SQL University:Faculty and Bookstore

Good morning everyone! I just wanted to pass along this announcement that we now our page up for our inaugural faculty for SQL University. You can find the Faculty page here. Yesterday we unveiled our new SQL University bookstore. At the bookstore you can find book titles that are highly recommended by fellow DBA’s, developers and database professionals from around the world. In the future we will also be adding things such as various tools for you to try out so stay tuned for those.

Another announcement is that tonight at 8pm EST Tom LaRock (Blog | Twitter) will be holding his weekly broadcast on UStream for the PASS Elections. We have chosen this forum as our press conference as the invitation has been extended to him to become SQL University’s athletic director. What does that job entail? Well come join us in the broadcast and find out as its going to be a REALLY exciting dynamic to SQL University!

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SQL University: Basic Tools Pt. II

In Tuesday’s class we covered the different authentication methods as well as did a quick walk-through of the SQL Management Studio interface. In today’s lecture we’ll continue looking at SSMS. Some of the things we look at include how to create a query against a database, brief intro to the Profiler tool as well as a brief intro to the Database Engine Tuning Advisor.

Warning: Video is hosted by YouTube. If you cannot see it your company might be blocking that site. My apologies, I will have an alternative method available in future.

In addition to watching the video you guys have a little bit of homework. Don’t worry, it’s not hard. Just try a few of the things on this list to help you get accustomed to the environment.

  • Connect to your local database using SSMS using Windows authentication
  • Browse to the AdventureWorks Database, Open up the Tables folder and select the TOP 1000 Rows from Person.Address table. In comments below, post the AddressLine1 for AddressID 17.
  • [Extra Credit] Browse to the Security folder, Open up the Logins folder. Create a new login called testlogin. Make it SQL Server authentication, give it password of ‘P@$$w0rd’ (NOTE: Thanks to Brian Kelley for pointing this out. Do NOT use your production servers/databases for this excercise. Also NEVER use password this simple in your production environment…ever. Security will be covered in a few weeks.), make its default database AdventureWorks.

Next week we’ll be covering Backup and Restore with Argenis Fernandez (Blog | Twitter). The full syllabus for the semester will be posted shortly.

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Technical Presentations: Give it a Shot!

If you have never done a technical presentation I HIGHLY recommend you do try it at least once. Volunteer to speak at your local user group or SQL event. Andy Warren (Blog | LinkedIn) recently added the idea of mini-presentations to both his user group meetings as well as the upcoming SQL Saturday #21 in Orlando. The mini-presentations are 15-minute time slots to give first-time presenters the opportunity to practice technical presentation and public speaking skills. If a user group or event is a bit too much for your first time do what I did: user your co-workers! The first time I was going to present my PBM talk I didn’t want to go to my user group without practicing first. So ask your co-workers if they wouldn’t mind letting you practice on them during lunch hour. It makes it much easier doing the presentation to a group of folks you already know and are comfortable with so its a good way to ease into the public presentations. Heck, if you’re feeling really saucy you can start a series of lunch-n-learns within your department and provide free training for everyone: Win-win y’all!

Still don’t have the warm and fuzzies? Well the fine folks at PASS have compiled a great list of resources for learning how to present at events. Check that page and there are TONS of great advice from absolutely awesome speakers like Steve Jones, Kimberly Tripp and Paul Randal.

The last few months I have been travelling around presenting on Policy Based Management at various groups and events. At each event I have learned something new either from conversations with the audience or things simply not going right which cause me to work on those things the next time. But the one thing I haven’t really gotten much (other than the occasional side conversation with a few folks) is presentation feedback. I’ve signed up over at SpeakerRate.com and have put up the different events I’ve spoken at so far. So if you’ve had the pleasure/displeasure of attending one of my sessions I would really love some feedback. Thanks in advance!

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PASS Virtualization VC Webcast: Virtualizing SQL Servers

For those who don’t know, PASS has several Virtual Chapters. Each VC has its own distinct topic they focus on. The most recent VC established is the Virtualization Virtual Chapter (say that 3 times fast). Our group is dedicated to helping spread the education of virtualization to folks who are thinking of jumping into the virtualization realm with their SQL Servers. We’re pretty excited as we have some top notch virtualization experts such as Duncan Epping (Blog | Twitter), Scott Lowe (Blog | Twitter) and Brent Ozar (Blog | Twitter) who will be syndication their blogs on the Virtualization VC’s blog feed.

Tomorrow afternoon Wednesday, September 30th at 12pm EST | 4pm GMT, the PASS Virtualization Virtual Chapter is proud to host our first webcast featuring Denny Cherry (Blog | Twitter) discussing the pros and cons of moving SQL Servers into a virtual environment. We’ll be talking about when it’s a good idea, when it’s a bad idea, and why there’s no hard-set answers. We’ll be focusing on how to make this decision and how to gather the metrics you need to make a good decision. Audio will be provided through the speakers. This presentation will be presented via Windows LiveMeeting so make sure you arrive early and make sure everything is ready to go on your end. See you tomorrow at the presentation!

Meeting Invite Link: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/usergroups/join?id=BP7D93&role=attend&pw=x_](2cfJ4

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Policy Based Management: A Brief Walk-through

Over the last few months I have been doing the rounds at various user groups and SQL Saturday events presenting on Policy Based Management. In the spirit of my on-going SQL University project as well as the upcoming book I’m co-authoring with Ken Simmons (Blog | Twitter) and Colin Stasiuk (Blog | Twitter), I’ve thrown together this brief video walk-through on Policy Based Management.

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SQL University: Basic Tools

Welcome to the first day of SQL University. Today we’re going to be talking about basic tools you’ll be using as a database administrator (DBA).

Throughout our lessons you will notice I will be linking heavily to SQL Server Books Online. Books Online is the official documentation for all things SQL Server. This is important to know as many administrators and developers refer to this documentation on a daily basis as well as in everyday conversation. You can access Books Online in one of two ways. One is directly via the website on MSDN or you can actually download Books Online (Click to Download Latest as of 9/23/09) so that you can access and refer to the documentation even when no network access is available. While downloading it for offline use can be beneficial (and portable) be aware that Microsoft does update Books Online with new information which means you would have to download and install the latest version of Books Online when this occurs. The good news is that when you use the local version of Books Online it does ask you up front if you want to use the internet as the first point of reference. Another advantage of having Books Online locally installed is that you can bookmark topics and searches so you can save time if you find yourself referring to a certain topic (which I can almost guarantee you will!). That being said make sure you explore the various links given to fully get the most out of the content delivered here at SQL U.

The most basic tool in the SQL Server toolset for an administrator or developer is a management graphical interface called the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). SSMS is where you can access, configure, manage and administrate your servers. The following video walks you through the basics of SSMS so you can become familiar with it. Before you watch the video there are a few things you need to know about SQL Server.

Authentication

In order to connect to a server or database you need to provide it valid credentials. This method is referred to as authentication. SQL Server recognizes two different types of authentication: Windows authentication and SQL Server Authentication. Windows authentication (sometimes also referred to as Integrated Security)  is when you provide SQL Server Windows account credentials. This can be either a Windows domain account (i.e. domainusername) or a local Windows account (i.e. local-machineusername). By default Windows authentication is the default authentication method selected when you open SSMS, and of note, is also more secure. We’ll get in to the hows and whys of that in another class. When you open SSMS, the Windows credentials for the account you are logged into the machine as will automatically pass to SSMS. For instance if I’m logged into my computer as a user called JSEGARRA, that is on a domain called MSDOMAIN, SSMS will open and you will see in the box for username (will be greyed out) MSDOMAINJSEGARRA.

The second method of authentication is SQL Server Authentication (sometimes also referred to as just SQL Authentication). This method of authentication is useful for instances that, for whatever reason, do not have access to a Windows domain account or just a domain in general. SQL accounts are created and kept within the database instance itself.  An example of a use for this type of authentication method would be a database server that resides outside of a company firewall so that the public needs to get to it. Typically these servers are kept in what’s called the DMZ (demilitarized zone), which is an area that belongs to the company but is segregated from the internal network for security reasons. Since the DMZ is outside of the normal network you wouldn’t be able to authenticate with a domain account so instead we use local credentials like a SQL account.

Best of Both Worlds

For those curious, yes you CAN have both Windows authentication and SQL authentication enabled on your database server. This mode is called Mixed mode since you’re mixing both types of authentication methods. Be aware, however, that this increases your attack surface as you’re opening more holes to access your database server. Microsoft best practices recommend using Windows authentication for security reasons (account is managed at domain level, leverage AD groups, etc.).

Video: Walkthrough of SSMS pt 1. (9:02)
Warning: Video is hosted by YouTube. If you cannot see it your company might be blocking that site. My apologies, I will have an alternative method available in future.

Click here to leave course feedback

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24 Hours of SQL PASS Recordings

For those who weren’t able to make the event, some of the recordings from the 24 Hours of SQL PASS event are now available on-demand from the PASS Summit website. You can register for the webcasts at the link below:

Registration for 24 Hours of PASS Selected Sessions

You may be asking “well what about the other sessions?”. The rest of the sessions should be available online after the Summit in November. But that shouldn’t matter much because you’re going to PASS…right? RIGHT?!?!

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SQL University: Orientation

Ok everyone, please take your seats. Thank you. Welcome to SQL University, my name is Jorge Segarra and I’ll be helping you start on your journey to SQL Server. You’re here because you either are curious about SQL Server and wish to start down that path or you’ve become an accidental DBA in your organization and require knowledge to get your new job done. I’ll be one of your online professors along this journey. Since this is the orientation we’ll start with some basics you’ll need for this semester.

School Supplies (aka stuff you’ll need for SQL University):

What I’ll ask of students is that you go over this list and get yourself prepared. First day of class will start on Monday, September 28th and we’ll be covering how to use the basic management tool for SQL Server: The SQL Server Management Studio. In the meantime here’s your homework assignment:

1. Install SQL Server 2008 Express (Runtime with Management Tools)

2. Install AdventureWorks Databases – Download here

NOTE: AdventureWorks is a ficticious bicycle company. The databases are example databases that are commonly used for practice with SQL Server so that students can learn basics from. Please Use the Recommended Download (All Databases.x86.msi)

3. Go through the whole SQL Tutorial on W3 Schools (If you don’t know SQL syntax consider this MANDATORY. If you already know the language and you’d like a refresher go ahead and do the tutorial anyways)

4. Either watch the video (about 34 minutes) or download and read through the Relational Database Theory paper to familiarize with key concepts and theories.

So now that you have your homework let’s cover how SQL University is going to work. I have amassed a few fellow faculty members that will help me out with classes this semester. Each staff member will be blogging on a different beginner topic and tagging their post with SQL University. I will be linking their classes here so you can have a central place to come back to and see all of the great SQL University content at a glance. With each topic/class I ask that students try to be active and ask questions in the comments section of each post. The more questions posted the more answers can get posted and the more we ALL learn!

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Going to be Co-Authoring a Book…

This weekend I had quite the shock (other than realization that Ikea is overrated) in that I was asked to co-author a new book with 2 others authors: Ken Simmons (Blog | Twitter) and Colin Stasiuk (Blog | Twitter). As Colin mentioned in his blog post I’m EXTREMELY honored to even be considered for this project so huge thank you to Ken for getting this together. I bookmarked an article earlier this morning on Readitlater about starting the writing process but any and all advice is welcome and appreciated!

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OPASS User Group Meeting: Review

Well last night I presented my Policy Based Management presentation for the Orlando SQL PASS User Group aka OPASS. The meeting was held at the End-to-End Training (now called SQLShare.com) offices which is a nice facility ran by Andy Warren (Blog | LinkedIn). The meeting started off with a short bit of networking where Andy has everyone introduce themselves to their neighbors and get some discussion going. I thought this was a nice little touch and lets people work on their networking skills.

First up for the night was a mini presentation on Backup Basics with Todd Holmes (LinkedIn), a DBA for Channel Intelligence in Celebration. The mini presentation is a 15-minute presentation slot that Andy came up with to encourage new speakers to cut their teeth on public speaking and technical presentations. Todd did a great job with such a broad topic and even went the extra mile in showing examples via T-SQL code. Todd will also be doing this mini presentation at the upcoming SQL Saturday #21 in Orlando.

After Todd’s presentation there was a short dinner break and I got setup for my PBM presentation. Andy said he was curious to see an hour-long presentation went on Policy Based Management since he thought it was a topic that could be covered rather quickly. Funnily enough my presentation ran just a tad over an hour and I could have kept going! There were some hiccups here and there with my VM taking a little longer than I would have liked to open certain things but demos didn’t blow up like they did at the last SQL Saturday. I also got a chance to show the audience EPMF in action (sort of). I showed the script run that used PowerShell to apply existing policies and dump results into a database repository. The example failed because I tried to open Reporting Services page on VM which had the hardened IE settings enabled that didn’t allow scripts to run so I wound up just showing a screenshot of the dashboard view. Hopefully this demo helps people take SQL 2008 and PBM back to their jobs and look like rock stars for virtually no money (except for cost of SQL 2008 Standard license after they see how awesome this is).

After the meeting I stuck around and talked shop with Andy, Jack Corbett (Blog | Twitter) and Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter) which was pretty awesome as we talked about all things SQL. Always a good time when you get quality geek time in. Overall it was a great time and a big thank you to the group for having me out there. If you’re in the Orlando area make sure to check out the group!

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