are options out there other than making this policy change.  Some of the items that come quickly to my mind:

  1. Why not charge a small fee for each attendee? If you had a SQL Saturday with 150 people and they charged $25.00 for the event this would add an additional $3,750.00 to the budget. That alone could pay for an event if the belt is tightened a notch or two. Add in a few sponsors and you have plenty of money. With a small fee, each event could be run without the need of so many sponsors yet the goal of SQL Saturday is still reached by providing low cost education to the technical community.
  2. Maybe there are ideas out there to help get sponsors more visibility.  As a sponsor I might be willing to pay more for SQL Saturday brought to you by XYZ Company. Look at how many organizations are going to new ideas so they can get the company name out there.  The Broncos use to play at Mile High stadium, but not any longer.  All I know about basketball is the Lakers play at the Staples Center.  Maybe it is time for events to help the sponsors engage with the attendees better.  Yes, I know the organizers have a lot on their plate already, but companies have to pay the bills.
  3. Maybe we just tone the whole thing down a bit.  Remember the point of a SQL Saturday? Education, not sales and free gifts.  Go with smaller events, meet at free locations, and don’t provide a lunch. Who says a SQL Saturday can’t have two speakers and twenty attendees?  Would an event that small be considered a failure if the cost was small to nothing and everyone learned one new thing they could use at work on Monday?

I have to say, I disagree with PASS on this one.  Each of these events need to look at what the goals of the event are, and what they consider a success.  I can see why there might be an event in Denver and an event in Las Vegas on the same day. I think we may all need to come back to why we do this, what is our goal.


Have you ever noticed when you are working on a query for SQL Server and the second time you execute the query it runs much faster than the first time you had executed it? There is a reason for this and most likely it is caused by your buffer.

When you’re SQL Server starts there are a few things that happen in regards to the memory. One of these is SQL Server is going to start to claim memory space from the Operating System for it to use. Inside this memory space that is has captured SQL Server then allocates space for a buffer.

A SQL Server buffer is a space that SQL Server uses to store data pages based on data that has been accessed recently. As data is retrieved from disk the data is placed in the buffer. This is done because reading from memory is much faster than reading from storage. 15 years ago when the storage was much slower than it is now, this was a critical part of making SQL Server faster. And with such a wide gap in the performance differences between storage and memory many DBA’s found performance benefits in adding more memory to the SQL Server as a way that they could keep more pages in memory for faster access.

Fast forward to 2014 and look into storage performance and you will see so many different changes you may not be thinking you are looking at the same thing. The use of SAN technology is common with small companies and the storage spindle speed is faster than it has ever been before. We have seen the introduction to SSD (solid state drives) that removes all the moving parts in the storage. These changes have made a big difference in the performance we can now get out of our SQL Server installs.

SQL Server 2014 takes advantage of these new storage options by giving us the ability to use a buffer extension file. Think of this as a page file that we all know and love however this is for you database, and is intended to reside on the new faster storage we have access to. A Buffer Extension creates that middle level between storage and memory, and works well when you see your SQL Server needs a little extra memory and yet you have already maxed out your memory in your hardware.

At the 2014 PASS Summit I am going to spend some time showing attendees how to enable this buffer extension, and a couple of the things that you should watch out for. This Pre-Con all about Real World End to End Performance Solutions is going to be a great event.

Avoid Technology Debt

Posted: September 19, 2014 in Events

Can you afford to miss this free training class? See the end of this post on how to sign up.

Have you ever been in a situation where you are working on implementing a SQL Server based solution and you need to make a decision about the technology that could impact the rest of the project? How do you know the decisions you are making are the right ones, and do you know what the downstream effects are of the decision you are about ready to make?

The wrong decisions can leave you with mounds of technology debt, or in other words issues that you are going to have to go back and correct before you can move forward with new development. Less than optimal decisions may leave you with performance issues, reliability concerns and even recovery problems.

John Morehouse and I are going to spend a day in a very small and engaging session reviewing how we look at these issues. We have the crime data for Chicago going back 10 years and1 you will see how our case study addresses many of these decisions. A few of the many topics we will cover are:

  • Enterprise and Database Architecture
  • Database Infrastructure
  • Indexing Strategies

The class will be near the Denver Technical Center on September 26th. We plan to start close to 8:30 AM and wrap up around 4:00 PM. If you can attend please let me know as soon as you can because seats will fill up, RSVP by sending me an email here.

When: September 26, 2014

Where: XTIVIA, Inc. – Centennial Office Location – Building C

XTIVIA Conference Area

7200 S. Alton Way, Building C

Centennial, CO 80112

What’s on the Schedule?

Posted: September 8, 2014 in Events

For the next couple months I am going to be running around crazy. I figured I would take a few minutes to post my schedule. If nothing else to remind me of where I am supposed to be.

Tuesday Sept 9th – I will be doing a session with my good friend John Morehouse (T|B). We will be speaking at the 24 Hours of Pass, this will be a free event. It is designed to give everyone an opportunity to get a taste of the PASS Summit without the travel.

Sept 13th – I will be headed over to Kansas City to Speak at SQLSaturday #300. I always enjoy going to Kansas City. It’s a great time and the team there does an awesome job putting everything together for the event. The session in KC that I will be doing is Outages; Dispatchers, Cops and Detectives

Sept. 21st – I am staying a bit local, Denver is hosting SQLSaturday #331. I can’t think of many things better than doing an event so close to home, I don’t have to take a plane or an extended drive in the car. In Denver I will be speaking about Managing a 0 Downtime Shop.

Sept. 26th – I will be doing an invite only event on approaching real world SQL Server design issues in Denver. This is going to be a full day event full of useful information.

It looks like I will have the first half of October to move to Mission Texas with a short 1 week engagement in Dallas. Plans are still coming together for that. However after I get settled in to Mission Texas and start the next stage of my life where I learn how to say All Y’All I will be headed to the best SQL Server event of the year where I will be doing a full day pre-con for the PASS Summit, and a standard session at the PASS Summit. As if that is not enough for one week, I will also be attending the MVP Summit.

Now if I can only find some time to go take some pictures of the leaves changing colors here in the Colorado Mountains…

I hope to see you at one of these upcoming events.

Back From 2014 CodeStock

Posted: July 17, 2014 in Events

Last week I had the privilege to speak at CodeStock in Knoxville, TN. I have to admit that I was not all that pleased at taking a red eye flight, but that is all on me. The city of Knoxville was nothing but a good experience. I found myself just amazed at how pretty that city is. The location for the event was awesome, and the food in Market Square was great as well. In addition to the great event that was organized the attendees were very kind. All in All I had a great experience, and for the first time in my life I was called ‘Shug’ short for Sugar.

My slides and a couple short scripts can be found here. If there was something I mentioned you wanted to see and I forgot to post it please send me a note and let me know.




All Day Pre-Con Event

Posted: June 25, 2014 in Events, News


John Morehouse and I were sitting around during a recent SQL Saturday talking about what experiences we learn the most from and how we can use that to help us when we are speaking at an event of some sort. We found that being able to relate the topic that we were teaching back to an example that attendees can relate to worked really well for us. So have some crazy brain storming we came up with this idea.

We both are sitting down with some requirements and some data. We will both have the same environment yet we are going to work independently to see who can come up with the better solution. The goal will be something measurable and when we meet at the PASS Summit in November we will see who as the best solution. Here is where you come in… If you want to see what solution wins and why it does you will be able to. We will be presenting this as a Pre-Con to the 2014 PASS Summit.

As we talked about the idea more and more we decided that we can make the session a bit more realistic, so we are going to spend the afternoon making changes to our environment and to the winning solution to see how it works with the requirement changes that always jump into projects. We will test things like versions of SQL Server and when you change the hardware. So if you are ready, come join us, I can assure you there will be a lot to learn and we are going to have a lot of fun doing it.

In the red corner representing Colorado Springs, standing tall at 5 foot 6 nothing but attitude. Armed with a staggering 17 years of experience for a right hand and striking fast wit for the knock out on the left. Your 5 year SQL Server MVP, Pass Regional Mentor, and Colorado Springs User Group leader… Chris Shaw.

In the blue corner, backed by corn huskers and fire fighters, a true hero dedicated to destroying poor database performance and the sharing of database knowledge. Lighting fast reflexes and in depth knowledge is unleashed to deliver lethal blows. The towering, the intimidating and the inspirational to so many… John Morehouse.

In case you wanted to see the official Abstract we included it here. We hope to see you there. To register check out this link.

Real World End-to-End Performance Solutions

Do you ever wonder how other people approach real world business objectives from start to finish? The success of a project can be hampered from decisions that are made before a single row resides in a database, and yet often there is no one single best solution, because different people will approach a problem from different angles and there are countless variables along the path that are critical to success. If you make a mistake at the beginning, costly redesigns may haunt you for years to come.


In this powerful yet entertaining full-day pre-conference session, we will start with two different database professionals with two different skill sets. The speakers both have very different ways of approaching a project (and are both set in their ways!), but both have the same measurable goal. Whose process runs faster? Join this session and see the results.


In other words . . . “Let’s get ready to Rumble!”


What may appear as the end of the session is really only the beginning as variables and limitations are added and various questions are answered: What happens to our project when we are forced to use GUIDs (Globally Unique Identifiers), or when we push our solution to the cloud? Does the introduction of new hardware improve the overall outcome of our test? Do we see faster performance with SQL Server 2014 over SQL Server 2012? Join us and find out!


SQL Saturdays are all about giving back and if you have been to a SQL Saturday I hope you have seen that first hand. This year at SQL Saturday #297 in Colorado Springs, Co. we want to emphasize this as much as we can. We are doing this by organizing a food drive, the idea for the food drive came to the leaders as we were touring the facility where we could host the SQL Saturday this year. As we were talking this over with our many long time supporting vendors we received overwhelming positive reactions. So positive in fact most of the sponsors this year are going well above and beyond the traditional SWAG donations. For example, as of right now we are planning on how to give away an autographed, AC-DC guitar with certificate of authenticity, also in the potential SWAG gifts we may have a MSDN subscription. We have many items that will be in the SWAG giveaway, and if you consider we only have enough room for 200 attendees this makes an individuals chances pretty good at taking home some sort of give-away.

What we are asking is that when you come to the event on April 12th that you bring with you food items that you would like to donate the more items that you bring the better your odds are in taking home one of these awesome SWAG items. We will soon be sending everyone who is signed up more details on individuals can participate in our food drive. You don’t have to bring any food items to be registered for the giveaways and there will be opportunities to participate in our Data-Rodeo for additional chances to win. Why a Data-Rodeo you ask? This year’s theme in going to be centered around the old west, our event will be taking place in a historical building that is over 100 years old, in the heart of the oldest part of town.

What we really hope everyone sees is the benefits in coming to a SQL Saturday, if not this one any SQL Saturday that you can get to. If you haven’t been to an event before the quick run-down is this:

  • There is a free day of training (sometimes you may be asked to donate $10.00 for lunch to help cover the cost).
  • This is a great opportunity to network with people who work with SQL Server or people who want to hire SQL Server Professionals.
  • This is a way to get involved with moving your career down a path to speak at National events.
  • You can visit the vendors and ask them questions about their products, in an environment where they don’t expect you to make a decision right there.
  • Get free SWAG.
  • And now give back to the community.

SQL Saturdays are all about giving, sure the primary goal for an attendee is to learn as much as you can without having to pay or travel to a conference. These are the some of the same speakers that will speak at many of the national events you hear about. So why is it about giving?

These speakers often pay their own way to get to the event; they donate time they could be spending with their family. Not just the time to travel to the event and the time at the event, but consider all the work that goes into prepping for an event like this. I know, I have spoken at many of these.

The vendors sponsor these events and without them we could not pay for the venue, or the food, or the many costs associated with the event that you never realize until you put one of these together. Even the name tags have a cost around them. If it were not for the vendors, I am pretty sure we would not be having 5% of the SQL Saturdays that we do.

The volunteers put in more hours that I can explain, this is my third SQL Saturday that I have organized, and it takes a lot of time to make sure that something goes off without a hitch. The volunteers do this with nothing more than a promise of a free lunch. There are people that work behind the scenes that may never even make it to the event, people at PASS who help us plan, and host the website.

I really hope you come to the SQL Saturday 297 that we are putting together for you. Donate food if you can, help with the cost of lunch a little, but most of all we want you to come, learn and enjoy networking with SQL Server Professionals. You don’t even need experience with SQL Server to join the event; everyone is welcome as long as you want to learn about SQL Server.



Extra info for the next Colorado Springs SQL Server Users Group.

We are thrilled to announce Andy Leonard, will be presenting at the January 22 meeting!


Main Session:
“Using BIML as a Design Patterns Engine” by Andy Leonard

Business Intelligence Markup Language provides a powerful solution for creating and managing SSIS Design Patterns. Andy Leonard, one of the authors of SSIS Design Patterns, demonstrates the flexibility of BIML in this session.

Meeting Location:

Hyatt Place – Garden of the Gods

503 West Garden of the Gods Road

Colorado Springs, CO 80909


Andy was asked to tell us a little more about his session here is the information he passed along. We were excited to hear Andy was coming; now we are even more excited.

   Generally speaking, it takes 1-2 hours to code an SSIS package that
moves data from a source to a destination. If you use a simple pattern for
the integration, it can take less time. But the work is mostly manual and
repetitive. It really stinks when you want to create one SSIS package per
table and you have several (or several hundred) tables.
   Business Intelligence Markup Language (Biml) helps in these scenarios,
as my presentation demonstrates. We’ll start with some simple Biml used to
create empty and basic packages, but then we will leverage BimlScript –
.Net inside the Biml file – to build a single Biml file that can create
hundreds of SSIS packages.
   Because the packages are dynamically created from the same pattern, they
are functionally equivalent. This translates to higher quality. And because
of the automation provided by Biml, SSIS package creation time drops
drastically. My best use-case is an incremental load project I worked on to
transfer data from approximately 900 tables into a SQL Server database.
Incremental load patterns are somewhat involved, and usually take a couple
hours per package. I like to build one package per table for separation of
concerns, testing, and support reasons. Building this by hand would have
taken 2 hours per package, or just under one person-year. Using Biml, I was
able to generate these packages in a morning.

   I will be covering this in the presentation.

Hope this helps.

About Andy Leonard
Andy Leonard is CSO of Linchpin People, an SSIS Trainer and Consultant, SQL Server database and Integration Services developer, SQL Server data warehouse developer, community mentor, blogger, and engineer. He is a co-author of SSIS Design Patterns. His background includes VB and web application architecture and development; and SQL Server 2000-2012.




Posted: October 21, 2013 in Events


If you missed the PASS Summit this year, it is not too late (You can watch the replay on demand).

For the second year PASS has run a live feed during the Summit and broadcasted it over the internet. This year I had the honor of working with the PASS team that organizes the summit. The team that put all this together has a number of people involved, but I want to make sure that I highlight Lana Montgomery and Vicki Van Damme both of them worked really hard to bring this feed to everyone. Lana and I were the community hosts that spent our time networking with the attendees and speakers. We worked closely with Blain Barton who was busy on the center set holding down the fort.

We spent a large amount of time doing interviews, and just getting to know everyone we good. But my favorite part of the interviews was having the opportunity to bring a couple interviews to you from the SQL Clinic. When I speak at an event and when I talk to other speakers we find it difficult to always answer everyone’s questions with some of the limited time that we have. Even when there are opportunities as SQL Saturday it can often be difficult with sessions mixed in here and there. At the SQL Clinic there was a group of Microsoft people there ready to answer questions. They even came to the event with a number of white boards.

If you have never been to a Summit, I highly recommend that you head to one. Next year 2014 it will be back in Seattle and the sign up’s are already happening. You can register here And at the time of writing this you have only 54 weeks before the keynotes start. It may sound like a long time, but it will be here before you know it.